I don’t know how to convert leads through marketing

i don't know how to convert leads through marketing header

i don't know how to convert leads through marketing header

Sales and Marketing should work in harmony. With marketing creating your leads, and sales closing them. However, in smaller companies, sales and marketing can be the same function. Meaning you have to carefully consider and create your marketing, and close the sale too.

So what can you do within your marketing to convert leads earlier? We have 7 points that will help you get more out of your marketing, driving more leads to convert.

 

Understand the buyer

Understand the buyer journey and that not every lead is the same. If you know generally what your buyer journey is, you know when to go for the sale, and when to leave it for another week.

Not every lead is the same. Some will come in red hot, others will take a long time to even become warm. But if you understand where on the journey they are, you can prioritise and personalise your own actions towards them.

 

Gain pleasure, avoid pain

It is said as humans we are driven by two things, to gain pleasure and avoid pain. So when trying to appeal to your target audience, bear this in mind. What will drive people to listen to you, or even contact you themselves, is if you offer something that will give you great pleasure and happiness, or that will let them avoid pain or negativity.

For example, Amazon, the huge retail giant that they are, are still always looking to improve the customer experience. One pain their customers were experiencing was not being home for their deliveries. Or worrying it may not be left in a safe place. Amazon introduced ‘amazon lockers’ in convenient locations. So people could grab their delivery in their lunch break or on their way home. Customers who may not have bought that extra purchase as they couldn’t guarantee the delivery day, now have a safe, and easy alternative. Taking away those second thoughts of whether they should buy.

Or Pantene released an app to combat the ‘bad hair day’. By analysing the weather reports, they were able to advise which products and styles people should go for. By suggesting the products people should use, and allowing them to see what is available in the Pantene range. They increase their brand awareness, as well as gain extra sales from those suffering a bad hair day!

 

Make people feel significant

People like to feel like they matter. When you make a purchase you like to feel like the company is thankful for your custom. When you make a big purchase, you like to feel like the effort and energy in the build up has been appreciated. And let’s face it, if a company can make you feel like you are the only person in the world that they appreciate buying their product. And make a big deal about you, you are more likely to go back to them.

It comes down to basic customer service, and making people feel appreciated. It has been found that 60% of consumers will pay more for a better experience. 89% of consumers will begin doing business with a competitor if they receive poor customer service.

This can start off with the basics. Be polite and don’t ignore people. It is all too easy in the fast paced world of social media to ignore posts, but it also quite rude, and effects that customer’s experience. If there are excited about their experience, join in!

For example, Sainsburys made the headlines for their name change of Tiger Bread to Giraffe Bread, all due to a 3 year olds letter. Spotting the similarities between the Giraffes pattern and the pattern on the bread, Lily Robinson (with a little help from her parents) wrote to Sainsburys. Here, Sainsburys could of ignored this letter, put it to one side, as they have no need to change the name. They have other things to be getting on with. But by changing the name and responding to Lily, they proved they care about the opinions of all their customers. Even the little ones, and they value their opinion. By showing that appreciation, Lily’s mom praised the company online, and the story went viral. Which goes to show even the smallest acts of responding to customers, can come back to you in a big way.

 

Take the time to explain but simplify your solution

Most company’s make 1 of 2 mistakes when talking about their products and services.

They either don’t explain any of what they do, and expect people to understand. Jargon and all, which leaves prospects baffled.

Or they over explain, with a lot of tedious, unnecessary information. Leaving prospects over saturated with information, and looking for the nearest exit.

You need to ensure that your lead knows what you do. But cut the waffle! Keep your solution simple. As the saying goes, if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it. So if you cannot explain if simply, how do you then expect your prospect to understand it?

 

Qualify people up front

By qualifying leads at the very beginning of the process you save yourself a lot of time. We have all been there. Where someone has shown a vague interest in your product, and you follow up for months with calls and emails, hoping they will become a sale. But this takes time, effort, and may ultimately annoy your prospect in to not responding.

If you know they are not going to convert just yet, but they probably will in the future, focus on marketing to them. If you are not actively pursuing them, you give them chance to soak up your marketing. To learn more about your company and its products. So when the time comes that they require the product or service you sell, they will come to you.

 

Lead generation systems

Lead generation systems are systems that track the visitors to your website. This has it’s pros and its cons, but it’s something that you may want to consider.

The Pros being that you have companies who have actually visited your website, straight to your inbox, a pre-made list for the day. Dependent on the system, you may already have your contact information already provided for you. So no time needed to put together a prospect list.

The Cons? You do not know who in that company has looked at your website, and you may never know. Someone may have just taken a look at your blogs on their break, and so are not actually qualified to progress to a sale.

You can find a number of lead generation systems online, but a few examples are Lead Forensics, OnMonitoring and wow analytics.

 

 

Automation

Email automation can take a lot of marketing time off your hands. Whilst still leading prospects further through the buying cycle.

Email automation works with emails that are triggered by a click, a visit to a certain page or a time limit. For example, you have probably experienced when you buy something online, a few days after your purchase, you receive a thank you email, perhaps with a discount off your next purchase. This is a great use of automation, by making the customer feel valued and enticing them to come back and shop again. You can use this for your company but catered to your own services and products.

So there are a few ways you can use email automation. Here on some examples on using it for money off deals, to thank people for visiting, to get them to share their experience or feedback, to get them to buy their saved basket, and to buy a product again.

The Money Off Deal

A money off deal is great for a number of reasons. Your customers feel valued and appreciated, and you can prompt customers to spend with you again quite quickly.

Here, Achica use automation to send a seasonally relevant promotion, which is clear, easy to remember, and gives you two options of browsing or shopping. Customers feel valued, and you increase your sales with their next order.

example of achica email marketing

 

Saving your basket

Example of homebase email marketing

After being bought to the nation’s attention by a Barclaycard advert, companies can send money off emails to customers who have filled their basket, but left the site, to prompt them to come back and complete the sale. Though money off isn’t always needed, sometimes just the knowledge that they have saved your basket and you can return to it when you wish is all you need, as Homebase do above.

Thank You

These is a great one for continuing a great experience. If someone has used your service, and the moment has now passed, remind them of the great time they had with a thank you email. By leaving a couple of days before sending this, it gives time for the customer to return to normality, before you remind them of the great times they had, and leave a link where they can book or buy again.

Example of dominoes email marketing

A great example of this would be Dominos Pizza. Not that I eat a lot of pizza (cough) but I receive a fair few of these. A day after eating my lovely pizza, I always receive a thank you email, that thanks me for purchasing, hopes that I enjoyed the order, and I am prompted to order again. If you are still full from last nights pizza (as I usually am) they also give you the opportunity to win free pizza for a year by completing their feedback survey. The button’s right there, so why not just fill it in? And if you can’t even summon the energy to type, they’ve included their blog too, so you can go and have a read instead.

Example of harry potter email marketing

Harry Potter World reintroduce the excitement back to the customer, and offer plenty of opportunities to keep on interacting, such as sharing their photos, writing on trip advisor, and even the chance to win a prize.

Share your experience

Sometimes you don’t necessarily want another sale straight away. You know the customer has spent money with you, and it may be a while before they spend money again. But by asking for their feedback or opinion on your product or service, you are still showing them appreciation of their service and gaining good data for yourselves.

Example of New Look email marketing

New Look haven’t done their best here. From a very plain email to a very messy link, it doesn’t really entice customers to fill out the form. If you are sending an email, make the effort, as this devalues the customer rather than hyping them up.

Example of F&F email marketing

F&F does a better job of getting feedback, offering the chance to review every item you bought, with the pictures to remind you and subtly leave the links back to their shopping pages at the top of the email, to encourage customers to shop again.

Buy it again

Example of amazon email marketing

If you offer a product or service that needs to be renewed frequently, you may benefit from the buy it again email, prompting customers to buy products they have already brought. This really would have to be for relevant for products, as you do run the risk of annoying customers by asking them to spend and spend, without really thanking them for their custom.

Amazon do a great job of this here, by offering a prompt rather than a direct sell. However they do link directly back to the products, making it a very easy journey for users.

The best example we’ve seen

Best example of email marketing

With Photojojo, the communication is good, gives the customer all the information they need. They make them feel good about it, and they’ve made it look good as well. Rosie also received a free plastic dinosaur with the order too, which we feel is great customer service as well as automation at it’s best.

You must remember though, automation is not a substitute for actual contact, it is just a useful tool that can provide help. Ensure you keep a good balance of the actual and the automated to keep your customers happy.

 

So there you have it, seven things that will hopefully ensure your marketing efforts converts to sales.

If you are struggling with your marketing, or just need some extra advice on how to get the best for your company, then why not give us a call today on 01543 495752.

 

Where should you begin with Google AdWords?

where should you begin with adwords

where should you begin with adwords

Google AdWords works because it is complex, and because every single part of your campaign is a variable. Which is what makes it work for so many companies, but what confuses a lot more. So we’ve put together some basic stages for you to follow. To get you started and keep you on track during your AdWords campaign.

As it can be hard to follow sometimes, I will be using the example of the ‘Cheese and things café’ to help you visualise what’s been explained. (Apologies to all of you reading this just before your lunch break!)

Before you begin – Define your purpose

Before you even open your google AdWords account, you need to define three things.

  • What your main aim is to get out of a campaign (more sales/more exposure/more leads)
  • How much time you are going to allow to manage this
  • How much budget you are willing to put in to this

If you do not have a clear answer for each of these, it may not be the right time for you to be considering AdWords. Your aim will determine how you structure your campaign and your ads. Who they are targeted towards and what form of bidding you use.

If you haven’t given enough time to AdWords, you will find yourself with a lagging campaign. AdWords works because you have real time results, and can adapt your campaign to be more profitable constantly. This takes a lot of monitoring. So if you can only commit to the time it takes to set an account and your initial campaign up, maybe it’s time to consider an agency. Otherwise you will find yourself throwing a lot of money at a campaign that may not work.

Which leads us nicely to budget. You need to establish the budget of your campaign or campaigns. How much you are willing to go up to, to reach your goal. Some industries are more competitive than others, so you will have to spend more to appear in front of your potential customers at first. Ensure you have done some research so you have an idea of budget to start with. If your budget doesn’t stretch to getting you seen in your industry just yet, then perhaps continue working on your own marketing first, and revisit AdWords later.

So our little café is wanting to push the sales of their toasties for lunchtime delivery. They’re willing to spend £10 a day, which is around £300 a month. Bob who does their lunchtime delivery is going to spend some time after his deliveries has finished looking at their AdWords clicks for that day, and what worked, and making adjustments for tomorrows searches.

Put together your keywords

Keywords you will have heard over and over again when it comes to anything to do with being seen by the right potential customers on the internet.

For your ads, you want to look at 10-20 keywords that are quite specific to that advert. So for examples your aim is to get more toasties ordered through your website. You may look to do ads for ‘toasted sandwiches’ ‘cheese toasties’ ‘lunch delivery’ with each having 10 keywords specific to that advert. All of them will take the user back to your toasties landing page, but you can see which approach works best.

Google’s keyword planner is a great tool for getting an idea of your keywords. It will give you similar suggestions, estimated searches, estimated bid, and an idea of competition. This will not be 100% accurate, so don’t take this as certain. As mentioned, a lot of factors will make up your bid, so prices will change. Certain trends or topics may change search patterns, and new businesses are always starting, so competition will constantly change. But this tool is the closest information you will get without actually running the campaign.

Create or update your landing page

Before you set up your campaign, you will need somewhere for all those lovely new visitors to land. So take time to either improve your current web pages, or create a unique landing page where potential customers will be lead to.

This landing page will need to be relevant. The more relevant, the more google will like your ad. As you are giving your customers a good experience. So let’s take our cheese toastie example. If someone has searched for a ham and cheese toastie delivery, and clicked on to your ad, they would not expect to land on a page about your jacket potatoes. They would expect to come through to a page on various cheese toastie options that are available for delivery.

Ensure your landing page is easy to use. So it has enough information about the topic, there is a clear call to action (‘order here’ ‘call now to order’ etc) and where possible no obvious links to the rest of your site. As you want these potential customers to convert, you don’t want them to go wondering off until after they’ve placed an order.

Set up your account and get organised

Get started on your AdWords account. Set it up and get acquainted with the page, as you will be spending a lot of time here.

Having a structured account is key to keeping organised on AdWords. Once again, google have a best practise for this to keep you on track. It is suggested that you follow the layout of your website, possibly like this:

AccountCheese and Things Café
CampaignsToastiesJacket potatoesSandwiches
AdvertsCheese toastiestoasted sandwicheslunch deliveryCheese and beans jacket potatoJacket potato deliveryoffice lunch deliveriesSandwich deliveryCheese and pickle sandwichesLunch time sandwiches

 

You will have your company as your account, your pages as your campaigns, and your offerings on those pages as adverts.

Though you may only run one campaign at first, having this style of layout means you can keep organised for future campaigns.

Create your ads

It is worth doing your research here. Search some of your keywords and see what ads are making it onto the first page. What draws you in, what extra information are they including? How does your company differ? This is where you can really set yourself aside from your competition, so take the time to see what they are saying.

So let’s take a look at what comes up for cheese toastie delivery

example of google adwords ads

Once you have an idea of what’s out there, and what you want to say, you need to make sure you match AdWords best practise for ads. Especially when it comes to character limits. You only have 25 characters for your headline, and 35 characters each for your 2 description lines.

Assign the keywords you picked earlier to the relevant ad, and enter a general bid. From this you will be able to see an estimate of how many clicks you could expect for your daily budget. If you are happy with it, then set your ad live. You are now live.

Track your performance

AdWords is thorough. Very thorough. You can track every part of your campaign to see when people clicked through and why. So you can identify the times and places you are most successful, and replicate that in future campaigns.

So for example, Bob could find that on Thursdays and Friday their clicks go up by 30%. So he can use that information when it comes to adjustments, and spending the budget more wisely.

You can also link your AdWords and analytics accounts to get even more data, which may seem a little much at first, but as you get more experienced, it will help you to really take apart your campaign and see what works and why.

Adjust when necessary

There are so many different ways you can adjust your ads, so keep experimenting until you find which brings you return on your investment.

Adjusting is necessary to make your campaign successful. So even if they are only small changes, make them. If a keyword is performing well, put some more money on the bid to get it shown more times. If a keyword isn’t performing well, scrap it and stop wasting money.  If you want to try adjusting your bids, but don’t want to commit just yet, then try experiments. Which will apply your changes to a small portion of your ads, so you can see if it works well or not before fully committing.

So Bob, who now knows they get more clicks on a Thursday and Friday, may show his ads only on those days. So there is more budget behind it, meaning more clicks-through’s.

You will want to keep making adjustments until your campaign becomes profitable. Then you can put more money behind it to make it more profitable.

 

And that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to AdWords. There are literally hundreds of resources to guide you through every part of your campaign, especially from Google themselves. So don’t stay stuck, take a look at what information is out there.

If you do find yourself really stuck when it comes to AdWords, or perhaps you just don’t have the time, let us take a look at it for you. Call us on 01543 495752 for more information on how we can get you more leads.

How do you make the essential exciting?

How do you make the essential exciting

How do you make the essential exciting

It can be hard to market your business at the best of times, but it begins to seem a bigger challenge when your industry is seen as ‘essential’ rather than exciting.

When you have impressive new products like phones, gadgets or ‘hoverboards’ coming out everyday with huge budgets behind them, it can be hard to compete, and make people want what they actually need to buy. So if your not making a product with a fruit logo on it, how do you go about getting people to buy it?

 

Be Human

This sounds simple, but can be harder in practice. If you are selling a B2B product for example, you are marketing a business product to another business, and it can be easy to slip into an almost robotic approach. So you can’t forget that you are still marketing to people.

Using real examples can be a great starting point, so potential customers can see how you actually work. Do people make mistakes when using your product? Is it common for people to overcomplicate your service? Do not many people understand the best practice when it comes to your industry? Then talk to them, and use these examples to inspire, educate or for a bit of a giggle, to connect with them on a human level.

Social Media is a great way to do this, but it may take a bit of time to get yourself established. There are so many social networks now it can be hard to choose which would be best. However, it also means you can reach your customers in a variety of ways.

Does your industry need lots of practical advice? Get blogging. Want people to understand your products further? Go visual with Pinterest. Want to do a ‘how to’ video, or show your engineers at work? Start a Youtube channel with factual information, alongside some out-takes when it may not have quite gone to plan.

All of these little snippets of information give your customers an idea of who you are as people, and if you are the type of people they would like to work with. If they want the ins and outs of what you do, they will go to your website or give you a call, but to convince them you’re the ones they want to work with, get posting.

 

Develop your own voice

Which leads very nicely on to my next point, developing your own voice.

When your in a competitive industry, with a product everyone needs, it can be easy to fall into the same line as everyone else. Copying product descriptions from manufacturers, having the same benefits and features, and marketing to the same group of people.

Make sure you stand out by developing your own voice, which carries through all of your marketing material, your social presence and your team as a whole. Now, tone of voice for your brand is a whole other blog in it’s self (and a conversation we have a lot with clients in the office) but you need to consider: your values, your vocabulary and your humour. Are you slightly sarcastic, or just add in the occasional one liners? Are you appealing to customers who will only accept the Queen’s English, or perhaps a younger generation who may appreciate more down to earth posts? What are your personal values as well as the companies? Let all this shine through on your posts, but make sure you keep this consistent.

Showing your passion for your profession is always a great way to connect with customers. Even with the most boring product in the world, if it sold with someone who clearly has passion in it, you would be more inclined to at least take a second look. As passion is not only contagious, but it shows a belief in what you are doing, it shows your putting all of your energy into it, so it has to worth something.

 

Make your product real to buyers

Your product is real, you know it’s benefits and features inside out. But how does it actual benefit that person? How is it going to shape their day?

It can be hard to get this across, especially with products people take for granted, or ones people don’t entirely understand how it helps then, just that they should have it.

A method used by a lot of companies now is using a narrative within their marketing or advert. Let’s use Direct Line as an example. Direct Line, in case you don’t know, are an insurance company, and for this example, I’ll be focusing on their car insurance.

Everyone needs car insurance, as it is a legal requirement. There are plenty of providers of this, plenty of choice, and everyone knows that they need it in case of an accident, but it’s not always clear what that actual means for the person. In their latest run of adverts, Harvey Keitel whisks in to help direct line customers who face a series of woes.

The most recent advert is of a hen party who are involved in a bump, thinking their day is ruined, when Keitel pops in to say, because you’re insured with us, your entitled to a hire car, and continue your day. The other party involved in the crash is stuck there, as their insurance does not provide this.

 

 

From the advert the customer can visualise that, of course they would have insurance on their car, but f they have Direct Line insurance, they will be well looked after, and your day doesn’t have to end. It will remind those unfortunate enough to have had a bump and be stuck, that actual buying the same ‘product’ from them would mean a totally different outcome to that day.

Their whole advert series involving Keitel show the real time effects and benefits the service has to it’s users, and showcases effectively that their ‘essential’ product stands out from the rest.

 

Make it visual

Oh the old saying, a picture speaks a thousand words. But it really does, as does video, like we can see in the point above.

In an age where we are content saturated, sometimes we need to use visuals to grab a bit more attention, or to get our message across a bit quicker.

There are a huge amount of examples of visual marketing done well, but I am going to use Tipp Ex to illustrate this particular point.

Now Tipp Ex face a different horizon to when they started business, a situation which many companies find themselves in now. Their product was a particular need when pen and paper were the norm. This was an age before computers became the staple for the majority of offices. So what now?

Tipp Ex went clever with their marketing, and using modern technology and ideas bought themselves into the modern age, as well as engaging with a whole new host of customers. Below, you can see their advert ‘a hunter and a bear’.

 

 

Now there we have an advert that shows their brand voice with quite a humorous advert, their product is made real and relevant to potential customers, and it has a very human aspect to it.

Use visuals and video to get your message out there in a way your potential customers may not have considered it before.

 

Keep it simple

Sometimes the things you need to buy aren’t always the simplest to understand.

Take for example applying for a mortgage. It is something the majority of us will need to go through within our lifetimes, and though it can be an exciting purchase, it is more likely to cause panic than jubilation.

Like with car insurance, It is a market with plenty of choice, but one people don’t know much about. So they stick to the big names they know and that’s it. By keeping it simple, you instantly reassure that potential customer, making them more likely to pop in and enquire.

 

Remember, no brand is too boring to market, you just have to find what makes it amazing, and share that with others. Use the tips above, do a bit more research into your industry competitors, and get going!

 

However, if you are struggling to feel inspired, don’t worry! Give us a call, and pop in for a chat. It’s no obligation and might just give you the ideas you need. Or you can read more about branding in our blogs. 

 

inbound marketing – 5 priorities

5 priorities you should have when it comes to inbound marketing

5 priorities you should have when it comes to inbound marketing

You’ve probably heard a lot about inbound marketing now, (we’ve talked about it previously). How you should be working on a customer focused marketing and sales plan, opposed to something more company centric.

However you might not quite understand how to get inbound marketing to work in your company’s strategy or how to make sure you get the results you want. We’ve got five priorities you should have when it comes to inbound marketing and how to get your business noticed. Make sure your inbound marketing works.

Get found

You need to be visible to your potential customers. That means having a website for customers to find you.

That website needs to SEO friendly so it can be found by search engines. (Not sure on the lingo? Check out our SEO jargon buster). This means good keywords, good meta descriptions, using alt tags and ensure your site is fast.

Be user friendly

Once you’ve attracted all of these potential customers, you need to make sure they can get round your site. This may sound like a simple thing but with most companies never looking at their site from a customer’s point of view, it can be easily missed.

How many clicks does it take to get to your products or services? How prominent are your main services on the home page? Is it easy to find how to contact you? These are all things you probably don’t consider for your own website.

There is also another huge consideration. How easy is it, to use your website on a mobile phone or tablet, is it responsive?

Not sure how to create a user-friendly website?

Cracking content

Potential customers have found you and found where they want to be. Now you need to feed them information that will entice them in, inform them and encourage them to get in touch or purchase online.

How do I create this content? Well there is plenty of guides, including ours on creating the best, most useful content. You probably have tons of topics already that you can write about.

You want to make it as unique as possible, so change up those product descriptions where you can!

When it comes to blogs, you want a mix of evergreen content and news content. Evergreen content is the advice and tips which will always be relevant. The news will be updates in your industry, but they may change over time.

Social Media

Social media seems to have a bit of a Marmite reaction in businesses. Some businesses really love it and take advantage of every network they can, others are not convinced or just don’t have the time to do it.

The social media approach is brilliant for promoting the content you have created. It takes people straight to parts of your website that may be of interest and making you easier to find and connect with.

It’s a great way to connect with potential customers and keep in contact until the time comes that they are ready to buy. And if they have had hints, tips and advice from yourself. As well as an easy quick link of where to find your product or service, they are more likely to buy from you than from a competitor who doesn’t do social media.

Call to action

You’ve done a lot already to ensure your potential customer is happy, informed and can find you. So the last bit is to encourage them to act.

If your potential customer is interested, they may contact you automatically, others need a little more help. Using tools like landing pages means you can channel a sole ‘call to action’ to fill out the form on a page. By removing all other distractions and just leaving the form, people are more likely to complete it then go off and nose at another page.

You should now have plenty of ‘calls to action’ to follow up on.

There is an enormous amount to inbound marketing and lots more you can go into however most businesses still have a split approach with some outbound activity still going on, so time has to measured. Remember to prioritise the above and get those calls in!

If you need a little extra help with your inbound marketing, give us a call on 01543 495752 for a no obligation chat.

SEO Jargon Buster – Updated

up to date seo jargon buster

up to date seo jargon buster

We published our first SEO jargon buster in 2012 (with just 26 definitions!), and a lot has changed in SEO since then.

Our latest iteration has expanded hugely and now contains over 80 definitions.

Numbers

301 Redirect – If you switch domains, or delete a page, the URL will present users with an error message. If you carry out a 301 redirect on these pages, users will be taken to another page on your website and will not see the error message.

404 error – A message that appears with a web page no longer exists, or has moved to a different URL.

A

Above the fold – The part of a web page that users can see before scrolling down the page. It’s recommended that you place the most important information above the fold.

Algorithm – A formula search engines, programs, and computers follow to solve a problem and come up with a solution. In SEO, search engines use algorithms to decide what order to show search results in.

Alt text – Text used to describe an image. This will show up in place of an image if it cannot be loaded. Alt text is also useful for people using screen readers. And for telling search engines what the image is of.

Analytics – Data which shows how something is performing. For example, your website analytics will show how many people have visited your website, the most popular pages, your bounce rate, and so on.

Anchor text – The clickable text that is part of a hyperlink. For example: “Find out more about our marketing services”. In this case ‘marketing services’ is the anchor text.

Authority links – Links from authoritative websites, such as the BBC, .gov, the NHS, etc.

B

Backlink – A link to your website from another website.

Below the fold – This is any part of a website which users will have to scroll down to see.

Blackhat SEO – SEO techniques which do not comply with best practices. Blackhat SEO techniques are used to try and trick search engines into giving a website a higher search rankings than it deserves. Using these techniques can mean you are penalised or de-indexed from search engines.

Blog – Short for weblog, a blog is traditionally an online journal. However, it has evolved to be somewhere that businesses can share useful hints and tips about their products. Information about offers, events, and more. It has become a way for businesses to connect and engage with their audience.

Bounce rate – The percentage of people who visit your website and leave before visiting another page.

C

Canonical URL – If there are multiple URLs that show the same piece of content. A canonical URL is used to tell search engines which one is the original and which one should be counted.

CAPTCHA Completed Automated Public Turing test to tell Computer and Humans Apart – A ‘test’ used to figure out whether the user is a computer or human. You will often see these when submitting forms. The test usually involves typing letters and numbers into a box.

Cloaking – A technique used to show search engines and users different content. This is usually done to try and improve a page’s search ranking.

CMS – Content Management System – A system, such as WordPress or Concrete5, that allows you manage and update a website.

Content scraping – Copying content and posting it on another website without permission.

Conversion – When a user completes a ‘goal’. This can be a purchase, downloading an ebook, filling in a form.

Conversion rate – The percentage of people who visited your website and completed a ‘goal’. For example, the percentage of people who visit your website and then purchase. Or maybe the percentage of people who visit a landing page and download your ebook.

Cookie – In this case, we’re not talking about the delicious things you eat. Cookies are used to identify users and improve their user experience. For example remember your log in details.

Crawl – When search engine bots visit your website and follow links to other pages on your site. Even out to other websites, this is called crawling.

C Abbreviations

CPC – Cost Per Click – In Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, your CPC is how much it will cost you every time someone clicks on the advert.

CPM – Cost Per Thousand – This is the cost per thousand impressions.

CSS – Cascading Style Sheets – This allows web designers to create ‘style sheets’, which give them more control over how a page, and the elements that make it up, will look.

 

D

Deep link – This is a link to a page on a website that isn’t a homepage. For example, linking to a specific blog post would be considered a deep link.

Directory – A website listing businesses, containing information about their name, what they do, their contact details, their website, opening hours, and more.

Dofollow – A dofollow link is a link that you are telling search engines to ‘count’, which will pass on some SEO benefit to another website.

Domain name – A domain name is made up of the name of a website followed by a generic top-level domain, such as .co.uk, .uk, .org, etc.

Domain authority – This is a 100-point scale developed by Moz, that predicts how well a website is likely to rank in search results. It’s a measure of the ‘strength’ of a website.

Duplicate content – Copy which appears exactly the same in multiple places, either on the same website, or different websites. An example of duplicate content is several retailers who are all using the manufacturers description for a product. Duplicate content can result in SEO penalties.

E

Ecommerce – Buying or selling products or services electronically.

External link – A link out to another website.

G

Grey hat SEO – SEO techniques which bend best practice rules, rather than completely breaking them.

H

Hits – A request for something on a web page to load, such as the page itself, or an image. Hits are not a good indication of how much traffic your website has had as each image count as a ‘hit’. If you have 10 images on a page and the page was loaded twice, you’d see 20 hits.

HTML – HyperText Markup Language – This is the language used to tell browsers how a website should look and how to display it.

I

Impressions – The number of people who have seen something. For example, if 100 people see a search result, or an advert, it will have had 100 impressions.

Index – These are the databases search engines refer to. It will contain information about websites that have been crawled. It is possible to be removed from the database (de-indexed), which means your website will not show up in search results.

K

Keyword density – The percentage of times a key word, or key phrase, has been used on a web page. It’s important to note that there is no ideal keyword density, so don’t feel that ramming copy full of keywords will help your search rankings.

Keyword research – When you carry out research to see what kind of words and phrases your audience use to find your products and services.

Keyword stuffing – When words or phrases are stuffed into copy as much as possible, which often makes the copy hard to follow and understand, in an attempt to improve search rankings.

Keywords / key phrases – The words and phrases your audience use to find your products and services, and the words you want to perform well for in search rankings.

L

Link bait – Content that is created in an attempt to generate links back to the website / piece of content.

Link building – Techniques used to build links back to your website. This includes creating helpful content that people want to share.

Link farm – A group of websites that all link to each other with the intention of boosting search rankings by creating links. This is not a recommended SEO practice.

Link juice – A colloquial term used when talking about SEO benefits gained from / given by a link.

Linking C-blocks – This refers to IP addresses, and is used by search engines to determine whether websites linking to each other might be related. If websites on the same server, with the same c-blocks, are linking to each other, it’s a signal that the links might not be natural and might be owned by the same person.

Local SEO – When you specifically target higher search rankings in the geographic location around where your business is / has locations.

Long tail key words – These are key phrases made up of a few words. For example “purple non-leather dog collars” is a long tail key phrase. It’s much easier to try and rank higher for a long tail key phrase than a short tail keyphrase.

M

Meta description – Tells search engines what a page is about. This shows up as the description in search results, so it needs to be interesting and engaging to encourage people to click on your results.

Meta keywords – A meta tag that allows you to list keywords used on the page, and tells search engines what a page is about. Due to the abuse this feature received, meta keywords hold very little SEO value now.

Meta title – This is the title of a page that shows up in search results.

Mobilegeddon – A colloquial term to describe Google’s algorithm update in April 2015 that means websites with mobile-friendly websites may perform better in mobile search results, and those without a mobile-friendly website may have their rankings decreased in mobile search results.

N

Nofollow link – A link to another website which you are telling search engines not to count as providing any SEO benefit.

Non-organic search results – These are paid advertisements that appear on search result pages.

O

Off page SEO – Techniques used to improve a website’s search rankings that are not carried out on the website itself. For example, link building.

On page SEO – Techniques used to improve a website’s search ranking that are carried out on the website, such as making sure your website is responsive.

Organic search – These are search results that are not paid for.

P

Pagerank (PR) – This is what Google use to rank websites in their search results.

Pageview – The number of views a page has had. For example, if one person visits your page twice, it has had two pageviews.

Panda (Google Panda) – A Google algorithm that was first released in February 2011, and focused on improving rankings of websites providing high quality content, and lowering the rankings of poor websites that provided low quality content.

Penguin (Google Penguin) – A Google algorithm launched in April 2012 that aimed to catch and lower the search rankings of websites using black hat SEO techniques, such as buying links or keyword stuffing.

PPC – Pay-Per-Click – An advertising model where the advertiser pays for each click on the advert.

R

Ranking – Where you are showing up in search results.

Reciprocal links – When two websites agree to link to each other. Done correctly, the websites will link to each other because website A provides useful content for readers of website B, and vice versa. Excessive reciprocal links, especially when there is no relevance or need to, could harm your search rankings.

Rich snippets – Extra information that appears in a search result, such as star ratings, price range, and time required to complete a recipe, and so on.

ROI – Return On Investment – The financial return, or benefit, you will get as a result of an investment.

RSS feed – Really Simple Syndication – If an RSS feed is set up on your blog, new posts will be sent to anyone who subscribes to your RSS feed. You can choose the send the entire post, or just a snippet of it.

S

Schema markup – Code you can put in your website to give search engines more information about you, and give users better and more relevant results. For example, if you’re a venue, or a performer, you could share dates. You can share things like price, star ratings, how long a recipe will take.

SEM – Search Engine Marketing – A marketing method which focuses on improving search rankings, by doing things such as ensuring a website is SEO-friendly, and creating SEO-friendly content.

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – Techniques used to improve a website’s visibility in search results.

SERP – Search Engine Results Page – The pages that show a list of search results.

Short tail keywords – (Also known as broad match) These are key phrases which contain around one or two words. For example “Black shoes”. Due to the small number of words, these are often very broad search terms.

Site map – A list of pages on a website that people and search engine crawlers can get to. An XML sitemap makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl your website, while a HTML sitemap can make it easier for users to find their way around your website.

Referrer spam – When spam bots ‘visit’ your website, skewing your analytics data.

Spiders – A program used by search engines to crawl web pages.

U

Unique visitor – The number of individuals who have visited your website.

URL – Uniform Resource Location – The address of a web page.

W

White hat SEO – SEO practices which comply with search engine guidelines. Do not attempt to trick them into giving a website a higher search ranking than it deserves.

 

Need help getting to grips with your SEO? Contact us today on 01543 495752 for a no obligation chat. Or you can read more about SEO in our blogs. 

What your website says about your business; the good & bad

What does your website say about your business?

What does your website say about your business?

Your website says a lot about your business. Not just the words, but the look, feel, and usability can influence your audience’s perception of your business.

It’s an online representation of your business and will often be the first experience your target audience have with your business.

That means it has the huge task of appealing to your audience, representing your business / products / services correctly, and encouraging people to convert.

Let’s take a look at what your website says about your business. The good and bad, and what you can do to fix the bad.

 

The bad

Out-of-date

Web design trends change quickly, so it’s easy to spot a website which hasn’t had a major update in the past few years.

Keeping your website copy updated regularly is one thing. But it will probably be quite hard for users to tell when the last time your copy was updated. However, it’s much easier for them to take a look at the design of your website and figure out when it was last updated.

You might think the design of your website isn’t important. But it can have a big impact on someone’s perception of your business. That can be the difference between them becoming a customer or going elsewhere.

Outdated websites might suggest that your business, products, and service are outdated. That perhaps you can’t offer them the best solution to their problem. Even if you actually could offer than a better product than any of your competitors.

Additionally, out of date websites can be associated with suspicious websites. The last thing you want is someone taking a look at your website and thinking you’re going to take their money and never send them what they ordered.

While it’s true that not all suspicious websites look out of date, an out of date website is something people will often see and say “nope”, and hit the back button.

Humans are very visual, and we do judge things and make decisions based on appearances.

How to fix it: If it’s been a few years since your website had a redesign, there’s no time like the present!

 

It’s confusing to use

We’ve all come to expect websites that are simple to use and allow us to find exactly what we’re looking for in as few clicks as possible.

The aim of your website is to get people to convert. But if you’re providing them with a confusing user journey then it’s much harder for them to do that.

A confusing website can put people off instantly. It suggests that you aren’t really interested in providing your target audience with the best experience possible.

There are plenty of websites that do provide a great experience. So someone won’t have to look far to find a competitor whose website is easier to use.

How to fix it: review your website and look at how you can simplify the user experience to make things as easy as possible.

 

You haven’t got a responsive website

Responsive websites have been a hot topic over the past year and there’s a good reason for that.

With smartphones being the most popular device to access the internet on in the UK, it’s imperative that your website is responsive.

If it isn’t, you’re providing a big portion of your audience with a poor user experience. And your search rankings in mobile search results may suffer as a result. If someone is ready to buy and they can’t buy because they’re using their phone and it’s hard work on your website, you’ve just lost a sale.

An unresponsive website suggests to your audience that you are out of date. You don’t think your website is all that important. And that you aren’t focused on providing your audience with the best experience possible. And that’s before you think about any future purchases they may have made. But won’t because their perception is that you don’t care about your audience as much as another company.

How to fix it: update your website to a responsive one to make it easy for users to use no matter what device they’re using.

 

Hard to get in touch with

One of the things people may look for before making a purchase is your customer service details. None of us want to waste money when we make a purchase. We like to know that if there’s an issue we can get in touch with someone easily to get our problem solved.

If your contact details are hard to find, that can set alarm bells off.

“Why are they making their contact details so hard to find? Don’t they want people to get in touch with them? Why don’t they want people to get in touch with them? If there’s a problem, I’m going to struggle to get it resolved quickly. I think I’ll just go somewhere else.” You’ve probably had a similar thought process yourself when you come across a website that makes it hard for you to find contact details.

No matter how good your product is. How many glowing reviews you have. Or how competitive your price is. Hard to find contact details can send a potential customer running.

How to fix it: Create a contact page which is easy to find, and consider putting a telephone number or email address in the header of your website.

 

No reviews or testimonials

People trust reviews more than they trust your marketing material. Looking at reviews before purchasing has become a big part of the buying process. According to Econsultancy, 61% of shoppers read reviews online before purchasing.

Reviews are especially important if someone has never heard of your company before. Or doesn’t know anyone who’s used your company before.

No one wants to be ripped off, and trust is a big thing when it comes to making a purchase decision. A lack of impartial reviews can put someone off and convince them to buy from a competitor who has reviews.

It’s not hard to get reviews or testimonials from your customers. They can make a huge difference to your audience’s perception of your business.

How to fix it: Get in touch with customers a few days after their product should have arrived. Ask them to provide you with a short review or testimonial.

 

Little product or service information

The internet has made us pretty lazy consumers. Which means that we want all the information to be available to us without us needing to actually speak to you. It doesn’t matter how good your customer service is, most people don’t want to call or email you unless they absolutely have to.

If your product information is lacking, then we’ll just find someone else who gives us all of that information up front because it’s easier than getting in touch with you.

A lack of product information can suggest that you don’t really care about your audience. That you don’t want to help them find the solution to your product. Why else would you leave them asking so many questions about the product?

If you are offering a service then your audience may not be able to buy directly on your website. So make sure you give them as much information as you can up front. This gives them chance to think about what questions they might need to ask you when they’re ready to speak to you and arrange the next step.

How to fix it: Make a list of all of the things your audience would want to know about a product / service and make sure all product descriptions / pages contain that information.

Yes, it can be time-consuming. It requires more effort than copying and pasting the manufacturer’s description. But it’s worth it in the long run.

It may also be helpful to review your competitors and look at what information they are providing. Is there anything missing? What else could they have included? Make sure you are giving your target audience a better experience than your competitors.

 

A poor brand

While not restricted to your website, a poor brand can really harm the perception of your business.

As we mentioned earlier, your website may be the first time someone sees your business. Which means that both your website and your brand need to appeal to your audience.

If your brand looks outdated, doesn’t appeal to your audience, or just looks plain bad, it can put customers off.

A poor brand can suggest that you are outdated, untrustworthy, and offer a bad service. Additionally, it can also position you incorrectly and leave your audience to believe that you are too cheap or too expensive for them.

A strong brand on the other hand, will communicate to your target audience. That you are, and offer, exactly what they are looking for.

How to fix it: If your brand is poor, it’s time to look at rebranding. Because it’s likely that your current brand is doing you more harm than good.

 

 

The good

Helpful content

Providing helpful content for free on your website is a good way to impress your target audience and show them that you want to help them find the solution to their problem, and get the most out of it.

There are thousands of different types of useful content you could provide, but here are a few ideas to get your creativity flowing:

  • Tutorials on how to do certain things – you might even do beginner, intermediate, and advanced tutorials
  • Recipes
  • Style trends – you could blog about how to wear a certain popular garment, or talk about interior design trends, or popular hairstyles – of course this will depend on your sector
  • Other uses for your product / service
  • Stories about how your customers have used your product / service and how it helped them

You don’t just have to write blog posts either, there are many ways you can share that information with your audience, including: videos, infographics, podcasts, slideshows, and more.

 

Lots of photos

As we mentioned earlier, we are heavily influenced by imagery. Providing your audience with lots of photos, and maybe even a video, of your product from multiple angles, in different colours, and in use can convince someone to hit the ‘buy’ button.

When we can’t go into a shop to see and hold something, we rely on images and videos to;

  • Help us get a feel for the product
  • Look at the material it’s made from
  • See the size of it, where things are located
  • Begin to understand how it is used
  • See the exact colours – it’s ok telling us something comes in blue, red, and green, but exactly what shade of blue, red, and green?

If you’re providing your audience with multiple images of products then you’re doing them a huge favour and making the consideration stage very easy for them.

 

An appealing tone of voice

Your tone of voice and the words you use can grab a customer’s attention and convince them that you’re the best company for them. Or your tone of voice can put them off by coming across the wrong way.

The exact tone of voice and the words you need to use will depend on your business, what you’re selling and your target audience.

If your audience are teenage boys, your tone of voice won’t be the same as a business whose target audience are Mums.

By using a tone of voice that resonates with your audience you’re suggesting that you know who your audience are and what they like.

We like buying from brands who we feel ‘get us’ and share the same values as us, and this can help you gain loyal customers who don’t even consider going somewhere else when they need something that you sell.

 

Trustworthy

There are many aspects of your website and your brand which your audience will use to decide whether or not you’re trustworthy. However, if you’re an ecommerce website there are specific things you can do to show your audience that your website is safe.

Online fraud is always at the back of consumer’s minds whenever they purchase online, and they want to be sure that they’re ordering from a website that will protect their personal information.

If you have SSL certificates and trust badges on your website, such as Symantec, Norton, McAffee, and TRUSTe, it suggests that you are committed to protecting your customer’s data. These badges give users faith that your website is secure and that you are doing your best to keep their information safe.

 

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it covers the key things that your website is saying about your business and your products.

Your website is not something that you just do once every few years and forget about it. To provide your target audience with the best experience, you should be regularly reviewing it and looking at what you can do to provide a better experience and be more helpful.

 

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 to avoid wasting money on marketing your small business

how to avoid wasting money on marketing your small business

how to avoid wasting money on marketing your small business

We are often asked how to identify which marketing activities will provide the best ROI, and how to stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t work.

In a small business, any purchase is a big purchase, so committing to marketing campaigns can be a huge decision. We’ve put together 6 tips on ensuring you get the best value for your money.

 

Know your market

This may seem obvious, but when you are busy trying to build business it can easy to overlook the time you should have spent on getting to understand your market. By completing these 3 simple steps, you will put yourself in a much better position to understand what marketing will help you as a company.

Step 1: You have to start by knowing yourself. Take the time to define your aims, your values and your ethic. You will not truly know your competitors, until you know what you are trying to achieve.

Step 2: Find your competition. Use local directories and web searches to discover who is around you, and what they are doing. Though you may not consider Mr Joe Bloggs Freelancer or Big Corp Corporation a competitor, as they are not the same size as you. If they are offering any of the same services as you, you need to understand their business, and why customers may pick them over you.

Step 3. Know your own audience. To grow your audience, you need to understand the customers you already have. Unless you are in a very niche business, most companies cannot follow a ‘one approach fits all’ method. You need to define your ‘buying personas’ the people who buy from you, why they buy, how they buy, when they buy. Once you know these traits, you will be able to appeal directly to other people with these traits.

Once you have defined these 3 steps you should have a good idea of how you should approach your buying personas, how your competitors are approaching their audience, and why you are different. These will all help to then define your activities.

 

Be up front about budget

Talking about money is always awkward, especially if you are just growing and the money just isn’t there yet.

Even so, you may find yourself swept away by a sweet talking sales rep into taking on the fanciest direct mail campaign you have ever seen. Where every recipient receives their promotional letter with a free mug with your company logo on, delivered by the earliest post so they can use the mug for their morning cuppa etc but if you don’t have the budget, then don’t commit to it just yet.

There is always an element of risk in marketing, as we humans can be quite fickle, and we can change what we like to react to as quickly as the weather. So almost bankrupting yourself for one campaign is usually not worth it, even if it does sound pretty amazing.

If you want to do the big campaigns, prove yourself through the little campaigns first. Use what you have put together from knowing your market, to try some ideas out. Spend a little of your budget to gain knowledge of what works, and hopefully make a profit. You will be in a much better place to start your first big campaign.

 

Dedicate time

It can be a common misconception, as you’ve seen above, that if you throw a large amount of money at a marketing activity or campaign, you are guaranteed good results. This is just not the case.

Marketing works on the psychology of people, and what they will react well too. If you just throw anything out there you cannot predict what the results will be, so taking the time to work through your marketing messages is essential.

Let’s take the example above. You’ve been pitched to about this brilliant direct mail campaign; everyone’s going to get mugs, everyone’s going to have their morning cuppa in them, or take them to work, and your company logo is going to be everywhere, and you will be swarmed with calls. But what if your buying persona is actual fitness focused, does not drink caffeine, and goes out for a morning run before work? The phone may be a little quieter.

If you know your buying personas, you know what type of person they are. You know if they prefer to be contacted by letter, email or phone.

Take the time to consider what you are trying to say, and how your audience will best take that in. Throwing money at marketing is not a substitute for time. Sit down with your colleague, team or agency, and it will produce better results and give you more return in the long run.

 

Be persistent

This is something we say quite frequently, but it is true.

If you have completed the above, you should have a good idea of when your campaign should start paying off. However, it can sometimes take a little longer to work, especially if you are looking at something involving social media.

Not everything is instant. This doesn’t mean the campaign hasn’t worked.

If you follow the below step, you should know when is time to move on to the next campaign. But if you still aren’t sure, wait another day, and look at the results again.

 

Monitor the results of your efforts

You will never know the outcome of your expenditure unless you actually monitor what you are doing.

There are many ways to measure, and it doesn’t necessarily matter which you use, just as long as you are measuring. Once you start, you will learn the best ways or software to monitor, but you just have to get started.

By doing the above you should know what to expect, whether that’s an influx of calls, meetings or actual sales. You can then monitor to conversions, and see how much money you actually made off one campaign. If you don’t do this, you will never truly know if you are wasting your budget or not.

 

Make the most of free marketing consultations which most agencies offer

The majority are no obligation and can pinpoint where your efforts should go for your specific company. If you have done the first few tips, you should be able to get some advice quite quickly. The agency will discuss ideas with you on what they think is best and you can go from there.

And remember, though you can tackle some things on your own, if you are looking at a campaign bigger than what you have done before, or are just not sure what messages to send in your marketing, maybe it’s best to pass it to the professionals.

 

If you want to take advantage of our free marketing consultation, call one of our friendly team now on 01543 495752, and you can have a cuppa, cuddle with the dogs and maybe even a slice of cake.

How the Internet has Changed Marketing

How the internet has changed marketing

It’s been 25 years since CERN made the Word Wide Web technology available to everyone royalty free. The internet has come a long way since then, now allowing us to look at photos of other people’s food, watch animals do silly things, keep up with your friends and family, and order things from the comfort of the sofa.

By changing the way people buy, the internet has changed marketing.

As a result, businesses have had to change the way they market themselves and sell to take advantage of the latest technology and consumers shopping habits.

Make your marketing work more for you and your business. Talk to us and let’s see where we can help

Those that failed to do that went out of business, such as HMV (though they have since returned), Jessops, Comet, and Woolworths, who all disappeared from the British high street in the past few years.

Let’s take a more detailed look at how the internet has changed marketing.

How the internet has changed marketing with Websites

Anyone can set up a website now, which has given businesses an easy way to reach their target audience and explain how their products and services can solve their problems.

When someone recognises a want or need, their search for the solution will often begin online.

In 2014, research found that 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase.

If your company hasn’t got a website, your target audience are unlikely to find out. As consumers we’re quite lazy and want businesses to provide us with all the information for us to peruse at our leisure, rather than us having to go through the yellow pages, or walk up and down the high street trying to find someone who sells what we’re looking for.

In fact, we don’t even want to work that hard to find information when we’re searching for it on the internet from the comfort of our home.

Reviews

The research process often involves reading or watching reviews from professionals and fellow consumers to help us evaluate which product is best for us. A study in 2014 found that 61% of people read product reviews before making a purchase.

There are multiple places we can find reviews for products we’re searching for, including:

  • Websites that sell the product / service – both your actual website, and third-party sites you may sell through like Amazon or Etsy
  • Impartial review sites like TripAdvisor, or Yell
  • Social media
  • Blogs
  • YouTube
  • Search Engines

All of these things allow us to figure out which product will meet our need, and we will probably spend more time watching reviews than actually looking at the product on the seller’s website.

On top of all of this, businesses now need to make sure that they have a responsive website to fit the demands of consumers. In the UK, the smartphone is the most popular device people use to access the internet. Those businesses who don’t keep up and have a responsive website could find themselves falling behind.

E-commerce

Without the internet you couldn’t: order presents online, buy a DVD cheaper than it’s sold for in physical stores, buy a book and begin reading it in seconds, or order takeaway food without having to speak to someone on the other end of the phone.

The internet has allowed business owners to escape the risk and expensive costs of owning a physical shop. A website is cheaper in comparison, and allows businesses to reach more people.

Physical stores are geographically restricted, but on the internet you can reach and sell to people all over the globe. On top of that, you can sell or receive enquiries 24/7.

For business owners, a website is an absolute no brainer. Why wouldn’t you want to be able to receive orders outside of business owners and not be restricted by your location?

Business can reach more people, and customers can shop without leaving the house – everyone’s a winner.

How the internet has changed marketing using advertising

The first advertising banner went live in 1994, and Google AdWords was born in 2000, allowing businesses to advertise and reach their target audience based on the keywords they searched for and the websites they visited.

Online advertising isn’t limited to search engines and websites anymore, adverts are now found on:

  • Social networks
  • In apps
  • Music streaming services, like Spotify
  • On devices – Amazon’s Kindle Fire shows adverts on the lock screen unless you pay to remove them

Businesses can now target and retarget their audience with adverts based on their demographics, websites they’ve visited, things they’ve searched for, and more.

Social media

Social media provides businesses with yet another way to reach, target, and communicate with their audience.

As well as allowing businesses to communicate with their audience, it’s another way of encouraging your audience to visit your website.

Businesses can also use social media as a customer service method, meaning they can quickly address and resolve issues without the customer having to send an email or make a phone call. As well as helping individual customers with their issue, it can also make the company look good if they handle it particularly well.

Social commerce even allows people to buy a product without even visiting the businesses website.

Email marketing

While email was certainly around long before the internet, email marketing as we know it today wouldn’t exist without the internet. Without it, how would businesses collect contact information?

Email marketing has evolved to allow businesses to do a lot, such as:

  • Letting customers know about special offers
  • Introducing new products and services
  • Making personalised recommendations based on previous purchases or searches
  • Share tips to get more out of a product and service
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews and refer others
  • Invite people to events

… and it works!

Analytics

One of the best things about using the internet for marketing is that you can nearly always track your activities and ask yourself ‘so what?’ This means businesses can easily identify what activities are working well, which ones aren’t, which helps them to learn more about their audience and market to them better.

The internet has changed marketing, the way businesses sell, and the way people buy hugely, and it’s still continuing to do so. Successful businesses will be ones who keep up with the way that consumers are buying.

It’s interesting to think about how this blog post might read in another 20 years time? How do you think the internet may change marketing in the future?

You can find more useful posts about marketing in our blogs. 

If you have any marketing needs for your business, why not contact our friendly team to see how we could help you? We offer no obligation initial meetings, so we can have a real talk about your aims, and how we may be able to get you there. 

9 ways to market your business on a budget

9 ways to market your business on a budget

9 ways to market your business on a budget

A question we are asked time and time again is how a small business with a small budget can make the most out of their marketing.

Yes, it’s true that the bigger your marketing budget, the better your marketing can be. Take John Lewis for example, they spent £7 million on just their Christmas campaign, but it worked. (And I bet you still talk about Monty the Penguin today!)

If, like the majority of people, you don’t happen to have £7 million spare for your marketing budget, we have some great tips to get your business booming on a budget. Every business has to start somewhere!

There are a number of “free” marketing activities you can do that can help you to create big opportunities for your business. We use the word “free” loosely here, because it will cost you your time and effort, and your time is valuable.

 

Social Media

I guess you knew this one was coming; social Media is a brilliant tool that allows you to connect with your target audience directly, and you can do it for free!

Don’t believe though that this means instant results, and you must remember you won’t gain a lead for every post you put up. You have to work hard at it for leads to blossom, but it is proven to work.

Social media tips:

  • Find out which social networks your target audience use
  • Read up about best practice
  • Test when is the best time to post
  • Analyse what your audience react well too

If you are struggling, but feel this a marketing activity that will benefit your business, there are many courses around to improve your social media skills for business, though there will be a cost to those.

Want to know more on social media? We recommend 14 common social media mistakes and what to do instead as further reading.

 

Blogging

Blogging is a huge part of inbound marketing that will help to attract your target audience. But it is also a good way of keeping existing customers coming back to your website.

As well as giving you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge and share advice, it gives prospects a chance to learn more about your business and your services / products.

Blogging tip: focus on creating high quality content – think, the best content someone could wish to read around a particular topic.

Once again, you can find courses and sessions that will teach you how to blog, or you can even get someone to write them for you. Of course, there is a cost implication to that.

 

Testimonials and Case studies

The words of others speak wonders; studies have found that 88% of people are influenced by online customer service reviews when making buying decisions.

Testimonials teamed with evidence of the work you have done with them is some of the best advertising you can have. Take the time to write case studies on the projects you have worked on, and don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials from your current customers.

Not sure how to ask for your reviews and testimonials? We recommend Why customer reviews are important and how to get them as further reading

 

Your elevator pitch

When it comes to small businesses, people can be the best marketing tools your company has. By taking the time to perfect an elevator pitch (or two) you give yourself the best change to market to people when opportunities present themselves, and you have nothing else to hand.

 

Content Marketing

This is another method you may have heard a lot about. In fact, 98% of B2B marketers say content marketing is core to their marketing strategy.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, content marketing is using content (blogs, ebooks, guides, recipes, videos, etc) to provide your target audience with something useful and helpful.

As we mentioned above, you should be creating high quality content that provides the reader with some value. This will help them move through the buyers’ cycle and get them one step closer to buying.

There are a number of methods for making your content more SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) friendly, so if you are considering this route, I would advise committing to a little more research into SEO. Once again, options are available for courses or someone to do this on your behalf, but this would incur costs.

Want to be the best at content marketing? We would recommend How to create the best, most useful, content in search results as further reading

 

Strategic alliances

Creating strategic alliances with non-competitive businesses can work really well for a smaller business.

Find local companies that compliment your services, and you can refer customers between yourselves, create offers for going between your businesses, and even guest blog for each other once you have worked together for a while.

Make sure your find a business that not only do you like, but who believe in providing an excellent service as much as you do, and whose work you trust. It will look bad if you refer your clients to a business who lets them down.

 

Great Customer Service

Nothing can ruin a company quicker than bad customer service. According to a study in 2014 58% of consumers will never use a company again after a negative experience.

And just as good reviews will spread to bring you new customers, bad reviews will spread like wildfire, taking twice as many customers with them.

Interested? We would recommend LEGO’s excellent example of customer service as further reading

 

Free consultations

Many businesses will offer free consultations to see how they can help potential customers, but the mistake they make is not promoting that particularly well.

If you offer free consultations, promote this and let your target audience know. Seeing that you offer a consultation, or a review, where they can find out more about your offering can encourage more people to get in touch.

 

Positivity and Persistence

Regardless of which activity you decide to use, remain positive, and stick with it!

Marketing is not all instant results, some activities take a little longer to produce results.

Good marketing will bring you consistent results over a long period of time; don’t lose faith if things don’t pay off as quickly as you think. However, always make sure you measure your marketing efforts and their results so you can judge when it is perhaps time to move on to the next idea.

If you would like to take advantage of our free marketing consultation to see how marketing could gain you more customers, improve your business position or create more opportunities for you to sell, speak to one of the team on 01543 495752.

10 things to think about when considering a CRM

10 things to think about when considering a CRM

10 things to think about when considering a CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can be a huge asset to a business. They can be your phone book, track your emails, help with your marketing strategy, be your to do list, and even your productivity report.

There are a huge number of CRMs available, all of which have different strengths and limitations. We, at The Marketing People use Hubspot CRM, which we have reviewed.

Setting up and using a CRM requires a huge commitment in terms of time, effort, training, and money, so you need to think carefully before you make your decision.

So where do you even begin? Here are 10 questions you need to ask when considering a CRM.

 

Why are you considering a CRM system?

Why do you need it? What is going wrong at the moment? It is a really big investment, both in effort and in money; what are your reasons for this change?

What do you want from your CRM?

What do you want to achieve? Do you just want to use it as a record of calls and contact? Do you want to have reports available to managers of productivity? Do you want to grow your prospect list? You need clear goals to pick the right system

Who will be using it?

Will only one person be using it? Will there be 300 people on it? Some systems charge by user, so you need to have an idea of who you want on it.

Who needs to view what? Do you need different access levels?

Following on from who will be using it, you need to know who can view what. Some CRMs have open accounts so all users can see all information. In a bigger company you may need to give certain access to certain people, in which case you will need to look at buying user accounts.

Is it easy to use?

Some CRMs can have every report and action under the sun, but that can make them very awkward to use. CRMs become an extra limb once you have one, and you rely on it constantly, so you need to make sure its user friendly. The last thing you want is for you and your employees to get frustrated with it and want to throw your computer out the window every day.

Is it easy to customise?

CRMs are brilliant, and usually include most things you will need. However, each company is unique, and you are bound to need to re-label things, or add extra elements, to make the system work well for you. How easy is it customise? Will you need to go through the CRM hosting company, or can you change it yourself?

Will it add extra work to your day?

The CRM system is meant to make your life easier, but if your CRM doesn’t meet your needs, or you don’t have the processes in place for it to work correctly, it can quickly become a time suck. Will people be doing jobs twice? If telesales workers have to type notes after the call, it will add time to each call, meaning you have to reconsider targets etc., as you are giving an extra job to do.

What is the CRM’s support team like?

If you have a large team, you are more than likely going to need a strong support base. You are going to need someone to call upon all hours of the day to answer the problems of the many people.If you have a smaller team, you will still require support, but possibly might be able to have one connection who’s available, or have an internal support system before you escalate it to an external support team.

Will you require training?

Will the people who need to use the CRM system be able to use it? If this is the first time using a CRM system, even the most computer savvy can get overwhelmed.Take the time to book training at the beginning, whether this is a group training session, or webinars sent out to individuals.

How much do you want to spend on a CRM?

The big question. How much do you want to spend? This depends on all the above elements. There are some free systems you can use, but that really depends on what you need it for. Extra costs can be found in needing more user accounts, customisation, extra support and extra training.

 

Once you have established your expectations, you can narrow down the huge list of CRM options available.

You should be able to arrange a free ‘tour’ around the CRM. This can be quite exciting as you see all the new possibilities, but remember to keep coming back to your list. Does it do what you actually need it to do? And, does it do it efficiently?

It is usually best to ensure an actual team member who will use it is on this virtual tour too. Though management are the decision makers, if your top biller can’t make head or tales of the system, it’s going to affect their mood, their attitude and consequently the money they bring in. Having honest feedback from the actual users will save you time and money in the future.

 

Transferring data to your new CRM

Once you have decided on a CRM, and installed it, the next big task is the set up and transfer of data.

Unless you are a brand new company, you will have to transfer existing data over to the CRM. This takes time. Lots of time. You will need to prepare the data you have so that it is suitable to be uploaded, then depending on the system, and the amount of data transferred, it will take its time to upload too. Though annoying, it is much more preferential than the alternative of manually inputting all of your data.

 

Set expectations about how you want your employees to use the CRM

Once your data is up and running, you need to allow time to adjust. Though you may have great ideas of how the process will work, they may not be practical when you actual use it day to day. Have an initial plan and trial it, if it takes more time than you expect, or you realise you can capture extra data that would be really beneficial, review the plan and reset the standards for all users.

The worst things about CRMs is when everyone uses them differently, and you have half a collection of data on one contact’s page and an essay on another contact’s page. Set out the essential information that needs to be captured every day or every call.

 

Then that’s it, the organisation begins. But remember, if it really isn’t doing what you need it to do, change it! There are plenty of CRM’s out there, and they are not one size fits all, keep looking until you get the right one.

You can find more useful articles on customer service throughout our blog, to make sure your customers are receiving the best experience possible.

If you want to utilise the data you have, and create a profitable marketing plan give us a call today on 01543 495752 or take a look at the marketing services we offer.