Category Archives: Social Media

Nicola Peaty

Top tips on how to raise your search engine ranking.

By Nicola Peaty

search_engine_rankingWhere would we all be without Google these days?! As such a major force in our digital world, we have to play according to the big search engine ways in order for our online presence to be found by our target markets. Below are our top tips on how to help raise your website’s search engine ranking.

 

Start with your research: In order to really know how to attract your target visitors to your website, you need to know what search terms they are using when looking online for products or services which match those relevant to yours. You would waste a lot of time guessing or assuming certain terms and then finding you attract the wrong type of audience who immediately bounce back when they realise your site is not what they’re looking for. Wordtracker and Google Adwords are useful tools that will help you discover the exact words and phrases your potential customers are inputting to search engines. This kind of insight gives you real intelligence into how your market is searching and consuming relevant information to your company, so use it wisely and keep checking and updating accordingly.

Specify your search terms: Based on the keyword research, you will have a list of words, terms and phrases to form the basis of your SEO strategy. Make sure you use these keywords to match your company, products/services, but also where possible, specify the terms by using additional words to attract the absolute target audience. By this, we mean adding locality, product details and company information, so that a. your audience can see upfront exactly what they will view on your site and whether it matches their needs and b. you will avoid generic terms used by the big gun sites who will most probably rank higher and have paid for these terms through PPC.

Keyword your metadata: Use the list of keywords found by your research within the metadata on your website. The title metadata shows the page titles you can see in the web browser. The description metadata is your chance to give a succinct marketing push about the content visitors can find on that particular page. The keyword metadata is where you can use the research list of terms. It will also mean these pages appear by matching the terms searched by your prospective visitors and stand out with their relevant details compared to competing generic sites. Just don’t cram the titles full of keywords as this could well have the reverse effect and be completely ignored, so key the words concise but relevant.

meta-description-tag

Quality not quantity: Content is king as we all know in the online marketing space. Spiders love new and relevant content so keep updating and refreshing the information on your site. Use the keyword research on a regular basis to keep terms applicable and reflect in your content. Blogs are an obvious way of updating content and using social media to push this content out will hopefully then drive traffic back to your site. This increases the relevance and authority of your site. Monitor your content and know which is working and attracting the most views and comments, which can help you plan future content.

Online PR: Another way to get your content viewed and in turn raise your ranking, is to write and push out quality press releases. Again the word quality is used here, as the release has to be topical, insightful, have that grabbing ‘hook’ in order for journalists, other sites and viewers alike, to want to pick it up, link to it and view it. Value in your information will in turn give you value for your website and search engine ranking.

Links: Both inbound and outbound links play an important part on the authority and trust of your website, but again we have the quality not quantity rule to apply. Making sure you have fewer links that are all totally relevant and especially from other authority sites, is far more valuable to your ranking than hundreds of non-related small sites. It’s obviously easier to control outbound links from your site, but you can track inbound links from a range of programs such as SEOmoz and Google Analytics. This will give you an insight into who is coming to your site and where they are coming from. Another useful tip is to use specific and descriptive link tags which explains what content is to be found within the link, instead of generic terms like ‘click here’, which has no search engine value beyond the attached URL. If possible, you could contact these sites and ask them to do the same to help push relevant traffic your way.

Alt tags: Finally, once you’ve managed to drive visitors to your site, you want to keep them on there as long as possible. Therefore, use a variety of multimedia to keep their interest such as images, videos and infographics. Just make sure you don’t miss an opportunity by describing your media with alt tags (alternative text description). These can then be found by search engines and add a unique source of relevance to your audience. Below is a great example of how to post and tag images in an ongoing cycle which helps increase your links, add authority from other sites and keep your visitors engaged.

alt tag example

 

Nicola Peaty

Understanding the Fundamentals of Marketing Analytics

By Nicola Peaty

“If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.” Words from the Marketing Director, which will stay with me forever since my days in a centralised marketing department. Gone were the times of ‘how can we spend this money on hospitality, glossy brochures and a few events?’. Now it’s all about accountability, budget justification and ROI.

Analytics have become the solution, largely thanks to online data. So every marketer should be equipped with the facts and figures, which hold the answers to all marketing activities. Every activity should be measured, monitored and assessed for its performance compared to its objective.

Before you immerse yourself in the vast world of data, take time to stop and decide what you fundamentally need for the business. What data actually matters and is meaningful to you? There is so much available you could spend a lot of wasted time tracking the number of everything, when potentially you may need to know the WHO rather than the HOW MANY. This is vital so that you can then set up exactly what you need in terms of data collation, the reporting process and the ongoing analysis to then understand implications and implement improvements.

Marketing activities: Website analytics are of course fundamental in understanding every part of activity that occurs in the main hub of your online presence. Understanding the effectiveness of your website will help feed into the all other activity you carry out online. Every company should have a definitive list of KPIs they require for their website. But when it comes to marketing analytics, the list of marketing KPIs can run on and on. See example:

web vs marketing

So it’s important to decide from the outset, which marketing analytics your company really needs. That comes down to the requirements of the marketing plan. Activities and their analytics should inevitably be chosen to meeting your company’s specific goals.

The next question is, does each activity have a target and if so how? Is this based on previous activities or are they aspirational figures. Setting realistic measures is vital for all concerned. Then you have a genuine basis to compare your data results.

Finding out as much as possible before launching into any activity will ultimately help you get the best results. Assessing all previous marketing will give you the insight to shape and determine the specifics of any campaign. For example:

* If you have set up an SEM campaign, maybe to a specific landing page, what are your aims in terms of traffic or a call to action? Who responds best in your market and what incentive or hook will trigger the required action?
* If you have an email campaign planned, do you know the optimum ways of getting the best results eg type of message to type of audience, sent at the best time of day, to get most response?
* If you are launching a competition via social media, which platforms will you include to draw the best response and interaction?
Knowing the answers to the above questions really build marketing intelligence and thereby demonstrates the importance of choosing the right analytics.

Market analytics: Understanding important data related to your market will also give you useful facts about your audience. Profiling your customers into the highest buyers and most valuable clients will allow you to focus different activities on them compared to lapsed and new customers. So looking at your data, or gaps in your data, do you know the following:

* who is visiting your site
* who is actually purchasing form your site
* who is the most interactive on your social media
* who are the advocates and share your content
* who prefers face to face meetings
* who complains to customer services
* who likes to receive emails
* who unsubscribes to promotional emails

Knowing your market also includes the competition. Research and market share can give the analysis to understand whether the market is shifting, if there are any new opportunities or potentially any loss or gain in certain products/services. Plus it’s important to gauge their marketing activity and online presence and what type of campaigns they are implementing to attract certain customers.

Put this type of data together with your customer profiles and you have yourself some powerful intelligence to keep your company, and marketing, ahead of the curve and of the competition.

The holistic review: A lot of time can be spent analysing the finer details of certain data, but it also has to be assessed as part of the bigger picture. This means pulling together the findings of everything that you have decided is important for your business and learning from the implications this includes:

* the marketing performance across all activities,
* the marketing performance across all channels,
* the response from marketing campaigns across all departments involved eg sales, customer services,
* the performance from past to present marketing,
* the response from segments in your market,
* the activity from the competition,
* the response of the market from activity from the competition.

All the above will feed into your future activities, plans and strategies. You can then test and evaluate new and existing ideas, based on solid facts and figures, and build on these as you develop more and more intelligence.

Process: The final part of the analytical equation is implementing the process within your company. Everyone involved must be briefed into their part of the process and how they feed into the overall data collation and objectives. Dedicated staff are now employed to handle data analytics, but other departments play their part such as sales, customer services, market research and even IT and accounts.

Technology is so advanced in helping with data collection, analysis and predictions, but you obviously need the experts to help manage and decipher the findings. You can use anything from Google analytics to content management scoring and predictive conversion rates to planned ROI. As long as you know the following, you can establish a basic but comprehensive marketing analytics action plan:

* exactly which data you need,
* how best to collect the required data,
* how to report on the findings of the data,
* learning and Implications of data findings for the business.

Here’s a useful infographic about the analytics based online marketing and how it works:

analyticsbased-online-marketing--how-it-works_50291ccca42e5_w587

How to grow your business with social media



Nicola Peaty

How to create a successful landing page.

By Nicola Peaty

Landing pages have become a great tool for marketers, created for specific marketing objectives. The two main purposes for landing pages are 1. a funnel path to convert leads and 2. data collection within a lead generation campaign. Both require simple but effective pages in order to achieve the desired results. Below are some tips and examples of how to create successful landing pages:

* Eye-catching headine. As with all things online, you don’t have much time to grab visitors’ attention, so make sure your headline communicates exactly what you are offering. Whether it be a promotion for a new product line or the heading for a particular article, be bold and be clear.

GROUPON is simplicity at its best. They’ve used a striking block colour, with a bright contrasting image. The data capture shows how simple it has to be in order to collect basic details.

groupon-2

MAILCHIMP is a great example of a clear heading, catchy image and an obvious call to action.

MailChimp-Landing-Page-1024x760

 

*Keep the message clear. Visitors landing on the page should be able to quickly determine the value of your proposition. The main point is to give them compelling and succinct information which encourages them to click through or give their details. Use bullet points to list the main benefits so that it’s quick and easy for a visitor to scan and deduce why they should move closer to a consumer decision.

NETFLIX landing page shows how to communicate a lot of information is a neat and easy format. The visitor can see exactly how the process works with the short one word headings across the bottom together with brief copy with an exemplary image. The family photo, FREE TRIAL circle and simple data capture form pulls it altogether nicely, encouraging visitors to sign up.

netflix-landing
GIFTCARD is a beautifully branded and effective page. Four bullet points is all it takes to explain how it works and with an obvious, but not in your face, button to send a gift card.

gift card examples-of-great-landing-pages

 

* Funnel where you want them to go. This means avoiding too many links on one landing page, with different messages which could confuse and lose visitors. If you keep it simple then one or two effective ‘sign ups’ or ‘click heres’ should work and funnel the visitors exactly where you want them.

UK Digital Cameras landing page has quite a lot of content and yet it is still easy to understand there are two options which would funnel visitors according to their specific needs. You can either get a quote for an old camera or buy a new camera with an offer on a particular model.

UKDigitalCameras1

 

* Incentivise well. Competitions and prizes are great for landing pages. Make sure the offer is simple, clear and enticing. Know your market and create the design and impact accordingly. Using Facebook as your funnel through page can also build your social media audience.

The International Make-up Academy landing page is perfectly designed and branded for its target market with one striking image. ‘Enter’ and ‘Like’ are the two calls to action and the 500 voucher is stated clearly in the succinct copy.

FB comp-landing-pages-tima

 

* Be creative. This is your chance to hit your market with something compelling that engages them and convinces them to take the next step along their visitor journey. Knowing your audience will allow you to decide the appropriate tone and impact of your design and message.

Coca Cola created a page to attract youth apprentices. They added the bonus of a $5000 incentive for nominations. But they didn’t stop there. Possibly as this was targeted at a young market, they included a video of the ‘most outrageous way to share a coke’. I doubt many visitors resisted the urge to click and view and just have a bit of fun.

Cola landing pageimage

In summary, landing pages can be effective, without being complicated. Keep the message and design clear and simple and you will enhance the chances of achieving your required results. Know exactly what your objective is, your target market and match your proposition with creativity and purpose. Not forgetting to capture and funnel leads by simple calls to action.



How to grow your business with social media



Nicola Peaty

How to market small businesses on a budget.

By Nicola Peaty

budget recession, deficitGone are the days of expensive advertising and glossy brochures for most marketing budgets. The positive spin is that we have been forced to think cleverly about how to target customers which can then produce more effective results and without incurring large invoices. Quite often it is the time, thought and effort that is more important than the amount of money spent.

Below are our suggestions for low cost marketing ideas which can be selected according to your specific needs or as a collective campaign.

1. Content. What else? We’ve discussed and explained the benefits of content in our other blogs. Quite simply, it can be free if you or a colleague can write content and it can give customers so much added value and position you as the expert in your field. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/how-to-write-content-for-your-audience/

2. Social media. No surprise. Again if you’re in charge then it’s your time and no cost. Try to co-ordinate across the various platforms and encourage your biggest ‘fans’ to share and interact. See our related blogs on the various social media platforms; http://www.vgandassociates.com/facebook-as-a-marketing-tool-for-your-business/     http://www.vgandassociates.com/the-dos-and-donts-when-using-linkedin-to-market-your-business/     http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-on-how-to-use-twitter-for-your-business/    http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-on-how-pinterest-can-work-for-your-business/

3. Website. To be honest, any business these days can’t really exist without a website. It’s the first place people go to check out your ‘existence’ and credibility. All social media should link back to the website and your content updated to give Google fresh ammunition to drive traffic to your site. But it does not have to cost the earth. Keep it simple and easy to navigate. Make sure your proposition is understood and obvious. Good clear branding is essential so that customers know and remember you. Include clear calls to action and a response mechanism. Then you’re good to go. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/creating-an-effective-website/

4. Video. You don’t have to be Stephen Spielberg (or have his budget) to produce something which conveys your message in a simple but effective video. People are visual and love watching and listening more than reading copious amounts of words, so keep it short, to the point and interesting. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/using-video-for-marketing/

5. Infographics. Depending on your design capability as to whether you pay for these or not, infographics are so useful when communicating key points and messages to your audience. Whether it’s a specific explanation about something technical or an overview of a product, they help convey visually so customers understand quickly what you are aiming to put across. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/infographics-explained-with-a-little-help-from-some-infographics/

6. Database. Make sure that you have all your contact data in order so that it’s in the most effective state for your target marketing. If you have missing data, then fill in the gaps. Analyse the data so that you know exactly who are your most lucrative customers and who are your hottest leads. With your database ready to go, then you are in a much better position to ‘hit’ the right people with the right message.

7. Loyalty. If you find out from your database that you have a selection of loyal customers, then consider reward schemes and loyalty cards. Also, tap into these loyal customers to refer friends and give testimonials. You can even use them as successful case studies to demonstrate how your company works and get good results.

8. Networking. Mingle with the right people at the right events and it could be worth your while. Know who you want to meet and what you want to say before you go along or it could be a total waste of time. Be prepared with business cards and make sure you collect cards from useful contacts and then follow them up post event. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-for-successful-networking/

9. Host your own event. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate as long as the purpose and/or content pulls people in. Seminars with good content and no oversell will position you well. Customers are more likely to come for the content and as a result follow up with enquiries.

10. Email marketing. As long as your database is complete and up-to-date, then email marketing can be low cost and effective. Targeting the right customers or leads with the relevant message will produce the best results. Email can be used for promotions, feedback, competitions and even surveys. Design and delivery is dependent on your in-house capability and resource but in no way has to be expensive if you need to outsource. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/common-email-marketing-mistakes/

11. PR. Write a press release about your business or product/service, giving it as much unique individuality and then circulate to all local media. You never know you could strike lucky and one of the local press or websites will choose it as it relates to other content or they are in need of some local business information and news. Or, offer to write for a trade magazine or website that relates to your business giving your expert view, opinion or market update. This will certainly give you credibility and exposure. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-writing-a-press-release/

12. Related partnerships. Working with complimentary and non-competitive companies can have a mutual benefit. It gives you exposure to other customers and allows cross-promotion. By each company referring the other, you can only stand as a win win.

13. Business cards. We may no longer need glossy brochures and can afford elaborate literature, but the basic business card is one essential that any company still needs. They are functional and can be distributed throughout your company to give out to useful contacts in the field. Make sure they are fit for purpose, include all important details including website/contact numbers and have clear branding with strapline if applicable. Don’t overcrowd the card. If you have more information to include, then you may require a postcard or flyer to supplement the card.

14. Go local. Maximise what is on your doorstep. Use your local community and contacts. Do you have local social media and press you can use to promote your company? Are there local events, trade fairs, community gatherings and business groups you can tap into and take a stand or just network? Consider where your target customers may go in and around the area and hand out flyers in these places for them to find and pick up such as shopping centres, the library, leisure centres etc.

15. Try before you buy. Some people just need a little trial or taster before they commit to a purchase. An easy idea is to offer a small freebie or discount coupon. Everyone likes a bargain and if it persuades the customer and as a result they like your product, then you may have a new sale.

Nicola Peaty

How to generate leads for your business.

By Nicola Peaty

lead genGenerating leads for your business is the fundamental criteria for success or failure. However, it is all about quality leads not just quantity. There is much more sophistication in the art of the various lead processes in terms of generation, nurturing, demand, qualification and conversion. Marketers have to combine strategic planning with tactical execution and focus on progressing new prospects to delivering sales-ready leads. So before marketers get stuck into the array of lead generation possibilities, you must have the following in place: 1. agreed company objectives including target markets and measures; 2. the appropriate systems eg prospect database, CRM, marketing automation; 3. cohesive teams with the same aims and understanding especially sales and marketing; 4. plans to progress leads down the marketing funnel and towards sales conversion; Next it’s down to the marketing team to plan the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ in terms of targeting, promotions, messages and execution. Below is our top list of recommended ways to source new leads. These are by no means exhaustive and each must be considered as to their relevance and value in accordance with the set objectives and type of market. referralsReferrals: Even a young company will have some kind of customer or associate relations which they can utilise to leverage potential new leads. Tap into existing contacts who you can trust and who will positively promote your business in order to open a few new doors. Linked In is a great B2B network for quality professionals who can help you ‘connect’ with potential new customers. For more established companies, hopefully with some solid customer relations, ask them to give their testimonials and refer possible contacts who they believe could benefit from your services. Peer reviews go a long way to adding credibility and reassurance for prospective customers. Choose your advocate clients who you know can champion your company and products and would be willing to make the effort to refer you to others. Reward schemes can help incentivise customers to ‘refer a friend’, but monitor and assess the quality of the lead referred to ensure they are relevant and not just a way of accessing the reward on offer! Alliance partnerships: Similar to referrals in a way, by joining up with business partners who compliment and don’t compete, you can generate leads both ways to help each other. It does depend on mutual trust and willing, but it makes sense that both parties can benefit if the customer is relevant to both companies. For example, in the wedding industry, bridal wear shops can refer to florists and cake makers without competing, in the agreement, that they will refer them as well. Events: These are the opportunities to bring your company to life and give a face to the brand. Not everyone enjoys events, so it’s important to select the right person to represent the company in the best way and to achieve the desired result. Networking groups help both new and established companies, whether you are just starting to promote yourself or targeting specific types of contacts. (See our blog on Top Tips for Successful Networking). Not everyone enjoys Tradeshows can be hit or miss and it’s all about the preparation and execution. Ensure the right type of prospects will be attending so that it’s not a complete waste of time and effort. Exhibition stands are only successful if they have skilled people manning the stand who know how to attract visitors among all the other stands fighting for their attention. Once a visitor has engaged, it’s all about having the right message and promotion. speechA great way to convey your brand as a voice of authority and as an industry expert is to give a specialist talk either at a trade seminar or by creating your own session. Choosing a topic that will advise or give insightful detail and opinion will hopefully generate new interest and therefore potential new customers. Whatever your approach to events, make sure you have contact capture forms ready and follow up post event with email, call or meetings as agreed. Search traffic: How often do we all go straight to Google when first looking for a product or service? Whether it is searching locally for a company or fact finding for specific details, the search engine is the major source of potential online prospects at the very beginning of the ‘lead funnel’ for marketers. You have a choice of SEO, SEM and PPC, but in order for you to attract quality traffic, it is essential to use specific keywords and terms that will match what your prospects are using when searching for your type of product. Avoid generic terms that will only cost you more, compete with the big players and not necessarily deliver qualified leads. Include details that will help produce the best result and match for the prospect in search, for example product specifications and location of company. Ensure you have the matching content ready and in place on your website including tailored landing pages. Visitors want to be able to click on a link that takes them directly to the information they are searching for (and not the homepage), otherwise you will lose them very quickly. Content: Great content can be used in many ways to attract new leads. By writing and/or speaking about topics which leads are interested in and searching for, you can become the source for fact, opinion, advice and the latest developments for your market. As long as the content is relevant, of value and targeting the specific type of leads, your content marketing plan can be very powerful as a lead generator. (See our blog on How to write content for your audience.) Social Media: Integrating your social media messages and promotions with great content can help drive traffic to your site and generate new leads. Getting likes, shares and +1s will build your audience organically. Remember to be creative and use visuals and videos as well to stand out, attract attention and even go viral. (see our blogs on Google +,  Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and video.) Use social media as a way to monitor discussions and get involved with your expert input, so that you can build your profile and raise awareness. You can then attract new followers and start customer interaction to nurture new leads. This takes time and effort so use a dedicated resource to keep track of any leads generated and how to progress them further down the ‘marketing funnel’. Contact details: This includes both yours and your leads. First make sure that you have company contact details at all lead touch points, so that they are able to get in touch should they have any initial fact finding questions or enquiries. Include as many ways for the prospect to make contact eg email, tel, online form, and ensure you respond in time with at least an acknowledgment or with the full details to their query. Make sure you also have data capture points for all new leads, whether that be online, face to face at an event or with a telephone enquiry. Start with the minimal basics and grow the details as you have more interaction. Offer incentives for leads to give more details eg to download information or for certain promotions. The idea is to build profiles and intelligence about your leads in order for targeted marketing. Automated email marketing is a good way to filter leads and build intelligence by a sequence of emails which contain specific information. Different emails are triggered according to how leads respond to each email and thereby tailoring content to their needs. It is essential to keep all captured contact data up-to-date so that you are able to manage your marketing effectively and segment the leads according to their specific needs and requirements. Once you’ve done the hard work in generating a new lead, you can then progress the lead according to your nurture and conversion plans.

lead gen funnel How to grow your business with social media

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