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Nicola Peaty

How to use Google+ to help market your business.

By Nicola Peaty

google+Google+ is another fast growing social media platform which marketers are using to help target and generate leads for their business. With impressive statistics on the increase, it’s no surprise why Google+ is becoming another important part of the marketing mix:

* Over 300 million active users
* 50% of users visit daily
* 42% use Google+ to interact with brands’ content
* 70% of top 100 brands are using Google+

SEO: As this platform is actually owned by Google, there are obvious benefits when using Google+ to enhance your Google listing. By posting content with relevant keywords, Google indexes the data which helps optimise your content and in turn increases your ranking. This is something which limited on both Twitter and Facebook. Therefore, use Google+ as another stream of optimised content as part of your overall SEO strategy.

Circles: Another key feature which Google+ boasts are the ‘circles’ which enable you to circles-bigsegment and organise your ‘content consumers’ by similar demographics. This plays so well for marketing opportunities and allows a business to target in different ways such as by prospects and evangelists or by geographics and interests. Circles should be built on the knowledge of what the users’ interests are, what content they are sharing and the relationship with your brand and business. Google will respond well to great interaction between your streamed content and the actions of your users with that content.

Content: You can share content by posting on your profile, emailing to your circles or via your Google+ communities. It is down to each individual business to ensure that quality, relevant information is streamed to targeted communities. This means not only creating your own content but also recommending other ‘quality’ content. This is also a good time to remember the 20%/80% rule of promotional/useful information, otherwise you’re likely to lose your users. With so many multimedia options available, there’s no excuse to compete creatively with your content and delivery by using YouTube, Hangouts, infographics, striking images, events, webinars, the list is endless. Your ‘+1ing’ should start to increase as users receive, like and share your content.

Interaction: The aim is to grab users’ attention, get them to open up to allow your content to stream to them and then start building engagement through two way communication. Join specific conversations by joining communities and using the Explore tab, which enable you to comment on key topics which relate to your business. Maintain regular interaction to help keep the engagement and build closer contacts. If and when creating your own content, don’t forget to use links which drive traffic back to your site, not just on the platform. Google+ has a great post click engagement and refers a high quality traffic with over 2 pages per visit.

Brand: As with all communication in the marketing mix, your brand personality should maintain the same values, tone and image throughout. Make sure your profile, sharing of information and content creation/delivery all have the same brand continuity so that users build a clear understanding of your business and position in the market. Have al ook around at different brand pages to get inspiration. Below are a couple of good examples:

coca-cola-th

 

 

 

 

 

toyota google-plus-page

Nicola Peaty

Top tips on how to use Twitter for your business.

By Nicola Peaty

twitter_social_media_marketingTwitter is an instant public messaging platform on a microblogging network. For marketers, it is another way to engage and interact with customers. It can be used for brand awareness, to involve your audience with your company and essentially for you to enter ‘conversation’ with your clientele. It takes time, care and attention and planning to serve as a productive marketing tool.

Here are our top tips on what to consider when using Twitter for your business:

Profile:
Even when setting up your profile, you should consider how to present your brand and company details. This should be consistent with your other social media tools. Choosing whether to use your logo and/or a head shot can give your company a different persona. (Remember if using a logo to have it resized for the square box available on Twitter.) All account details should of course be accurate, but think of this as another marketing opportunity to give a unique profile of you and your business. As soon as you are all set up, make sure your account is integrated with your website, blog etc to ensure optimum use of shared content, traffic and followers.

Who to follow:
We would advise the following stakeholders as useful people to follow, in order to know the full picture of who is saying what about all relevant areas regarding your business:
* Associations
* Customers
* Suppliers/vendors/partners
* Competitors
* Industry experts
* Local companies
Twitter now has an advanced search which allows you to find local businesses with which to connect and network. The Twitter List also enables you to create separate groups of followers so that you can follow different types of conversations and threads.

Join the conversation:
It’s probably wise to follow and listen first, before you dive into creating new content. Spend some time getting a feel for what is being discussed in general and topically regarding pertinent information for your business. Use the hash tag search to find out about particular subjects and connected people. Also, use the search engine to find out if and what people may be commenting about your business. Build up an idea of how you can respond if applicable or add to existing conversations and even where there are gaps of information which you can address.

Plan:
You are now ready to create a communications plan. This is a purposeful, thought-through idea of messages, topics and discussions which have the ultimate aim of attracting potential customers. Rather than ad-hoc, reactive tweets, your plan needs to have objectives which fit with your brand and your business goals and integrate with all other marketing activity. Think about the frequency, subject matter, using keywords and don’t forget to mix it up! That means tweeting a variety of product news, industry views, new promotions, fun stuff like competitions, using media such as photos and videos.

Adding the shortened URL links will enable you to drive traffic to the full content on your website/blog. Make sure you track the variation of tweets and identify which type of tweets get the best results. Optimise your tweets with the Twitter widget on your website and Tweet button on all content for followers to share.

Getting the right balance:
Like all other forms of social media marketing, you must strike a balance between promoting your business as well as providing your customers with useful content which they will value. By following and listening to what your customers and peers are tweeting, you’ll be able to participate by adding your comment and opinion, sharing your views and advice and even solutions if applicable. You will then catch the attention of the right people in the right way which will then bring you closer to your target audience.

You can still promote your company and products/services, just make sure you make the promotional tweets a bit more personal and conversational and less ‘marketing speak’. 140 characters is not a lot but can be used in so many different ways. The language, tone and style of your tweets should be true to your brand and give the required voice and personality.

Twitter has its own useful information on specific marketing tools.
https://business.twitter.com/marketing-twitter
Find out how to:
* Target with precision to connect with the right people
* Find out more about who’s on Twitter and how to reach them
* Understand your results with analytics
* Integrate your marketing efforts with Twitter buttons and embedded Tweets
* Scale your efforts to maximize your impact
* Get results with successful promotional tactics and strategies

We also found this link which gives you the basics on Twitter if you need to understand about the messaging network in a bit more detail.
http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Twitter-for-business-How-to-make-it-work-for-your-business


How to grow your business with social media



Nicola Peaty

What to look for when assigning a web developer for your new website.

By Nicola Peaty

In the words of our very own web developer, we believe there are four crucial points to web developerconsider when looking for someone to work with on developing your new website.

1. Communication.                                                       

You must feel you can discuss technical and other issues easily and openly, between account handler, design team and development team. This is where most things go wrong. If in doubt always ask for clarification and ensure everything is documented including critical decisions, timelines and actions.

2. Flexibility.

A developer must understand that the scope of projects can change, and be able to adapt. Only as briefing discussions take place will all parties be aware of what is really needed. There is no point using a sledgehammer to crack a nut (or vice versa). The appropriate scale and size of website must be agreed once all requirements and specifications have been clarified.

3. Trust.

You must have a sense of trust that the developer is choosing the right solution for you or your client. That means understanding your company, brand, aims and targets. What are you and your website striving to achieve? What is the tone and positioning? Do you want to compete on a technical basis or start with a presence in the market? A developer must have a full appreciation of your goals to develop exactly what you need.

4. Technical capability.

This is an obvious prerequisite. There are many things here that might be essential, depending on the scale of the project. It would be advisable to know the experience and breadth of expertise of your developer to know if they are able to meet your requirements. If there is something specific you know you require then your developer should show you previous examples of how to develop this specification. If you have a requirement which may be unique to your business, then it’s up to your developer to brainstorm different options to create and build and advise on how other sites have done something similar which has worked well.

computerweeklyWe thought you may also like to view the advice from ComputerWeekly.com Guides on some things to consider when choosing a web developer:

Assessing a portfolio

The greatest resource available for researching a web developer’s aptitude and suitability for the kind of work you have in mind is the portfolio of jobs they have done in the past. Qualities to look for include variety, originality and whether you consider the style of the designs appropriate for the sites in question. Be sure to give consideration to the functional and practical aspects of the sites under review as much as their visual impact. Does the site load quickly? Does it require any plug-ins or software downloads to operate effectively? It is well worth your time entering the site using different web browsers and connection speeds to test compatibility and adaptability, because these issues can make or break a web site and you’ll want to see how well the developer accommodates them.

Technical ability                                                                                                                   

Be sure to read any descriptions of the projects to get an idea of what was involved. Though you may not fully understand some technical aspects of what?s involved, this guide should give you a firm enough grounding to appreciate when a difficult problem has been solved in a particularly elegant or innovative way. It may also be helpful to see if any of their past work is similar to your project.

SEO

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – is of vital importance if your website is to receive large numbers of visitors. Look to see if SEO was a part of any projects in the portfolio. You can easily assess how effective a developer’s  SEO abilities are by performing a few searches yourself and noting how easy it is to find the sites in the portfolio.

Getting references

Any web developer should be happy to provide you with a list of satisfied clients as references. This is possibly the most important step in choosing the right company to work with as talking to past clients will give you an idea what the company is like to work with in practice. There are a number of questions worth asking referees. How well did the developer communicate with the clients? Did they deliver what was required within budget and to schedule? Has the project stood the test of time or presented any technical problems and is it dynamic and adaptable enough that alterations to the content can be made without difficulty?

Size of the organisation

You will likely find that there are all sizes of organisations available for your project, from freelance individuals to multinational corporations. Which is best depends on you and your project and there are advantages and disadvantages to either. While a freelancer will probably give you a very high level of personal service, they may not personally be able to take on all of your tasks, and employ a third party, losing the personal touch. Large companies offer stability, capacity and guarantees, but you may not receive such personal service, especially if you are a relatively small client. Additionally, a larger organisation is likely to be more stable. Ultimately, you should be confident that the individual or company you choose can provide you with high quality work and the level service you want.

A good relationship

It may seem obvious, but having a good working relationship with your developer is vital. You will inevitably need to communicate a lot and effectively in order to achieve the result you want, so you must feel comfortable with them. It?s no good having the world’s most sought-after developer working for you unless you feel able to tell them that they’ve done something wrong or that you don?t like something they’ve created. A developer should be able to take constructive criticism and suggestions and be generally personable. Compatibility between client and designer is key to generating the best possible end result.

Stability

In this current climate, it is important to make sure that a company is solvent and has the ability to survive. You don’t want a company going bust midway through your website development. Our recommendation is to view the latest accounts to ensure they have made no significant losses recently. It is also worth considering using Equifax or Experian for company credit worthiness checks.

Nicola Peaty

Top tips…How to build a more productive marketing / sales relationship.

By Nicola Peaty

Why should there be two departments within a business who historically tend to clash, and sales-v-marketingyet are both working towards the same goal? A lot is down to simple misunderstanding and lack of clarity in terms of role definition and process. Some marketing departments will believe that sales are all about pushing their product to purely meet their short term commission, while some sales teams consider marketing are just there to order branded golf balls!

Below are five tips for building a more productive relationship between the two essential functions in any business.

1. The winning partnership: the two teams should have mutual respect and moreover mutual agreement in how they can both meet the company’s objectives. Sales and marketing should understand the company’s strategy and tactics in generating and growing revenue, for both short term and long term targets. This way will they be far more successful in working together for the same goals.

2. Understand the customer lifecycle: from prospect through to warm lead, from to new customer to loyal customer. Both parties must know how they are segmenting their contacts according to the relationship between the company and the contact. Appropriate targeting and messaging is then applied according to the stage of the customer lifecycle. Both sales and marketing should agree a plan of communication for each segment and work together by using the most appropriate method depending on whether an early prospect needs more brand awareness, right through to a long-term customer managed as a key account in sales.

3. Effective campaigns: it is so important that sales and marketing agree on the most effective campaigns for the various market segments and business need. Whether it be lead generation, lead nurturing or a promotional initiative, both functions must be fully aware of communications going out to the market with the agreed messaging and calls to action. This will ensure mutual focus and consistency.

4. Attributing value: the various customer segments will have a potential revenue value to a company, and both sales and marketing should be accountable for their actions in how they optimise the full value. By attributing this value to each department, it will help both parties understand they are contributing to the company’s revenue targets.

5. Accountability: each department must take accountability in measuring ‘successful outcomes’. While it is obvious when sales have financial results from winning business, marketing sometimes struggles to prove how it has contributed to the bottom line. Therefore, all marketing activity must be measured and leads tracked throughout the pipeline. This way ROI can be attributed when a lead which has been generated from marketing, is passed on and converted to business by the sales team.

See also our blog How to create an effective sales proposition:  http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-on-how-to-create-an-effective-sales-proposition/

 

 

Nicola Peaty

Marketing Personas

By Nicola Peaty

You know your audience don’t you? Basic demographics are all covered, maybe even some useful segmentation. But of course with the need for more personalised targeting and marketing, there is a need to go deeper and really get to know your customers.

Marketing personas have become a great way to develop real identities for some of your key customers. By building a profile and even a name and face, gives a company the focus of a real person who they are talking to and how they need to communicate and interact with that specific type of customer.

Once created, really and truly the personas should then be at the core of the company’s strategy, whether it is product development, content delivery or account management, the personas should give the exact required insight.

So where to begin? Every company has some useful data which allows them to start building profiles. How many personas you create, is down to the intelligence you extract from this data. Basic demographics are a good start, but then add in previous purchasing behaviour, influences, motivations, lifestyles and attributes.

Surveys and interviews are great ways to ascertain a bit more depth. Online or email surveys are cheaper than face to face interviews, but make sure you get a true representation of your audience. You need to know details about your best advocates, but you can’t ignore customers who have had bad experiences. This is the opportunity to investigate where poor relations have developed for some customers with your brand and for you to understand and learn how to rectify particular issues. So make sure you include loyal customers, referrals, prospects and lapsed customers.

Recruitment of interviewees should be selected carefully, questions planned to fill any specific data gaps as well as build deeper customer knowledge and incentives in place to entice and convince participation. Research experts can help in designing questionnaires, but also in conducting the interviews. There is a skill in knowing how to ask the right questions in the right way in order to ascertain key findings, great quotations and uncover potential opportunities and/or issues.

Personas should ideally include the following:  persona
* Demographics
* Job profile
* Typical day
* Information sources
* Purchasing behaviour/preferences
* Challenges/issues
* Goals/motivations

Analysis of data is critical to discover particular patterns of behaviour, common threads within segments of your audience and similar attributes and motivators. Again, research experts can help investigate information collated and present overall findings.

When researching and investigating information to build your profiles, the key point to bear in mind is that you are trying to find out precious gems of insight into how you can get closer to your customer and ultimately deliver the solution they are looking for. If you can perfectly match their needs and make them feel as though you are talking to them personally, both through clever communications and product delivery, then you can beat your competitors every time!

See also our blog on: How to write content for your audience:  http://www.vgandassociates.com/how-to-write-content-for-your-audience/

 

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