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Nigel Davey

The Do’s and Don’ts of websites for small businesses

By Delivering your marketing

There are very few small businesses that don’t have a website these days. Websites enable small businesses to get in front of their target audience in ways that were never possible when businesses relied on Yellow Pages and local footfall. So when you are planning either your first website, or your next one, getting some advice on what you should and shouldn’t be doing will make a real difference in the performance and ROI you get from that new site.

In the latest of our series of expert-led articles, here are a series of dos and don’ts from three highly experienced website developers:

  • Matt from 3mil Ltd – he’s been running his own firm and building WordPress sites for over 16 years now.
  • Si Bland from Correl8 Ltd – another highly experienced developer and a fellow Fore Business member too!
  • Troy Emmerson from Terra Digital – based in South Africa and part of the SME Needs team too.

Before you start

Matt says:

Consider your visitors – Understood the people who visit your website, your audience. These are commonly know as personas. There can be many persona types visiting your website for a number of reasons. It could be to validate your business, read a case study, buy a product or just looking for your telephone number. Structure the website in a way that they can easily find the information they are looking for when they arrive.

Si says:

Any new business should strive to have at the very least some sort of website presence, even if only a well thought-out single page homepage, listing key services, contact details and maybe contain an interactive website form. At the very least this would mean that your business can be found from a simple Google local business search.

Once you have a website address or URL (uniform resource locator), with contact details, then you would be able to claim your free Google Business Profile listing. This helps with natural search positions, and also allows you to have a platform for customers to leave a review, which is a very important element to promoting your business and distinguishing you from the competition.

It’s important when considering even a basic website, that you have some form of content management system (CMS). A content management system puts you in control of the content of your website. If you wish to add a news article, press release or a new customer testimonial or case study, then the last thing you’ll want is to go back to your design agency and have them charge you to do it.

Troy says:

When you start that search for a developer, beware of developers offering you cheap websites.

The design of your website

Matt says:

Look and feel – Make sure your website design follows your company visual identity, be consistent in your typography and colour palette. Use a strong standout accent colour for your links and buttons.

Troy says:

Never say to a designer “Wow me!” Unless you provide them with some guidance around what you like and don’t like, its going to be a long road. Remember too that the person you want to like your site is not you, but your Ideal Client.

The website’s content

Matt says:

Show, don’t tell – Don’t tell your website visitors how good you are at your profession, show them with content that contains results, facts / figures. Use social proof to inform new customers – use case studies and testimonials from your happy satisfied customers.

Nigel says:

When you’re building a new website, your content will need to change, whether that is just editing some of the current pages or adding a whole new set of pages and posts. Two things:

  1. Remember to include the cost of this work in your website budget
  2. Producing the content takes time and you need to keep on top of content production so your developer can stay within agreed deadlines.

Troy says:

Be careful with your choice of page builder and plugins within your WordPress website. Some of the page building tools, such as Elementor and WPBakery, use a lot of code, so can slow your site down and mean there is a risk that someone in the business can “break” the site by changing something they shouldn’t.  Having a set of design templates where the content and images can be changed, but not the structure and layout is a good way to protect the site, whilst giving you the freedom and flexibility to add pages/posts as you wish.

Also keep the number of plugins to a minimum. The more plugins you have, the more likely there are to be clashes and potential security issues.

Before Go Live

Troy says:

Test the site carefully. If things aren’t working (such as contact forms not sending emails to the right people), make sure they are fixed before the Go Live. If they are missed, it is still the developer’s responsibility to fix this after the site is live.

Also, make sure that you know exactly how things work after the Go Live. Changes to the site will usually mean additional costs, unless you have some skills and can do it yourself.

Ongoing

This one really starts when earlier than this, but it is definitely an ongoing piece. Matt says:

Optimise for search – Make sure you can be seen on Google. Use keywords, add meta descriptions and write informative and relevant blog articles for your audience. Also make sure you have a Google business profile to enhance your presence in local search and improve visibility.  He also says:

Keep your site up-to-date – If you have a WordPress website make sure the theme, plugins and the WordPress platform software is always up-to-date this will avoid security issues and any bugs that may arise from plugin conflicts. Keep the site content up-to-date, new blog articles, case studies, testimonials and achievements, keep your site looking fresh.

Troy says:

It makes sense to have a website support and maintenance retainer in place. Keeping plugins updated takes time, but is necessary for the security and functionality of your website. SEO work is ongoing to maintain and improve your performance in the search rankings.

If you are thinking of updating or replacing your website soon, we hope these tips have helped guide your thinking and, of course, if you want some help with the project, please get in touch. Call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here to book some time into our diary.

Making the best use of video

By Delivering your marketing, Marketing Plan

How Business Owners Can Maximize the Impact of Video Content

According to a study by HubSpot, including video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%. Video content engages both visual and auditory senses, making it more memorable and compelling than text alone. This article is a combination of tips from video experts from with the SME Needs network, much as we did a while back with one on copywriting (you can read that here).

A few stats about video content on websites

Some useful / interesting stats:

  • Only 20% of website visitors will read a document, but 80% will watch a video.
  • 72% of customers would rather learn about a product through video
  • 84% of people say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video
  • People stay on websites with video 5.3X longer

Figures like this make a compelling argument for you to add video content to your website.

Different types of video content

There are many ways small businesses can use video to level the playing field with big-named and deep-pocketed rivals; here’s the key ones and a reason for producing each…

Explainer videos

An explainer video is just that; a video which neatly explains your business, product or specific feature in a short, succinct package. Usually 45-90 seconds long. Click here to see an example produced by Hotwolf.

How To videos

How To content can be a great way to show your product in action – to help new / existing customers get the best out of it, or to entice new customers by showing-not-telling how easy / effective it is. There are a good set of this video type here.

Product videos

Depending on your product, you can really lift your website with individual and group videos of your products – people want to see physical products in 360. In fact, modern audiences expect it.

Testimonials

User-generated content (UGC) is the ultimate in “don’t just take our word for it” validation content. You can easily say they’re the best at XY and especially Z, but authentic comments from a real customer can do so much more to convince a potential purchaser.

Branded Content / infotainment

Who says brand content has to be boring? Creating genuinely entertaining videos, aimed squarely at your target demographic can be a great way to engage, promoting recall and putting your brand in a positive light with the right people. Give them a reason to follow you on social, or to look forward to your next output.

Influencer Videos

Using the authentic tone of voice and the existing audiences of established influencers can be a great way for an SME to reach a wider audience. We  recommend you agree beforehand any Do’s and Don’ts with the influencer / agency. Whilst you want the influencer’s authentic take (this is what you’re buying, as much as their audience), you need to be confident going in that they’re not going to denigrate your brand.

Meet the Team

Introducing the people behind the product can be a great way to humanise your brand and engender a more human engagement from your audience.

How to use your video content

As a small business owner, you can maximise the impact of video content in a number of ways. Here are some practical tips to make better use of video content:

Define Clear Objectives

Identify the specific goals you want to achieve with your video content. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or boosting sales, having clear objectives will guide your content creation process.

Know Your Audience

Understand your target audience’s preferences, interests, and challenges. Tailor your video content to resonate with their needs and preferences, ensuring that your message is relevant and engaging.

Create Compelling Storytelling

People connect with stories. Craft compelling narratives that showcase your brand’s personality, values, and unique selling points. Use storytelling techniques to create emotional connections that leave a lasting impact on your audience.

Optimise for Different Platforms

Adapt your video content for various platforms and devices. Each platform has its own specifications and audience behavior, so optimize your videos for social media, websites, and mobile devices to maximize reach and engagement.

Embrace Live Video

Leverage the power of live video to engage with your audience in real-time. Live streams on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn allow you to interact directly with viewers, answer questions, and showcase behind-the-scenes content, fostering a sense of authenticity.

Invest in Quality Production

While you don’t need Hollywood-level production, investing in good video quality is essential. Clear audio, well-lit scenes, and professional editing contribute to a polished and trustworthy image for your brand.

Implement SEO Strategies

Optimise your video content for search engines by using relevant keywords, creating descriptive titles, and writing detailed video descriptions. This will improve the discoverability of your videos and enhance your overall online presence.

Utilise Analytics

Track the performance of your video content using analytics tools. Pay attention to metrics like views, engagement, and conversion rates. Analysing these data points will provide valuable insights into what works best for your audience, allowing you to refine your future video strategies.

Encourage User-generated Content

Foster community engagement by encouraging your audience to create and share their video content related to your brand. User-generated content adds authenticity and can broaden your reach through diverse perspectives.

Stay Consistent

Consistency is key in building a strong video presence. Develop a content calendar and regularly release videos to keep your audience engaged. Whether it’s weekly updates, monthly series, or timely event coverage, a consistent schedule builds anticipation and loyalty.

By implementing these strategies, you can leverage the dynamic and engaging nature of video content to effectively connect with their audience, build brand loyalty, and achieve their business objectives.

Thank you to our contributors

Greg Stocks is an Event Videographer and you can find out more about his services at  www.peakfable.com

Matt Rook is the Founder and Managing Director at Hotwolf. You can find out more at hotwolf.co

If you would like to discuss how video content can become a core part of your marketing strategy this year, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here to book a time directly into our diary.

Planning your small business marketing for 2024

New Year, New Start

By Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan

Planning your small business marketing for 2024With the new calendar year just a few weeks away, you really should be thinking. Thinking about what you are going to do to make 2024 a really successful one for your small business. Maybe 2023 has been a quiet one for various reasons. Whatever happened, 2024 is a new year and you cannot simply assume that you will get the same results by doing the same things. Here are the four steps you need to take to make 2024 a great year…

What worked in 2023?

Have you reviewed and measured your marketing performance for the last year? If not, it is time to start. By measuring your marketing performance, you can quickly make decisions about:

  • what to continue – because it is working.
  • what to review – because you believe it can work better
  • what to stop – as it is simply not working.

If you have had a really successful year, imagine what next year could be like if you cut out what marketing hasn’t worked and did more of what has been working! We have an ROI calculator that you can download:  Click here to our download ROI calculator.

If you haven’t let’s identify what channels haven’t worked so they can be reviewed or stopped. The time and money saved can be re-focused.

How many new clients did you acquire?

Not gross, but net new clients. Deduct the number you lost from the number you won.  Compare this to 2022. Did your overall client number increase or decrease? Is it higher because you won more or lost fewer?

  • Which marketing channels did the new clients come through?
  • How much did each new client cost?
  • What is your lead conversion rate?
  • What is the value of a new client (average)?

By answering these questions, you start to develop a picture of how much marketing you need to do in 2024 to hit your business goals.

Example:

  • Your business goal for 2024: increase turnover by £250K
  • A typical client spends £10,000 per year with you.
  • Last year you added 15 new clients, but lost 3
  • Your marketing spend was £30K

If the ratios stay the same, you will need a marketing budget this year of £60K – assuming the ratio of clients lost to clients gained stays the same, as does cost per client acquired.

Focus

What does your Ideal Client look like? If you look back at the clients you acquired in the last year, how many of them match the description of your Ideal Client?  If you are acquiring clients that don’t match this description, do you need to review that description or add another?

How many of the clients you lost last year matched that description? If they were a long way from being Ideal Clients, it may be that you simply weren’t able to properly meet their needs. There are times when you need to consider walking away from a sales opportunity if you cannot properly meet their needs.

Reviewing your Ideal client description, as needed, will help to re-focus your marketing messages so that they work more effectively. The marketing messages will be different for each Ideal Client you have as they have different needs and may use your products/services in different ways. Just in case you’re interested, this is one of our Ideal Client descriptions.

Planning your marketing

If you have followed the recommendations above, you will know what marketing worked for you in the last year. If they worked last year, it is likely they will work in 2024, so it is now simply a case of scheduling the activity into your marketing plan. Then decide whether to do the same amount, or more, of this marketing.

Now, what else will you be doing this year? If your growth targets are higher for 2024 than for 2023, you need to be doing more marketing in the coming year. You know what hasn’t worked, so what other marketing is likely to work?  If want to discuss this, give us a call on 020 8634 5911.

Do you have the time?

If you managed, or even did, your marketing last year, will you have the time to do it again in 2024?  If you are planning to do the same amount of marketing as you did last year, you probably have. If you are planning to do more, you may need some help. Of course, once the sales start coming in, more of your time will be focused on delivering what your clients want. Unless you have no need for a work/life balance (??), no worries. But if you do want some time away from your business (it is recommended), you need someone who can manage or do your marketing for you. Our Virtual Marketing Director service is ideal for owners of small businesses who don’t have time, but aren’t yet in a position to employ their own marketing team. Does that sound like you?

Why do all this?

Too many owners of small businesses spend too little time working ON the business, rather than IN the business. This leads to “stuff happening” rather than planned activity. As the old saying goes : fail to plan – plan to fail.  By investing a few hours in planning for 2024, you will see a significant uplift in performance and more growth.

If you would like to discuss your marketing budgets and plans, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

image of four golfers to support article about why nigel plays golf

Why Nigel plays golf

By Marketing Performance

“Doing business on the golf course” is something that has been around for years and shows no signs of going away. That’s why Nigel plays golf during business hours, but let’s add a little detail.

How Nigel started playing

Put simply, he had the choice of going shopping with the women or playing golf with the men.  On a holiday in France, Jane was going shopping with her mum and aunt. Her dad and uncle were going to play golf. Nigel chose golf and has been hooked ever since that first 9 holes were completed in only 65 shots!

Networking

Golf, in the shape of Fore Business, is a great way of networking. Nigel gets to meet and talk with business owners whilst exercising and enjoying a sport he loves. He gets to understand what they do and they get to know more about how he helps his clients, and the types of clients he is looking for.

The great thing about Fore, in particular, is that we now have relationships with business owners across the country. We’ve helped clients right across the country, so there is no need to worry about delivering for any future clients that come from the relationships that are being developed.

New business

Golf generates, on average, just over 10% of SME Needs’ annual revenue each year. Some years that is up, some it is down, but golf continues to generate opportunities on a regular basis.

Suppliers

It is not just new business that comes from networking on the golf course. Over the years, we’ve sourced many different products and services from people Nigel has built relationships with:

·       Branded merchandise from at least two different companies

·       We met our current accountants at Fore Business

·       Matt Hills from Travel Counsellors even organised the Davey family holiday in 2022!

·       Pension planning

·       Social media services

·       Copywriting

And many more…

Tax deductible

Golf can be an expensive sport. Whilst you cannot claim for a new set of irons through the business, you can legitimately claim your Fore Business fees, travel costs and subsistence when you’re playing golf for business reasons. Whilst this may not save you a fortune on corporation tax, it all counts!

 

So, if you love playing golf and you’d like to see how playing golf can benefit your business, get in touch. You can see a small number of our Fore Business connections here and Nigel has Fore Business Golden Tickets that give you a month’s free membership. Let us know if you would like one!

 

man and woman shaking hands after agreeing a sale

Congratulations! now what

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

man and woman shaking hands after agreeing a saleMaking a sale is exhilarating; it’s a real boost to your system – and to your revenue numbers. Now what? What are you doing to maximise the opportunity? As a small business, you want to ensure you get real value from the sale – and that’s not just the cash value. Here are 8 ways to get real value from making a sale.

Why did they buy from you?

Chances are you weren’t the only company they were talking to. So why did they buy from you? What made you stand out from your competition? Knowing the answer to this question can help both your Sales and your Marketing operations.
Whether you set up a survey on SurveyMonkey or Mailchimp, or you have someone, ideally not the sales person, call them to ask the question, as long as you get the information, all is good.
Sales people get to know what works for them, particularly if they have tried or said something different. Marketing can use the information to focus or alter the marketing as needed.

What do they want to achieve?

If you haven’t already asked this during the sale process, this can be really helpful in different ways:

  • It gives you something to measure against. Did your help mean they achieved their goal? This is particularly useful for when you produce a case study later on.
  • Once in a while, someone will use what you sell for something completely different. Is this something you’ve considered and is there a market opportunity to promote your product/service to others wanting to do this?

Who else do they know?

The more usual time to ask for referrals is after you’ve delivered, but there may be an opportunity to ask just after the sale, particularly if they are a repeat customer. Someone who is happy that they’ve found a solution to their issue may well make some introductions for you.
Starting this conversation as early as possible, and ideally during the sales process, will mean that when you start asking, it won’t be a shock and they may have already started thinking about introductions and referrals they can make.

What happened?

After you have delivered, do you ask what happened? The answer to this question is relevant to the whole company, particularly Operations. Did their purchase from you help them achieve their goal? Of course, this may take some time, so make sure you ask the question at an appropriate time.

What was it like?

Was it a good experience working with your organisation? Some companies sell products or services you never want to use. But even a funeral director or insolvency practice will want to know whether they did a good job. You want to know so you can use their comments in your marketing/sales, or so you can make changes as needed.

What else can they buy?

Assuming they’ve had a good experience and you helped them to achieve their goal, now is absolutely the time to look at what else they can buy. Is what you sell a regular purchase (can you set up automated reminders for them?) or are there additional products/services you can sell that complement or work with the first sale? It is extremely rare that someone is buying everything they can from your business. There’s a great tool to help you map out what more you can sell them here.

Who else do they know – again

Once you’ve done something you are in a much stronger position to ask for introductions and referrals. You’ve proved (at least once) that you can deliver on your promises and that you can help them. When they are happy with what you’ve done and they trust you, they are more much more likely to make the introductions you seek.

Just to put some context around this, 91% of people say they are happy to make introductions and give referrals, but only 11% of people ask for them!

This stage is something that can be repeated on a regular basis, throughout your relationship with your client. But it relies on one key factor – that you deliver for the person/organisation they refer to you. There is more detail about getting referrals here, so just remember that they are taking a risk by referring you. A little bit of their reputation goes with the introduction, so make them proud.

Get a case study

This has deliberately been left until last for a couple of reasons:

  1. Because this can help you more than any of the others over the long term.
  2. Because too many people produce case studies too soon, usually leaving off the key part.

Case studies are tremendously powerful. They provide evidence, supported by your client, that you can deliver. They will help you to close sales opportunities for years to come. Remember that you don’t have to remove a case study when you stop working with someone . Case studies help prospects to align themselves with you, because they recognise their peers and the issues they have, that you solved. More can be found about how to effectively use case studies here.

So that’s 8 (alright, 7) ways you can increase the value of each sale you make. Once you have brought on a new client, the benefit to your small business doesn’t have to stop at the value of that sale.

Of course, if you would like to talk more about implementing an action plan to maximise the value of your clients, give us a call: 020 8634 5911 or click here to book something directly into Nigel’s calendar.

image to support blog about the right content for your blog

Struggling to develop content?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

Our guide to producing great content to promote your small business

Producing content is a key part of many small business’ marketing strategies. Content shows you have the knowledge your clients need and improves SEO performance. The problems are often working out what to write about and actually writing it.  If you are struggling to produce content, here’s our guide to developing a content plan and getting the content produced and published.

How often should you produce new content?

The more content you need to produce, the more you may struggle to produce content.  A search on ‘how often should a small business blog’ show results that suggest 2-4 times a week will produce the best results.  That’s 104 – 208 blogs a year. If you then look at how long that blog should be, Hubspot suggests 2300 words! That’s nearly ¼ million words minimum.

This is clearly a huge amount of content to produce. For us, there is a much simpler way to work it out: what can you consistently produce? If you try to produce 2 blogs a week now, how are you going to cope when you’re busy?  Can you still produce that level of content, or will you struggle at that time? Far better to be consistent than produce lots irregularly.

Produce a content schedule

Start at a level you are comfortable with. For some small businesses, that may be just once a month. Whatever frequency you start with, develop a schedule.

  • What date will you publish the article?
  • When does it have to be written by?
  • Who is going to write it?
  • Who is going to check it and publish it?

Far better to start slow and build up.  If you do find yourself with more time than you thought you would, get ahead of your schedule. It will help when you get busier.

 

Develop a topic list

If you’ve mapped out what is important to your clients (see our Ideal Client workshops for more information on this), you’ll have a good idea of what to write about. Focus your efforts on topics that will help your target audience and show that you can help them. NEVER ever just write about what you do!

If you are struggling to work this out, there are other ways to develop a topic list:

1. What have you written before?

When looking at previous content, prioritise the articles that were viewed the most. Look at the average time on page too. If the article was visited lots of time and people are spending lots of time on there, updating that article could generate even more traffic for you.

2. What are your competitors writing about?

Just because your competitors are writing about something doesn’t mean you should. But a check on what they are writing is a good check to make sure you’re not missing any topics you should be covering.

3. What questions are your clients asking you?

If your clients are asking about them, it’s a safe bet that other people within your target audience will be looking for answers to similar questions. Answering questions that people want answers to is always a good thing.

If you have access to a way of finding out how many searches are being done on the topics you are planning to write about, check them too. It can help you put your topics in order.

 

Consider using AI

Tools such as ChatGPT are hitting computer screens in their millions right now. We’ve started doing a little testing, but the jury is still out on whether they will be a good thing or not.

If you do use AI-generated content, make sure you read through it and adapt to your target audience(s) and add relevant links, both internal and external.

This is not an AI-generated article

 

Outsource your content writing

If you don’t have the time, or the skills, using a copywriter is a great way to get the content you need. We work with a range of writers with different areas of expertise and there are plenty of others on the market too.  Writers that seem very cheap may be so for a reason.  Content can easily be used for multiple clients if they are distributed. One article that is then used by, say, 10 companies makes for a much better hourly rate.

Most copywriters are not that unscrupulous, but you can always check by using a plagiarism tool.  We use SEMrush (amongst its many functions) to check content when we believe it is necessary.

The more you can do for the copywriter, the more you can save.  Providing either a draft article (for them to improve) or a set of notes for them to build on will save you the time they would spend researching an article for you.

It all depends on how much time you have, or don’t have.

 

Publishing your content

Once you are producing great content, there are multiple places you can publish your content, starting with your own website. Not only will it help improve your SEO performance, it will bring people back to your website on a regular basis. Have you also considered these alternatives:

Other people’s websites

Adding content to other websites seems almost contradictory, but it provides you with valuable links back to your website. Adding it to sites where your target audience goes gives them the opportunity to find it and move to your site.

Magazines

Both print and online magazines are always looking for good content. Getting your content into the right ones can drive brand awareness and leads your way.

LinkedIn

Adding an article to LinkedIn can increase your profile views and get people talking to you – precisely what your content strategy is for.

 

Yoast it!

When you are producing great content, you want it to be found. If your website is a WordPress site, we recommend using Yoast as an SEO tool.  It provides a simply traffic light system to guide your content production.  Simple things like:

  • Reminding you to add a meta description and SEO title.
  • Ensuring you add internal and external links to the article.
  • Keeping the sentence length short (most less than 20 words) makes it easier to read for your viewers
  • Making sure you don’t use passive language in your articles.

All will help you improve your SEO performance, but be sure to keep your reader front of mind. Sometimes, slavishly working towards the green lights can make the reading experience not what your readers would want.

 

Share it

Finally, once it is published, don’t keep it to yourself.  Get it out there so that your target audience can find it. They find it, read it and then pick up the phone – simples!!!

 

If your marketing strategy includes developing content, you need to ensure that you produce good quality content on a consistent basis. These tips will help you if you’re worrying about producing great content, but if you are still struggling (or simply want someone else to do it), give us a call (020 8634 5911). Let’s talk and see how we can help you.

A Virtual Marketing Director can make a massive improvement in your small business marketing performance. Get in touch with SME Needs to find out how

How does a Fractional CMO help small businesses

By A Helping Hand, Strategic Planning

Every small business needs marketing to generate new and repeat business. But the majority of UK small businesses aren’t ready to employ their own Marketing Director or CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). The average salary for a UK CMO is £97,659 per annum; a figure out of range for most small businesses. So what is the best way to get the strategic marketing support you need?  Get a fractional CMO. Here’s why you should and how a fractional CMO can help your small business grow.

What is a fractional CMO?

Put very simply, a fractional CMO takes responsibility for creating and leading your marketing strategy and managing the marketing delivery to deliver the growth you are looking for. They work on a part-time basis, from a few hours per month to a day a week.

How a fractional CMO helps you

With little of no expert marketers within your small business, your marketing to this point has been guided by gut feel, internet research and conversations with your peers. Some of it has worked (you wouldn’t be still here otherwise), but is your marketing really working effectively? Could you get better results?  Here are 8 ways you get help:

1. Reporting and analytics

When you know exactly what is and isn’t working within your marketing activity, you can make better decisions. A in-depth analysis of your current, and historic, marketing will be the first step taken.

2. Marketing focus

Focusing your marketing on your Ideal Clients makes it far more effective. A Fractional CMO will work with you to understand who you sell to, and why.

3. Developing your marketing strategy

You need a clear marketing strategy. One that is specific to your business and focused on your business targets.

4. Managing your marketing delivery

Whether you have internal marketing staff or rely on third party experts, your Fractional CMO will manage the team, ensuring the marketing is executed effectively and delivers you results you want. If there are gaps in your team, they will help to source the marketing skills needed.

5. Problem solving

Sometimes something doesn’t go to plan. You need someone to overcome obstacles.

6. Saving you money

You get the marketing support you need, but for a fraction of the cost of a senior employee.

7. Managing their exit

As your business grows, you will get to the point where it makes sense to employ your own marketing management. The average marketing manager salary is currently £46,286. When you start getting close to that figure (on consultancy only), a Fractional CMO will help you find the right person to manage your marketing going forward.

Fractional CMO vs. marketing agency

A marketing agency will have a set of skills and services they can provide. This may not match the precise set of marketing skills you need. A Fractional CMO will work with you to identify the right marketing mix and then ensure the right people/agencies are in place. If you have internal resource, they will be used and then third parties will be brought in to fill the gaps.

With the many years’ experience they have, the CMO will have a little black book of tried and trusted experts.

If your marketing isn’t working as well as you want it to, a Fractional CMO could be what you need. To arrange a time to talk to how SME Needs can help you, book a conversation here, or call us on 020 8634 5911

The role of a Virtual Marketing Director

By Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan

Occasionally, we throw out a controversial statement. Partly to see if anyone notices, but mostly to see what people think. It’s time for another one, so here goes.

 

I’m not here to do your marketing!

 

My role with you is to ensure the right marketing happens and that it works. Let’s start with the Why and progress through to the How.

Why is this important?

Small businesses rarely have huge marketing budgets, if ever. That budget needs to be spent in a way that delivers the best ROI possible. That comes from having the right people doing the marketing.

In the very early stages, where money is really tight, the right person is usually the owner. They know their business inside out, but need help to work out what to say, where to say it, and when to say it.   A little further down the line, when there is budget available it makes real sense to use experts. You wouldn’t want me building you a website (I’ve tried; its not pretty!) and its a long time since I’ve spent any real time working out the best way to do paid ads on Google etc. As I know, perhaps, two journalists, you don’t want me doing your PR. Get the point?

The great thing is that I know lots of experts in their fields. Here’s just a few:

These are just a few of the people that could become involved. They bring their expertise in their specialist field to bear on your marketing, but you only pay for what you use.

Working this way gives you the best balance of expertise and budget available to you, alongside the support and guidance I bring.

How I help: 4 recurring stages

To ensure the right marketing is being done for your small business, there are 4 stages that we rotate through.

1. Measure

Knowing what is and isn’t working is vital to deliver a great marketing ROI. Put simply, if it isn’t working, stop doing it. Spend the money and invest the time doing what you know is working or trying something different.

We analyse your marketing spend, marketing activity and results to see what is and isn’t working for you.

We have a Marketing ROI Calculator you can download here if you wish to start measuring your own marketing performance.

2. Focus

You cannot sell to everyone, and you don’t want to be saying you’ll sell to anyone. Every product or service has an Ideal Client. Someone that is looking for that and will make best use of it. Whilst there will always be people asking to buy that are way outside your Ideal Client description, you don’t market to them because they will be rare.

One of the easiest ways to work this out is to think about your best client…

We work with you to map out your Ideal Client, work out what to say to them and pull together that evidence set that will be key to proving you can deliver on your promises.

3. Plan

You have targets for your business. Your marketing plan, when implemented, needs to deliver the leads you need to hit your targets. It needs to utilise the available skills within your business (saving you some money), and it needs to work, ideally, within your marketing budget (more about that here).

We work with you to develop that plan. A plan that you buy into and commit to. If you don’t buy into it, it won’t work!

4. Deliver

Once the plan is in place, it must be done. My job is to use your marketing plan and ensure that everything is done when it is supposed to be, and that you know the results. You’ll see the leads coming in and we’ll talk about the conversion rates, as the leads turn to sales. If the leads aren’t converting, we’ll work with you to work out why as well.

If we see that some things aren’t working, we’ll look at them. Did they not work because:

  • That marketing takes time, and it is too early to see
  • It wasn’t done very well
  • That it isn’t the right marketing for your business (we have to experiment sometimes)

We can then work with you to decide what to do next.

I hope this has explained what my role is and how SME Needs can help you. The important thing is that we can start helping you from just a few hours per month. As you grow and there is more marketing needed, we can do more – all the way up to the point in makes sense for you to recruit your own marketing director.

 

If you’d like to have a chat about this, call me on 020 8634 5911 or you can book something directly into my diary here.

ways to optimise an ecommerce website

15 ways to optimise an ecommerce website to increase sales

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

ways to optimise an ecommerce websiteOptimising an e-commerce website to increase sales involves a combination of technical, design, marketing, and user experience strategies. Here are 15 great ways to optimise your ecommerce website and boost sales. We’ve split the recommendations into key groups to help you identify the ones you need and which naturally go together…

Hosting and overall design tips

1. User-friendly design

Ensure your website has an intuitive and user-friendly interface. Make it easy for your visitors to find products, navigate categories, and access essential information like shipping details and return policies.

Testing changes will help you to determine whether the changes have increased sales or made things worse. Assuming your website is being backed up regularly, you should easily be able to remove changes that haven’t worked.

2. Mobile responsiveness

With 91% of people making e-commerce purchases on their phones, it’s crucial to have a website that adapts to various screen sizes and functions flawlessly on mobile devices. Most content managements systems are now mobile responsiveness, so this is likely to be an issue only if your site is really old.

Cart abandonment rates are much higher on mobiles, at 84% (compared to 72% on desktops). Many people browse on their phones and then buy on their desktops so your site needs to work effectively in multiple screen sizes and formats.

3. Fast loading times

Optimise your website’s performance to ensure quick loading times. Slow-loading websites can lead to higher bounce rates and lost sales. If you can increase your load speed by just 1 second, bounce rates decrease by up to 12% and conversion rates can go up nearly 6%.

4. Streamlined checkout process

Simplify the checkout process with minimal steps and form fields. Offer guest checkout options and support various payment methods to reduce cart abandonment rates.

Removing as many distractions as possible from the checkout pages will also increase completion rates. If you can make all menus disappear, we recommend you do so.

5. Effective search functionality

Implement a robust search feature that can quickly help customers find what they are looking for. Consider using filters and sorting options to refine search results.

Make sure that things like product names or serial numbers are formatted consistently. Should there be spaces between parts of a product name, or not. Whichever you choose, make sure this is applied across the site.

 

Product Page design tips

6. High-quality product images

Use images with multiple views and zoom functionality to showcase products effectively. Clear images instill confidence in the buyers’ minds and reduce the chances of returns. Ensure that the images are big enough (resolution) so that they are shown well. A poor quality, pixelated image will put people off.

7. Detailed product descriptions

Provide comprehensive and accurate product descriptions that include features, specifications, and benefits. This helps customers make informed decisions. Displaying product descriptions alongside customer reviews puts everything your customers need in one place.

8. Customer reviews and ratings

Display customer reviews and ratings for products to build trust and credibility. Positive reviews can encourage potential buyers to make a purchase.

9. Prominent CTAs (Call-to-Action)

Make sure that your CTAs stand out and are in the right place on your page. Make it easy for customers to add items to their cart without being distracted, and that they can proceed to checkout easily too.

10. Product recommendations

Implement personalised product recommendations based on users’ browsing and purchase history. This can increase cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

Be careful not to place this too prominently that it distracts from the main product on the page. Remember that these are additional sales, but you need to get the first one first.

11. Enable social sharing

Include social share buttons within the product page designs so that viewers can easily promote your products within their connections and network. This can generate additional traffic and sales.

12. Clear shipping and return policies

Have a page that makes your shipping deadlines and returns policies very clear. As slow shipping is one of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment, make sure you are giving customers what they want.

13. Live chat support

Offer live chat support to assist customers in real-time and address any queries they might have while browsing or during the checkout process. Make sure that it is clear how quickly you can respond to questions and queries. If nobody is available immediately, make sure this is very clear on the site.

Follow-up marketing tips

14. Abandoned cart recovery

Set up automated emails to remind customers about their abandoned carts and offer incentives to encourage them to complete their purchases. Your ecommerce platform is likely to have some tools for this. Alternatively email marketing platforms like Mailchimp have ecommerce functionality included in their various subscription levels.

15. Keep in touch

Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your customers. Once they have bought once from you, you want them to buy again and to recommend you to others. Make sure your campaigns are targeted and relevant to maximise open and clickthrough rates.

 

By implementing these strategies, you can optimise your e-commerce website for better sales conversion and create a positive shopping experience for your customers. Remember that continuous improvement and monitoring of user behaviour are essential for long-term success.

If you need help with any of these tips, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here and we’ll call you back

bounce rate statistics from Google Analytics. Image to support article on creating more traffic for your website

How to attract the right traffic to your website

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing

Creating more website traffic is a key goal for most small businesses, as more traffic means more business – right? Most of the time, yes, but not always. There is good website traffic and then bad traffic. Here are 15 tips on how to attract the right traffic to your website…

Good Website Traffic

In a perfect world, every person who visited your website would get in touch, as they want to buy what your small business sells. In reality, a 1-2% contact rate is going to deliver a great flow of leads into your business. There are a number of different ways to recognise good website traffic, so you can do more to encourage it.

Bounce rate

Do you know the bounce rate on your website? If you don’t you need to as it tells you whether you are making a good first impression. Google defines a bounce as:

The percentage of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further.

If you haven’t got Google Analytics on your website, click here to set up your account and get your web developers to add it.
A healthy bounce rate is 15 – 40%. If it is above that, you are attracting the wrong visitors, or you are not giving them what they are looking for on the first page they land on.

How to improve your bounce rate
  1. Look at what pages have a good bounce rate, and which don’tbounce rate statistics from Google Analytics. Image to support article on creating more traffic for your website
  2. Is there a big look or feel difference between the content on the good and not so good pages?
  3. Use Search Console to identify the keywords that are generating natural, or paid, search for that page.
  4. Shape the content so the viewer is getting better information when they land on those pages.

Returning Traffic

How much of your traffic is returning? If viewers are returning to your website, it suggests that they are interested. Google Analytics shows you two stats to help this: New vs. returning and Depth of Visit.
To increase the amount of returning traffic, look at the pages that are being returned to and create more content like that. Alternatively, consider using remarketing as a way of getting people back to your site after they’ve visited.

Engaged Traffic

If your website is grabbing the attention of your visitors, they will stay and read more of the content before getting in touch. Again, two numbers to keep an eye on: Length of visit, and Number of Pages Visited. The longer the visit and the higher the number of pages visited, the better.

How to improve website engagement
  1. Look at what pages have a high Exit Rate. They either do not have useful information or they don’t clearly show the viewer where to go next.
  2. Review your website routing. Is it logical and giving the viewer a good route around your website?
  3. Are there appropriate Calls to Action on the website. Too few will mean people don’t get in touch and too many will seem desperate, and put people off.

Traffic that is making contact

Do you know how many people are calling you (is there a phone number on the website?) or completing a Contact Request form? These are the lifeblood of your small business, giving you a flow of leads you can convert to new business. Without a steady flow of new leads, you are going to struggle to achieve your growth and performance targets.

How to increase the number of people who contact you

1. Add a phone number. Too many websites lack a phone number and so will stop people getting in touch.
2. Ensure they are links to your Contact Us page on every page of the site. For some landing pages, you may want to add a Contact Form to those as well. Not too many though (see above).

Are your mailing list and social media working?Google analytics screen shot to support article about increasing website traffic

Do you know how much traffic hits your website from your social media activity or your email marketing? If these marketing channels are part of your marketing mix, you will be investing considerable amounts of time on them. You need to know whether the time is being invested wisely. Google Analytics will show you how much of your website traffic is coming from these channels.

From the right keywords

Google Analytics, Search Console and other premium tools, such as SEMrush or Moz, will tell you what keywords are driving traffic to your website. You want to drive more traffic from the right keywords, but ensure that the wrong ones (cheap, free, in another geographic region, etc.) are not driving traffic.
For Google Ads, this is simple; you simply add negative keywords to your campaigns so that Google doesn’t show your Ads to people who type them into the search bar. For natural search, this isn’t quite as easy.
You cannot block natural search, but you can ensure that your content and metadata doesn’t include the negative keywords you want to avoid. If “free” or “cheap” are being used in different parts of your website, in conjunction, with your service or product offering, you run the risk of getting natural search traffic that you don’t want.

The Bad traffic

Bad website traffic isn’t just a waste of bandwidth. It’s a waste of your time too. If you are getting enquiries coming in from people who are expecting something different to what you are selling, they take up time before you qualify them out. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Traffic that Bounces or leaves quickly

Google may not use bounce rate data directly within its algorithms, but it does pay attention to how long people stay on your site after a search. If they see lots of people leaving very quickly, that tells them your site isn’t providing what people are looking for when using the keywords they searched on. Google will then move you down the rankings for that search term.

Traffic from outside your target area

If you only sell to companies in the UK, the last thing you want is traffic, and potentially enquiries, from outside the UK. Appearing in their searches is simply wasting their time. Enquiries from them are wasting your time. Nobody wins.

Stopping this type of website traffic isn’t always easy. Probably the easiest way to limit the amount of out of area traffic is to talk more about the area you want business from. You’ll see on our Contact Us page a map showing where our clients have been based. We’re actively looking for clients across the UK, so we use the map to show this. Look at how your website content shows where you want to work. Include an address on the site (not just in the Privacy Policy page) so it is very clear. Add a telephone number so the search engines can pick up your area dialling code too.

Mailchimp logo - the tool we recommend to help small business run great email marketing campaigns

10 Great ways for small businesses to use email marketing

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing

If you are a small business owner and you’re not using email marketing within your marketing mix, you’re almost certainly missing a trick. Here’s 10 ways that email marketing can help you withinmailchimp certified your small business.

At SME Needs we recommend Mailchimp (we are a Mailchimp Partner) as our preferred tool, but our clients use a range of other email marketing platforms. All of them can help you in these ways; its just that we prefer the functionality and intuitiveness of Mailchimp.

1. Email marketing is one to many

Perhaps the most obvious way an email marketing tool helps you is by giving you the ability to communicate with many people at once. Having a mailing list gives you the ability to not only send lots of emails at once, but also personalise them with merge fields (first name, company name and much more). The rest of these are more about the why than the function…

2. A great way of maintaining relationships

You know 100s of people. Your customers, prospects and your network can easily add up to a lot of people. Maintaining relationships with that many people without email marketing is going to be difficult. Imagine the number of calls you’d have to make or the time it would take to write individual emails to them.

But it is vital that you maintain these relationships. The last thing you want is for people to forget about you just before they identify a need for what you sell.

3. Helping you sell more to your current customers

Whether you’re an e-commerce business or a B2B services provider, email marketing is a great tool for helping you sell more to your current customers.

As a B2B services provider, you will have very few customers who are buying ever service you offer. Email marketing, using segmentation to ensure you send campaigns to the right people, is a great way to promote other services they can benefit from.

For e-commerce businesses, there are huge numbers of ways email can be used:

  • Abandoned baskets (see more below)
  • Regular reminders
  • Associated products
  • Tips to use what your customer has bought (improves brand satisfaction)
  • And many more…

You can see more about how we help e-commerce businesses here.

4. Superb for nurturing your pipeline

Not everyone who subscribes to your mailing list is yet ready to buy. Most will be researching, looking for information. But once they subscribe, you want to help them into, and through, your sales funnel.  A series of nurturing emails will help people to understand how you can help, provide things for them to think about, and share evidence that you can deliver on your promises.

5. You should only be sending relevant content to people

The people in your mailing list will vary. Some will be customers and some prospects. Some will have bought from you and some have not yet bought. Even those who have bought will have bought different things. If you want to promote a particular product, you don’t want to send that campaign to people who have already bought it (unless it is something that is used regularly). Being able to use the data stored against each contact allows you to segment your audience and only send campaigns to relevant people.

The more relevant your email’s content is to the reader, the more likely they are to react how you want them to.

6. Are you collecting reviews and testimonials?

People will frequently look for reviews of your products or your business when considering buying from you. The more review you have, generally, the better. Once someone has bought from you, setting up an automated email marketing campaign to ask for reviews and testimonials.

Particularly suitable for e-commerce businesses, you can easily set a campaign to go out X days after a purchase. One small business client of ours is adding a couple of reviews a week because of the automated campaign we set up for them.

7. How are you recovering abandoned basket sales?

30% of the total retail market in the UK is now online. People add items to e-commerce baskets every day, but they may not be yet ready to buy. 69% of baskets are abandoned. Setting up abandoned basket campaigns that go out a little while later can remind people so they return and buy from you. Combined with remarketing PPC ads, these emails can make a significant difference to your sales.

8. You are following up events, aren’t you?

You invest time and money putting on events and attending trade shows. So you need to maximise the value you get from these events. Far too many companies fail to follow up with the people who attend events or that they talk to at a trade show. You can see more about how to follow up on a trade show here.

Sending an email out to people the day after the event to thank them for attending is a great way to build your brand and to start getting them to do something you want them to do. That may simply be to arrange a time to talk; it may be to buy something. Setting up a series of emails, particularly to people that weren’t previously on your mailing list will start getting them into your sales funnel and encourage them to buy from you.

9. Do you know when someone has engaged with your email campaign?

Once you’ve sent your email campaign, particularly sales campaigns, you’ll want to follow up on the phone. If you use Outlook (or similar), you have no knowledge of who did what with your email. When you follow up, you want to do so to the people most likely to engage/buy. Tools such as Mailchimp give you a list of:

  • Who opened your email campaign.
  • Who clicked, and what they clicked on.
  • A rating on how they have engaged with other email campaigns recently.

The time saved using the data provided can be huge. It also means that you can have relevant conversations because you know what they are looking at.

10. What are they doing after that first click?

Moving slightly away from the email marketing tool, there are other digital tools that help you follow up even more effectively. At SME Needs we recommend CANDDi as we believe it provides great data, good value and really helpful people.

Once someone clicks on your email campaign, they land on your site, but what do they do next? If your follow-up conversation relates to the pages they looked at on your site, imagine how much more effective that conversation will be?  Once CANDDi knows about their first visit, they can also notify you when that person (on the same device) returns to your site. You can find more about CANDDi here.

Next Step…

If have already have an email marketing account set up, you’re probably doing at least some of these. If you want to know how to do more of these, or simply want someone to review how effective your email marketing is, either click here or simply give us a call on 020 8634 5911.

e-commerce repeat purchases image

How to generate more e-commerce repeat purchases

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

e-commerce image for article about repeat purchasesThe importance of repeat purchases in e-commerce

How many of your customers have bought from your e-commerce site more than once?  Have you ever checked? Although the rate varies depending on what you sell online, you should be aiming for a 20-30% (according to Alex Schultz, VP at Facebook) repeat purchase rate. This article looks at how to calculate your current repeat purchase rate and what you can do to increase it, if you wish to.

What is your repeat purchase rate?

It is defined as someone who has bought two, or more, times from you. The easiest way to calculate your rate is:

No. of repeat customers/No. of paying customers X 100 = Repeat Purchase Rate.

Why you want this rate to increase

There are plenty of reasons why you should want more repeat purchases:

  • More sales is always a good thing.
  • People who have bought from you before are more likely to buy from you again, assuming they were happy with the first purchase.
  • It is cheaper, get a customer to buy again that to get the first purchase.
  • Repeat customers are far more likely to talk about you to their friends and network.
  • Repeat purchasers are more likely to give reviews and testimonials, a vital part of your e-commerce marketing.

How to get people to buy again

This is the bit you really wanted when you started reading this article, so here are 13 ways to increase your repeat purchase rate.

1. Thank them for buying from you  – every time

Most likely included within your order confirmation email, make sure you thank every customer for buying from you. There are plenty of other places they could have bought from.  People appreciate the gesture, even when they know it is standard wording that will be on every confirmation email you send out.

2. Follow up with them to find out how satisfied they are with their purchase

Good customer service is, unfortunately, an increasingly rare thing. Showing that you care and want to help goes a long way to creating positive brand associations in the minds of your customers.

3. Talk to them regularly

Keep in touch with your customers. Whilst you may think that this is simply adding to their burgeoning inbox, emails that contain useful content will be appreciated and will keep your brand in their mind’s eye.

4. Tell them about other products you sell

You sell more than one product, so make sure you tell your customers about the products they haven’t bought. You cannot tell them about everything, but you can tell them about related products.  If they bought a printer from your business, you can also sell them inks/toners and paper. If they were happy with your service around the printer, there’s no reason why they can’t buy accessories and consumables from you.

5. If your product only lasts a certain period, remind them they will need to buy again soon.

For products people buy regularly, what is the time gap between orders of the same things? Setting up an automated email based on purchases and this time gap can generate repeat purchases.

6. Can you offer a subscription?

Amazon has doggie poop bags available on subscription (Nigel has a subscription so he never runs out). Can you do the same thing? Products that people use frequently are ideal for subscriptions.

7. Help them to use your product, when appropriate.

If you’re selling complicated products, providing hints and tips that help them get the most from their purchase will be remembered.  We built a whole series of these for a client. They increased both repeat purchase rates and their Feefo rating for the client. You can see the case study here.

8. Tell them about sales campaigns or special offers.

If you sell seasonal products, telling your customers about end of season sales, or simply reminding them that “the summer” is approaching will remind them of your brand and that they can buy more from you. The opportunity to save money on a purchase always gets people thinking…

9. Ask them to share pictures of them using your product.

In a social media dominated world, people love posting pictures. New furniture in the office, the latest clothing purchase, a piece of funky art in their home – are just some of the pictures they could share.  Again, this reinforces your brand with them, proves they like your brand and can even generate new customers for you from their connections.

10. Find out more about them, so you can make better product suggestions.tagging function within Mailchimp surveys

The more you know about them , the more ways you can encourage more sales from them.

  • Do you know their birthday?  Giving them a discount, or small additional gift with their next purchase can encourage more sales.
  • Can you collect more information about their homes or businesses or hobbies? Products that relate to important parts of their lives are great sales opportunities.

Surveys are a great way to collect this sort of information. Tools such as Mailchimp make is easy to collect survey responses and attach that information to your customer records. This makes it easy to run relevant email marketing campaigns.

11. Ask for reviews of the product, both shortly after purchase and after a decent period of time.

Some people do reviews just after they buy a product or service. Others do them once they’ve had a chance to use that product. If you sell birthday cakes, asking for a review a week after the purchase will give them to time to receive and use the cake. If you sell technology, asking quickly will get responses about their initial thoughts and their experience of your business. Asking them again 6 months later will get responses about how good the product is.  These reviews can either go directly onto your e-commerce product pages, to Google Reviews or even tools such as TrustPilot or Feefo.

12. Consider a loyalty programme

David Sainsbury famously called Tesco’s Clubcard “green shield stamps”, but they transformed the food retail marketplace.  As a small business, you may not be able to have that impact, but loyalty programmes can do what their name suggests, driving more sales.

13. Collect data from all sales sources

If you also sell through other channels, make sure you are collecting customer data from them too. A recent client was selling online, but also in markets. But they weren’t collecting customer information from markets. Those people can also buy from your e-commerce store, so make sure you encourage them to subscribe and keep in touch with them.

14. Don’t bombard them!

After 12 ways of increasing sales, here’s one to make sure you don’t kill any chance of increasing sales.  Make sure that you’re not sending too much communication to your customers. Acceptable frequencies vary depending on what you are selling and how long that product lasts. Sending too much will annoy people, make them unsubscribe and you lose the opportunity to get more sales from them.

If you could get just 1 in 10 of your customers to buy again, it would transform your business. We can help you improve your marketing and your communication to do just that.  Call us now on 020 8634 5911, or click here, and let’s talk about increasing your repeat purchases online.

image showing a man cutting a piece of paper saying risk to support article about perceived risk

How to reduce perceived risk for your prospects

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding

and make more sales

Reducing perceived risk in the mind of your prospects increases sales and grows your business. There are several ways your marketing, and everyone in your business, can help you reduce perceived risk. This process starts from their very first engagement with you…

1. Make sure your website is helping

Your website is the first touch point for many people. As your shop window, your website is there to do two things: invite them in and make it easy to start the buying process.

  • Clear headlines and content that show how you can help them.
  • Contact details on every page, above the fold.
  • Proof that you have the knowledge and experience they need.

Make sure it looks up to date too. If it looks old, it will suggest either you don’t care, or you cannot afford to get an updated version.

2. Telephone manners

Ensure everyone in the business answers the phone in a professional manner. “Good morning/afternoon. company name, first name speaking. How can I help?” is a good starting place. Make sure they know how to then transfer the call to the right person too, especially now that many of your team are working remotely.

3. Respond quickly

When someone wants to talk to you about your products or services, they usually complete a form on your website. The sooner you contact them, the more likely they are to buy from you. The average response time, from Harvard Business Review research is 42 hours.

Getting in touch within an hour of the enquiry makes you at least 7 times more likely to qualify the lead. More qualified leads lead to more sales.

4. Tell them a story

You have always loved stories. When your parents put you bed and started: once upon a time, you loved it. As you grew up Roald Dahl took over and then maybe JK Rowling. Maybe Helen Fielding, maybe Arthur C Clarke and maybe Tom Clancy. Whoever wrote them, you have always read stories and enjoyed it as they take you through a process.

  • What stories do you have within your business that can help your prospects visualise what you do and how it can help them?
  • What have you done with other clients that demonstrates you understand the issues your prospect faces and will show what a successful resolution looks like?

Put some of these stories where they will be found early in their movement through your pipeline (your website) but keep one or two for when you’re sitting in front of them. The impact there will be even higher.

5. Stop talking about you

75%+ of the marketing material I see (both online and off) talks about the company. It talks about how good the company is at [insert topic] and that they’re the leading proponent of that topic (whether they are or not). NOBODY CARES
Change your messaging so that it talks about the target audience and how you help them. Change the wording so that you’re talking to an individual…

  • We help our clients by
  • You can benefit in this way from working with us

Changing your point of view and language helps prospects to understand, and believe, what you can deliver for them.

6. Provide proof

If you look for something on Amazon, they make sure that you see review ratings, and can filter by those ratings, before you get to filter by price. They know that peer reviews will make you spend more as they are evidence that the product you are considering is worth a little extra cash.

If you can put a series of reviews (also called testimonials) in front of a prospect, they will start to see the value you provide, and the level of perceived risk is reduced. If these reviews are from people similar to them, the level of risk drops even further.

Case studies work even more effectively as they put more meat on the bones. The 5 key parts of a case study each do a specific job in reducing perceived risk and there’s more detail on this in another of our blogs. You can read that here.

If you’re not sure your case studies are effective, we offer a free review. Sign up for the review here.

Summary

For a prospect to continue moving through your pipeline, and then sign on the dotted line, you need to reduce the level of risk they perceive. After all, nobody likes change. It’s a risk; what if things go wrong? Who is going to get blamed?

These tips will reduce the perceived risk your prospects have in their minds. They will never make it go away, but they only need to get it down to an acceptable level. One where the prospect says “yeah. Let’s go”.

Your marketing plays a critical role in reducing the perceived risk for buyers. By establishing trust, managing perceptions of risk, and providing education and support, a company can help alleviate buyer concerns and make the purchasing decision more comfortable. While there is no single approach that will work for every buyer or every transaction, companies that invest in their marketing efforts are more likely to see success in the competitive world of B2B sales.

Of course, if you need a hand working out exactly how to reduce perceived risk for your small, call us on 020 8634 5911 or get in touch here.

 

image showing a man cutting a piece of paper saying risk to support article about perceived risk

Why you need to reduce perceived risk in the buying process

By Customer Understanding

image showing a man cutting a piece of paper saying risk to support article about perceived riskIn the B2B (business-to-business) buying process, there are many factors that influence the decision-making process. One of the most important factors is perceived risk. Perceived risk is the level of uncertainty or concern that a buyer has about a product or service. In B2B buying, perceived risk can be a major obstacle to making a purchase. Here are some reasons why reducing perceived risk is essential in the B2B buying process.

1. Increase the likelihood of the sale

Firstly, reducing perceived risk increases the likelihood of making a sale. B2B buyers are often cautious and conservative, especially when it comes to large purchases or investments. They want to make sure that the product or service they are buying is going to meet their needs and provide a good return on investment. If they perceive too much risk, they may decide not to buy at all. By reducing perceived risk, you can increase the buyer’s confidence and make them more likely to move forward with the purchase.

2. Build trust

Secondly, reducing perceived risk can help to build trust and credibility. In the B2B world, trust is crucial. Buyers need to trust that the seller is going to deliver what they promise and that they are going to provide good service and support. By reducing perceived risk, you can show the buyer that you understand their concerns and that you are committed to providing a high-quality product or service. This can help to build trust and credibility, which can lead to long-term business relationships.

3. Differentiate your products

Thirdly, reducing perceived risk can help to differentiate your product or service from the competition. In many B2B markets, there are a lot of similar products or services available. Buyers may have a hard time differentiating between them and deciding which one to choose. By reducing perceived risk, you can make your product or service stand out from the competition. If buyers perceive your product or service as being less risky than the competition, they may be more likely to choose you.

4. Minimise post-purchase regret

Fourthly, reducing perceived risk can help to minimise post-purchase regret. In the B2B world, buyers often have a lot of regret after making a purchase. They may feel like they made the wrong decision, or that they could have gotten a better deal elsewhere. By reducing perceived risk, you can help to minimise these feelings of regret. If the buyer feels like they made a well-informed decision and that they have made a good investment, they are less likely to regret their purchase.

5. Increase customer satisfaction

Finally, reducing perceived risk can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. If the buyer perceives your product or service as being less risky, they are more likely to be satisfied with their purchase. This can lead to increased loyalty and repeat business. Additionally, if the buyer feels like you have taken their concerns seriously and have worked to reduce perceived risk, they are more likely to recommend your product or service to others.

Reducing perceived risk is essential in the B2B buying process. It can increase the likelihood of making a sale, build trust and credibility, differentiate your product or service from the competition, minimize post-purchase regret, and lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. To reduce perceived risk, it is important to understand the buyer’s concerns and address them in a thoughtful and comprehensive way. By doing so, you can build strong, long-lasting business relationships that benefit both you and your customers.  In our next article we will provide a range of tips on how your marketing can help you deliver on all of the above. To ensure you don’t miss that article, either follow our Company Page or subscribe to our mailing list here.

image of man pondering about how to market to his current clients

What is in a great marketing plan?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Plan

Great marketing results start with a great marketing plan.

As long as that plan is implemented well and measured regularly, the leads, and then the sales, will come. So let’s look at what a great marketing plan contains…

Your targets

To succeed you need something to aim at. The best sport stars have trophies/medals they want to win; it is no different for you as a business owner. Setting a target gives you:

  • Something to aim for
  • Something to plan around
  • A way to measure how well you are doing in your financial year.

Many business owners will have a growth target – XX% more than last year – they use to determine what their target for the year is. Alternatively you may want to have a client number target.  For some reason, most IT companies want to add one new client a week. Don’t know why, but that seems to be a standard goal for that industry.

Whatever your target is, you then use it to assess how much marketing has to be done.

Target to marketing goals

Your numbers will help you identify how many sales you need to make, how many leads you need and therefore, how much marketing you need to do. By working out how much marketing you need to do, you can develop a better marketing plan.

Your target audiences

By including your target audiences, and Ideal Clients, within your marketing plan, you make sure that everyone involved knows who they are aiming at. They know who they are talking to and so will use the right language and terminology.

A plan that is talking about ‘anyone’ and ’everyone’ too much, you run the risk of generic, non-specific language. If you’ve read anything about marketing focus, you’ll know the more specific you are in your marketing messages, the more effective they will be.

You almost certainly have have multiple target audiences, you may want to alternate between audiences within your marketing plan, if budgets are limited. Of course, if your marketing budget allows you to focus on more than one audience each month, feel free.

The marketing channels you are going to use

What are you going to do and how often is the core of your marketing plan. For your marketing to be successful, it has to be consistent and coordinated. If your approach is expertise-led you may have something like this:

  • One blog a month, each looking to help your target audience with a key issue.
  • A company page post on LinkedIn each week, sharing a key point in the blog.
  • Two tweets a week, around the same topic, looking for engagement and sharing to increase your reach.
  • A set of email campaigns, aimed at the different segments within your mailing list, to maintain and increase awareness and generate leads.

If you are using other marketing channels, you must make sure they link with these too.

Who is doing what

If you don’t allocate each marketing activity to specific people, you run the risk of ‘I thought Bob/Dave/Sarah was doing it’. When everyone knows what is expected of them, they can plan their own time and make sure everything happens when it should.

It, almost, goes without saying that your team members have agreed to what has been allocated to them…

& by when

When your team know what they have to do, they also need to know when they have to have it done by. In a ideal world, your marketing is ready well ahead of time, giving you some leeway – just in case. Getting things done ahead of time also allow you the opportunity to make a change, should an opportunity arise.

Space for the results

With any plan, you do three things:

  1. Develop the plan.
  2. Implement the plan.
  3. Measure the performance of the plan.

By measuring what happens, you can make sure you remain on target to achieve, or even beat, the targets at the top of this article. If things aren’t working, you have the opportunity to make changes too. You can get a free Marketing ROI Calculator here.

These 7 parts will be in all good marketing plans.  Are they in yours?  If they are not, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 and lets talk about getting your plan better structured and working effectively.

If you would like to discuss your marketing plan, or lack thereof, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

B2B marketing expo trade show

Stop wasting your trade show investment

By A Helping Hand, Delivering your marketing, Marketing Performance

B2B marketing expo trade show
If you exhibit at a trade show and don’t maximise the number of people you talk to, you may as well not be there. Spend your money on something else; something that interests you and will deliver the ROI. Here’s the top 5 errors made at trade shows by businesses and people.

1. Don’t turn up

The biggest of the errors made at trade shows is simply not turning up. By lunchtime at the B2B Marketing Expo, there was someone in every shell scheme stand, but at 9.45am (15 mins after the show opened), there were empty stands. With shows frequently charging upwards of £450 per square metre, why would companies spend a minimum of £3k and then turn up late? Most people walk around a show once, before then going back to the stands that catch their attention. An empty stand catches attention but in the wrong way.

2. Don’t talk to visitors

trade show delegates ignoring visitors and losing business

It is always amazing that many exhibitors will stand there, waiting for visitors to approach them. Why not talk to them? If someone is hovering, they are interested. They’re either trying to work out what your company does or thinking about how can help them. Either way, they are going to be open to a chat. Even it they say no, what have you lost if you say hello? If you don’t, you’ve definitely lost the opportunity.

This image is a typical example (smiley face emojis are protecting the guilty) of what we mean. Sharing a “funny” on your mobile whilst potential clients are walking past is not a great way to spend your time.  Whilst you cannot spend every moment talking to visitors, if you need a break, get off the stand!

3. Poor headlines on your stand Vertical Leap trade show stand

Considering the B2B Marketing Expo is full of marketing companies, it was good to see better headlines this year (see Vertical Leap).

Headlines that either:

  • Say what they do (& not how they help)
  • Say way too much

are not going to attract prospects.

Think about what your clients get from working with you and build your headlines around that. Make it amazingly easy for them to understand why they should talk to you.

4. Don’t follow up

The whole reason for exhibiting is to collect contact information from potential new clients. If you don’t then make use of that data, what was the point of going?

We deliberately published this article a little while after the show. This was to see how many companies contacted us, and how long they took to do so.
The b2b Marketing expo closed on Wednesday, the 23rd November. The first companies had contacted us by Friday, so all good. By the time we published, most had contacted us now, including one pushy sole who wanted to book a sales call in the moment he called (not a good idea!).

Followup campaigns

Your follow up campaigns should be prepared before the trade show. Normally a set of emails designed to thank your visitors for engaging, and then help them understand more about how you can help them. You then simply must add contact data and press send. The longer you leave it to follow up, the less important you make that visitor feel. 

Depending on how people engage with those emails will depend on what you do next.

one other point:

If you get the whole list of registered visitors, don’t send them all the same campaigns. Some won’t have gone (even though they registered) and most won’t have talked to you). Perhaps you can run a “sorry we didn’t see you “campaign to raise who attended, but you didn’t scan them?

5. Stop too soon

Just because they gave you their details doesn’t mean they are ready to buy now. It may be months before they need what you do. Once you complete your follow-up campaigns, make sure you keep communicating with them so they don’t forget you. Every sales trainer I know says that people stop too soon.  They make a few calls and then give up.  It is the same here. You may complete the follow up campaigns and they may still not be dropping further into your pipeline, but that doesn’t mean you give up.  Keep them on your mailing lists. Give them a call once in a while. The last thing you want is for them to fall out of your pipeline just before they realise they need what you sell!

 

So those are the 5 biggest errors made at trade shows. They’re not right for every business. But they can be a tremendously powerful part of your marketing mix if done properly. If you have a show coming up and need some help, call us on 020 8634 5911 

image to support article on how to save money on your marketing

How to save money on your marketing

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

image to support article on how to save money on your marketing

In times of economic uncertainty, marketing and training are the traditional areas where savings can be made. Here are some ideas on how to save money on your marketing.

1. Know what marketing is working

If you want to save money on your marketing, what’s the worst thing you can do? Cut spend on marketing that is working.

John Wanamaker famously said (roughly) “I know 50% of my advertising works, just not which 50%”. If you haven’t measure your marketing performance, how do you know where to save money?

There’s a great tool to help you do this here.

2. Train your staff to do some of the marketing

If you’re outsourcing some of your marketing, you may be able to save some money by getting your own staff to do some of it. Do you have anyone with good social media skills? Is anyone a decent writer? If you have, you may be able to cut some costs by using your staff instead. You may need to spend some money on training but you will cut your marketing spend in the long term.

Even if you keep your outsourced social media expert, getting your team involved will improve the performance of your social media marketing. Having them Share, Comment or even just Like, will increase your reach and get your posts in front of more people, ideally within your target audience.

3. Review your marketing suppliers

How much are you paying for various marketing activities? There may be opportunities to save some money by reviewing the market again.

You do need to be confident that any cheaper suppliers are as good. There is little point in saving money if performance suffers and you’re no longer getting the leads you were before.

4. Look at ROI, not spend

A previous client once asked us if stopping advertising in a particular magazine was a good idea. After all, they were spending £600 for each advert. Stopping this would save them £3600 a year. But, when asked, they said each advert generated nearly £3000 in revenue. Whilst the ROI could be improved, if they stopped running the adverts would save them money, they would lose that they saved in sales. (you can see more about the work we did with them here)

If you can think of ways you may be able to save money, consider the ROI first. Refer back to the 1st point.

5. Get better results

The reason for cutting marketing costs is that there isn’t enough money available within the business. So if you can get better marketing results, more money will start coming in and your problem goes away. Again, refer back to the 1st point.

6. Improve your website’s SEO performance

This is the first of a few things you can do with an investment in time, rather than money. With 1/3rd of the world’s websites running on WordPress, yours probably is too. Free SEO plugins (we recommend Yoast) can provide real improvements in your search engine performance. Use their traffic light system to edit your website, investing just a few minutes per page.

When you do start this process, make sure you are shaping the content to the keywords you are looking for traffic from, rather than choosing the most popular phrase on the page or post.

7. Consistent posting will improve your marketing

If you have a social media person (internal or external), chances are they are posting on your company feeds and possibly one, or two, of the senior managements’ personal feeds. There is no reason why the rest of your team cannot contribute too. Even posting 1-2 times a week can make a big difference. But make sure they are engaging (commenting on other peoples’ and replying to comments on theirs) too.

8. Better connections

In the small business world, networking is the No.1 source of new business. Prospects picked up from referrals and introductions are far easier to close, as they come with an endorsement. Take a look through that pile of business cards on your desk, and through your LinkedIn connections. Who haven’t you spoken to for a long time? Zoom calls cost nothing (not even a coffee) but allow you to catch up, reminding them what you do and how you help people. Again, just an investment in time.

 

Marketing should be one of the last areas to cut spending. We wrote about this in more detail recently (you can see the article here) but to put it simply, if you stop marketing, your target audience may forget you. If they forget you, they can’t buy from you when they finally decide they have a need you could have helped them with.

You are far better off improving your marketing performance than you are cutting your marketing budget. But there are times when it is necessary, so we hope these tips prove useful. Of course, if you would like to talk about any of this, give us a call: 020 8634 5911 or simply subscribe to our mailing list to ensure you never miss any of our articles.

 

woman sitting reading great content

How to produce great content for your target audience and the search engines

By A Helping Hand, Delivering your marketing

woman sitting reading great contentIf content on your website forms the core of your small business marketing strategy, you need that content to be great. By great, I mean really useful for your target audience. Great content will also help your search engine rankings, so make it easier for your target audience to find it.  These are our 15 tips on how to produce great content and get people reading it.

Write for the reader

The whole point of writing your blog/article is to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. Your content is there to help the reader clearly see that you are an expert in your field and that you can help them with an issue they face. So make sure that the article is written in a way that makes this clear.

Write in the 2nd person

The best way (at least in our opinion) is for you to write in the 2nd person. Write as if you are talking directly to someone on the other side of the screen. Current figures show that 62% of all web traffic is on mobile devices so you are talking to just one person. When was the last time you read an article with someone next to you on a screen?

Making your article feel, for the reader, like a conversation aimed directly at them will help you engage with that person.

Find the right topics for your audience

This is almost one of those “Duh” tips. It’s obvious that you have to have the right topics; the question is how do you know what are the right topics? Here are a number of options to help you work out the right topics…

Seasonal topics

If you run a seasonal small business, there will be topics that you have to write about every year. One of our clients has a marquee business, so one of the topics we produce content for every year is the temperature inside the marquee. As we head towards the winter, we write content for them about heating and keeping warm. As we head to the summer, the content is about keeping cool and avoiding the British weather’s eccentricities.  You will have your own seasonal topics.  When you publish the article will depend on how far ahead your target audience is thinking about that issue.

Issues you are helping your clients with

Your clients use you to help them deal with issues. Our last article provided a series of email marketing tips (you can read it here) because we’re doing a lot of work at the moment helping clients improve their email marketing performance. If you are helping clients with certain issues, it is almost guaranteed that others will be facing the same issues and problems. So write content that you can then share that shows you can help with those issues.

Issues you see your prospects having

Whilst this point goes against one of our later tips, it can be highly effective.  When you talk to a prospect, they will tell you about issues they are facing at this time. That conversation will include ways you can help them, but writing an article that also shows how you can help (that then gets sent to them) can be a great way of moving them towards buying from you. It may also help attract more clients too, because your prospect won’t be the only company facing that issue.

The popular ones from last year

Google Analytics can quickly tell you which posts on your website are the most popular.  Updating great content pieces is a good way to please both your target audience and the search engines.  The search engines like to see that content is being updated (it shows you are looking after the website). Your target audience want to see up to date information. Our most popular article over the last two years is one on how much small businesses should spend on their marketing (you can read it here). It is time we updated that.

Consider SEO impact

The most important factor when you’re considering what to write is the reader, but you should keep an eye on your rankings in the search engines. Every ranking article out there (here’s one) lists high quality content as one of the most important factors in determining where you rank. So here are a couple of tips to help you decide what to write about.

What are the most searched for topics?

Trending topics can be a great way to identify what content to write. Tools such as SEMrush and Moz are great, as is Google’s own tool https://trends.google.com

Are they any your competitors aren’t writing about

When was the last time you looked at what your competitors are, or aren’t, writing about?  If they haven’t produced any content for some time, that’s great. But if they have, what have they missed?  Again, SEMrush has a great tool for spotting the gaps in their content and keywords.  You will need to talk to an agency about this, as SEMrush is generally an agency tool, but if you marketing budget allows it…

Plan ahead

So we’ve looked at a number of different ways to work out what to write, let’s now look at a bit of housekeeping to help ensure you are producing great content for your website.

Give yourself time to create a great article

Rushing your writing will lead to a poorer article than if you invest time on it.  Writing an article is at least a week, and ideally a month, before it is due to be published is our recommendation.  That gives you time to review and edit – and to make sure it is included within your other marketing activities.

Get feedback

You may think it’s a great article, but you will be biased. Getting someone else to read it is going to help you improve your marketing content. It also ensures it is focused and hasn’t gone off on a tangent (something that is very easy to do). Choose people who will give you honest feedback.

Get the right image

Most blog pages show an article with a supporting image. The image will be part of the reader’s decision-making process when they are deciding what to read.  If you haven’t invested time in choosing an image that supports your article, you may lose readers. Remember, those readers are potential clients for you, so you don’t want to lose them.  Free image sites, such as Pixabay and Unsplash can provide images. Others, such as Istockphoto do charge, but they will have a better selection and, generally, better images.
Of course, if you can produce great images yourself, even better.

Share it to get it read

So let’s assume you now have your article and a great image to go with it. You’ve published it on your website. Time to sit back and relax?  Nope – sorry.  Adding it to your website doesn’t get it read and actioned upon. If your site gets 1,000s of visitors a month, you may get readers, but if you share it, you will get more. Email marketing campaigns and social media posts will get it out there and attract more views.  After all, great content deserves to be read – and it is the reason you are working on writing it.

We hope this helped you work out how to write great content. If you are still struggling to work out what to write, or need some help in writing the content, get in touch and let’s have a chat.

email marketing tips image someone using a computer

11 tips to improve your email marketing performance

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing

email marketing tips image someone using a computerEmail marketing must do’s

Email marketing is a core part of many small businesses’ marketing activity. But, as a Mailchimp Partner regularly reviewing accounts for clients, we see a lot of strange practices. This article aims to point out those strange practices and give you some guidance on what you should be doing.  Here are 11 tips to help you improve your email marketing…

 

1. Stop sending everything to everyone

This is probably the biggest mistake we see people do.  No matter whether you have a few dozen, or many 1,000s of people in your mailing list, don’t send every email campaign you produce to every person on the list. It just annoys people and increases the number of people who unsubscribe.

Segment instead

You sell multiple products/services to multiple types of people who use what you sell in various ways.  Each campaign should only go to the contacts it is relevant for. By segmenting your audience, based on the information you have about them, you will:

  1. Increase open & click-through rates & your email marketing performance.
  2. Improve the relationship between your business and your target audience(s).

2. Have more information about your contacts

All you need, at least theoretically, is an email address to add someone to your mailing list. You can then start sending campaigns to them. This leads to a range of different problems for you, and your email marketing performance:

  • You cannot add those contacts to segments and focus your email campaigns.
  • You lose the ability to personalise.  How do you feel when an email greeting just says “Hi,”?
  • Timing is important in marketing, but how can you time your emails more effectively without any information to use?

Collect more information

Depending on your account type, Mailchimp allows you to use up to 30 (80 for premium accounts) audience fields for each contact. Combined with Groups, Segments and Tags, you can add a huge amount of information to your contact records.  Using that information to make your emails  more relevant, and therefore useful, improves your email marketing performance. Sending a campaign asking people to update their information can help you with this; it will only take a few minutes to set up and send.

3. Don’t use irrelevant subject lines

Your open rate is affected by the quality of the subject line more than anything else. A poor subject line generates poor open rates – and then impacts everything else too. A new client of mine recently sent out an email to a cold list with the subject line of “A quick catch-up?” The open rate was less than 2% – why would anyone open it?

Grab their attention!

Subject lines need to pique curiosity, especially if it is to a contact list that knows very little about you. I’ve seen people recommend subject lines like “Don’t miss out” or “Take a peek at…”. As we have been recommending you segment your audience, you should know your target personas and be able to draft subject lines that talk about the pain or what success looks like.  When we run a campaign to promote this article, the subject line is likely to be along the lines of “Are you happy with your email marketing performance?” or “Get better email marketing results with these steps”.

Testing different lines will give you better results.

4. Make sure you are testing

Email marketing platforms provide A/B testing (sometimes call split testing) options that allow you to test, and improve, your email marketing campaigns.  Testing means that most of your audience get the best performing campaigns.

If you’re testing subject lines, write 2-3 (depending on how many people in your mailing list) and then split 50% of your list over those subject lines. Whichever line wins after (usually) four hours is then sent to the remaining 50%.  That way the best content has gone to 67+% of your audience.

Test both subject lines and content

You may want to test both subject lines and content, but don’t be tempted to test both at the same time. If you do, how do you know which criteria produced the best results?

5. Make use of merge tags

Merge tags take data from an audience field and insert it into your email. This can be in the subject line, the preview or the main body. Most people will know that their name/company name has been inserted in this way, but when people see their name, it grabs their attention. They are far more likely to then act on the message, especially a compelling one.

Make use of merge tags

But use them sparingly. Inserting lots will have the opposite effect.

 

6. Don’t add too many Calls to Action

When you send someone a marketing email, you want them to engage. You want them to, for example, click on an offer and buy something. Alternatively, you may want them to read an article. If you put too many links and buttons into your email marketing campaigns, you reduce the number of people who will do what you want them to do. The more opportunities people have to click, the less likely they are to pick the one you want them to.

Add text links and buttons

if your main call to action is a big bold button, add a link, early in the text, to the same place. People often click the first link they come to, so by doing this you increase the number of people who go where you want them to go.

7. Make sure you have some Calls to Action

At the opposite end of the scale, I see campaigns going out with no calls to action, or just email reply clicks. The easier, and less scary, you make it for people to engage with your marketing, the better.  With >70% of the sales process often taking place before a buyer talks to sales person, offering only an email link, for example, will put lots of people off.

8. Add a sign off section

When you email someone from Outlook or gmail, you have a block at the bottom, starting with “kind regards” or something similar. So why do you not have one on your email marketing campaigns? People love to engage with people so why make your emails come from a faceless organisation?

For small businesses, this is even more important. The owner of many small businesses is the figurehead. The person people want to engage with; the person they think of when your company name is in their head. As companies grow, they will be more people who become the face of the business, but people still want to engage with people. A sign-off block helps people to imagine that face and your brand.

Multiple ways to get hold of you

We recommend you include multiple ways to get hold of your small business in your sign off block. Not everyone wants to go via your website; some want to talk directly to you.

9. Send the email campaign again

When you send an email marketing campaign, XX% will open it. But that leaves a lot of others who didn’t. Some will see it, but ignore it because of the subject line. Some will simply miss it because of the amount of emails they get and how busy they are.

Sending a campaign again will get more people reading it and doing what you want them to do. But, please, only send it to those who didn’t open it first time!  All email marketing platforms have tools that allow you to filter your audience – some are better than others.

Resend soon

You should send this second version at a different time of day and within 24-72 hours of the first one to maximise the success of this one. You should see a 25-50% uplift in email opens.

 

10.Follow up

Your email campaigns are there to get the contacts within your mailing list to engage; to do what you want them to do. But sometimes, especially when you have a high ticket value, they need a nudge.  Do you look at what your contacts have been doing and then follow up?  If not, you’re missing out on sales.

Choose who to follow up first

Use the contact rating (Mailchimp term) or equivalent to identify the people who are frequently opening and clicking on your campaigns. Call them or email them from your personal account to follow up and help them towards buying from you. Look at what they have been clicking on to identify what is of interest – and therefore what to talk about.

11. Make sure your campaigns go out regularly

As the last of our email marketing tips for improving your email marketing performance, make sure you are sending regularly.  Too frequently and you will annoy people (leading to unsubscribes), but too infrequently and you run the risk of people forgetting who you are.

Regularity you can commit to

If you find yourself with plenty of time, don’t increase the frequency of your emails, as people will come to expect more from you. Something you may not be able to deliver when you get busy again. Far better to use the time to generate the campaigns, and then schedule them to go out at a frequency you know you can maintain when you are busy.

 

We hope these 11 email marketing tips help you to improve your email marketing performance. If you need any more guidance or would like an independent review of your email marketing, let us know. As a Mailchimp Partner, we can review your Mailchimp account without needing your log-in details and without using a precious seat. We do also review other platforms.

various social media logos

Why consistent social media activity is vital

By Delivering your marketing, Marketing Performance

Reasons to review the number of social media sites you are on

There is a belief within many businesses that having a lot of social media channels is a good thing and will drive new clients to them regularly. If you’re a regular reader of our articles, you’ll know that we disagree with this, here’s why and what you should do with your social media accounts.

Choose the right social media platforms

There are 1,000s of social media platforms available to you.  This article, published earlier this year, lists (apparently) the 133 you should consider. However, your target audience(s) are only likely to be present in decent numbers on a small number of them.  If you are a B2B business, LinkedIn and YouTube are a given and you may consider Twitter.  Any others you use are likely to have much lower numbers of people you want to get in front of.

Of course, there is always going to be someone on SnapChat who could buy from you. There may even be people on Periscope or Pinterest, but the laws of diminishing returns will quickly be relevant here.

Why?

In your mind, you’re asking why should you reduce the number of social media platforms you have accounts on?  Here are 6 reasons why.

1. Quality over Quantity

The more social media platforms you use, the more time has to be invested in them. Keeping your social media going with quality content is far more important than simply being present on a large quantity of platforms.

As a small business, you will have limited resources. Spreading those resources over a higher number of platforms means less investment (time and money) in each of them.

2. Right or wrong eyes?

There are approximately 830 million users on LinkedIn, with 310 million considered to be active.  This compares to 433 million monthly active users on Pinterest and 433 daily active users on SnapChat.  These figures may tempt you to think about using the latter two, but unless you are selling to teenagers (Snapchat) and mothers in the US (80% of mothers in the US are on there)

The right social media choices will raise brand awareness and help you to grow your business. But if they are the wrong eyes, you are wasting your time and investment.  If you’re not sure this is true, check your Google Analytics stats and see what traffic you are getting from each platform you use.

3. Law of diminishing returns

This law says that after a certain point, the returns from your investment cannot continue to increase and will diminish progressively. Why spend your marketing time on something that isn’t likely to deliver for you?

4. You need different content on each

YouTube, TikTok and Vimeo are video-sharing platforms. Pinterest and Instagram are all about the images. LinkedIn and Twitter can be text-based, but both benefit from images/videos as well.  Some use hashtags more than others and some are more formal than others. With all these differences, posting exactly the same posts on all the social media platforms you use is going to either annoy people or have them simply ignore you. Both are likely to lead to your follower/connection numbers decreasing and the opinion of your brand diminishing. Neither are good for you.

You have to post the right content on each platform, so unless you have unlimited time available, you need to manage the number of sites you use.

5. Keeping them going

If you haven’t posted onto a social media platforms for weeks, months or even years, what does this say about your brand and your business? It says that you aren’t bothered about that audience.

The purpose of social media is to keep your brand in the mind’s eye of your target audience and have people talking about your business.  The more engagement there is, the more awareness is generated.  If you haven’t posted for months, you can guarantee that nobody is talking about you.

If you aren’t keeping them going, you have a decision to make. Either invest the time in engaging, or delete the account. Far better to delete an account than have it show your target audience that you haven’t been bothered to keep it going!

6. Responding

The other big mistake we see many businesses doing is simply shouting. They post content onto their social platforms and let it ride.  If you are not checking your account, at least, daily to see what is happening, you will miss out.

If someone has taken the time to comment on a post and you don’t respond, you’re telling that person their comment isn’t important to you. You are also missing out on the opportunity to get in front of their connections and increase your reach.

If you would like to be using the right social media for your business, and would like an independent assessment of your social media presence, get in touch. You can call us on 020 8634 5911 or book an appointment here.

 

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