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A Helping Hand

A Helping Hand is a category aimed at doing just that – giving small business owners a helping hand in improving their marketing performance.

Blogs written by a small business marketing consultant that will help small businesses grow.

These blogs normally look at one of two things:

  1. how you can improve an aspect of your small business marketing
  2. how you can stop making a mistake with your small business marketing

If you need further assistance with any aspect of your marketing, simply call us on 020 8634 5911

Is your shop window right?

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Marketing Performance

Your customers buy from you because they like what you have to offer and they see how it can help them. But they can only buy if they have entered your “shop”. That doesn’t mean you have to have premises on the high street or the local shopping centre. Your website is just as much a shop window as a physical premise. Let’s look at why this is important and how you can make sure your shop window entices people in, maximising the chance that they buy from you.

Why a good shop window is vital

There are three core reasons why it is vital that your shop window or website is right:

  1. Wasted time and money

Driving traffic to your website takes time, effort and, often, money.  Using all this resource only for people to quickly leave is a waste. Here’s some examples we’ve come across over the years:

92% bounce rate

A kitchen company asked us to look at their Google Ads account as it “wasn’t working”.  Their ads had a 17% click-through rate (CTR) so they were definitely working, but the site’s content was so bad they had a 92% bounce rate (in old Google Analytics terminology)

£5k a month

An appliances business was spending £5K a month on Google Ads, sending traffic to their site. But the site wasn’t right, so much of this investment was wasted.

0.2% conversion rate

Great social media and natural SEO drives a lot of traffic to another site we’ve seen, but the usability of the site meant that people were looking but not buying.

These are just three examples of how you can invest time, effort and money in your marketing, only for it to fail at a critical point – the “shop window”

  1. Poor first impression

People make up their minds about something quickly. First impressions count. It takes less than 3 seconds for people to get that first impression and it takes a lot of effort to make them change their minds. There’s some great stats about website first impressions here.

  1. Lost opportunities

How many sales opportunities are you losing because your website isn’t great?  Your website is there purely to generate new business for you, so if that isn’t happening, what do you do?

How to improve

  1. Make it about them

Let’s for a moment put aside the design element.  The headline and all the content (except the About Us page) should be focused on the reader and not on you.

Content is about how you help, not what you do

Putting it bluntly, nobody cares what you do. They do, however, care about how you can help them. The content needs to be about the issues you know they face and what you can do to help them. What is the end result they are looking for? Make sure your content talks about that.

Plenty of evidence you can deliver

You have lots of stories about how you’ve helped your clients in the past. You wouldn’t be in business if you hadn’t.  Even if you are a brand new business, chances are you’ve got stories from the past where you’ve helped people.  It is rare for someone to start a business they have no experience in, so use that experience and your stories to prove you can deliver on your promises. You can see more about how to effectively use your stories here.

Multiple ways to get in touch

Many people think that if they pick up the phone, you will start trying to sell to them straight away. Even if that isn’t the case, that’s what they believe, so give your audience multiple ways to get in touch with you and get the information they want initially.

  • Brochures they can download (may be gated, may not)
  • Telephone numbers – maybe a WhatsApp alternative
  • Email addresses
  • Appointment booking
  • Contact Forms

This is about what your prospects want – not what you want.  The more you restrict their ability to get in touch in the way they wish to, the more likely that person is to go elsewhere.

If you’re not getting the leads you want from your website, stop spending time and money sending people there. Put your effort into working out what needs to be done to make your website more effective.

If you need some help, call us on 020 8634 5911 or use any of the other contact methods that you can see here.

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

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.

Person using a laptop image to support article about getting potential clients back to your website

7 ways to get potential clients back to your website

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Measure

graph of returning visitors to support article about getting potential clients back to your websiteBecause getting them back increases the likelihood of them buying from you

Whatever way people move from simply knowing who you are to becoming potential clients, they will be spending time on your website. Much of the time, they are checking you out; making themselves comfortable that you will be able to help them. Getting potential clients to return to your website will help them to become comfortable and start talking with you. Here’s 7 ways to get potential clients. back to your website…

How many people are returning to your website?find your returning visitors stats at Google Analytics

Before you start work on this, you need to know how many potential clients are actually returning to your site. After all, it may not be an issue for you. If you don’t know, Google Analytics is your friend. To find your stats:

  1. Go to Google Analytics – click here
  2. Go to Reports
  3. Click on Retention (highlighted blue in the image here)

1. Retargeting ads

You will have regularly seen adverts for something you’ve been looking at online. Those adverts are designed to get you back to their site and to buy the product. You can do the same to people who visit your site.  

Google Ads and Facebook Ads are two key players in this area. You will need to set up the account(s) and you do pay a small amount per returning visit. Depending on how competitive your industry sector is, this cost per click (CPC) can be pennies, up to £1 or more. But it will be much less than Google Ads to get them to your site for the first time.

2. Email marketing

Email marketing is a highly effective way to get people back to your website. If they have given you their email address, make sure you are emailing to share latest content regularly. 

Depending on what information you have collected, email campaigns can be: 

  • New case studies, particularly for people in their industry sector. 
  • New products or services that you now provide. 
  • New articles that continue to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge.  

The wonderful thing about email marketing is that everything is trackable: 

  • You can see who is opening and clicking on what campaigns 
  • You can see the contacts who are highly engaged, and those who never open your emails
  • Associated applications can even show you what individual contacts do after they’ve clicked from your email campaign. 

If you have a telesales function within the business, assigned to follow up your marketing campaigns, this information helps them to call the right people. Those who have engaged should be the first people called.  

Sending links to special offers or exclusive content is a fantastic way to really encourage people back to your website.  

3. Consistent engaging content

Regularly adding high-quality content to your website can quickly get people coming back to your website. Once people have visited a few times, they get used to expecting useful information and content, so they return regularly to consume that content. 

That content can be in the form of blogs, white papers, or videos – whichever format your target audience prefers. By posting useful content, you establish yourself as an authority, increasing your Domain Authority score and your search engine rankings.  

4. Social media promotion

Your choice of social media platforms is determined by your target audiences. Whichever platform you use, social media is a great place to share new, and evergreen, content. New articles, case studies and promotions are all great outbound content. But don’t forget that a good chunk of your website visits can come from when you have responded. That can either be to people who have replied to your original post, or when you have commented on someone else’s original post. Social media is not somewhere to shout ‘Buy Me!’ – but that is another article… 

5. Guest Blogs

High quality content that you post on other websites generates both quality inbound links (good for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)) and more traffic. The fact that the other site has agreed to post the content is a good sign for readers. For people who have seen your site before, it is a further reminder that they can get valuable information (and good services) from your business. 

6. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Optimising your website for search engines will raise you up the search engine results, maximising the chances of people seeing your site again, getting them back to you and buying. Tools such as Yoast will help you get the on-site SEO right, ensuring you have: 

  • Good meta descriptions that tell people what they will find on your page. 
  • Catchy SEO titles to grab peoples’ attention as they scroll looking for answers to their search query. 
  • Internal and outbound links that guide people around your site and to places they can find good supporting information.  
  • That word counts are sufficient to give readers a good idea of what your business is about. 
  • And much more.

There are plenty of other tools on the market for SEO. We use SEMrush to further improve SEO performance for our clients’ websites because most of them are WordPress sites.  

7. Make a great first impression

Perhaps this should have been the first way, but hey ho… A great first impression will get people coming back for more. If they like what they see and read first time, chances are they will come back again, particularly if they ‘bump’ into your brand in other ways. 

To get people back to your website, your marketing needs to be consistent, and your brand needs to be seen regularly in separate locations online, and off.  

Of course, if you need some help with this, get in touch. You can call us on 020 8634 5911 or complete the form here and we’ll call you back. 

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.

two small business owners shaking hands

The three ways to generate more leads

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

If you want more leads for your small business, a Google search will provide 672 million search results to help you. Going through that little lot will take some time. At SME Needs we like to keep things simple for small business owners, so we believe there are just three ways to generate more leads…

1. Do better work for your clients

The better the work you deliver for your clients, the happy they will be. The happier they are, the more they will talk about you to others. At least that is the theory. In reality, you’re probably already doing great work. It’s just that the client hasn’t recognised just how good that work is. Making sure they realise just what you’re doing will help.

For example, if you’re an IT services business, are you telling your client how many tickets you responded to this month, or are you telling them how much time you gave them back?

The better your clients understand how you are helping them, the more they will say nice things to others about you, especially when you ask them to!

2. Build better relationships with your clients

Particularly in the small business world, people like to do business with people they know, like and trust. You may have clients where you have a very transactional relationship. One where there is very little conversation taking place. When this is the case, you run the risk of being replaced by someone who either:

  • Offers the same at a lower price
  • Develops a better relationship with your client

Relationships help you generate more leads because

  • Your clients will talk about you more (see above)
  • They are more likely to buy other products/services from you
  • You are better protected from losing the client.
  • Your clients will be happier to do case studies, testimonials and reviews for you< helping others decide to talk to you.

3. Improve your marketing performance

Know what is working

Improving your marketing performance starts with knowing how your marketing is performing now. If you don’t currently know, click here to download a marketing ROI calculator. Knowing what is, and isn’t, working gives you a benchmark to work from and identifies where you can improve.

Some of that improvement will come from stopping what isn’t working and investing that time/budget into what you know is working. Some of that improvement comes from learning more and doing things better, but it starts with knowing.

Say the right things

The 2nd step in improving your marketing is saying the right thing. If your marketing is all about you and what you do, you’re losing out on leads. If your marketing is all about your clients, how you help and what success looks like, you will generate more leads for your small business.

Think about either you last product you bought from a salesperson. Did they talk about them, or talk about you? Did they talk about what they do, or how your business will benefit?

Make a plan

The third stage in improving your marketing is to make a plan. The old adage of failing to plan is still so very true. A well-developed marketing plan will maximise your chances of generating the leads you are looking for.

Implement the plan

The fourth stage is to do what you have scheduled in that plan. There’s no point in having the plan if you aren’t going to do it. You may need help, either to do some of the things in your marketing plan, or in the form of someone keeping you on track. The only problem comes a little way through the implementation of your plan, when you have sold some stuff and are busy delivering what you’ve sold. Do you still have time to keep to the plan? They are plenty of people out there who can help you at that point (see more about how we can help here).

If you can do all three, the leads you are looking for will flow in, but just doing one of them will improve the number of leads you generate over time.

If you need a hand with any of these, call us on 020 8634 5911 or contact us here.

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.

 

inbound or outbound marketing strategy - which is best for small businesses

What is the right marketing strategy for your small business?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Plan

inbound or outbound marketing strategy - which is best for small businesses

Get it right and your company will sky-rocket

When we searched marketing strategies for small businesses, every article on Google’s first page actually talked about marketing tactics – the tools you can use – rather than the marketing strategies small businesses can use. Here’s our thoughts on how to choose the right marketing strategy for your small business.

What is a marketing strategy?

Oxford Dictionaries define a marketing strategy as “a plan of action designed to promote and sell a product or service.” 

Your marketing strategy is a long-term plan of action, not something that will start working within days. 

What is in a marketing strategy?

A small business (indeed any business) marketing strategy has six key components: 

  1. The product – what are you actually selling?
  2. Target audience – who are you selling your product to? 
  3. Targets – how much do you want to sell, in unit or monetary terms and time? 
  4. Competitors – who are you competing against? 
  5. Marketing activities – what marketing are you going to do? 
  6. Measurement – what are you measuring as KPIs? 

Your marketing strategy options

At the very highest level, there are just two marketing strategies: 

1. Inbound marketing strategy

An inbound marketing strategy is designed to get your target audience to come to you – the enquiries/purchases are inbound. Whilst your marketing activity is based around the needs and wants of your target audience, you have no real control of the type of enquiries that come into your small business.  

Inbound marketing is most commonly used for high volume sales, usually low value too. 

Key components of an inbound strategy include SEO, PPC and content generation. 

2. Outbound marketing strategy

This is where you identify the specific clients you want to work with and focus on getting in and generating interest and a live sales opportunity. Most often used in high value, usually B2B, markets. Outbound marketing takes longer, from starting the strategy to signing the client. The acquisition costs will be higher too, but that will be balanced against higher contract values and lifetime value. 

Key components of an outbound marketing strategy are email, trade shows, LinkedIn and content written specifically for the target. 

Most small businesses use a combination of the two. 

How to choose the right marketing strategy for your small business

It starts with your target audience

The choice of marketing strategy starts with who your target audience(s) is/are. If the sale is: 

  • Complex 
  • Involves multiple people inputting into the buying decision 
  • Involves high levels of perceived risk  

you are most likely to use an outbound marketing strategy. One that can go right down to different marketing activities for each individual target prospect.  

If you are selling a product where: 

  • Most, if not all, of the buying decision can be made by the client prior to any active engagement with you. 
  • The purchase is straightforward, perhaps even completed online, 
  • There is a low level of perceived risk 
  • Your business plan relies on high sales volumes. 

Inbound marketing is going to be the best option for you. 

Has a purchase decision been made? 

Once a decision has been made that something is needed, people start looking. Many will ask their peers for guidance/referrals, with (almost) everyone going online to find a solution and then find a product. Inbound marketing activities, such as SEO and content will help people find a solution. Content on “how to” can help your target audience find your small business. Pay Per Click (PPC) is often used to help people find the product they need, once they have worked out what that product is.  

When you target a specific client, they may not know they need what you sell yet. The research you’ve done prior to contacting them will have shown you an opportunity, but they are likely to be educated on how your product can help them to achieve a goal or resolve a problem. You cannot do this if you want the prospect to come to you, so outbound marketing would be needed here.  

What is the cost of your product?

If you are selling a low-cost product, you need to get generate high levels of brand awareness, interest and desire. You then need a sales process that enables lots of clients to buy easily. Ecommerce is a prime example here. One to many, inbound, marketing activities such as advertising, social media and SEO will give you the opportunities and the economies of scale you need. 

High-cost products, often with big profit margins, give you the marketing budget needed for outbound marketing activities.  

What marketing skills do you have?

This is something that should NOT impact your choice of marketing strategy for your small business. If you are selling a high-cost product to a complex market, your experience of running Google Ads campaigns should not come into the equation. Whilst there is a chance that you could get some leads, there may not be the ones you want or be likely to convert into sales.

If you don’t have the marketing skills you need, you need to learn them or find someone who can help you with what you need. Of course, we can help you here. 

Inbound components within an outbound marketing strategy

Once you have made contact, or at least got your brand in front of your outbound targets, you may need to use what are normally considered inbound marketing tools to support your outbound marketing.  

People will look at your small business and your products to assess whether you can help them, and whether they believe you can deliver on your claims. 

Content marketing

Generating content isn’t just about climbing the ranks on Google (other search engines are available). It needs to prove to your target audience(s) that you know what you are talking about. They want to be confident you understand them, and your business contains the knowledge and expertise they need.

Reviews

Most companies use testimonials to show what their clients think of them. Reviews, either on Google or platforms like Trustpilot are better. This is simply because you have no opportunity to change, or influence, what someone writes about you. Good volumes, regularly posted, of Google Reviews can be instrumental in helping your target audience decide you use you, instead of one of your competitors.  

Remarketing

Once someone has visited your website, remarketing can be an effective way to get them back to your site. If you’re not sure what remarketing is, have you ever looked at a product online, only for that product or brand to pop up all over your web browsing for the next few weeks?  That’s remarketing.

Choosing the right marketing strategy for your small business will dictate the return on investment (ROI) you’d get from your marketing budget and just how quickly you achieve your company targets. 

If you would like to discuss your marketing strategy options, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here and we’ll call you back 

AI-generated content - SME Needs

How to make the best use of AI-generated content

By A Helping Hand, Technology & your business

AI-generated content is a hotly discussed topic right now. We’ve had a small number of clients ask us whether it is a good thing, or not. So, we did some digging and some experimentation. These are our thoughts on how to make the best use of AI-generated content. 

What is AI-generated content?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for many years, with many companies making use of it. Chatbots have been on websites for some time, answering your questions and trying to direct you to the right place for what you need. The first (ELIZA) was developed at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) (where else?) in 1994. Since then, AI has been used in many different ways to accelerate processes and functions. 

AI-generated content is exactly that. Content that is developed using algorithms and written by a machine. Tools such as Chat GPT and Jasper will now write whatever you want them to. We’ve experimented with blogs, social posts and even writing website code.  

The good news 

AI-generated content can help your small business in many ways: 

1. Speeding up content generation 

The average human writes at 40 words per minute  and speaks at 140 words per minute. AI bots can draft an entire article for you in seconds. 

2. Unblocking your writing 

Writers Block is a widespread problem for small business owners. Not only when they are writing, but also working out what to write. If you have developed a list of topics to write about, producing the content then takes little time. As the bots can use the whole of the internet, as well as what is programmed into them, they will never have Writers Block. If you don’t have the list, the bots can do that for you too.  

3. Formalising your grammar. 

AI-generated content will be professionally written, grammar wise. Our experiments showed US spellings (Z instead of S, u’s missing etc.) but they follow grammar rules. You can specify your preferred writing style to make it more casual. If you have content already written, Microsoft Word’s Editor tool will help you correct your grammar. There are other tools out there, with Grammarly probably the most well-known.  

Making AI-generated content work for your small business 

Generating the content is one thing; making it right for your business is another. These are our recommendations on what to do with the content: 

1. Put “you” into it 

 AI-generated content is based on predictive language. It works out what word should go next. Whilst the AI-generated content may be right, it may not be quite right for you. Do you use certain language or acronyms that your audience will be used to? Do you normally write informally (e.g., don’t instead of do not). Checking the content to ensure it sounds like you is the first step. 

2. Tweaking the conversation 

AI-generated content can be choppy – short sentences and lots of full stops. Whilst this is trying to mimic human writing, it often doesn’t flow very well. Consider joining some of the sentences together to make it flow.  

3. Add hyperlinks 

If you are using this tool to write blog articles, you’ll need to add both internal and external hyperlinks. Without them, you’re affecting your SEO performance and making it harder to guide visitors to where you want them to go.  

4. Plagiarism check 

The few experiments we’ve done suggest this isn’t likely to be a problem, but it’s worth checking, especially early on and if you are writing something extremely specific. Whilst duplicate content isn’t a negative ranking factor for Google, they will choose which site to rank for the content. You are always better off having original content on your site. 

AI-generated content can save you time and help you to market your small business, but you cannot simply copy and paste it into wherever you’re planning to use it. Use a little of the time you have saved to make sure that it is right for your business. 

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

image to support blog: 12 marketing days of christmas

The 12 Marketing Days of Christmas

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Plan

image to support blog: 12 marketing days of christmas

The 12 Marketing Days of Christmas

With the coming of Christmas many businesses are planning to stop around the 22nd December. Very handily that gives us 12 days of Christmas before everyone returns on the 3rd January . So for your delectation, here are our 12 marketing days of Christmas…

On the first day of Christmas my Marketing said to me: Thank you for the bus-iness

Thank your clients for the business they’ve given you this year. Whilst some of them may never use your product or services again, it doesn’t mean they won’t tell others who can. For those who continue to work with you, they will certainly appreciate the gesture.

One the second day of Christmas my Marketing said to me : How did you do?

If you don’t know how 2022 went business-wise, how can you set targets and make plans for next year? Review your 2022 performance to see what went well and what didn’t. You can use our Marketing ROI Calculator here.  What didn’t work is the most important piece here, as that is the current drain on time and money. It needs to be improved or it needs to be stopped. Either way, you have to know what needs to be worked on before you can fix it.

On the third day of Christmas my Marketing said to me: what can you do?

To implement a marketing plan that will hit your 2023 targets, you need to ensure those skills are available to you. That means:

  1. Find out who has marketing skills within your business
  2. Assess whether they have time to use them

After all, it they don’t have time, their normal work will take priority and your marketing won’t get done.

On the fourth day of Christmas my Marketing said to me: What do you want?

On the 2nd day of Christmas, you worked out how you did in 2022. Now, what do you want to achieve in 2023? If 2022 was a good year, compared to 2021, do you want the same level of growth or was that an exceptional year? Remember that continually achieving the same %age growth rate becomes harder and harder as the numbers get bigger.
If you don’t set targets for the business, you won’t achieve them.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my Marketing said to me: Show me money

It doesn’t matter how you slice it, you have to spend on marketing. That spend may be in the form of your time, but as time is money, it amounts to the same thing. You then need to take skills and opportunity costs into account. Whether you have the marketing skills available (the 3rd day) or not, can you earn more by working than it will cost you to pay someone to do your marketing? If yes, then outsource it and keep working.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my Marketing said to me: Can Cli-ents buy more?

Not many companies only sell one product or service. How many do you sell and which clients buy what from you? As your clients already trust you, it is far easier to sell to them than to prospects who don’t know you any better than they know your competitors.
Map your products and clients and see what opportunities there are to sell more to them. You can use our free tool here. The bigger your share of their wallet, the harder it becomes for them to stop using your services – and assuming you’re doing a great job, they aren’t likely to anyway.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my Marketing said to me: Who’s your Ideal Client?

There isn’t a company on the planet who sells one product to everyone in the world. There are plenty of companies who sell lots of different products to lots of different people, but each product has a difference set of benefits and a different set of customers who need that product. Heinz Baked Beans may be the only exception – selling over 540 million tins a year in the UK!

Having a clear picture of who your Ideal Client is will help improve your marketing in 2020.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my Marketing said to me: Put More Time A – Side

Working in the business, without regular time spent working on the business, will deliver what you’ve sold a little quicker, but will not help you achieve the targets you have for the business. You have to put time aside to review, assess and adapt your marketing plan if you are to achieve your business goals.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my Marketing said to me: Where’d you get your Leads?

Too many companies measure the wrong things when looking at their marketing. Do you, for example worry about the number of Likes and Followers you have or the number of people on your mailing list? If you do we’re sorry to say that they aren’t the most important numbers. Whilst a big mailing list can be good, you’re far better off with a small, but highly engaged, list. The number of Likes you have is superseded by the revenue generated from social media in the vast majority of cases.
Your marketing budget should be concentrated on what is driving new business and growth. To know what is working, you need to know where your leads came from. In the B2B sector, the easiest way to find out is to ask them. Then make sure you record this somewhere. We use uPilot as a CRM. You can find out more about uPilot here.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my Marketing said to me: Do you Have a Plan?

If you don’t have a plan, you cannot deliver that plan and it’s highly unlikely you will hit your business goals for the year. You are, broadly speaking, simply hoping you will hit your targets for the year. Does that sound like a good idea?

Developing a plan doesn’t mean spending days working out what to do, or committing huge amounts of money to marketing. A good marketing consultant will work with you to develop the right plan for your business. One that, as much as possible, fits your targets, your budgets and the skills/resources you have within the business. Of course a tiny budget and a large growth target rarely go together, so you may not get everything…

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my Marketing said to me: Who can Really Help?

If your marketing plan includes marketing channels you have little, or no, experience of, you need to find a supplier who can help. You want one with a great track record, one with experience in your sector and one you trust to deliver on their promises. As a Virtual Marketing Director, we help you manage third party suppliers to ensure they deliver on their promises. We have a good network of suppliers. Suppliers we know and trust and we can work with people you know and trust to. Using someone like us to help you manage your marketing means you have more time to concentrate on what you are good at.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my Marketing said to me: Really get a-going

All the planning in the world won’t deliver a single new client unless you implement the plan. Carrying out what you have agreed in your marketing plan for 2023 that will you achieve your goals. If you need more help than you originally thought (perhaps your marketing has been really successful and you have less time than you thought), better to spend a bit more of getting the assistance you need, than for your plan not to be implemented.

If you a hand implementing these to make a great start to 2023, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here and we will call you.

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.

put your business first by scheduling marketing time into your diary

When you should put your business first

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

put your business first by scheduling marketing time into your diaryWhen you’re running your small business, do you prioritise your business or do you prioritise your clients? Whilst it sounds almost counter intuitive, there are times when you need to put your business first in order to make it successful. let’s look at this in more detail.

Surely clients come first?

It’s absolutely true that clients pay the bills and that, at times, clients do need to come first. But if you don’t put your business first, there will be no business to serve your clients. Of course, they can go elsewhere, but let’s look at the reasons for putting your business first and what you will get from doing this.

What happens with inconsistent marketing

If your marketing is inconsistent, taking place when you have time, you run the risk of running into a feast and famine period.

  • You’re quiet, so you do some marketing
  • You generate some leads and pick up a new client
  • You’re then really busy delivering what you sold, so you have no time
  • No time means no marketing gets done
  • You have no leads coming in
  • You finish delivering for the clients and have nothing more to do

You run from periods of excess to periods of nothing. You cannot plan for the future because you don’t know what is going to happen.

What happens with consistent marketing

Consistent marketing helps your company stand out from the competition. Your target audience regularly sees your brand and how you help your clients. Your consistency builds trust and loyalty, so that when companies are ready, they come to you.

How to stop this being a problem.

1. Schedule time into your diary

Having time in your diary to do your marketing is vital. If it isn’t in there, you will always find something else to do with that time.  Don’t move it either. Treat your small business as a client and prioritise your business. If you really have to move it, make sure it happens in the same week.

2. Develop a marketing plan

The time is good, but what are you going to do? Having a plan of action means you will make the most of that time.

3. Make use of any spare time.

If you do find yourself with spare time, get ahead of your marketing plan.  If you have a content-led strategy, write some of the articles or new pages ahead of schedule. Just because you have written them, you don’t have to publish them yet.  Make use of the scheduling tools within your content management system so your marketing content is published according to your schedule.

4. Get some help

Obviously we are going to say this, but having someone independent to help you can be invaluable. Someone who can review what you are doing and answer your marketing questions will help you maximise the performance of your marketing. They will also keep you on schedule – you don’t want to tell them you haven’t done something!

5. Outsource your marketing

At the point where you are simply too busy to do your own marketing, get someone else to do it. You can concentrate on delivering for your clients and keeping them happy.

 

By putting your small business first, you ensure that you get the growth you are looking for and that you are there for your clients. If you’re doing a great job for them, they will want you to be successful and be around in the future.

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