Mailchimp’s New Customer Journeys

screenshot image for Mailchimp Customer Journeys

At Last!

Customer Journeys, from Mailchimp goes live from today and will be available to all Mailchimp customers by the 7th August. It is something that we’ve been waiting for, for a very long time. Here is why.

Single Routing

Mailchimp’s products have a huge number of positives and that’s why we’re a Mailchimp Certified Partner. The Automation function meant that we could set up email campaigns, for our clients and ourselves, to go to people based on specific criteria, whether this was information in certain contact fields or Tags. But after that first email went out, Automations only gave you limited options:

  • Send the next email if they clicked
  • Send the next email X period afterwards

If you wanted to have multiple options, you had to set up multiple automations, based on the actions your contacts took from the previous email.

Single Starting Points

A single starting point also limited your options, or complicated matters as you built multiple Automations. Multiple automations increased your chances of doing something not quite right, which could upset your contacts.

As you can see from the image, that is now changing…

image showing Mailchimp Customer Journeys

Simplified Marketing

With the opportunity to use multiple triggers and multiple branches, it definitely means that email marketing will become a little simpler. I definitely see it as a time saver and it will save our clients some money, as we are not building large numbers of automations.

First Impressions

Even as a Mailchimp Partner, we haven’t got this functionality on our accounts yet; it goes live today. We will be spending quite some time looking in more detail at how Customer Journeys works and the benefits it can bring for us and for our clients. As soon as we have had a “play”, we will report back on our first impressions.

 

4 Questions to Grow Your Small Business

Which Box?

If you’ve done any studying around business or marketing, you will remember Ansoff’s Growth Matrix. For those of you who weren’t quite so “lucky”, let me quickly go through it and show you why it is a highly useful tool to help guide your growth planning and therefore your small business marketing.

Image of Ansoff's Growth Matrix to support article on small business marketing and growth plans

 

The matrix has four boxes:

1.       Market penetration = Existing markets buying current products

2.       Product development = Existing markets buying new products

3.       Market development = New markets buying current products

4.       Diversification = New markets buying new products

Where are you now?

If you are still an early stage business, you are almost certainly in the Market Penetration box. You’ve identified a product (or service) and you are working to maximise the size of your client base. You are probably selling to clients who are similar in nature, or need. Your customer base may be across multiple geographical areas, but it if you deliver a service that involves your time, you are almost certainly selling within a fairly tight geographical region. This is simply because of the time, and cost, involved in travelling to other areas.

Moving boxes as a small business growth strategy

The decision to move into a different box, from Market Penetration, is a big one. It is a big commitment and can come with some risk, dependent upon which box you are considering. The decision to move boxes should be guided by your answers to the following questions…

1. Have you maximised sales of your current products to your existing markets?

The answer to this question is almost certainly no. Unless you are the market leader for your region, there will always be the opportunity to sell more. If you are struggling, a market development or product development strategy may work for you. It will depend on whether you believe you know the product or the market more.

2. Are your competitors dominant in your existing markets?

If you were late into the market, it is likely that there are a number of dominant players. They will make it difficult for you to develop your market share, so a different box may be a good alternative for you.

3. Are there products you can sell to your existing market?

If you’re in the technology market, for example, there is always a new product to sell. Many will be updates of what you are already selling them, so that doesn’t count, but there will be alternatives:

  • If you’re an MSP selling on-premise solutions, Cloud would certainly count as new product, as would telecoms.
  • If you’re selling cost savings, are you providing a full range of utilities, plus telecoms or connectivity?

These are just a couple of examples of how moving into the Product Development box may be a good small business growth strategy. However, try not to go too far away from your core products. If you currently provide software solutions, trying to add office furniture to your portfolio is probably a first step too far.

4. Can you properly serve additional markets?

A new market can be one of two things: a new geography – selling in Birmingham, to add to Bristol, for example. Or it can be a new sector – selling to the hospitality sector as well as the leisure sector. If you want to sell to this new sector, can you say you know enough about the sector and their needs to be able to generate sufficient sales within that sector? Developing a good knowledge of the new target market is vital if you want to sell existing products into a new market.

The route through the boxes

Businesses rarely go from Market Penetration to Diversification. Why? It’s simply too much of a risk. Trying to sell products you have little experience of to markets you have limited knowledge of is a gamble. A gamble that most businesses wouldn’t take.

Product or Market Development?

Truth be told, most companies do some of both. Over time, new products appear to sell to existing markets. At the same time, the reach of businesses, particularly in our digital world is constantly extending and orders come in from around the country, or even around the world. “Accidental” market development, however, often means a lower profit margin. Getting your product, or service, to different parts of the world can mean an impact on delivery costs. Customers may not want to pay a premium (at least that’s the way they see the increased costs) to get your product. You then have to decide whether you want to deliver, or not.

If, as a business, you are looking to grow, you will almost certainly have to move into a new box. It doesn’t mean you are leaving the old box behind. Over time, it will actually mean you are working with multiple sets of boxes. One set for each product or market. As you grow you simply move again.

If you are looking to grow your business, consider which is going to be the best first step: product or market.

Of course, if you would like to discuss this in more detail and see how we can help you develop the right small business growth strategy for business, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here.

How Opportunity Costs impact your Marketing

No one likes the idea of wasting time or money, especially marketers. However, no matter the industry, everything you do comes at a cost. This is why it is crucial you weigh up the pros and cons of your marketing efforts and ensure they are helping you achieve your goals in the most efficient way possible. Opportunity costs aren’t something that can be avoided. Instead, you need to learn how you and your business can best navigate through it.

But first, what is opportunity cost?

Opportunity cost is the benefit or opportunity you sacrifice when you choose an alternative option. Understanding the value of the alternative is an incredibly useful skill to have. It means your decision making is precise and done in consideration for what other options were available.

To calculate something’s opportunity cost, you need to predict the return on investment of each alternative and compare it to the chosen option. If the cost is not a concrete figure, rather an opportunity, you will need to decide which you feel will be the bring the biggest benefit long term.

So how does this affect my marketing?

The concept of opportunity cost affects your marketing strategy more than you may think. The aim of a marketing campaign is to efficiently reach a certain group of people and direct them back to a product or service that they then purchase.

What tends to happen is a company’s marketing strategy will be working, so they do not question it. However, what they don’t realise is they could be doing even better had they gone a different route. For example, say you have a successful Facebook campaign in action and that’s where all of your marketing budget is going. This means you don’t have any budget for LinkedIn marketing which would have brought you double the amount of leads.

To avoid losing out on the opportunity cost of your marketing efforts, before committing to an avenue of marketing, explore all of the options. This means looking in detail at how each alternate could benefit you both short term and long term. From there you can decide which option best aligns with your company’s goals.

If you need help understanding and navigating the opportunity costs of your current marketing strategy, give us a call. We’d be happy to walk you through it.

Cost of marketing support vs. doing it yourself

When thinking about marketing and the costs involved, you have to think about the physical cost of it as well. You have two main options. You either hire marketing support or you do the marketing yourself. These are both great options and which is best will differ from company to company. So what is best for yours?

If you’re currently doing all of your own marketing, there are a few things you may want to take into consideration. Similar to what we discussed above, could your time be better spent elsewhere? Are there more profitable things you could be doing instead of doing your own marketing? If so and these things bring in more income than what it would cost to outsource your marketing, it’s probably a smart decision to consider making the swap. That way you can be confident that you’re delivering great marketing content while having more time to dedicate to other aspects of your business.

If you have any questions about outsourced marketing and whether it’s the right fit for your company, give us a call and we’ll help you with everything you need to know.

11 reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director

11 reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director

11 reasons to hire a virtual marketing director

If you are looking to improve your marketing performance, you have a number of options. One you may not have considered is a Virtual Marketing Director. Not an interim, who is with you for a few months before moving on again. Not a full-time marketing manager, who may be an expense that doesn’t make sense at this time. No, the coronavirus lockdown has made many people realise how effective virtual employees can be. Here are 11 reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director…

1. Only pay for what you need

You need to be marketing your business from Day 1 but that doesn’t mean you need a Marketing Manager from Day 1. Until your marketing is complex enough to need a full-time Marketing Manager, hiring a Virtual Marketing Director makes perfect sense. Why spend at least £40k a year on a full-time employee you don’t need?

A Virtual Marketing Director can be used from as little as one day a month, up to (realistically) 4-6 days per month. If you need much more than that, it is time to consider recruiting your own Marketing Manager.

2. Years of experience available for your business

A Virtual Marketing Director will come to you with many years’ experience, usually working within and for companies very similar to yours. They know their stuff.

That experience is always increasing. As you are only using them for part of the time, they are working with other companies. Marketing activities that are tried and tested within their other clients can then be brought into your marketing mix with great success. Of course, they will do the same in the other direction – it’s only fair!

3. Helps you focus on who you want to sell to

You cannot sell to everyone, so there’s is no point trying. By focusing on the people who are most likely to buy your product or services, your marketing budget will be used far more effectively.

4. Helps you develop the right marketing messages to attract prospects

Too many businesses think about their marketing from their side. Your Virtual Marketing Director will help you think about things from your client’s side.

It’s no longer the case that you can expect your target audience to work out how your products/services can help them. You have to help them understand. Show your target audience you understand them and you really can help them with their wants/needs/issues. When you do this, your target audience are far more likely to consider you are a new provider.

5. Works with you to develop your Marketing Strategy

The marketing you’ve been doing has been at least somewhat successful. It’s got to have been for you to grow your business to what it is now. To take your business forward, you need to review your marketing strategy to keep that growth happening. Your Virtual Marketing Director will help to identify the right marketing channels, the right providers and the right consistency to deliver on your business goals.

6. Has a network of specialists to provide marketing support for your business

You may know a number of marketing specialists and use a number of them.  Where there are gaps, it’s virtually guaranteed that your Virtual Marketing Director will know people and companies to fill the gaps. They will have used them in the past, so know exactly what they can deliver for you.

It also saves you a lot of time sourcing new suppliers.

7. They know the language

Every industry has its own language; marketing is no different. If you don’t know the language, it is easy to get befuddled. Your Virtual Marketing Director knows the language and will help you keep suppliers on track and honest.

8. Keeps a consistent level of marketing happening because you don’t have time

Back in the early days of your business, you did your own marketing. You had the time back then. As your business grows, the amount of time you have available becomes less and less. However, your marketing needs more and more time. Your Virtual Marketing Director will ensure that your marketing campaigns go out on time. Without a consistent marketing flow, your target audience can quickly forget about you.

9. Will keep measuring performance so that you maximise the ROI from your marketing budget

You want to maximise the ROI from your marketing budget. Your Virtual Marketing Director will keep an eye on what is going on, reporting to you and the board regularly.

It is, after all, in their own interest. They want to prove that the marketing strategy they helped you develop is the right one. The numbers will show whether this is the case.

10. Will help you find junior marketing support at the right time

As your business grows, there will come a time when it makes sense to employ a junior marketing executive to “do the doing”. When there is sufficient need, perhaps to manage your social media, to produce and publish blogs or develop marketing collateral, it makes sense to employ someone rather than keep outsourcing.

Finding someone with the right skill set isn’t easy. In the same way your Virtual Marketing Director will help you manage suppliers, they will help you to find, and then manage, a junior marketing executive.

11. Will help you recruit a Marketing Manager when your marketing requirements need it

The ultimate job for your Virtual Marketing Director is to help you grow to the point where your marketing is sufficiently complex and of enough volume, that you need to employ a Marketing Manager. Whilst they may be sad that the relationship with your business is ending, they will be tremendously proud that they’ve helped you grow to the point where they need to move on.

An independent voice

One additional benefit of a using someone from outside of the business is their independence. They don’t have a vested interest in the business (except that they want to do a great job for you), so can speak their mind. Having that independent voice within the business can be refreshing and can provide you with someone to talk to who won’t be thinking “what do you want me to say?”.

For a small business that is committed to growing, making use of a Virtual Marketing Director is a no-brainer. You get the experience and support you want, but only in the quantities you need. Make use of them until you need a full-time Marketing Manager. If these reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director get you thinking one could be useful, let’s have a chat.

How complex is your Marketing?

Why you need multiple strands to your marketing plan

do you have a marketing plan

Developing a marketing plan for your business takes time. It takes you away from generating cash through delivering for your clients. Now I’m asking you to do it multiple times! Read more

Why multiple mailing lists are a big problem

multiple mailing listsEmail marketing is a great tool when used correctly.

It’s cheap, completely trackable, and it can be personalised so that the content only goes to the right people.

It is also causing a lot of heartache as people get their head around GDPR and what they can and cannot do via email.

Let’s ignore for a moment that email is covered by PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) rather than GDPR. The biggest issue for email is consent.

This blog is about the issues that multiple mailing lists can cause with consent.

Read more

‘Tis the season for a new marketing strategy

In the next couple of weeks, Christmas trees will begin to pop up in shopping centres, lights will appear in the streets and the radios will begin playing carols on repeat. It can only mean one thing.  Christmas is coming.

The question is: do you need to change your marketing to fit the festive season? Is there any way you could use the Christmas period to your advantage?

If the answer is yes, the trick is to start planning early. As Halloween ends, the shops waste no time in getting their decorations up. It may still be a few weeks away, but it’s now considered the run up to Christmas. So, embrace the season and find out how you can create an effective Christmas marketing campaign.

Read more

What is your 2018 Marketing Strategy?

what is your 2018 marketing strategy?

2018 is coming fast

January 2nd 2018 still seems a long time away. In reality, it is only 15 weeks or so.  If your financial year is the calendar year, what are you planning to do to attract new business? What does your 2018 marketing strategy look like?

Read more

Imagine a Full Sales Pipeline

What does a full sales pipeline look like and what would it mean for your business?

Every business has a sales pipeline. Not every business has the full sales pipeline they want to have! Does your pipeline have enough prospects to enable you to meet your sales targets? Do you have sales targets?

Let’s look at your sales pipeline and the numbers around it. After all, the first thing I always do with a new client is look at the numbers.

If you have a sales target of one new client a week, what impact will this have on the marketing effort you need to put in?

One new client per week needs 5 new prospects per week, assuming you close 20% of qualified sales

5 new prospects per week means 10 leads per week, assuming 50% of leads qualify themselves out or you qualify them out

10 leads per week means 500 new visitors to your website, assuming 2% of visitors contact you.

Are you generating 500 new visitors to your website each week?

Of course, you need to edit these numbers to match your current sales and marketing performance, but they give you an idea of what is involved. If your conversion rates are better than those used above, you need less visitors.

What I’m asking is:

  • Do you know what your numbers are?
  • Have you calculated how many website visits you need to generate?
  • What are you currently doing to generate them?

If your Sales team is not hitting your business targets, it may not be their fault. Of course, it may not be Marketing’s fault either if you aren’t providing the resources they need to hit these goals.

How can this be improved?

If you haven’t got the budget to generate the new visitors you need each month, perhaps through Google Adwords or other paid search, let’s look at how these numbers can be improved in order to reduce the need:

Is your website doing its job?

Check the exit rates using Google Analytics and see which pages are not performing. Test new content to see how you can improve the performance of the page.

Does the content show what you do or how you help your target audience?

Does every page have a Call to Action that guides visitors through the site in a way that will engage them and get them to contact you?

Add Goals to Analytics and see how you are performing. You should consider goals such as number of pages or time on site, rather than simply did they go to your Contact Us page.

None of this costs money, but it will take some time and effort. Your website’s performance will impact both the number of enquiries you have and the number that are qualified. If your content suggests you do something a little different to what you actually do, you are likely to get lots of enquiries that are for something you don’t do.

Sales support:

What is marketing doing to support the sales process? Marketing’s job doesn’t finish when the lead is handed over to a salesperson. There needs to be a support programme which ensures that a hot lead remains a hot lead for the duration of the sales process. How long is the sales cycle in your business by the way?

YpuIf Sales and Marketing work together (heaven forbid!!), hitting your sales targets will be far easier as your close rate improves.

Sales:

I’ve always said my role is to line them up and Sales has to knock them down. I’m not a Sales trainer (but I know a man who is) but I can quickly help you identify where there is room for improvement, if needed.  Your Sales team will know whether they are converting enough. They will looking for ways to improve, but if there is room for improvement in the Sales function, may I suggest the following questions need to be asked:

  • Are they talking about your business or about the prospects?
  • Are they telling stories to help the prospect understand how they help?
  • Are they only moving forward when asked to by the prospect?
  • Are you using software to help you know when the prospect is moving forward?

The numbers in your pipeline will tell what you need to do to achieve your goals.  Sales and Marketing need to work together to ensure that the numbers within your pipeline are as good as they can be.

I hope this helps.

Key tips to improve small business SEO

What is key for small business SEO?

I don’t normally talk about the nitty gritty within my blog. However, search engine optimisation (SEO) is a topic I’ve had a number of client conversations about recently. So it seemed like about time I added it to the curriculum.

SEO is one of those areas of marketing that is seen as a black art. It is portrayed (often by SEO consultancies themselves) as something complicated and mysterious. They want it to be a marketing tool best left to the experts. I have a different outlook on the subject.

The search engines are in the business of putting the right content in front of people when they search. If they don’t the users will simply migrate to a different search engine. Every think the day will come when Google isn’t dominant and NanoBrowser takes over the world?

So what the best ways to ensure your website is meeting the needs of both the search engines and the searchers? What are the SEO tools you need to use to get found?
To me there are two key things to look at:
1. Content
2. Keywords and their positioning

Content

Let’s quickly go back to the bad old days when the colour of your hat defined whether you were a good guy or a bad one. White hat SEO was following considered best practice whilst black hat was trying to work the system and use underhand techniques such as background coloured content to fool the search engines. Stuffing keywords into the content to the point of making it unreadable was very common and I saw a website selling kitchens only a year or two ago where the word kitchen appeared over 30 times on the homepage alone! Thankfully the search engine algorithms are much smarter now and are looking for relevant content. Google’s Panda update and the move to semantic search with Hummingbird has thankfully stopped keyword stuffing and made the whole exercise of finding good information both easier and more pleasant.

Whilst the guidelines are getting more and more blurry (and woe betide you if you break a rule you didn’t know about), there is still a general rule that says if your content is relevant to the search term and reads well, it will rank higher than other sites where the content isn’t as good.

Keywords

Positioning of keywords is still important in getting you found. Whilst social signals, editorial links, user reviews and a lot of other stuff now impacts the rankings, the keywords still need to be there and be in the right places.

Let’s look at the key places:

  • Page title: Include your most important keyword in the title and keep it under 55 characters.
  • Header tags: H1 and H2 tags tell search engines that the header is important. Putting your keywords into these them will ensure your keywords get picked up and help your ranking.
  • Meta description: You know that bit of text that appears under the search result; that’s the meta description and it’s job is to lure the searcher into clicking. If this content reads poorly or is stuffed with keywords, it’s won’t do its job. Keep it under 155 characters.
  • Alt tags: Google doesn’t see your pictures but its algorithms see the text attached to them. The image name and the alt tags all help to get you further up the search results because Google gives precedence to image results, even if it’s a general search rather than an image search. Although a picture may say a 1000 words, don’t put that many in the alt tags.
  • Content: Obviously! Your content needs to revolve around your keyword—just one keyword, not as many as possible – for each page. Synonyms, phrases, and figures of speech that stand in for your keyword are okay, as long as they mimic natural speech patterns.
  • Content headline: If your keyword isn’t here, you will struggle to get a decent position on the SERP. The keyword here tells search engines that you have some very relevant content and it also improves click-throughs by informing the user of the same.
  • URL: Use your keyword in the URL in a way that it describes the page contents and helps the user in navigation as well.

I’m not guaranteeing that following these guidelines will get you onto page one as it will depend on both the level of competition and a bunch of other issues, but before you start to invest in SEO, make sure you’ve got the basics right. The results you can see in the image below took me about a month to generate, simply by following these simple steps

Additional Steps

If you have WordPress as your content management system, seriously consider Yoast as your SEO plugin. Yoast is very good at guiding you to produce both good SEO results and readable content. Get someone to ensure your website isn’t broken, even a little bit, as it will help your SEO performance. Tools such as SEMrush provide a good report on broken links, unbalanced HTML/content and a number of other issues. If you ask me nicely, I’ll run a report for you!

I hope this helps.