Email Marketing for SMEs – 3 Quick Tips

Posted by brendanfranks

Online marketing is becoming a really important tactic for every SME. E-mail marketing is one of the most used strategies for online marketing. This helps build relationships with clients and also increase sales.

The first thing that you have to do is to test your e-mails. This can be a sort of little experiment that you do to test which e-mail works best. You can create at least three different copies of your e-mail message. Send the e-mails to different groups of recipients. Track every click-through for every e-mail and compare which one is working best. This is a form of split testing. A client recently did this and recorded an additional 8% increase in email opens simply by changing the subject line.

Make sure that you send the e-mails on the best days. When you send it at the wrong time, it may take a while before your recipients get to read your message. Most people do not check e-mails during the weekends. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are said to be days when recipients respond to e-mails. You’ll most likely get favorable responses with these days.

Lastly, every marketing strategy boils down to having the best practices. Know what you want and find the best ways to achieve it. You have to be persistent. Oftentimes, goals take time to achieve so you have to frequently think of ways and methods to reach that target. Know how you will measure the success of your campaign. This can help you in improving your tactics and reach your goal.

To Your Success
Sarah & Brendan

Creating Your Social Media Marketing Plan in 10 Easy Steps

Posted by brendanfranks

The success in social media marketing comes from building strong and long-lasting relationships with customers and professional contacts over many months and years and giving them the type of content that they will want to share with their family, friends and colleagues.

This approach will help you to attract and keep loyal customers and connections, and get them to sell your business for you, not the other way around.

While this approach is a world away from the way that most traditional marketing works, this open, two-way communication is now what billions of consumers around the world expect from the businesses and brands to whom they invest time and money.

This article will help you get the most from your social media marketing with a ten-step process for creating a successful marketing plan.

1. Determine Your Goals

Determining the goals of any marketing strategy is absolutely vital. This is probably the most important step because if you aren’t clear about what you want to achieve, or why you are doing a specific task you won’t be motivated to do it correctly and eventually, you are going to stop doing it.

It is like kicking a ball in the middle of a football pitch in a championship game and not knowing that the idea was to get to the end of the field and kick the ball into the goal. You wouldn’t stand a chance against the pros and you would walk off the pitch in shame.

To help you to determine your goals, ask yourself these questions about what you want to achieve when using social media for your business:

  • What do you want to get out of your social media marketing efforts? Do you want more customers/leads? If so, how many?
  • Do you want greater brand awareness? If so, you need to clarify exactly what this means for your business.
  • Do you want more visitors to your website?
  • Why exactly are you doing social media marketing?

The goals are endless and vary from business to business. They key is to determine what your goals are and to make them doable and measurable. Write them down and then move on to the next step so that you can work through creating the foundation of your social media-marketing plan.

2. Decide who will manage your social media networks

Again, this is a very important step. Why? Because social media requires interaction, and if you are going to use social networking as one of the tools you need to know who is going to maintain that and where the content that is going to be used is coming from. It is crucial because this is your online reputation that we are talking about. If you ignore this, your strategy will suffer and you could cause lots of problems for your business in the future.

To help you, answer these questions:

  • Who is going to create the social media content? (Blogs, articles, videos, images, status updates etc.)
  • Who will maintain the social media accounts?
  • Who will be the voice(s) of your business, the one responding to questions on your company’s behalf?
  • Do you have an in-house technical expert to be part of the online conversation and to look after your social media accounts? If not, are you or a member of your staff willing to learn or are you able to outsource the work?
  • Can you, or someone you have on your team, write well?

Knowing if you have the right people in place is vital. Without the right people your social media marketing campaign will fail, regardless of how incredible your plan is. If you don’t currently have these key people, talk to us and we will help you.

3. Know Your Audience

We are going to assume for a moment that you know who your audience is. You may have already spent the time needed to establish the demographic you are after based on the products and services you offer. When it comes to social media marketing, understanding your audience is really what you need to do.

You also need to understand where your target audience is online. This isn’t the same as your demographic or running an ad in the newspaper or putting up a billboard somewhere to catch the attention of everyone, including your market. No, social media marketing is about getting to know your market on a more intimate level.

This is where a little research needs to be done. You have to determine the places that they frequent online. Everyone almost always assumes that Facebook is the first place, or even the only place to go. While it is true that Facebook is an excellent start, it should only be part of your social media marketing plans. There are many more platforms that your target audience may be using instead, depending on their age and what they are interested in.

Each social media network has their own audience, and this is why Facebook can’t be the only social network that your business uses.

Beyond the social networks, there may be particular discussion forums or online communities that your audience prefers to visit. Think about where they would go and seek advice if they had a particular problem to solve relating to your niche.

Once you have established where your audience is you can figure out what type of information they want from you. You will need to know their likes and dislikes. Never forget that social media marketing is really about getting to know your market and catering for their needs. The selling and promotions come later.

All of your communication on social media needs to be helpful and engaging. Your aim is to find out their exact needs and start building a relationship based on trust and respect. You are giving them a reason to buy from/work with you and not your competitor.

4. Create Amazing Content

Once you have figured out where your audience are online and you have spent time finding out what they want, take the time to create content that gives them what they want and makes them feel happy that they found you.

If you notice that your audience prefers videos or images and that really gets them excited and talking, it really wouldn’t make sense just creating a plain old text blog post.

This isn’t about reinventing the wheel. This is about making the wheel you are offering better than everyone else’s out there, so check out what is working with the other wheel makers and do it better or different (in a good way).

5. Integrate your marketing efforts

All of your social media marketing efforts need to work together. This means that they need to feed off one another. Cross-promote your social media accounts to your audience. If your audience is on a social network and they tend to visit specific blogs and they like video, then you need to make sure that they can find more great content on your blog with integrated YouTube videos and on playlists on your YouTube channel by promoting this on your social media network page.

Your social media marketing and the traditional marketing you are doing also need to work together. You need to be promoting your online endeavours on your brochures, advertisements, letterheads, radio etc. These marketing efforts should all be working together to support one another. This is marketing synergy at its core.

6. Create a schedule

If you are an entrepreneur starting and running your own business, creating an effective social media schedule is very important. It is very easy to spend more time than is actually needed on a social network. If you are using multiple social media platforms you want to make sure that you are allocating enough time in your day to use them effectively.

Getting sucked into emails and social networks are two of the biggest productivity killers that a business person or employee can get caught up with. From a marketing perspective, you don’t need more than 20 minutes on a social network.

7. The 80/20 rule

This is an important rule to remember regarding social media marketing. We have already stressed that social media isn’t really about you; it’s about your audience. We have also mentioned that social media isn’t really about where you sell your product or service right off the bat. So when you are online using your various social media tools, keep in mind that 80 per cent of your time should be spent on activities that are not self-promoting. Social marketing is all about helping your customers and clients. Only around 20 per cent of your social media posts should be about promotion.

8. Quality over quantity

On social media, time is twofold. It is far better to post content that is useful to your customer whether it is just once a day or a couple of times per week than to flood them with useful valueless posts. It is also better to have 1,000 loyal engaged followers than to have 10,000 followers that sign up to get something and then never interact with you again.

Quality goes a lot further than quantity. Less is most definitely more.

9. Control

It is your audience that will dictate the flow of any online conversation. The reason that you want them to do this is that you want your audience to feel as if the conversation is theirs. When someone is able to take ownership, and make something theirs, they develop an emotional connection to whatever that thing is. You want your current and potential customers to have an emotional connection to you, your company and your brand. They need to feel as though they are the most important thing to you and not their wallets.

10. Adapt your business and watch your profits soar

Social media marketing is exciting. As you use it, you will learn more about your audience and this knowledge will only grow the longer you do it. Who your audience are today may not be who they were 18 months ago or who they’ll be in a year’s time. Needs change, likes change, people grow and change. Social media is your inexpensive way to stay on top of and anticipate what your customers will need next.

You can use these changes to create and launch new products or services. Think about how compelling it is to the consumer that a new product or service was created just for them based on what they have said to you. Can you imagine anything more powerful than that? Over time, as you change and adapt your business providing exactly what your customers want, your business will be in a very powerful position and you will watch your profits soar.

You Don’t Need to do this Alone

We realise that social media marketing can seem daunting for some small businesses. Although it will be hugely profitable for your business it requires patience, time and commitment in order to see results.

We are here to help and are happy to offer advice and assist you setting up a profitable social media campaign. To find out more why not sign up to our monthly newsletter where we share information and resources designed to help any SME grow profitably.

To Your Success!

How Often Should I Update My Content?

Posted by brendanfranks

One of the most common questions I get from business professionals is how often should they update their content online.  The answer to this question is not going to be the same for everyone, but the theory behind it is the same.

  • The answer to how often you should update your content online is “as much as possible”.  Why is this?

Google is completely focused on giving a good experience to their users.  This means that they want the most relevant content to rank highly in the search engines.  They also want the content to be user friendly and helpful instead of some of the spammy content you may see on the Internet at times. 

Google is constantly refocusing their efforts to make sure that the content they rank is for keywords that the user has input.  This means that you need to be constantly adding new content to your site using the proper keywords in order for it to be ranked.  In other words, you can’t just write something once or twice and expect your website to stay ranked over the long-term.  That just doesn’t happen anymore. You also cannot just guess what users want to read – you need to know what keywords they are really using.

One of the most important things to remember as a business professional is that you need to invest your money and/or time in getting content written for your site on a regular basis.  The more content you write, the more of a snowball you are creating.  Remember that that content will always be online, and so you are adding to it every time you put an article or blog post out there.  It is money and time well invested.

So what do you do if you’re not a good writer or you don’t have time?  You hire a ghostwriter or online freelance writer who is qualified and experienced at writing online content.

To Your Success!
Brendan & Sarah

How to Attract and Captivate a Huge Audience of Eager Customers With Your Business Blog

Posted by brendanfranks

So no doubt you’ve heard the term “blog” and you want to know what blogs are all about. This article will not only explain what a blog is but it will also tell you why it is such a powerful marketing tool for your business and how to create killer blog content.

A blog is a frequently updated online personal or business journal or diary. It is a place for you or your business to express your thoughts to the world. As a communication tool, a blog can be anything you want it to be.

Here are five characteristics of a blog and why it is essential for your business:

1. Articles are listed in chronological order with the newest article at the top

This is the most consistent element of almost every blog out there. Articles are listed with a title followed by the body content, starting at the top of the page with the most recently published article followed by the next most recent and so on.

This format was chosen back in the early days of blogging when it was mainly journalists who used blogs.  The term blog is derived from ‘weblog’, which essentially means an online diary or journal.  Diaries have entries made by date and that is how blogs work too.

Although the format is traditionally the same, the role of the blog is not really used as an online diary these days. Most business owners use it as a way to keep their clients and customers informed of what is happening within their business and niche. They are very powerful marketing tools.

2. It is easy to add new content

For many people editing their ‘normal’ website is quite difficult. Websites are seen as being very technical and the average business owner is generally afraid to go on to the site to make any changes in case they mess it up.

Blogs changed that. They provide a content publishing system that is so easy to use that the average web user and small business owner can become a blogger and add new content with ease. The technical barriers were removed allowing millions of small business owners to create blogs relating to their business.

3. Content is updated frequently

Another major problem that plagues many traditional websites is that they remain static and stale. Most websites never change and you can come back to the same pages with the same content. A lot of business owners either don’t realize that they need to update their website often, or they don’t have the technical skills or resources to get it changed.

Blogging changed that, so even a person with minimal technical skills can easily log into their blog and add fresh new content.

This has helped them to have terrific results in the search engines, especially on sites like Google. Google rewards sites that publish valuable content on a consistent basis. Blogs, by their very nature, do this, assuming motivated bloggers are running them and are consistently adding new content. As a result, business owners see their sites rise high up in the search engines bringing new traffic and most importantly, new customers.

4. Blogs allow people to leave comments

This is one of the most valuable features of a blog. Below every blog post is a comments box that allows any person from the public to leave a comment on the article.

This enhancement turned websites from one-way broadcasting devices, to two-way communication tools. Readers can directly communicate with you, the author of the content, carry on the conversation started by the article and essentially turn a blog into a community.

This last point is more powerful than you think and this is the reason why:

5. People trust blogs more than normal websites because blogging is a conversation.

If you combine all of the elements above, the personal style of writing, the ease of adding content leading to frequent updates, and the ability to interact with your readers, you have the winning formula for a very natural communication tool.

Blogs, by their very nature, are considered trusted sources of information and the blogger is generally perceived as a respected expert, whether they are or not, purely on the back of their successful blogs.

Again, this subtle element is significant and distinguishes blogs from normal websites. If people trust the words written on a blog, if they like and identify with the person writing the blog, then you have all of the elements necessary to create a popular community focused around your business.

That is why any small business can become extremely successful with a blog. They can quickly build a loyal audience, keep people coming back and ultimately monetize that traffic.

How Blogs Make Money

Print magazines make money by selling advertising. The larger their circulation, the more influence they exert over people, and the demographics of their readers dictate how much money they make.

Blogs are essentially the same. The more traffic (circulation) you have, the type and quality of that traffic (reader demographics) and the influence you have over your audience, determines your profitability.

This is why businesses love blogs and are so committed to driving traffic to them. The more readers you have, the more money you can make.

How to Attract attention to your blog?

The first way to attract attention (traffic) to your blog is to write good content. This is the foundation that your blog needs to be built upon.

The other key ingredient is marketing. You need to be able to set up a professional marketing campaign so that people can find your content.

First let us deal with the content side of things and then we will discuss the marketing aspect.


How to Write a Killer Blog Post

Once your blog is set up, it is time to get going on your first killer blog post. It needs to be an article that your readers will really respond to. If you post a fantastic and compelling blog article, it usually means more traffic, more comments, more pins on Pinterest, more tweets, and more Facebook shares, all of which will help grow your blog. But what makes a killer blog post?

A killer blog post:

Makes a clear point. A killer blog post always has a clear and succinct message that can be boiled down to one short sentence. If you, the author, aren’t able to summarize your point, how will the reader be expected to follow your logic? Always write with the point in mind. If you have multiple points it would be better to split the article into two posts.

Provokes an emotional response. The posts that people remember (and share) are the ones that make them feel a certain way, whether that be happy or angry or encouraged or inspired. This means they usually take a stand one way or another. Neutral might seem safe, but it is boring and forgettable. Your aim is to make people think and react. You want to provoke some kind of response from them.

Is easy to read. Blog posts should be clear and concise. Statistics show that blog readers tend to skim articles, especially if they appear long. So use short paragraphs, headers, and bullet points. Make sure that you write in a conversational manner, but proper grammar and spelling is essential. Readers won’t forgive sloppy writing and grammatical mistakes.

Teaches a simple lesson. Whether your post is a DIY tutorial showing how to make something, a recipe, or some other helpful tip, the best blog posts stick to one clear and easy-to-follow lesson. This is not to say you can’t do complicated projects or recipes, but in general, the projects with the best response will be the simplest of the bunch. These tend to get shared more on social media too.

Creates controversy. Killer blog posts don’t sit on the fence. They take a stand and force the reader to react one way or another. The stronger the stance, the more intense the reaction will be. Of course don’t be controversial just for the sake of stirring up controversy! Readers can sniff inauthenticity a mile away. If there is a particular topic you truly feel strongly about, don’t try to come off as neutral. Neutral is boring. Just be prepared for people to disagree with you. You will find that your community will come alive and more people will visit your site when they see people commenting on your site.

Is visually appealing. Killer blog posts have killer images to go with them. This is not only important for recipes and DIY, but with the advent of Pinterest, for ALL articles. You might have written a fantastic article but if you don’t have images your readers won’t be able to ‘pin’ anything.  You need to make it as easy as possible to be able to share your content, especially on social media.

Is not overly complicated. Don’t use large words or pad it with a 100 words when only one simple word will do. Nobody is going to be impressed if you are using big words just to look clever. Write in layman terms. Make sure that everybody who visits your blog knows exactly what you are talking about.

Makes you say WOW. This is the awesome factor again. Whatever you share, whether it is a recipe, a party, an idea, or a project, should be so compelling that your reader can’t help but stop whatever they are doing and pay attention. If it’s not great, don’t bother. You are better off sharing one WOW post a month than twenty forgettable ones. Again, the more impressed people are with your blog post, the more they will want to share it on social media.

Empowers the reader. A killer blog post isn’t about YOU or what you’ve done or created or cooked. Yes, you may be sharing something you’ve done, but the best blog posts do it only in a way that makes the reader feel that THEY could do it too, offering clear tips and helpful instruction. They want to come away from your blog informed and feeling that they have learnt something new.

Is unique and interesting. A killer blog post has something new to say. It presents a unique viewpoint or an interesting perspective. It gives readers a different way of looking at a problem that perhaps they hadn’t considered before. It is fresh and sharp.

Keep in mind that not all of these tips must or even should be used in one post, but generally the more of them that you can hit, the better off you will be. So now that we have discussed how to create great content, lets discuss marketing.

Marketing your blog

Once you have your content in place and you have plans to release a continuous flow of content, the next step is to attract people to your blog so that you can show them how amazing it is. This is where marketing is crucial.

You could try and do it yourself, but if you are already running a busy offline business, you will probably find the whole process of online marketing daunting.

This is where we can help you. Not only will we be able to drive traffic to your blog with a tailored marketing campaign, but we can even create the content that will keep customers and visitors coming back for more. We are excited to show you how we can help your business grow by setting up a blog and then drive targeted traffic directly to your website, resulting in more sales and leads for your business. Contact us today. We are looking forward to hearing from you and showing you many more possibilities to growing your business successfully.

To Your Success!

What Are QR Codes?

Posted by brendanfranks

The pace at which technology advances in our modern society is simply staggering. Less than five years ago, the notion of smart phones was really something out of science fiction. Now we have iPhones, tablets and droid platforms that have revolutionized how we access information and how we use it.

  • QR codes are used to make it as easy as possible to use the information in question.

So, just what are QR codes?

They are an advanced version of the traditional bar code, but pack much more information. They are tied into smart phone usage.

Companies will include QR codes on their products, advertisements, websites and what have you. You simply scan the code with your phone and the relevant action then occurs.

For instance, you might see an advertisement for a discount on shoes from Zappos in a magazine. You scan the QR code on the ad and are taken to the site on your phone and the discount is automatically included for any purchases you make. 

Another example might be clicking a QR code for a restaurant website that automatically figures out where you are and provides directions to the restaurant on your phone. The possibilities are endless, which is why QR codes are becoming very popular with businesses.

We added them to our business cards so anyone interested could go directly to our site by scanning and find out more.

To Your Success!

Brendan Franks

P.S. Scan below NOW for a free gift!