Email Marketing Strategy: Some Tips

In times of austerity for businesses, many people turn to email marketing as a way to reach their customers without denting their budgets too greatly. What are the most effective ways to reach people in a sea of similar emails in inboxes? How do you get signups for such emails? How do you choose content for the emails?

The first step in creating a successful email marketing campaign is to get people to sign up. Post signup forms on every form of social media that you have, including your homepage, your blog, your Facebook page and any other social networks or sites that you regularly use. Collect names for personalisation purposes, and you can also collect information such as birthdays in order to send special offers and discounts once a year. A subscription form with too many boxes can put people off from sitting and filling it out, so ensure that this part is short and concise.

The next step is to design the emails in order to fit around your brand. Email campaigns should be an extension of existing campaigns, rather than a separate arm entirely. Use company colours and logos, and ensure that the emails are consistent with the content on the company blog or website.

When it comes to choosing content to go into the newsletter, consider its relevancy to a consumer. Don’t simply fill up a template with pointless articles; only send an email if you have something important that you want to say. No matter how they receive it, whether through their inbox, letterbox or in their news feed, consumers will only respond to well-produced content that piques their interest.

Subscribers to newsletters will tend to be very busy people who experience an influx of similar emails every day of the week; getting their undivided attention is not an easy task when going directly into people’s crowded inboxes. For this reason, it is important to make the newsletter very scannable. Don’t send long chunks of text; offer them ‘read more’ links and a few engaging sentences to grab their attention and encourage them to follow the link. Use formatting to draw attention to the areas you would like to draw the most focus.

Email content is no different from much social media content in that one of the main aims is to make it shareable. Be sure to include public links to web versions of the content with the appropriate sharing buttons, so that it can be shared through the right channels, rather than having recipients forward on the email to a friend (where it can’t be tracked nearly as easily).

Following these basic tips can help any business, large or small, to build up a successful email marketing campaign for their clients and potential customers.

How to Maximise Your Google+ Posts

Google+ is one of the only social networks out there that focuses almost exclusively on engagement. With its option to participate in Hangouts, as well as the Circles and the Communities, it is all about being involved with a brand. So how can you increase the level of engagement that your Google+ posts are creating? It is important to get the audience interacting on this network, and this won’t be accomplished with drab, uninspired posts that get lost in a sea of similar content. How can you optimise your Google+ content?

Firstly, you can help to give your content a little more oomph by including some formatting. None of the other social networks, besides blogging sites, give users the opportunity to format their own posts, and it is much welcomed on Google+, where long posts are the norm. A long post without any formatting, such as the ones that might appear on Facebook, can seem very off-putting to users, so breaking it up with the appropriate line spacing, paragraph breaks, as well as bold, italic and underlined text segments to signify important phrases can help the post to stand out in the stream and make it more readable to any audience.

The next step is to actively encourage engagement of a higher level. Simply asking an audience to share a picture if they agree with its sentiment or like its content is not enough. Cultivate a whole album of pictures and ask users to choose their favourite one. Ask questions, start debates, encourage conversation between those interacting with the posts. Get them to come up with captions for a photo, and empower them to offer up their opinion. The beauty of social media, and especially Google+, is that communication between brands and consumers is not a linear process. There are so many different options to encourage the engagement that will eventually lead to conversions. This will also give brands an idea of what content their target market most want to see.

Brands can also try creating their own weekly hashtag or themed post. This doesn’t just apply to Google+ by any means, but it is a great way to get audiences coming back at a regular time every week and engaging with the content on the page. How about #MotivationMonday? #ThankfulThursday? #FeelGoodFriday? Get a little inventive and create your own, or engage with one of the many popular daily hashtags that encourage people to interact and be involved.

Driving Traffic To Your Blog Posts

The basics of driving traffic to a blog post are simple: you have come up with a snappy title that will ensure interested parties click immediately, you have posted links across all your business’ social media pages, and you have made your content share-worthy. So why is the view count still stuck in single figures? This guide contains a number of helpful steps to ensure that your blog posts are not going unnoticed by your audience.

One of the first steps is to start to utilise a wider variety of social media platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn can often feel like they are reaching saturation point, as every business attempts to promote their content using these networks. Widening the net can help to increase the reach of the blogs. Tumblr is a microblogging site that is great for reaching a younger audience. Quora.com is oriented towards business and academia, and Empire Avenue is a useful social media marketing tool which is aimed at small businesses, bloggers and those for whom social media is a profession.

Using different types of media is also a rule which doesn’t just apply to social networks. Having every blog written as plain text doesn’t make a page jump out at the reader. Many people using social media to promote a business will be accustomed to posting different types of content on their feed, and this is something which should also be applied to blogs.

It is also important to vary the time sensitive nature of posts. Writing solely about current events and news can mean that a blog dates very easily, and many posts will become irrelevant very quickly. Current event-style posts are important to an extent, but remember mix it up with content that will remain relevant for much longer than a few weeks.

Driving traffic to the blog using social media and marketing sites is one thing, but traffic can also be generated by the audience. Ensure that every blog post has sharing buttons for each social network at the end of the post, so that is the content intrigues, impresses or amuses a reader, they can share it to people that they believe will also engage with it. Great content will generate traffic itself in this way, so ensure that every post is well-crafted and interesting.

Online Influence: The Basics

Running a successful online marketing campaign is often dependent on establishing a relationship with an audience. It is crucial, when using the internet as a marketing tool, to cultivate not only a brand’s image, but also a personal image; CEOs, managers and marketers within companies need to be seen as influential and knowledgeable within their field. They need to be seen as someone that potential clients can trust, and take advice from. But how is this level of online influence achieved?

Boosting online influence does not happen overnight; it requires a steady plan, it requires in-depth knowledge of a certain industry and it requires dedication to build up a stream of followers and fans who enjoy your posts and regard you as someone they can trust. Increased online influence can often lead to more successful marketing campaigns and a great business boost.

Of course, one of the first steps to achieving influencer status online involves actually getting involved. This can mean posting content on your own feed, but also interacting with other influential figures, commenting on blogs, posting on industry forums and building up relationships like this. The focus, as an influencer, should not be on promoting a business or service, but offering helpful information and sharing insightful opinions from someone in the know.

It is also crucial to bear in mind that personality is a key factor in becoming an online figure that people want to interact and share ideas with. Keeping posts formal and without an overarching voice can come across as too generic, and almost computer-generated; people are more likely to ignore these types of posts as they search for human interaction on a social network. Having a personal brand and a consistent personality across all forms of online marketing is something which is hugely beneficial to a company and to an individual.

Once influence starts to build, it is something which can snowball fairly easily. One well-written article shared one hundred times can bring in plenty of new followers, while a regularly updated blog will gain plenty of fans every week. Keep content streams coming; write free eBooks on a certain aspect of the industry and offer it via the company website, take part in podcasts, host workshops or webinars and generally ensure that you are attempting to reach as many people as possible with your voice. This will help online influence to greatly increase, it will raise trust levels in both the individual and the business, and will often result in greater success in many marketing campaigns.

The A-Z of Digital Marketing: Q – Z

The final part in the helpful glossary series covers QR codes, WordPress, viral marketing, SEO and everything in between, helping small businesses and digital newcomers to get to grips with some of the jargon they will be using. This essential guide is incredibly useful for anyone attempting to enhance their digital strategy or online marketing.

QR Code – Also known as a ‘quick response’ code, these two-dimension bar code-style images can be read by scanners, mobile phones and smartphones. They contain an embedded link within them, and when the image is scanned, the device is then taken straight to that webpage. It is perfect for tracking the reach of content like flyers and leaflets, and also for hosting specialist features like competitions or one-off promotions.

Ranking – A website’s ‘rank’ is their position in a search engine. They are usually based on keywords and a number of other factors, and they can be great for tracking SEO (search engine optimisation).

SEO – Speaking of SEO, this acronym is one of the most important that a digital marketer will learn. Optimising a web page to make it ‘search engine-friendly’ is one of the best ways a business can grow and reach a broader online audience. SEO depends on a number of page components, and is a fluid, always-changing process that businesses must stay on top of.

Twitter – One of the world’s largest social networks, and the best friend of many marketing departments attempting to reach certain audiences. Consisting of status updates of less than 140 characters, Twitter features all of the big brands as well as millions of local businesses, and is a great way to interact with clients and potential customers.

URL – This technical term references the address of a particular website. It stands for Uniform Resource Locator, and is often referred to as a website’s ‘domain’.

Viral Marketing – Viral marketing is content, generally a video, which becomes incredibly popular through sharing on social media websites. These videos, which are often awe-inspiring, emotive or simply hilarious, typically get thousands of shares within a short space of time and receive great coverage on all social media channels.

WordPress – One of the simplest content management systems out there, WordPress can be used to build an entire website for a business, or simply host its blog separately to the main site.

XML – Extensible Markup Language, also known as XML, is code designed to transport and store data. It provides easy usability over the internet, and is renowned for its simplicity.

YouTube – This video sharing site is the second-largest search engine in the world. Bigger than Yahoo and Bing, it should not be overlooked when creating social media strategy and campaigns.

Zero Actions – Another term for the ‘bounce rate’ of a page, this occurs when a visitor performs no actions on a web page. In the final part of this helpful series, Scott Dylan helps to break down the important acronyms, phrases and terms that digital marketers need to know.

Pin Your Way To Online Success Using Pinterest

Pinterest is a relatively new social network when compared to the stalwarts of Facebook and Twitter, but its meteoric rise to becoming one of the ‘Big Five’ social networks for business marketing has meant its presence cannot be ignored any longer. With its different boards, its use of hashtags and its predominantly female demographic, there are a number of businesses which would find their key target market using this network. If your business is one which relies on images or visuals, you should already be on Pinterest; this handy guide will show you how exactly what content to share, and how you can use Pinterest as a valuable marketing tool.

1.     Showcase Your Personality

Pinterest is not a corporate, formal network – it relies more on personality and showcasing the heart of a business. It can be used to show off the fun side of the business, demonstrate how a small business gets involved with the local society, tell users more about what charities they are working alongside, and more things that would draw too much attention on a website. The boards on the site allow for easy categorisation of this kind of content, and they show a more human side of a business.

2.      Use Different Content

The introduction of Pinterest as a marketing tool has seen a sharp rise in a number of different types of content being shared. These aren’t generally seen on other social networks, but they have found an audience here; tutorials, infographics and how-to-guides in the form of images and videos are all forms of content which have become popular on Pinterest, and they allow for a greater volume of interaction and engagement than conventional images and text. Post a tutorial on how to use one of your products or create an infographic showing research and statistics about the success of your services, and see how much more engagement you can incite from your Pinterest audience.

3.     Don’t Forget To #Hashtag

Pinterest, like many social networks nowadays, utilises the hashtag as a way to track and categorise posts. Make sure to hashtag all of your posts so that they can be found or stumbled upon by people searching for similar content. As with many other networks, these can also be used as methods for creating conversation, encouraging users to pin their own content and even hosting competitions among users.

The A-Z of Digital Marketing: H – P

The second in a helpful glossary series features everything from jump pages to PPC, and helps small businesses and those starting out on their own to get to grips with some of the more complicated and technical terms related to digital marketing. An indispensable guide for anyone looking to improve their online marketing strategy, this A – Z will tell you all you need to know.

Hit – A ‘hit’ is the retrieval of any file from a web server, and is a common metric used to measure the success of a website and its traffic. One visit to a website equals one ‘hit’, and the first plan for many people when running a smaller business is to improve their ‘hits’ and increase site traffic.

Inbound Link – This is a link to your own website from another website. An outbound link is a link on your website to another.

Jump Page Advertisement – These are microsites which are reached after clicking interactive ads on certain webpages. These helpfully have frequency caps on them so that users are not continually clicking on the same advertisements when they visit, generating biased statistics for those running the ads.

Keywords – Every business needs a set of keywords for SEO purposes. These are the terms that will be typed into Google, and Google will rank the websites signalling these keywords in order for users to access the most appropriate websites for their search term.

Landing Page – When a user clicks on a link or advertisement for a website, the landing page is the first page they are transported to. They can be home pages, but in the case of advertisements they are often a custom page with more information about the specific ad that was clicked.

Meta Tags / Descriptions – These are special pieces of HTML which describe the contents of a webpage to Google, helping it to sort through the millions of websites and rank them in order of relevance to a search term.  They are just as important as keywords in SEO rankings.

Navigation – This is used on a website to allow visitors to access different sections of the site. Usually in the form of a horizontal or vertical navigation bar, a smooth navigational interface is essential to search engine rankings and user accessibility.

Originality – Having high-quality, original content across every platform is very important for online marketing and social media. Nobody wants to read endlessly copied and pasted articles. This is also important for rankings, and to gain status as an influential figure within a field.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click) – Many search engines or websites offer paid listings for certain search terms. Those advertising on the search engine pay a certain pre-agreed amount when someone clicks on their paid listing, only essentially paying for the clicks that they accumulate.

Online Brand Development Series: Corporate Guidelines, Processes and Procedures

Business Guidelines

Creating guidelines can help you and others with your online branding.

When promoting a brand online, it is important to ensure that all of the digital marketing initiatives that you implement adhere to your business’s corporate identity guidelines.

These guidelines dictate your brand details, visual identity, the language and tone that is used in association with your brand and the way in which it should be represented.

They define what you do, who you are, your brand history and your overall mission.

Do you run electrical appliances shop in Manchester with a history of selling goods to local businesses? Maybe you own a beauty products retailer in London that has been selling makeup to top models all over the globe for the past twenty years.

Whatever the nature of your business, it is essential to have a clear idea of your brand details, as they can help to define the steps that should be followed in order to effectively promote it.  [Read more...]

The A-Z of Digital Marketing: A – G

In the first in a series examining all of the phrases and acronyms that pop up time and time again in digital marketing and communications, I examine some of the most important terms that a business manager or someone looking to grow a business through social media will ever need to know.

Analytics – these are the bread and butter for all online marketing and social media types who need to keep track of how successful their online activity is. Analytics include any metric which measure statistics or key-performance indicators (more on these later), sales effectiveness or marketing success rates. They can include anything from page hits to conversions, Facebook ‘likes’ or Twitter followers.

Bounce Rates – these are usually expressed as percentages, and they show the proportion of visitors to a page or website that exit after visiting a single page. For example, if four in ten visitors to a home page immediately exited the website without clicking on further pages, the bounce rate would be 40%. These are incredibly useful in seeing which pages are pulling their weight in a business’ site.

CPA – Cost-Per-Action is the cost of advertising which is based on the visitor taking some kind of action in response to an online advertisement. This might include joining a mailing list, making a sale or even just a click. Also related to Cost-Per-Click, Cost-Per-Lead and Cost-Per-Mille (or Cost-Per-Thousand).

Drill Down – Practically the opposite of a bounce rate; this is when a website visitor accesses multiple pages within a website, exploring and clicking plenty of links.

EPC – Earnings-Per Click-is generally used in affiliate marketing. Based on net sales, prices of products and commission rates, affiliates can work out how much they can expect to earn for every click they generate on behalf of another business. Product price multiplied by net sales, divided by the total number of clicks gives the EPC.

Facebook – If you’re not using it, you should be. Facebook has become one of the most useful resources for all kinds of business. It allows for great marketing schemes and constant contact with clients, and best of all, it is entirely free to use.

Google+ – Now one of the largest social networks, this is also a comprehensive resource for promotion and marketing. With features like ‘Hangouts’ and ‘Communities’, Google+ offers a lot of marketing features that other websites lack, making it great for niche businesses attracting a different crowd.

5 Ideas for Local Marketing in Manchester and London

Local Marketing

Your customers are out there using their smartphones. Can they find you?

A big part of online marketing is targeting the types of people that are likely to pay for the product or service that you are offering.

This means that if you run a company that relies upon business from the residents of the town or city that you live in, you need to ensure that your fellow townsfolk are the focus of your digital marketing campaign.

There is no point getting a million views per day for your website from people in Manchester if you run a manicure company in London. Similarly, visitors from London serve no purpose if you are running a tanning salon in Manchester.

So how do you target your digital marketing campaign at Londoners if you are a London-based company or aim it at Mancunians if you are based in Manchester? Here are five ways that you can do this.  [Read more...]