4 Benefits of Content Marketing for ROI in Small Business Marketing

Posted by frank harris on 11/03/13 08:44

successful-small-business-marketingAs an internet marketing consultant I find it’s hard to read an article or attend a presentation about social media or content marketing without the subject quickly moving from creative or strategy to measurement - and often with an eye on the ultimate prize: ROI (Return On Investment).

Ostensibly, this is a good thing. After all, it suggests that the  internet marketing agency business has outgrown its “cottage” status and moved into the big house. But in our rush to “be measured like everyone else,” content marketers are in danger of short-changing their full value to companies.

Let’s look at four benefits of content marketing that will never show up on the Marketing Director’s dashboard but can bring immense value to the company and its internal relationships.

1.    Content can give you a recruiting edge

In a competitive industry like the marketing agency business, recruiting top-calibre talent is a priority of the highest order. In fact, recruiting top talent is one of only three priorities for every B2B business owner. Yet despite the importance of recruiting, it would be easy to overlook the impact an engaging content marketing programme can have on this business-critical priority.

So, partner with your HR department. When your company inducts staff, find out the reasons why they joined, and share this information with your internal teams. The ability to prove your content efforts have impacted recruiting will help make you - and your content efforts -  indispensable to your company.

2.    Content can help boost company morale

When I worked in an advertising agency, I recall challenging a client who wanted us to help his company produce a campaign that didn’t necessarily influence its buyers. When I pushed back on this point the Marketing Director told me, “The campaign isn’t for our customers. It’s for our staff. The place lights up when they see the campaign… and I know a lot of our workers see the media proposed.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson, and content marketing can help accomplish this very same goal.

When you publish a popular asset, the cheering it receives on the social web can validate the efforts of the entire company. Your victory lap is everyone’s victory lap, so make sure you “market” the popularity of your content to your colleagues - not to boast personally, but rather to remind them that as crowded as the social web is, your company managed to stand out.

3.    Content opens up lines of communication

Remarkable content doesn’t just get customers and prospects talking; it also gets your internal colleagues buzzing. It gives them something to share with one another, something to debate, or something to challenge. It opens doors, rings phones, and makes people talk over cubicle walls. It also provides you with an opportunity to recruit advocates and participants.

When your colleagues engage with your content, it creates an opportunity to invite them to contribute to future programmes. Because content marketing sits between so many different organisational functions, it is a surprisingly political role. Be sure to marshal your supporters when you have their attention.

4.    Content fosters trust

In a recent "FastCompany" article, Don Peppers convincingly argues that the key to competitive advantage is “being proactively trustworthy.” Creating content that is so valuable that people would pay for it, yet you give it away for free, is a reliable way to earn the public’s trust. This is precisely why the value transfer in content marketing should be from institution to individual, which is an upside-down model for traditional marketers. In other words, when trust is the goal, companies should strive to sell by not selling.

None of this is to suggest that content marketers shouldn’t aspire to be measured - of course as an internet marketing consultant I am and I should be. But as a marketing agency I also need to find ways to highlight the value we provide - especially if there’s no key performance indicator (KPI) attached to it.

To find out more about how to construct a content marketing programme why not download our FREE eBook on Content Marketing from the link below:-

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Tags: online marketing agencies, internet marketing consultant, small business marketing, online marketing services uk, b2b marketing agency, digital marketing agency

Business Social or Social Businessin Small Business Marketing?

Posted by frank harris on 19/12/12 09:41

social-media-marketing-servicesThe business ‘code of conduct’, especially within the UK, is rather formal. There is a way to address people, within meetings, over the telephone, and when writing emails. Many of us re-write our emails over and over again and even get them double checked by colleagues.  However, is our global social boundary changing the way we interact with one another and communicate with our business colleagues?

Social networks have changed the way we communicate in our personal lives. Staying in touch with friends on the other side of the world is far easier now than it was a decade ago. Skype and especially Facebook have given us the ability to communicate easily and effectively across the world. Twitter has changed the length of communication as well; quick, short updates are popular amongst a variety of ages. This brief style was born from text messaging, now the most popular way of communicating according to Ofcom’s ninth annual Communications Market report.

Social media has clearly changed the way we communicate, and social media marketing services have been integrated into many small business marketing strategies. However, has the new way of communicating been adopted as an internal communication tool? Should it be, or will this degrade the business etiquette that our industries have become so accustomed to?

When on the move, many of us fire off short concise emails to stay connected and part of the conversation. How many times have you sent something to someone by mistake, or re-read the email you just sent and noticed at least three grammatical or spelling errors. As a society, are we still precious about the way we are perceived through our writing abilities? The next generation, the children who are brought up with text messaging, Facebook and Twitter as their methods of communication will fall down in these common business manners. Should the business industry change and adapt to the new ‘language’? Does your business use social media to communicate with your colleagues on a professional level or purely a social approach?

Companies have a Facebook and Twitter accounts. Most commonly at this moment in time, Facebook is used to interact with staff and their families whilst Twitter is to communicate your company news, updates and event information to clients and partners. E-mails are still widely used throughout companies as the primary communication tool. However, this is all changing. You can now manage your social media marketing campaigns more effectively and keep all your team members up-to-date with any changes made to the project. Take Autotask for example, it has an interface that uses a similar dashboard to Twitter and Facebook. Instant messaging or message hub are used within the Autotask software to allow co-workers access to instant updates on their latest projects. This is just one example – you could use Hoot Suite Pro where all company employees have access to all social media accounts and can therefore communicate with each other using whichever channel they either prefer or are prompted to use by colleagues or company policy.

Ask yourself this, when was the last time you received a formal letter? Do you cringe when you look at your inbox? Or jump when your phone vibrates with yet another new message? How would you prefer to receive updates, is it on Facebook style wall, instant messages or stick with the traditional email?

These questions can be answered easily, but making these changes aren’t, and in another decade these communication methods will likely change again. So do you keep up with the trends, or just stick with what you know?

To find out more about Social Media Best Practices why not download our FREE whitepaper by clicking the button below:-

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Tags: online marketing agencies, internet marketing consultant, small business marketing, social media marketing services

Measuring social media engagement - 4 steps for small business SEO

Posted by frank harris on 27/09/12 09:35

get-more-trafficA number of social media gurus tell prospective clients that they can’t really measure social media commercially. It's like gravity; you know it's there even though you can't see it, so you just have to keep working on it to gain more for your online marketing, especially as it relates to small business SEO.  But is this correct? Now this isn’t about monitoring social media, there are many tools available to do that.  No it’s about getting analytics that shows you the flow of the prospect from their gain from social media activity through to turning into a customer and the ROI associated with that journey.

Well, firstly, you can most definitely measure gravity. And you can also measure the commercial value of social media too. The FREE whitepaper available by clicking the button below, shares with you how to tackle this in the hope that, in some small way, you can either start or continue to engage in social media in an effective way to help gain more traffic for small business seo and convert them into leads and customers measuring ROI with a structure and level of respect that it deserves.

The FREE Whitepaper offered below contains a framework that focuses on the contents of a Commercial Audit for the efficient and effective planning and management of your social media. It is one of only three bodies of work you require to confidently take control of your social media destiny.

The second, part of which is summarised as a point in step four, is an Online Brand Communications Audit, which ensures you know your consumer and who influences them, and the competitive environment you operate within. Without this you won’t understand how best to sculpt your activities to meet those commercial goals via your online marketing activities.

The third, and last document, is your Social Media Strategy, which is the intelligent distillation of the first two documents into a plan of action for the year. Without these three documents you are operating blindly, ignoring the information and insights around you to forge ahead of your competitors in your small business marketing.

Taking this approach also opens up the opportunity to utilise innovative different execution and supplier models. Armed with the above, you can drive considerable value, and importantly, can plan it, measure it and justify it either to yourself or your more senior colleagues.

The 4 steps are:-

  1. Setting social media benchmarks

  2. Measuring against your benchmarks

  3. Plan for outcomes

  4. Maximise your shareability

Analytics form the 4th arm of the Inbound Marketing Strategy. The first is to use on-site optimisation, micro blogging and social media to gain more traffic. The second is the use of social media and on-site strategies to turn that traffic into leads.  The third is the nurturing of those leads, especially B2B, until they are ready to purchase from you.  Analytics tells you what you are doing correctly and what marketing effort is being either wasted or not being carried out to its best effect so that you can constantly improve on your small business marketing.

If you’ve got to the stage of really being interested in online analytics not just for Social Media which is covered by the FREE whitepaper that you can obtain by clicking the button below, then the time has come to talk.  An online marketing agency like ourselves could not only save you time and money on your online marketing efforts but leave you the time to convert those highly qualified leads intio sales rather than spending time on getting them and nurturing them. A Free consultation is always available.

FREE Whitepaper on Measuring Social Media

 

Tags: online marketing agencies, SEO for small business, SEO marketing agency, analytics

Finding missed small business marketing opportunities

Posted by frank harris on 25/09/12 09:15

online-marketing-agencySmall and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are often depending mainly on traditional communications channels to market to customers and prospects. As a result, they are not tracking results and they are missing opportunities to incorporate multi-channel communications to increase customer response and conversion rates. These are the main findings of a recent survey by Pitney Bowes conducted among 750 small business customers. Among the statistics showing SMEs underutilising specific IT-enabled advanced marketing techniques are that 73% of the respondents do not measure their email marketing metrics, while 80% fail to measure their direct mail or traditional mail metrics.

In terms of social media marketing, no business with 50 to 100 employees listed social media as a primary marketing channel. SMEs who do use social media as a primary marketing channel tended to be businesses that were less than 10 years old and that had 10 or fewer employees.

Email is the most used and some may say abused, SME marketing channel, with 46% of respondents using it as their primary channel for business communications, followed by the old-fashioned channels of phone (22%) and direct mail (11%). Respondents’ primary reason for using email was for basic correspondence related to on-going business (59%). However, the number using email for sales and marketing is still fairly low. It is also worth noting that many marketing experts now classify email as a “legacy” channel. Also SMEs rarely segment their database(s) so that individuals get the right message for them. Also they forget that email is becoming more personalised and do not use a email system that allows them to do it properly.

Online Marketing Agencies Can Help with the Basics and More

The opportunities SMEs are missing create numerous opportunities for Online Marketing Agencies to provide services. One of the most encouraging aspects of SMEs’ lack of marketing technology prowess (at least from an online marketing agency’s perspective) is that SMEs are need of obvious assistance even in the well-established area of email marketing. Any Online Marketing Agency that offers managed marketing services surely has email expertise and most likely can provide at least basic email metrics.

Unlike many Online Marketing Agencies, Optimax offers sophistication in the area of social media marketing, which means we have a smaller level of competition and don’t need to catch up to take advantage of this opportunity. Social media is unquestionably the wave of the marketing future for companies of all sizes, as evidenced by a higher level of proficiency among the smallest SMEs. Online Marketing Agencies who do not develop a comprehensive suite of managed social media services will wind up in the same place as SMEs who do not develop social media marketing/tracking proficiency” dangerously behind their competitors both large and small.

Optimax is a partner of HubSpot and the new HubSpot3 automation system allows for more sophistication in all areas of online marketing, from blogging and social media to email lead nurturing, now being called workflows, and analytics. You can see for yourself at www.hubspot.com/3 where all the new features are on display from smart Calls to Action to list construction and segmentation.

But why not speak to someone nearer to you in the UK who understands not only the automation but also what a SME needs from online marketing. It is the way of the future of marketing that allows you to use muti channels to promote your products and services at a  much lower cost than traditional marketing with the added advantage of great metrics that provide you details all the way through the Sales Funnel of what is working and what needs a good look at. Get a FREE consultation by clicking the button below.

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Tags: online marketing agencies, small business marketing, b2b marketing agency

6 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in your Small Business Marketing

Posted by frank harris on 18/09/12 21:30

online-marketing-agencyEmail might not be as cool as social media and other marketing channels, but it's still arguably the most powerful marketing tool around.

A recent study asked consumers which channel they prefer for receiving permission-based promotional messages. 77% said email. No other channel even scored in double digits; only 4% of respondents said Facebook, with Twitter and mobile apps both scoring a mere 1%. That's a very clear message about how your leads and contacts want to hear from you.

So how do you maximise email for new gains?

Sometimes the best way to learn what to do right is to consider what not to do. In that spirit, here are six common email marketing mistakes... and guidance on avoiding them.

Mistake No. 1: Neglecting Buyer Needs

Does the MD of a PLC in the City have the same needs as a small marketing team in Cambridge? Probably not. Also, retail email volume increased 61% from 2007 to 2011, making for a very busy environment. To cut through the clutter, 'you need to speak directly to your buyer.

Use segmentation strategies to target campaigns to specific buyers' specific needs, particularly their "pain points." By doing so, you'll position your company as a friendly one that's paying attention. To understand this more why not download our whitepaper on the subject by clicking the button below.

Mistake No. 2: Blasting the Same Message to All Contacts

Your interactions with prospects should not all be the same. Some prospects may be fans who follow you on social media; others may have never heard of your company before. What's more, you may well have more than one product or service to offer.

Email marketing is brilliantly customisable. Segment your lead list into different groups and customise your messaging to each. You'll see higher click-through rates - and more engaged customers.

Mistake No. 3: Failing to Adapt Messaging

Start paying attention to your response rates, and you'll prevent some of the expensive recklessness that can result from a bad email marketing strategy.

A/B testing allows you to test variables so you can adapt your messaging, timing, etc. based on response rates. Doing so boosts your open rates, making for more efficient campaigns.

Mistake No. 4: Not Linking to Your Website

You send out marketing emails to increase sales by increasing traffic to your website, right? So don't forget to include links to your website and product pages in the actual email. Research shows that the more links you include, the higher your click-through rate.

That said, we don't support loading your emails with irrelevant links in hopes of more click-throughs. Too many links will turn off prospects. Determine the right number by gradually adding more links until you hit the point that provides the highest return.

Mistake No. 5: Ignoring Mobile Email Readers

A recent Return Path study revealed 81% growth in mobile email viewership from October 2010 to March 2011. You can't ignore this trend. No matter how great your content is, if your prospects can't read it on a smartphone or tablet, it's not going to be read.

Making your email mobile-friendly is a bit tricky: You have to optimise it for multiple mobile operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.), all which have different requirements. But the mobile trend is unstoppable, so it's well worth taking that extra step now.

Remember that most mobile email readers will not automatically load images. If they do load them, you have no guarantee that the images will display properly. So, design just as for non-mobile email: Use HTML text, use alternative text for images, and don't forget to include a plain-text version.

Mistake No. 6: Not Having a Strategy in Place

The number one  reason people unsubscribe from an email list is that they receive emails too frequently. Put an email marketing plan in place that strategically lays out when emails will be sent to each segmented group. If you see a spike in the number of people unsubscribing from your emails, it may well be that you flooded their inboxes. Look at the frequency of previous emails and compare unsubscribe rates; you'll most likely see when you can email again.

Two of these points cover segmentation. Find out more on why segmentation is so important in online marketing by downloading our FREE whitepaper just click the button below.

Database Segmentation in  Small Business Marketing

Tags: online marketing agencies, B2B lead generation, small business marketing

7 Steps that Will Transform Your Small Business Marketing

Posted by frank harris on 04/09/12 09:18

small-business-marketingSmall business owners hopes and dreams are a mix of business goals and personal aspirations - open a second location, organise your contacts, start a newsletter, eat pastries in Paris…..

You may not want to eat pastries in Paris, but you do have goals and aspirations for yourself and your business. But if you’re not seeing the business growth you’d hoped for, your dreams may start to feel out of reach. You have a great product or service, but you may struggle with how to effectively manage your small business marketing and find the most efficient, cost-effective way to attract, keep and grow your customer base. Maybe you’ve even started to doubt your ability to run a successful business.

It’s a common challenge for many small business owners; they invest time and money on advertising and other forms of offline small business marketing to attract interest, but don’t have an overall marketing strategy in place for converting leads and retaining customers. Leads coming in to the website aren’t effectively captured. Warm and cool leads that may buy later are forgotten. And opportunities for repeat sales are missed.

With seemingly unlimited ideas and strategies out there, it can be difficult to distil them all down into one seamless marketing plan that will work for your business. In truth, the solution to your marketing woes is as simple as developing a clear approach based on lead and customer behaviours.

Just as a business plan is essential for outlining the nature and scope of your business, a well-thought-out marketing plan will set the foundation for how you attract, capture and keep happy customers.

You may be tempted to just hope for the best with your current setup. But taking the easy road will lead to missed opportunities, wasted time and lost revenue. A good marketing plan takes time and effort to develop and implement—yet the rewards can be exponential.

We have developed a whitepaper that gives you the 7 basic Steps you need to get your buisiness off the ground when you believe that your main means of customer acquisition is via your online marketing effort.  The 7 steps are:-

  1. Attract Traffic             

  2. Capture Leads                       

  3. Nurture Prospects                       

  4. Convert Sales                               

  5. Deliver and Satisfy                       

  6. Upsell Customers                       

  7. Get Referrals                        

They may seem obvious but they do take time, if not the money that an offline approach may take. However, to do the 7 Steps well you will need automation BUT 2012 automation is not the same as that used online even 2 years ago.  Things have moved on and so have customer expectations.  For example personalisation of communication is getter more sophisticated and that is what the customer expects. If you are still sending out unpersonalised blast emails, not looking at different prospect and/or customer online behaviours and are not able to respond to these using automation then your success rate will be lower.

The FREE Whitepaper can be obtained by clicking on the button below. This will give you the steps you need to take to become successful if your main means, and whose aren't in 2012, of customer acquisition starts with getting more traffic to your website. But all this takes time. Have you got it. Well besides the need for automation you need to have an online marketing agency that fully understands the needs of small business marketing.

It's not all about automation but how you can easily see how you're doing with easy to understand analytics that will show you where your traffic is really coming from, how many fill out that form, who converts and what they were interested in to convert.  We can show you a platform that can do it and as done it for us so if you want to see how it works for yourself after reading the FREE Whitepaper just click here.

FREE Whitepaper "7 Steps to small  business success"



Tags: online marketing agencies, small business marketing, get more traffic

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