A Start-up Guide for Entrepreneurs

Posted by frank harris on 03/03/19 16:14

entrepreneursEveryone, especially entrepreneurs, wants more visitors, more qualified leads, and more revenue. But starting a business isn't one of those "if you build it, they will come" situations.

 

To build a successful company, you'll need to create and fine-tune a business plan, assess your finances, complete all the legal paperwork, pick your partners, choose the best tools and systems to help you get your marketing and sales off the ground … and a whole lot more.

 

Take control of your success with the help of this free business plan eBook.

 

To help, I've put together a library of the best free tools and resources to help you start selling and marketing your business, and a complete guide on how to start a business. The guide covers everything from the paperwork and finances to creating your business plan and growing your business online.

 

Starting a business involves a whole lot of moving pieces, some more exciting than others. Brainstorming business names? Fun! Filing taxes? ... Not so fun. The trick to successfully getting your business off the ground is to meticulously plan and organise your materials, prioritise properly, and stay on top of the status and performance of every one of these moving parts.

 

From registering with the government to getting the word out about your business to making key financial decisions, here's an overview of what you'll need to do to start a successful business.

 

The eBook covers:

  • What is a Business Plan?
  • How to Make a Business Plan
  • How to Write a Business Plan
  • Business Plan Template
  • Marketing, Sales, and Services Tips
  • Small Business Funding

As a taster here is the first section:

How to Make a Business Plan

  1. Narrow down what makes you different.
  2. Keep it short.
  3. You can (and should) change it as you go.

1. Narrow down what makes you different

"Before you start developing a business plan, think carefully about what makes your business unique first. If you're planning to start a new accountancy business, for example, then you'll need to differentiate yourself from the numerous other accountancy brands out there.

 

What makes yours stand out from the others? Are you planning to Offer other or additional services to auditing?

 

Remember: You're not just selling your product or service - you're selling a combination of product, value, and brand experience. Think through these big questions and outline them before you dive in to the nitty-gritty of your business plan research.

2. Keep it short.

Business plans are shorter and more concise nowadays than they used to be. While it might be tempting to include all the results of your market research, flesh out every single product you plan to sell, and outline exactly what your website will look like, that's not helpful in the format of a business plan.

 

Know these details and keep them elsewhere but exclude everything but the core areas from the business plan itself. Your business plan shouldn't just be a quick(ish) read - it should be easy to skim, too.

 

3. You can (and should) change it as you go.

Keep in mind that your business plan is a living, breathing document. That means you can update your business plan as things change. For example, you might want to update it a year or two down the road if you're about to apply for a new round of funding."

 

So, to get the rest of the eBook that will tell you all the rest covered, just click the link below:

 

A Guide to B2B Website Marketing  for Small Businesses

Tags: small business marketing ideas, small business goals, small business marketing strategy, small business online marketing, entrepreneurs, new business venture

5 Small Business Marketing SEO myths that can Hurt your Search Traffic

Posted by frank harris on 19/02/19 15:34

seo 0219Of all the digital marketing methods, small business marketing SEO is by far the most misunderstood. Constant changes to how people use the web and the role of search engines mean there’s always something new to think about.

 

Not to mention an endless stream of rumours and SEO myths that come along with each new development.

So here are five of the most common myths about SEO, because making the wrong assumptions about the state of search marketing is the fastest way to hurt your rankings.

  1. Organic Reach is getting Smaller and Less Important

While it’s arguably true organic reach on Google is getting smaller, it’s a symptom of something else entirely. For every ad, Knowledge Graph card or answer box on Google SERPs, there’s a new opportunity to connect with users. Most notably, we have the Google Maps feed which provides space for both organic and paid local listings.

 

There are also countless searches that still come back with zero ads, no local results or any other Google products. The key here is user intent and Google provides various types of results pages, depending on what people are looking for. Sometimes organic listings are the priority (informational searches), while other times ads (commercial searches) or local listings get the advantage.

 

If organic reach on Google is getting smaller, it’s because new ways of reaching a wider audience are being integrated. Today’s small business marketing SEO uses all of these to connect with searchers in a more relevant way.

  1. Content Marketing is the new SEO

In 2011, Google waged war on web spam, starting with the first Panda algorithm update. Since then it has tightened its policies on content quality, keywords, link building and the fundamentals of search.

 

This led some to argue content marketing had replaced SEO and that ‘quality content’ is all you need to rank. While it’s true content is the vital ingredient, it’s only worth creating if people get to see it. So technical aspects of on-site optimisation, how you handle 301 redirects, maintain your link profile or use deep linking to ensure the right pages of your site rank are as important as ever.

 

Content marketing hasn’t replaced SEO; it’s become a critical part of it. Meanwhile, search marketing has grown into something much bigger than content alone. 

  1. SEO plays a Smaller Role in Marketing Today

The rise of social media and content marketing had many predicting the end for SEO. Instead, search optimisation has grown bigger than ever as it overlaps with web design, development, user experience and everything else an online business needs.

 

Factors like loading times, mobile optimisation and security certificates are all direct ranking factors now. They also have an impact on other ranking factors, too, because poor experiences lead to higher bounce rates, fewer page visits and ultimately less valuable traffic.

 

The priority in SEO today isn’t only to deliver the information people need most, but also provide the best user experience possible. The aim is to improve the quality of traffic, keep visitors on your site for longer and give them every reason to keep coming back.

  1. Social Media Surpasses SEO

Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your content and driving traffic to your website. However, there’s a key difference between the kind of traffic that comes from social networks and search engines.

 

Social users are casually browsing content until yours grabs their attention, while searchers are actively looking for it. That’s a huge distinction and the latter comes with the kind of high purchase intent you can’t afford to ignore. We’re at a point now where we must catch consumers at various points of the buying process to make sure they don’t end up shopping elsewhere. Some of these interactions take place via search, others on social media, in-app or even offline channels.

  1. Desktop isn’t Important Anymore

Google has announced what we already knew by telling us more searches take place on mobile than desktop. Many involved in small business marketing took this as a cue to forget all about desktop and plough everything they’ve got into mobile. This is a big mistake, though and another of our SEO myths.

 

Mobile is certainly the now and future, but the desktop isn’t done yet. There are multiple fears over mobile security, mobile checkout performance and the user intent of each device. The fact is people still complete the buying process on desktop more often than mobile - at least for now. What’s interesting is that both mobile and desktop conversion rates are increasing every year, although mobile is closing the gap.

 

So there are 5 myths removed for you, whether you are planning a new website or updating your work to get more traffic to your existing one.

 

For a complete up to date way to optimise your site follow the link below:

 

new website seo checklist

Tags: small business seo, small business seo marketing, small business marketing strategy, small business website marketing, small business online marketing, website seo

Small Business Marketing: Client/customer case study Template

Posted by frank harris on 14/12/18 14:17

b2b online marketing community-1Small business marketing case studies allow you to showcase your best and most successful work, so they are worth spending time on. If you’re not sure where to start, the template below will help you to make sure you’re answering the right questions to create case studies showing off your brand in the best possible light.

 

So use the headings for your template and the content for the questions or topics you should include to make the report a great small business marketing tool. 

 

1. Background

Client background

What does your client do? What product/service do they provide? Who are their customers and what problems do they solve for them? What is their business mission?

 

Their challenge

What were the business challenges your client was facing? What was the problem they needed you to provide a solution to? Be specific about this: identify the pain points, the barriers, the opportunities that they needed to address.

  1. Engagement

Why did they choose your product/service/solution?

Outline the selection process your client followed. What key selection criteria did they impose? How many suppliers were considered, and over what period? Most importantly, why did they choose you? What were the deciding factors? What made you stand out for them, above your competitors and the other market players?

How did you engage with the client through the sales process?

What was your pre-selection sales engagement process? Did you provide a face-to-face pitch, a written proposal, creative, or a technical specification? Did you provide references, a scoping workshop, a mile-stoned and costed plan?

How did you engage with the client through your account management process?

Be specific about your account management structure, and how it benefited the client.

What deliverables were agreed?

Spell these out

  1. Solution

How is the client using your product/service/solution?

How have they implemented it to fit their business model/customer needs/specific challenges?

What difference has your product/service/solution made to the way they do business?

How are they using your solution to solve their business challenge? How are you helping them with this? What has changed in the way they do things? Which pain points and hurdles have been overcome?

 

What is the client’s favourite thing about the solution you provide them with, and their favourite thing about working with you as a supplier?

Ask the client what they consider to be the top three features of your solution, and the top two benefits.

  1. Results

What metrics were used to measure success in this case?

What were the KPIs and critical success factors?

What were the results?

Ask where possible for hard numbers from your client: before and after stats to demonstrate the change and success you have delivered. It may be preferable to use percentages and trend figures rather than hard numbers, to tell the success story.

Find the human-interest story too.

It’s important to have a human side to the case study, alongside the numbers. For example: ‘Due to the production efficiencies delivered by your solution, the client’s foreman no longer must work weekends’.

  1. The next steps.

Do you have a plan in place to help your client grow their business even further? What else can your solution help them to do? How does the future look for your client, now they have your solution in place?

 

Now you’ve got some case studies in place ensure you promote them on the best social media channels for their industry. For more on how to use social media channels click on the link below>>>

 

Nurturing Leads in  Small Business Marketing 

Tags: b2b small business marketing, small business marketing strategy, small business website marketing, small business online marketing

5 Steps to Integrate your Email and Social Media Marketing

Posted by frank harris on 07/12/18 14:31

digital_marketing_strategySocial media marketing and email are two of the most important weapons in your marketing arsenal.

 

Picking one out of them is not an option for any smart marketer, and both are important part of the marketing mix.

 

Both when working as a separate entity can serve a limited purpose, but, when combined together create a sense of loyalty from the customers and increased sales for you.

 

They should be combined in a manner that your fans and followers can join an email marketing list via social media and similarly your subscribers can share your email content via social media networks. If you want to combine your email marketing and social media channels, here are 5 easy steps to help do that in a seamless manner.

1. Leverage the Power of Social Media to Amplify Your Email subscriptions

Everyone knows that social media when used strategically can enhance a brand’s visibility, reach and engagement. Similarly, social media can also help you grow your email list. This can be done in various ways, by simply adding a link or subscription button of your email newsletter or by optimising your blog posts landing pages with opt-in forms or an eye catching call-to-action. Your visitors might not need to opt-in to access your blog posts shared on your social networks, but if they like your content, they might want to subscribe to your site.

2. Add Social Icons in your Email Marketing

As per stats, “Emails that include social sharing buttons have a click-through-rate 158% higher than emails that do not include social sharing buttons.”

 

If you’re an experienced content marketer, you know that creating quality content is just half the work done, another half is promoting and sharing it to help you reach more people.

 

Just as you embed social media buttons on your site to enable your visitors to share your content, similarly give your email subscribers an opportunity to share your emails by integrating social media icons in your emails.

 

Shareability plays a very important role in making a piece of content go viral, similarly giving people an option to share your email can make your email go viral.  Also, giving social icons in emails will help you in sending email subscribers to your social pages from where they can learn more about your brand.

 

It’s even advisable to add your social icons on your email unsubscribe page. This will give you a chance to stay connected with those who have chosen to unsubscribe.  This way you will still be able to update them about your brand.

3. Encourage Your Subscribers to Share Your Newsletter and Incentivise Them to do so

Adding social sharing buttons to your newsletter isn’t all about it. But, at the same time it’s also equally important that you encourage people to share it. Simply adding social media buttons to your newsletter won’t boost sharing, as people have become accustomed to seeing them.

 

If you really want people to share your newsletter, create inspiring content which can arouse emotions in people as people like sharing such content. Add visuals in your content to capture their attention.

 

Stats say, “90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.” 

 

Brands can even use their social media photos in emails. Other than that you can also leverage your subscribers by offering some perks like discount coupons, vouchers etc. to encourage them to share your newsletter and give a nice boost to your social media presence.

 

Similarly, you can leverage your email list to announce your list of social media contests & giveaways. Send them an email and let them know that they can enter the contest/giveaway by liking your Facebook page or following you on Twitter or whatever social platform you’re working on.

4. Don’t Just Give Sharing Option, Make it Easy to Share as Well

Giving choice is good, but too many choices confuse people. If your brand is present on every social media platform that doesn’t mean you have to incorporate each and every social icon in your email. Otherwise it will confuse your subscriber on which icon they have to click and will make it tough for them to share.

 

Instead of adding too many social icons include the popular ones like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn or the one on which your audience is more active. This way you cannot just use your email space effectively and clutter-free, but it will also help you in monitoring which are the preferred channels of your audience. And, accordingly you can tailor the content of your emails for these platforms.

5. Create Engaging Emails to Inspire Interaction and Encourage Your Audience to Share

Not all emails get opened. People are dealing with tons of emails in their inboxes already. They have started filtering them out and opening the ones, which they find relevant and engaging. This makes it extremely essential to craft emails that not only piques their curiosity, but also provides value to them.

 

So, make your newsletters engaging by asking your subscribers to reply to your mail and also tell them that they can interact with your brand on your social media platforms. This will help you in building a strong social media community as well.

 

For a successful online business, your email and social media strategy should complement each other. These simple tips can help you build an email marketing list of subscribers that will look forward to actively engage with you and hear from you thus leading to increased sales and revenue.

 

For these and other digital marketing tips and educational eBooks, just subscribe to my blog:-

 

New call-to-action 

Tags: social media marketing, email marketing, social media strategy, small business marketing strategy, b2b small business email marketing, small business b2b blog, small business marketing blog

The Modern Needs for Small Business Marketing

Posted by frank harris on 01/11/18 10:39

small business marketing 1018Today’s small business marketing buyers have more ways to interact with businesses than ever, but this increase in communication channels and platforms doesn’t necessarily translate to a positive customer experience: Only 22% of consumers say the average retailer understands them as an individual, and only 21% say the communications they receive from the average retailer are “usually relevant.”

 

Most companies understand how critical it is to do better – 88% say their growth depends on personalising the customer experience – but lack the resources and expertise to design an improved customer journey. Only 37% believe they have the tools they need to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

 

The complex nature of today’s buyer journey, with more touch points across multiple channels and devices, can make enhancing the experience more challenging. Siloed data, fragmented marketing efforts and unbalanced budgets often conspire to create a less seamless, less-rewarding experience.

The Small Business Marketing Experience

Many businesses are recognising the danger of focusing solely on one part of the experience at the expense of others. Today’s Marketing Directors are investing across the entire journey – from discovery, learn and try to buy, use and advocacy.

 

Of course, simply spending money in these areas without a strong understanding of how contacts are feeling, what content they are looking for and how they want to interact with a business is likely to be a recipe for poor marketing performance. That’s why buyer personas and customer journey mapping have emerged in marketing.

 

While the initial terms and concepts have been around a while, the last two or so years have brought the terminology and practices to the forefront of marketing strategy, and for good reason:

  • Buyer persona marketing can represent a huge shift in a company’s go-to market approach.
  • Customer journey maps can help you facilitate customers’ evaluation and purchase decisions and improve their experience.

What can you Learn?

This eBook will explain the benefits of moving from feature-focused, specifications-rich tactics to adopting a more buyer-centric approach.

 

Along the way, you’ll learn how to think about these areas from a strategic perspective and discover new tactics you can employ to help design a customer experience that drives increased engagement and revenue.

 

It covers:

  • A New Approach to Marketing
  • The Buyer Persona Development Process              
  • Common Mistakes with Buyer Personas
  • Customer Journey Planning
  • Designing the Ultimate Customer Journey              

And a whole lot more!

 

If you go to all the hard work to develop these critical strategic assets don’t just relegate them to annual planning notebooks or seldom-used PowerPoints. Every time you’re working on messaging, updating content or building out campaign strategy, use what you have developed. Refer to your buyer persona documents and customer journey maps to help you remain on point.

 

Periodically conduct more interviews to refine what you’ve developed and keep customer focus at the forefront. At every planning meeting, ask yourself and your colleagues, “What would our buyer want?” or “What does our research indicate that we should do?”

 

Consider performing annual content audits to help ensure you have materials to engage contacts at the different points in the customer journey – and via the channels through which your contacts prefer to interact with you at these moments.

 

Finally, monitor your analytics tools for changes in the customer journey that may arise over time.

Taken seriously throughout your company, the process of developing buyer personas and mapping

the customer journey will go a long way toward designing an improved customer experience – and propelling your team to new levels of success.

 

To get your copy follow the link below:

 

small business marketing

Tags: b2b small business marketing, small business marketing strategy, small business marketing trends, small business content

How to Build an B2B Online Marketing Community

Posted by frank harris on 18/10/18 10:12

b2b online marketing communityWhat differentiates you from your B2B online marketing competition? Your product and its features? The relationships you build with your clients? I think that every category has, somehow, become commoditised.

 

When you produce an innovative product, it isn’t long before your competition catches up. This leaves little for the customer to base buying decisions on apart from perceived value.

 

Also, there’s a lot content out there. Marketers are pouring more and more into content strategies, but most of the time they simply add to the content which most consumers are becoming more accustomed and immune to.

The Challenge?

If traditional marketing is old hat, how do we create a unique positioning to become the go-to supplier for our products and get a step ahead of the competition?

 

You can do it with excellent customer service and great retention strategies, but the best ways are through emotional and psychological bonds marketers can build by creating a sense of community.

 

Marketers have now realised that it’s possible to build a flourishing B2B online marketing community around values and beliefs which initially attracted them to your brand.

Why should marketers build a community around their products and brand?

  1. To Increase Perceived Value - When you increase the perceived value of your product, you increase the actual value.
  2. To Create a Content Experience - If someone visits your website and then returns on a mobile or tablet, can you identify them?
  3. To Move to The Next Stage in the Customer JourneyDespite GDPR, we’ll still give our email addresses in exchange for value. But creating an experience is key to delivering a deeper level of engagement. Marketers should build a destination so that prospects feel like they belong to a thriving community where people share their values.

What is a B2B Online Marketing Community?

The popularity of LinkedIn groups and email for discussing industry interests show that people value coming together with others in different ways. These groups are based on shared interests, values, and a desire to share content they feel is relevant to them.

 

People like asking for advice, and develop camaraderie knowing that there are people with similar experiences facing similar challenges. Thus, they build long term loyalty and trust.

 

But size isn’t always important. A micro-community with only a small number of members can be very successful if it has the right audience that is engaged.

 

How to create communities

  1. Identify your Customers

It’s important to know who your personas are. Beside demographic information age, income, and occupation, understand their lifestyles, attitudes, and beliefs. Develop your buyer personas - fictional profiles of the people who you want to sell to. They help you understand their point of view and the problems they need solving.

  1. Your Values

Besides knowing what makes your customers tick, it’s essential to understand your company’s values. An established company has developed values over time, and even a start-up has an idea of how to do things. However, values may not be explicit. Putting them into words is a good way to get them crystal clear.

  1. A Sense of Belonging

When you know your values, use them to create a sense of belonging by showing your personas how they relate to their worldview. They may not appeal to everyone, but that doesn’t matter as it can be helpful to alienate some people to strengthen the community’s sense of belonging.

  1. Opting in

Creating a shared purpose brings your customers closer. You can communicate messages using quality content e.g. online blogs, videos and articles. While some content should be freely available, customers must opt in to your community to access others.

 

Opting in is not onerous - just means providing a name, email address and perhaps signing up to your newsletter. Quality content that helps personas solve a problem is the key to encouraging them to opt in.

  1. Logging In

Logging in is a step up from opting in. People log in to access services like Facebook and Netflix - and it indicates they highly value the experience.

 

From a marketing perspective, it’s useful when customers log in because you gain more valuable data and can track people across different devices and anticipate where they’ll go and what they’ll do next. 

  1. Experience and Engagement

Once logged in, people need to feel they are getting value from the experience. They’ll return and make a long-term investment of their time in the community.

 

When developing a community, quality Not quantity is key. It’s better to have 100 members who regularly log in and contribute, than 1,000 occasionally.  Recruiting a community manager can initiate conversations, draw attention to relevant content, and introduce new members.

  1. Monetisation

Your community’s developed, your customers know and trust your brand, and share an outlook. So, you now know more about your potential customers and have an effective channel for sharing new developments with them.

 

Content develops the conversation. Don’t push too much sales information on the community immediately. It’s important to keep using great content to develop discussions, so your customers feel they are getting value. Once they trust you, they will like you, and your brand will come to mind when they have a problem to solve.

Conclusion

Brands need ongoing engagement, a way to continue the community conversation to build advocacy, engagement, and lifetime value.  You can communicate with prospects at different stages of their life cycle and promote the right content, at the right time, and in the right context - and to the right people. For more on developing content follow the link below:

 

content marketing for small business

Tags: b2b marketing agency, small business internet marketing services, b2b small business marketing, b2b online marketing, b2b customers, small business marketing strategy, b2b customer experience

Internet marketing tips for small businesses: 5 Questions on Content Marketing

Posted by frank harris on 21/08/18 15:19

small business content marketing 0718The small business content marketing gold rush doesn’t seem to be slowing, and articles advising brands they need to jump on the bandwagon continue to plague the internet like timeshare salesmen in 1970s Spain. 

 

But does your brand really need content marketing? 

 

Maybe. Personally, I’m pro-content, but I also don’t believe enough thought goes into why and how brands are doing it. 

 

If you’re currently planning or re-evaluating your small business content marketing efforts, you could save yourself a lot of wasted time and effort by using these internet marketing tips for small businesses to answer these five questions on content marketing first.

1. Why are you doing it?

In marketing or any other fast-moving industry there is a tendency for fear to trump logic. The idea being that if your competitors are doing something then you ought to be too. 

 

Nobody wants to be like those poor brands who saw the value in social media five years too late. 

 

But content marketing requires an enormous amount of investment – time, effort, money, resource – to do well.

 

So rather than saying brands shouldn’t do it at all I’m simply suggesting it needs to be for the right reasons, i.e. not a vanity project but something your customers want or need. 

 

But this question is about more than that. What are you hoping to achieve as a business by investing in content marketing? 

 

We all know the standard answers: brand awareness, building credibility, generating leads, and so on. 

 

Those reasons are fine, but you need to work out what you want your specific business to achieve through content marketing because that will ultimately help you determine whether it’s right for your company and, if it is, what your content strategy should look like.

 

The vast majority (88%) of B2B businesses currently use content marketing, yet only 32% have a documented strategy.  

 

These statistics suggest to me that most brands have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to content marketing, yet they’re ploughing on regardless. 

2. Who are your customers?

I’m not talking about their age, location, occupation, etc. If you don’t know that then content is the least of your worries. 

 

Who are your personas? What makes them tick? Which publications do they subscribe to? What specific articles are they reading? What problems do they face on a day-to-day basis ad which brands are already helping them solve those problems?

 

There are a number of tools you can use to find this kind of information. Here are a few to get you started:  

  • Buzzsumo – analyse a competitor’s best-performing content and see trends around specific keywords for all websites in your industry.
  • Google Keyword Planner – find out what people in your industry are searching for.
  • Google Trends – see how different keywords have performed over time.

Or you could collect first-party data and build your personas to give you a starting point from which to work. 

 

Personas made up of first-party data are perhaps the most accurate and effective way to find out about your customers, but also the most time/budget-consuming. 

3. What do they want?

Small business content marketing, contrary to what some misinformed people will tell you, is not the same as advertising. 

 

With advertising you are directly prompting somebody to take a specific action, and you pay to put that message in front of a pre-existing audience. 

 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t include calls to action within you content, but the theory behind content marketing is that you’re giving your target audience something of value in return for brand awareness, consumer trust, and so on, ultimately culminating in increased sales. 

 

Take this blog as an example. My customers – as in the ones who actually sign up for subscriptions, download reports, buy training – are small local, mainly B2B businesses.

 

Because I am also a small business I can answer their problems through posts like this. 

 

The best part is that if you truly understand the challenges people face in your industry and produce posts that help them overcome those challenges, there’s a good chance those posts will become evergreen and show up in the SERPs for years to come.

 

The cost of not really understanding what your customers want from content? Well, they’ll simply ignore you. 

4. Which medium?

Almost half (45%) of small businesses say blogging is the most important part of their content strategy and 69% said they were planning to increase their use of blogging in 2018. 

 

I’ll wager a good percentage of those are doing it because it feels like the right thing to do rather than because they’ve done their homework and discovered that’s how their specific customers want to consume content. 

 

Every brand wants to be a publisher these days, and most seem to assume that automatically means editorial content. 

 

There are an incredible number of mediums out there now, from imagery to video as well as live-streaming.

Video for example, accounts for over 50% of all online mobile traffic now, 78% of people watch videos online every week and 55% every day. 

 

How-to guides, for example, are often best-served via video. Or at least with plenty of imagery to show visual examples. 

 

But what if your personas prefer reading long-form written guides and don't care for visuals? What if they like text but in short, snappy soundbites they can read on the move? 

 

The mix of mediums you use should depend entirely on their suitability to your messages and your personas’ preferences. 

5. How are you going to measure success?

As small business content marketing success is difficult to measure is both a blessing and a curse, i.e. it’s hard to either prove or disprove that it’s contributing to the company’s revenue. 

 

In Optimax’s case we can see how many people come into the blog from Google, social, wherever, click on a link to a report or something similar.

 

But beyond traffic there are other things you can measure, and this links back to the first question: why you’re doing it. 

 

If you want to grow your social media community, for example, then you might measure social follower growth and engagement over time.

 

If it grows significantly after beginning your content campaign, it’s fair to assume you’ve succeeded. 

But you cannot answer the question of how to measure success until you have answered the first question in this post.

To recap…

  • Why are you doing it?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What do they want?
  • Which medium?
  • How are you going to measure success?

When you’ve answered those five questions, in that order, you’ll know whether small business content marketing is right for your brand and, if it is, you’ll have a much better idea of how to go about creating a content strategy that will actually produce results. 

 

For more help on this, follow the link below:

 

content marketing

Tags: content marketing, b2b small business marketing, b2b content marketing, small business content marketing, small business goals, small business marketing strategy

What is Omnichannel Marketing and why should we be doing it?

Posted by frank harris on 08/08/18 10:42

omnichannel marketingIn a world where acronyms and buzzwords abound, it can sometimes be easier to assume a term’s meaning

than clarify it.

 

Marketers, and sales, in the world of internet marketing for small business, are talking omnichannel marketing, multichannel, cross channel and single channel, and chances are that not everyone’s on the same page.

 

Omnichannel is only a very distant relation of single channel and multichannel: they are not all one and the same. While multichannel’s about reaching out to your customers on multiple devices and platforms, for example, omnichannel takes this to the next level: its focus is providing a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device.

 

And then you’ve got cross-channel, which encourages the user to migrate from one channel to another: it’s a step behind multichannel, where each channel often has its own defined strategy and is managed separately.

 

Despite the difference in meanings, many marketers out there think they’re doing omnichannel when they’re doing cross-channel; the widely misused funnel metaphor is partly to blame here, with many B2B companies still hung up on the idea that customer behaviour can and should be mapped to the funnel in a completely linear way. This, in turn, impacts their wider channel approach.

 

A recent Sitecore survey pinpointed exactly where B2B marketers are on their omnichannel journey; it found that although 41% of 211 respondents rated their understanding of omnichannel as very strong, the real meaning of the term seems rather open to interpretation: only 29% had an agreed upon definition within their organisation.

Putting the customer at the heart of your business

Omnichannel marketing success is all about making sure your customer, on any given day or week, sees consistency across every output – if they visit your website or Facebook page, receive an email or see an ad (print, banner or retargeted), each talks the same language and drives home the same message.

 

Put simply, the brand focus at that time acts as the unifying strand linking each channel’s output. Omnichannel requires every touchpoint on the customer journey to be in sync – everything from channels, content and campaign management to marketing automation, data analytics and CRM.

 

Many marketers can only dream of delivering an almost ‘custom made’ experience to their customers. But omnichannel success revolves around thinking holistically about the customer, and making sure every touchpoint – online and offline – is aligned.

 

The challenge arises when you use channels in isolation (think website, social media, emails, mobile apps,

print ads and physical stores); with disparate channels it becomes harder to track the customer journey and provide that seamless experience every ambitious B2B marketer is looking for.

Why should you be doing Omnichannel marketing?

The benefits of omnichannel are quite compelling – customer loyalty, affection, and satisfaction to name but three.

 

A recent Forrester report revealed 75% of B2B buyers around the world would buy again from a supplier with good omnichannel capabilities, which says it all. Customers today have an incredible amount of choice, and are more informed and empowered than ever before. Their experience with a brand is the number one driver of whether they’ll do business with that brand again or instead choose a competitor – and a successful omnichannel approach can have a big impact on that decision.

 

Looking to B2B marketing, very few brands are excelling in omnichannel – something reflected in research,

which revealed only 19% of B2B marketers see it as a priority, with 28% describing their approach as ineffective.

 

This is the exact reason why taking a more strategic approach will be a big differentiator for marketers in the future. While B2C might have invented the term, many marketers will argue that B2B is far better placed to make omnichannel happen – partly because of B2B marketers’ proximity to customer data and their experience with CRM.

 

When it comes to implementing an omnichannel approach, B2B marketers have got a lot to lose by

failing to get on board. Customers’ expectations of B2B brands are rapidly evolving – thanks in part to their experiences as consumers – and omnichannel isn’t so much a ‘nice to do’ but a top priority.

 

Reading this article one word important to omnichannel marketing sticks out – CRM. Do you have one? Do you understand the basics? If not then to get your omnichannel marketing ticking smoothly get the eBook from the link below that contains some great internet marketing tips for small business:

 

Nurturing Leads in  Small Business Marketing 

Tags: b2b marketing consultants, b2b marketing, b2b online marketing, small business marketing strategy, omnichannel marketing

3 New Small Business Marketing Trends to Master in 2018

Posted by frank harris on 23/07/18 10:35

online marketing 0618The challenge of delivering relevant, consistent, and memorable customer experiences has shaped the small business marketing industry today. Marketers are charged with meeting each customer at the right moment with content that speaks to their behaviours, motivations, and interests. To achieve this type of connectivity, marketers need to stay one step ahead by:

 

 

  1. Maximising the value of technology
  2. Harnessing the power of real-time data
  3. Building trust with customers
  1. Maximising the value from technology investments

Because technology powers interactions at nearly every touchpoint along the customer journey, those in small business marketing must strive to use each platform to maximum effect.

 

Integrated systems are vital not only for syncing data but for delivering a consistent and cohesive brand message.

 

Integrations create efficiencies and improve team collaboration by enabling data to be shared across systems. Integrated systems also help us build campaigns, analyse results, and anticipate customer needs in real time.  Ultimately, system integrations save time and money and can give marketers a competitive edge.

 

The marketing technology business has experienced remarkable growth in the past years, with the number of tools available to an all-time high – over 5,300! However, the sheer volume of options can make it challenging to select the best solutions and then connect them all together.

 

In the coming years, marketers need to carefully assess the marketing technology landscape and leverage the power of their existing solutions before investing in the next shiny object. They also need to evaluate how new technologies can help achieve their defined business goals and improve the overall customer experience.

  1. Harnessing data to deliver personalised content

Personalisation – the tailoring of offers and messages to individuals based on their tastes and behaviours – can have a significant impact on the success of marketing campaigns.

 

Thanks to the volume of consumer data available to marketers today, it’s possible to connect with buyers and customers at the right time with the right message and drive higher rates of engagement and conversion.

 

Data flows from a variety of sources and is often captured in real time. Click-rates, social media activity, purchase history, location information, and smartphone input each provide clues that help small business marketers anticipate the needs of their customers or customer segments.

 

But delivering a one-to-one experience at scale – to a variety of customer types across the journey – is a challenge. It requires a robust technical infrastructure for collecting, storing, and aggregating data, which then needs to be shared across an organisation in actionable ways. As Peter Reinhardt, CEO of Segment observed, “Turning around and activating those insights in an optimized, channel-agnostic manner is the holy grail of marketing.”

 

Having processes in place to make use of data is critical to scaling personalisation. After all, there’s

no point gathering consumer data if you’re not equipped to do something with it.

 

The marketers who embrace a collaborative, data-driven approach across the business – focused on using facts and evidence to drive revenue growth – will be the ones to create effective and impactful

one-to-one marketing experiences.

  1. Building customer trust

The Edelman Trust Barometer runs a global survey gauging trust in business, media, government, and non-government organisations. For the first time in its 17-year history, the study found a decline in trust across all four areas. 48% of respondents don’t trust businesses to do what’s right, and 63% find CEOs not at all or only somewhat credible — up 12% from the previous year. According to Edelman, these results demonstrate an “implosion of trust.”

 

Forrester reports that companies delivering experiences rooted in the corporate values they’re genuinely committed to — like Apple, Muji, and Aesop — will earn more respect, recognition, and profits than companies that don’t. These companies achieve remarkable business success because of the way they live their values.

 

And companies that realise they can deliver better experiences by focusing in the unique needs of specific customer segments will excel. As one-to-one marketing quickly becomes one-to-moment marketing, marketers must have an intimate understanding of their customers’ needs. Brands trying to cater to everyone will struggle to deliver meaningful experiences to anyone.

 

Finally, companies will win customer trust by providing exceptional service. The shift from “just selling” to customer success management has never been more critical for building real connections with consumers and delivering reliable and trustworthy experiences. The person is key to personalisation. Despite the increase of digital tools and trends across nearly all aspects of our lives, human connections are still vital to building trust.

 

To understand more about the customer journey check out the link below>>>

 

A Guide to PR in  B2B Website Marketing

Tags: small business marketing, customer journey, small business marketing strategy, small business marketing trends

Why use an 'Integrated' Small Business Marketing platform?

Posted by Jill Harris on 22/07/18 16:04

integrated small business marketingWe're asked this quite often. Many people involved in small business marketing, we talk to, are looking to update their website. So why should they invest in an integrated marketing platform rather than go down the traditional route of separate website, CRM system, email marketing platform, blogging system and social media posting platform?

 

The answer lies in the information 'flows' within your organisation. Where is data generated and what could you do with it given the right tools?

Where does your data come from?

Information about your leads has traditionally been captured by people within your company and this has often been the justification for a CRM system. A single system into which sales, marketing and other employees can capture information about leads and about customers.

The Internet however opens up a whole lot of new sources of information about your leads, much of which is hard or impossible to capture manually:

    • Visits to your web site by contacts and the pages they have viewed
    • Social media interactions with contacts
    • Email engagement - emails opened and links clicked
    • On-line forms completed and whitepapers downloaded

This is a lot of data that a CRM system won't be able to record or that will be recorded in an often fairly cumbersome way.

What can the data be used for?

Where is all this information going? How is it going to be used? Sales people want to select the most promising leads, management will want an overall view of the sales funnel, support people will want to view a customer's history, a small business marketing person would like to know the effectiveness of their campaigns.

 

Many of the people using the available information will in turn add additional data into the system. When a sales person calls a promising lead they will record the success or otherwise and schedule follow up actions.

As well as 'people', software can 'analyse' this information and do things that were previously not possible or practical.

 

Lead scoring as a means of identifying the most promising leads is a good example. A lead scoring system takes what's known about a contact and automatically generates a 'score' for that contact. The more information available the better the ability to accurately rank leads.

 

Personalised campaigns can also be driven by the flow of information. We call these 'stories' and a story is started by a 'trigger', which might be a contact completing an online form or when a lead's score crosses a specific threshold.

 

The story then unfolds at a rate appropriate to that individual and can vary as more information becomes available. These 'automated campaigns' take inputs from CRM systems, web sites, email tools and can generate 'actions' which might include: sending follow-up emails; logging a CRM sales call; adding the contact to a new list; increasing or decreasing the contacts 'score'.

Data flows

In an environment without an integrated solution you may be implementing different functions through different systems:

  • your web-site running on a CMS (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento…)
  • contacts managed through a CRM (Salesforce, SugarCRM, Microsoft Dynamics…)
  • marketing email sent through a bulk mailer (MailChimp…)
  • sales emails to individuals are sent through the CRM system or through Outlook
  • articles managed with a blogging platform (Blogger or WordPress)
  • lead scoring handled by the CRM, limited to the information stored by or visible to that CRM system
  • automation?
  • on-line lead tracking and analytics?

This gives a set of discrete functions that either:

  1. don't communicate
  2. have nothing worth communicating
  3. have limited ability to communicate

It's very much like taking pieces from different jigsaws and hammering them together to make a picture. There will be gaps between the pieces and whole sections are likely to be missing.

 

Most CMS and blogging systems have no tracking information that can identify returning contacts so have little or nothing to add to the data. There may be integration between the mailer and the CRM system to automatically synchronise address lists and opt-out requests and sometimes more.

 

The picture below shows some of the data and control flows that we'd ideally like between people and systems within a company:

 

marketing automation flow chart

 

As an example of the scope of these flows I've highlighted in red those that could benefit lead scoring. Significant events might include:

  • clicking on links in emails
  • visiting specific pages on the web site (for example the prices page)
  • completing call to action forms such as downloading a whitepaper
  • your sales team receiving a call
  • your sales team making a call
  • receiving an email from a contact to your sales team
  • reaching the end of a personalised email story

Trying to integrate this information effectively across multiple systems is not trivial.

To take a simple example:

  • marketing: generating content and distributing this on the organisations own site and on third party sites
  • marketing: using the content to drive an email marketing campaign
  • lead scoring factors in email clicks, article reads, views of specific pages
  • articles and emails contain a 'call to action' leading to a landing page with a form
  • when the form is completed it adjusts lead scoring, emails the contact and creates a contact report in the CRM
  • when the calculated score for a lead exceeds a certain threshold a CRM 'sales call' task be scheduled

Putting a number of these functions into a single system allows these data flows to happen seamlessly and to be transparent.

Summary

A company’s processes can be made more effective by allowing information to flow freely and, where possible, automatically to where it's needed. The fewer systems involved in the process the fewer external links that need to be created, the fewer the places for data to get lost and the more optimised and complete the data that's recorded.

 

An 'integrated' marketing platform (really it's an integrated sales and marketing platform) fulfils a number of business functions within a single application enabling some operations that aren't possible with separate systems and making others easier and more intuitive.

 

It is possible and often necessary to integrate data from multiple places but this can create quite an expensive overhead for an organisation. The data available from each platform will not be completely compatible and even with good integration skills the result can often look like a set of ill-fitting jigsaw pieces from which parts can often fall or fail when you upgrade one of the systems.

 

For more on marketing automation follow this link>>

 

Lead Marketing Automation

Tags: small business marketing, small business marketing automation, b2b small business marketing, small business content marketing, small business marketing strategy

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