When it comes to marketing your business online, it can feel overwhelming. The digital space is a crowded one and we are constantly bombarded with free content and brands shouting loudly. With the right strategy in place, however, you can make yourself heard.
Follow my 5 (super simple!) tips to reach your audience online without hiring an expert.
- Get other people to recommend you
One of the best ways to get new business is via ‘word of mouth’ recommendations and this can be replicated online. Gather testimonials from clients and let them shout about your brand for you. Add the testimonials to your website and turn them into quote graphics to share on social media (Canva is a great tool for this). Also invite clients to review your business on Facebook or give you a LinkedIn recommendation.
If your clients are really busy I would suggest going through past emails and gathering any nice feedback they have sent to you. Pull this together and then send to them asking if they are happy for you to share as a testimonial on your website or social media. I’ve never had a client say “no” to this.
You could take this one step further by offering up some sort of ‘refer a friend’ discount or even inviting customers to become affiliates, if it’s appropriate for your business.
- Start a Facebook group
We all know that it’s now seriously hard to get reach on Facebook. It’s estimated that due to the algorithm only around 10% of your business page followers actually see the posts you share. Facebook groups are not restricted in the same way as standard posts (yet); in fact Facebook are pushing groups, so it’s a great way to talk to your followers and potential customers without being blocked.
Start by inviting everyone who follows your business page to join your Facebook group. Set up some regular threads and show up daily to to drive engagement and get people talking. You can use this space to poll your audience, ask what pain points they have, what content they would like to see from you and even get feedback on new products or services. You then have a very engaged group that you can sell to.
Join some groups that your target customers hang out in and start by just listening – see what common questions and problems are coming up and think about how you could help solve them. Offer up expert advice on any subjects you know about and promote your services (if the group admin allows). This can be a really great way to gain free feedback, network and ultimately get paying customers!
- Offer yourself up as a guest expert
Offer yourself up as a guest blogger to spread the word about your business and what you do. You could also feature as an interviewee or guest on a podcast, video chat or even on a Facebook Live session (if you are feeling brave).
This is a great way to make yourself and your brand more visible and drive traffic to your socials and website. This is what is known as “inbound links” and these help your site to rank higher on Google search results pages. As well as driving visitors to your site, it also gives you great content to share with your social media audience that further proves your expertise. Sharing this sort of content helps to get the conversation started and thus boost engagement. This is essentially what we want from online marketing – a two-way conversation as opposed to just passive sharing of content.
- Harness the power of video
By 2020, online videos will make up more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic (source: Cisco) and businesses that use video in their marketing have 27% higher click-through rates (source: Buffer). Social media platforms favour video over text posts as it keeps their audiences engaged and on their sites longer so if you haven’t already, now is the time to give video a go.
Social video is designed to be a lot more relaxed and “real” so you really can just record a short video on your phone without having to worry about it looking polished or edited. In fact, social media audiences love “raw” behind the scenes type video footage.
If you are new to video it can feel a bit daunting so I would suggest starting off with recording some video for your Instagram stories – it will vanish after 24 hours! Then you could try live video for stories and ease your way into Facebook Lives or IGTV (Instagram’s new video platform).
Not sure what to actually say in these videos? A great way to start is by writing down EVERY question you get asked about your field of expertise or your business. Then use these questions or misconceptions as the basis for your videos.
- Grow your email list
Social media is really great when it comes to marketing your brand but one of the downsides is that you don’t ‘own’ any of your content or (most importantly) your contacts. If Facebook or Instagram decides to close down your account one day then guess what? You lose your audience! So, make sure you are driving people to sign up to your email list too.
You can use your social media accounts to direct people to sign up to your email list, Include a newsletter sign up on your email footer (WiseStamp is a great tool for doing this) and even offer a freebie or “opt in” as a way to gather people’s email addresses. You could offer up a free “how to” pdf download, access to a free webinar or an email course and ask people to provide their email address in order to receive it. Just be really clear on your communication what emails people can expect to receive from you.
Article originally posted here: https://www.lightswitchbrand.co.uk/single-post/2018/07/19/GUEST-POST-5-easy-ways-to-market-your-business-online
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – one of the great mysteries of the modern world.
As a specialist in this subject I get asked a lot of questions on the subject from “what do the letters SEO actually stand for?” right through to “how can I source the best keywords in my niche?”. The broad range of these questions signifies to me that there is a fundamental miss-understanding of what SEO is and a belief that its very complicated and difficult to implement.
I will be the first person to say that SEO is time consuming and getting it right involves focus and commitment, equally it is something that everyone that has a website can understand and work towards improving themselves.
Here are the 10 most useful things I have learned about SEO….
1. Search Engines work just like our own brains.
All of us do it – when we see a stranger in the street we make assumptions about their lifestyle. If I see a person who has tattoos, is wearing ripped jeans and has purple hair I will draw conclusions such as they like rock music or they work in a creative industry. I might be wrong, but you can see why I would think these things. This is EXACTLY how search engines work. They draw conclusions about our websites based on their design and content. Optimising a website is very similar to choosing an appropriate outfit for the day ahead.
2. There is no “one thing” you can do to improve your websites SEO.
This point is often met with disappointment. There is no one single action we can take to improve SEO, just like the example I used in point 1, there isn’t one thing that people do or wear that make us drawn conclusions about them, its a number of things brought together for one common outcome.
3. SEO is relevant to every aspect of your website.
Search engines do not publish the criteria that they add to the algorithm’s that make the decisions about website ranking, this ensures we focus on creating good quality websites and content as opposed to just following the rules of SEO. Therefore you need to consider SEO in every aspect of your site, for example choose fonts that are easy to read, make sure all your links are working and that your contact details are easily accessible, every single thing that makes the quality of your website better improves its reputation in the eyes of a search engine.
4. You must understand clearly what keywords are.
Keywords are the words that we type into search engines when we want to find things. If we want to buy glitter we type “glitter” into a search engine and lots of websites that are selling glitter come up. Glitter is a great keyword to use if you are a glitter manufacturer. Include keywords in the text of your website to tell search engines what your website is about and that will help it suggest you to people who want what you’ve got!
5. You can (and should) research your own keywords.
Because there is a lot of competition for certain keywords its useful to try and find a balance between using popular words, that get a lot of traffic but equally have a lot of competition, and less popular words that get less traffic but therefore have fewer websites using them. My mantra is that nobody knows your business better than you. So, whilst there is value in getting a professional to source keywords for you, if you know your target audience and industry well you are best placed to try and second guess what the people that would find your website useful are typing into a search engine.
To go back to my glitter analogy, you might sell “bio degradable glitter”, “body art glitter”, “metallic glitter” or “holographic glitter”…I imagine at the moment there are 100’s of different types of glitter, someone who actually runs a glitter based business is going to be much better placed to name them all than someone who specialises in SEO, and each one is a relevant keyword.
6. Search engines do not decide the value of keywords, we do.
It’s a common misconception that search engines are the ones who control the value or popularity of keywords. Not true. We do. “The Rolling Stones” is a very popular and therefore valuable key phrase, if you wanted to knock rollingstones.com off the top of the search engine results you would need to go back to 1962 and start your own band with the same name and emulate Mick, Keith, Charlie and [insert guitarist here]’s success. Google hasn’t decided The Stones are popular, we have and we are showing it by typing “The Rolling Stones” into search engines millions of times a day.
7. Don’t repeat yourself.
Original and relevant content. Arguably the most important aspect of SEO and when search engines say “original” they really mean it. Search engines are bored easily and if they see the same thing twice or more they stop considering it to be relevant. If you write a guest blog for another site do not publish it on your’s, or if you need to write a bio about yourself to add to an online network write a new one, don’t copy and paste the one you have onto your own website, these are both big SEO black marks.
8. Some rules of SEO contradict each other.
The perfect website in terms of SEO doesn’t exist. One example of this is “keyword stuffing”. This is when we use too many keywords on a site or page. As a rule, using a keyword more than 3 or 4 times on an average web page is best avoided. However, when you consider that you need to use keywords in image titles, links and text and these words need to relate to each other it can become tricky to get the balance right and some of the things you might do to create balance may cause other SEO problems. This is just something we have to live with.
9. Build links.
SEO is somewhat a popularity contest and websites that are shared on other sites do well, it’s almost like a thumbs up to a search engine that if your site has been featured by another its “ok”. Get digitally social and share your website and feature others on yours.
10. Share your knowledge.
Blogging is great. Rumours that the internet is “full” or nobody will be interested in the knowledge you have to share in untrue. If your website has a lot of useful and original information (remember, we are all different so original can simply mean your opinion or experience of a very popular subject) people will want to see it so search engines will want to show it to them.
I hope the information I have shared here is helpful!
Jo Hamlyn is a web designer, web developer and SEO specialist based in West London.
I’m going to open this post by talking about what branding is. When I mention that I work on branding for businesses, I’m most commonly met with the reaction that I must be a graphic designer since a lot of people equate a brand with a logo. I’m not a graphic designer (although I do sometimes help clients with the visual aspects of their branding).
Branding today is about every way that you present your business to the world – so whilst that incorporates your logo, it’s not only that. It’s the way in which you set out not only what your business does, but also how and why it does it.
Very few businesses are entirely unique in their fields, but the best brands tell a compelling, authentic and unique story, which enables them to stand apart from their competitors and make emotional connections with their audiences.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? So why then, do so many businesses overlook the branding process? I’m going to share the two most common reasons with you so you can steer clear of the same traps and get a head start for your business.
1. Lack of understanding
Branding is often misconstrued as a visual gloss to add on at the end of the launch process for new businesses; so a nice logo or pretty colour palette. But what about the brand story?
Let’s consider for a moment you’re planning to launch a new luxury clothing business. You’ve set up the production process, sourced the finest fabrics and most renowned designers and makers. You’ve invested in an all-singing website and set up your social media channels. Launch day is approaching and both energy levels and budgets are starting to run low. You remember that someone mentioned the importance of branding but you think, “I’ll get to that once the launch is out of the way.”
Launch day arrives but you realise you’re struggling to articulate everything you wanted to get across about the dream business you envisioned some months or years ago. You’re putting information out but it’s failing to hit the spot and the people you wanted to reach are not moved to buy. You look around and see your competitors doing a better job but you just can’t explain why.
The missing piece of the puzzle is branding. Your lack of understanding of its importance meant it fell out of the process at a crucial time instead of underpinning your launch.
A well-crafted brand story is based upon the very foundations of your business, its vision, mission and values. This is what makes it both unique and authentic; a story that sticks and resonates with people rather than one that falls flat and feels like a tall tale.
As such, work on your brand story should be started when the business starts to be built. Richard Branson once said “Don’t wait till you are big before you begin building your brand. Build a brand from scratch alongside your business.” Love him or loathe him, he’s done OK.
2. Lack of investment
Let’s go back to the luxury clothing business. You’ve imagined the idea, visualised the designs and worked tirelessly to put all the elements of the business into place. You know you want your products to sell at a premium price point. Are you going to choose the cheapest fabrics to make them to save as much money as possible? I would assume not, since you want your clothes to make the right lasting impression and your business to have a good reputation.
Not investing in your branding will impact your business just as much as not investing in the right materials for your products. When you fail to invest in the aspect of your business that everyone sees and interacts with, you send a subliminal message about a lack of conviction in your own business.
When it comes to crafting a brand message for your business, the upside of investing in this is that the business you’ve created will be supported by a solid and impactful story that can be told and built on for years to come. It will give your business a professional look and feel that will lead your customers or clients to see you as trustworthy and investable.
Branding is the difference between following the crowd and leading the way. It’s the difference between being the top of your game and being an also-ran. It’s as vital a part of launching a business as the products or services you sell.
Scrimp on this vital element and what you create will always struggle to hit the spot, for you and your audience. You’ll either find yourself settling for a business that struggles to reach its full potential or you’ll realise at some point that you need to go back to the drawing board and do the job properly.
We all know the old adage, ‘do it cheap, do it twice’. Don’t let it catch you out when it comes to branding your business.
Lidia Rumley is a brand consultant and the founder of Light Switch Brand Identity, helping businesses to get ‘PR-ready’ with great brand stories.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to digital marketing as there are so many channels and so much content already out there to compete with. Unless you are a “super brand” with an enormous budget it is impossible to appear everywhere. Follow these 5 steps and feel totally focused on where your brand should be…..
1. Set your goals
Firstly, ask yourself the question “What is the ONE main outcome I want from my digital marketing plan? Use this to define your mission.
Next, set your goals and be really specific about what you want to achieve. The best way to do this is by making sure your goals are SMART.….
So rather than just saying “generate more traffic”, the goal could be “generate 20% more UVs (unique visitors) to the website from facebook ads in 3 months”.
2. Carry out an audit of your current marketing activity
There is no point setting your future strategy without looking at what is already working and also learning from your mistakes. Take a set period of time, say the last 3 months, and plot performance on a spreadsheet to clearly see which channels are performing best. Use these learnings to set clear and realistic KPIs.
and what your competitors are doing….
Are they using a marketing channel you are not active on? Are they sharing content at completely different times of day to you? Are they using different keywords to you? (SEMrush is a great tool for tracking this) Then it might be worth testing similar options out in your marketing plan.
3. Find out where your customers are…
It is crucial to Identify where your potential customers are hanging out as you do not need to be everywhere. If you are a postnatal yoga instructor, for example, then it’s unlikely that your target mums are going to be seeking post natal fitness tips and support on linkedin.
4. Be realistic about your budget and resources
On a limited budget in a competitive marketplace PPC (pay per click) advertising on google is not going to be an option. Instead focus your efforts on organically growing traffic to your site (SEO) and Social media which is free.
Likewise, hiring a photographer and designer is not going to be possible on a modest Startup budget so take advantage of cheap online resources instead. Get a logo designed on Fiverr, use Canva to create free social media assets and download high quality free stock images from sites such as Unsplash, kaboompics and Pixabay
If you don’t have a dedicated team member to manage your digital marketing or much time yourself then you are unlikely to have time to keep a blog regularly updated. Instead, share carefully curated content – using Feedly is a great way to gather relevant articles to share.
5. Accept this is not a final plan
The only way you can understand what works for your brand and audience is to Test, test and test some more! There is no right or wrong when it comes to what imagery to use or what time of day to post so just get testing and see what works for your brand.
If one channel isn’t working, isolate the issue and do some more testing. If it still doesn’t work then focus your energy elsewhere. If one channel is outperforming all others then pour more time and budget into it. See your digital marketing plan just like the digital space – unpredictable and ever evolving!
Need some help defining (or redefining) your strategy? Get in touch to find out more about our 90 minute kick start digital strategy session.
Original article published here: http://thewern.com/define-digital-strategy-5-simple-steps/