13 Ways to Boost Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn

We’re all familiar with branding our business, but what about branding ourselves?

The past 18 months have been a turning point for many business leaders. No longer interacting at trade fairs and conferences, CEOs suddenly had a laser-sharp focus on their personal brand – and how that was represented online.

Working on your personal brand is an excellent idea if your offline reputation took a hit due to the pandemic. It helps sell and market you and offers a human element to your business. LinkedIn is by far the best platform for establishing your brand, but with so many people brand building, how do you get it right without getting lost in the sea of content?

A good strategy is essential, so here are our top 13 tips to start brand-building.

Getting the Basics Right

To start thinking about your personal brand, begin with the basics. Once you nail these elements, you can go on to think about content and outreach, but it all starts here.

  1. Remember – LinkedIn is your Living CV

Your LinkedIn profile is not something you fill out one day and then walk away from. Instead, it’s a living, breathing record of your achievements and career successes. So the first thing to remember when trying to ace your personal brand is to keep your profile updated – whenever you make a career move, speak at a conference or publish an article.

  1. Optimise Your Profile for Search

Did you know you can optimise your LinkedIn page for SEO?

Understanding your relevant keywords is a crucial aspect of understanding your personal brand. Determine the keywords you want to be found for when potential clients of employers search LinkedIn and use them in your headline, summary, and job descriptions. All the work you do to optimise your profile will be lost if you don’t choose the right keywords, as no one will discover your profile.

  1. Sell Yourself

Just as you would when talking about your business, it’s essential to sell yourself in your description. Again, be specific – include facts and figures to demonstrate your accomplishments, but keep it concise and to the point.

  1. Choose the Right Profile Photo

As with any branding, images are key. When people are skimming through your profile, the first thing they will spot is your profile photo, so it’s essential that the picture represents your brand.

Ensure your photo includes a clear view of your face and shoulders and is clear, crisp, and well-lit. You should be dressed professionally, and remember, a smile goes a long way!

  1. Don’t Forget Your Cover Photo

LinkedIn cover photos are another opportunity for you to shape your personal brand, so be sure to take advantage of this feature. Consider including your company’s logo or an image that reflects your profession. We’ve seen some great examples of company pages that include a CTA in the banner to engage visitors further.

  1. Make Your Headline Count

LinkedIn profile headlines are limited to 120 characters, so you need to get creative to make this prime real estate as effective as possible. Your headline needs to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to stick around. Once you’ve chosen your headline, test it on a mobile device too to make sure it works across devices.

Think Content

Now we’ve got the basics sorted, let’s take a look at how content can help shape your brand on LinkedIn.

  1. Write Articles

To have a chance of standing out in the crowded field of LinkedIn, you need to be creating your rich content. We know you’ve heard this over and over – that’s because it’s one of the best ways to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and develop your brand on LinkedIn.

Most companies are sitting on a goldmine of information and data that would be interesting to your customers and/or peers; creating content is just about getting that information out there.

Even if you have a blog on your website, publishing on LinkedIn has specific advantages. All your connections get notified whenever you publish on the network, and you can choose to feature these articles on your LinkedIn profile.

  1. Create Brilliant and Diverse Content

The thing that will differentiate you from everyone else on LinkedIn is providing exceptional content that people simply cannot resist. Try to ensure this content is a diverse mix that represents all sides of your personal brand – videos, infographics, free ebooks, and live webinars are all great ideas.

  1. Reshare your top-performing posts

Keep a close eye on what posts perform best, and repurpose or reuse that content. They resonated with your audience, so take your own lead and let them inspire other content, and reshare those super-successful posts to get more traction.

Your Network
  1. Leverage Industry Influencers

Influencers are crucial to your personal brand – establishing relationships with influencers in your industry by mentioning them in posts can help boost your visibility on LinkedIn and affirm your personal brand for other users.

  1. Participate in Groups

LinkedIn groups are a powerful resource, especially as you develop your personal brand. Groups allow you to meet and mingle with other professionals in your industry and offer the potential of powerful connections and working relationships down the line.

There’s one crucial part to being part of these groups: participation. Comment, share content, offer advice and start conversation threads – this kind of engagement will mean you reap a lot more of the benefits of groups than if you sit on the sidelines.

  1. Keep an Eye on Connections

A huge part of LinkedIn is making and maintaining connections. Accept all requests that come in, even if you don’t know the person. The more connections you have, the higher LinkedIn will rank you, and the more others will see your profile.

  1. Engage

Crucially, you must continue to engage with LinkedIn for it to be an up-to-date authority on you and your personal brand. So regularly post, share, engage and keep your profile up to date. The more present you are, the more benefits you will get from the network.

LinkedIn is one of the most critical networks for personal branding; it’s a powerhouse tool to have at your fingertips, so we hope these strategies help you to make the most of personal branding on LinkedIn.

Top Tips on Utilising Email Marketing and LinkedIn for SMEs

In our hyper-digital world, there are a handful of essential digital marketing outputs that every business must embrace.

Even the smallest of SMEs can benefit from a solid digital presence, so we’d thought we’d do a rundown of two of the most important platforms out there – email marketing and LinkedIn.

We often hear that SME leaders assume that these tools are suited to the big firms, but no matter the size or industry of your business, both email marketing and LinkedIn can help you foster better client relationships, help establish your brand, and develop your customer base. Firstly, let’s take a look at how email marketing can work wonders for your business.

Leveraging Email Marketing for your SME

Email marketing is frequently cited as the most fruitful form of digital marketing – 80% of business professionals consider email a vital aspect of customer retention. Furthermore, when used correctly, email has the potential to deliver the greatest ROI of any marketing channel.

However, inboxes are a battlefield for marketers, so it’s crucial to remember the core strategies that make email marketing effective and ensure you stand out from the crowd.

One of the most important practices to remember with email marketing today is to be as transparent and open as possible with your customers. Generic emails won’t get you far, and an unsolicited approach is not only a violation of GDPR but also a sure-fire way to annoy potential customers.

So, in that spirit, focus on getting customers to subscribe to your newsletters, and build a powerful and robust email list by remembering the following tips.

Timing is everything

The optimum time to send emails will depend on your audience – so take advantage of research available online to get some advice for your firm. The day of the week matters too – Tuesday is reportedly the best day by far.

Provide one clear call to action

Don’t be tempted to fill your campaign with calls to action. Instead, keep things simple – emails with one call to action can increase clicks by 371%. To ensure maximum clickability, keep your call to action between 2 – 4 words and place it near the top of your email.

Keep things personal

Personalised emails have 6x higher transaction rates, so if you’re not already segmenting your audiences, then get to it! However, sending fewer, more relevant emails that recommend products based on past purchases, browsing history or include the recipient’s location can achieve better results than mass mailouts.

Don’t forget to test

Regular testing and measuring will ensure you are staying on top of your evolving customer base. First, find out what devices and email clients your subscribers are using and optimise these formats. Tools like Litmus let you test your email messages on various clients so you can fix any problems that might occur across devices.

Embracing LinkedIn for your SME

Companies of almost any kind can benefit from maintaining a LinkedIn presence, and although it does require a dedicated, platform-specific approach, the stats speak for themselves. In 2020, 94% of marketers were using LinkedIn to publish content; so, if you’ve not embraced LinkedIn yet – now is the time!

First things first, you need to start thinking up some ideas for brilliant content. Here are a few of our favourite ideas:

Publish how-to blogs or list posts

Writing informative articles is a great way to raise your visibility and start conversations on LinkedIn. It demonstrates your industry expertise and positions you as a thought leader. How-to blogs and list posts receive the most attention on LinkedIn and given their easily digestible formatting, it’s easy to see why.

Share industry-adjacent content

The key to LinkedIn articles is to consistently share information that interests your clients. Customers remember smart people who offer up reliable advice, so sharing industry-adjacent content helps keep you top of their minds in the long run.

Create screencast tutorials and presentations

A screencast is simply a video recording of your computer screen accompanied by audio narration. For example, use a PowerPoint presentation or high-quality visuals, and narrate as if you were giving a presentation. Screencasts are one of the most cost-effective techniques for producing video content and are the perfect place to start if you’re camera shy or don’t have a video camera.

Content is king, but it’s not the only thing you need to pay attention to if you’re trying to get a leg up on LinkedIn.

Building your following is a sure-fire way to gain traction on the platform, but you want to make sure those connections are relevant and add value to your network. So read on for our tips.

Add a page link in your email signature

If you’re already emailing someone professionally, it’s likely your page will interest them.

Add the follow company plugin to your website

This drives visitors from your website to your LinkedIn, increasing your reach.

Mention companies and pages in page updates

By mentioning companies with the @ symbol, it’s easier for them to reshare your content in front of your audience. Think about the companies you admire and have solid followings and mention them in your updates.

Keep it up

Post consistently – according to LinkedIn, pages that post daily get twice the member engagement. Try the 3, 2,1 technique to keep your content varied- every week, aim to post three pieces of industry-related content, two pieces of ‘proud’ content (content that makes your employees and followers feel good) and just one piece of product-related content.

Remember to engage promptly – reply, comment and ask questions and keep your business details and photos up to date. Building a community on LinkedIn requires attention.

LinkedIn and email marketing are crucial facets of any company’s digital marketing efforts, whatever size the business is. We hope these tips help you take advantage of these brilliant tools to reach your current and potential customers.

Six Tips to Help Boost Your Company’s Organic Facebook Reach

Facebook marketing has evolved immensely since the inception of the company. Organic reach, the number of people who are shown your posts in their feed, is the lowest it has ever been. Considering all the obstacles, here are six tips to help boost your company’s organic reach.

Promoting products and services solely will hurt more than help — have a diverse range of photos

Since users will be more engaged with variety in your page, it’s best to have varied content, including brand story posts, authority building posts, lead nurture posts, and personal posts. Given that Facebook is a social media platform, it needs to be personalised — it’s important also to include team posts and highlight witty and creative posts. 

As tempting as emojis are, stay away from them unless they add meaning to your post. 

Since they are tiny images, emojis weigh down the post and are less likely to reach a bigger crowd. However, when used in moderation (less is more), they can help. Unfortunately, there are so many rules to emojis and how they can easily hurt the algorithm that it’s almost easier to forego them. 

Love is stronger than like (in more ways than one) 

The love reaction is stronger than the like reaction because it weighs more on the algorithm. So, utilizing thought-provoking posts or bright, happy scenarios can produce a “love” reaction versus a like. Spread the love. 

Bypass the algorithm with Facebook Stories 

Stories float above the algorithm since they aren’t a part of the newsfeed. Stories should be easy to understand but engaging. Showing new products or advice about them is a good start, as well as keeping them personal. 

Start a conversation! 

Facebook, at the end of the day, is a community. Starting a conversation on a post that engages users through humour or curiosity—not manipulation into winning a prize. Drawing them in with interesting ideas will inspire people to comment and share. Using a question sticker or a poll can be one easy click for the user while driving engagement at the same time. 

Less is usually more, especially when it comes to posts per day

In fact, engagement actually decreases when you post too often. It’s best to post between 1-3 times per day, depending on your following. If you have an international audience with a range of time zones, stagger your posts per day to reach out to different audiences.

Want to read more social media tips and insights? Click here.

Here’s Why You Should Be A/B Testing Your Paid Social

Using A/B testing as a marketing strategy is not new. In fact, it was used routinely in the pre-internet era to conduct small tests by direct mail marketers, who would send a tiny fraction of print to their contact lists before committing to the massive cost of printing and mailing a campaign.

Nowadays, the technique is just as important to marketers across the globe who want to refine their content marketing and advertising strategies on the fly. The true beauty of A/B testing in the digital age is its agility – any time you have a hunch, or question-related to your strategy, social testing can be easily implemented, helping support your next steps. 

Whilst there are endless articles online about creating the best social ads, the truth is that the best way to reach your audience will be unique to you. That’s why we’re big advocates for the importance of A/B testing here at Colour Me Social. 

So, we thought we’d compile a guide to starting with A/B testing paid social. Whether you’re trying to secure more clicks and conversions or improve engagement, we’ll show you how to use A/B testing to get great results for paid social ads.

What exactly is A/B testing?

Let’s drill down into the basics.

A/B testing, also known as split testing or conversion optimisation, is the process of running versions of ads that are different from one another in only one aspect. These two versions are then sent to a small percentage of your total audience – half get version A, half get version B. Testing two versions means you can find out which works best – the winning message is determined by success metrics like opens or clicks. Think of it as survival of the fittest. 

It’s a simple concept. However, the countless variations you can build into social ads requires marketers to be very precise. Without precision, you may end up wasting budget and garner no significant insights.

A/B testing can be used to answer key questions about your social ads, helping you identify the strongest messages, the best time of day to post, or the most effective call-to-action.

Getting Started

A/B testing lets the data show you what’s working and what’s not. It’s deeply rooted in your campaign, rather than relying on blanket best practices or other people’s benchmarks. Therefore, before you start running A/B tests, we suggest you get the following five key details down. This work will help you identify the most important areas to focus on when it comes to testing. 

  1. An understanding of the overarching goals of your business
  2. Your current social strategy, including your general goals for each platform
  3. An understanding of your audience for each platform
  4. An overview of your current performance across all channels
  5. Your questions, hunches, feelings and ideas that you want to test

What can you A/B test?

Anything! Well, pretty much. Any variable element of your social media ads can be tested, but let’s take a look at some of the most common elements to test:

Post Text

There are many variations you can try with your headline, post text and description. Just remember the A/B rule – make just one change for each test, otherwise, you won’t know which variation is working. Here are some considerations:

  • Testing a formal approach vs more friendly language is a common A/B test. Think about the tone of voice you use and the words you pick – different phrases and punctuation can hugely impact click rates. 
  • Consider the use of emojis – dependent on your target audience they could be well received or could come across as unprofessional. If your audience is responding well to them, which emojis work best?
  • Other useful tests could include the length of your ad, and the style of the copy itself – which will perform better – a question? A statement? Or perhaps even a statistic?

Layout

Layout variables depend on the platform you are using; some provide a lot of options that are well worth A/B testing. Facebook, for instance, offers multiple ad formats like carousel ads and lead ads. Test these against each other to see which your audience engage with the most. 

Imagery

Photos, graphics, illustrations – we know imagery is important in social ads, but which type will work best for your ad? Does a product image or video perform better? Will GIFs perform better than static images? Will images with brighter colours outperform those with dark colours? There are countless A/B tests you can run with your imagery. 

Audience

This one is a little different – rather than showing variations of your post or ad to similar groups, you show the same advert to different audiences to see which gets a better response.

Test your assumptions, and find out if the persona you imagine matches the results you see when you run ads. Test a sample size by using the filtering characteristics to drill down into your audience, consider:

  • Location
  • Gener
  • Education Level
  • Hobbies
  • Behaviours

How to run an A/B test on social media adverts

Now’s the time to determine which two variants you want to test against each other, and to run your first A/B test.

Step 1: Decide on your goals

Knowing your objective is an essential first step when setting up your campaign. This will help you in planning your budget and in knowing what to test. A vital first step is defining what success means to you. 

Step 2: Choose what to test

Look at your goals and let them guide your decision. Of course, you can (and probably should) run many iteration cycles you can run to find the best ad, so choose your goal with this in mind. For example, if you are optimising for overall impressions, your aim would likely be to get the lowest Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM). The main elements that affect the CPM are the targeted audience and the ad placement, so that is what you would start testing.

Step 3: Set your budget

A/B testing can involve many cycles, so it’s crucial to set your budget at the start of the process. Think about your targets, and make sure you factor in some wiggle room for ads that will underperform.

Step 4: Run your test

Once you’ve completed your test, take the best performing ad and scale up your spending to the full budget allocated towards that campaign. Alternatively, you can test it against another small variation to see if you can improve your results further.

Step 5: Report back

Finally, share what you learn throughout your team to build a library of best practices for your company.

A/B testing is a smart, quantifying process that should be the cornerstone of every social ad campaign. Using trial and error is a failproof method for achieving maximum conversion, and we highly recommend that you build it into your strategy. 

33 Blogging Tips For Beginners

Although we know the value of regular, fresh, informative content, the mere idea of blogging can be intimidating for a lot of people.  

If writing blogs constantly falls to the bottom of your to-do list, then we’re here to help. Our top 33 tips will help you form your ideas, keep your mind focused on the task and produce brilliant, captivating content that will help boost your SEO, build traffic to your site and establish brand awareness. 

Let’s dive in…

  1. Begin with an outline

If you find yourself staring at a blank page when you sit down to write a blog, you’re making your life harder than it needs to be. Start by creating a framework rather than launching straight into writing. This outline will be your guide to writing your blog and will make the whole process much easier as you tackle each part section by section

  1.  Answer questions

Your reader will have questions, so set out by answering them. Why are you reading this blog? Probably because you are starting out blogging, and we promised to share our top tips! Provide a solution to a problem, and you’re off to a great start.

  1. Aim for 1500 words

This may be daunting, but studies show that longer posts attract more links, likes and shares. Ensure you are hitting a minimum of 500 words, but aim for higher, and then watch the likes roll in.

  1. Keep the format friendly

Bullet points and numbered lists will make your blog easy to skim through and more accessible for the reader. Big blocks of endless text are far less appealing to read.

  1. Make it evergreen

An evergreen blog post maintains its relevance over several years. Although responsive up to the minute blog posts can be incredibly effective, if you are stretched for time, an evergreen blog will give much more bang for its buck. These consist of issues that people consistently need help with (like this one), so think about how-to blogs and top-tip lists.

  1. Tell a story

Storytelling can be incorporated into every element of your branding, especially your blog. Keep the reader captivated by learning from the world’s greatest storytellers.

  1. Write to one reader

Imagine you are addressing your blog to one specific reader. This is a helpful exercise when you are faced with writer’s block or feel uninspired. What does that one person need help with? How can you share your knowledge with them? Write to an individual, and you’ll find your writing will flow better, and you’ll secure a more in-depth relationship with your audience. 

  1. Don’t shy away from passion

You may be writing about a business, but that doesn’t mean your writing should be cold and stale. Show your passion for your work through the informal context of a blog; people respond well to emotion and genuine passion.

  1. Get your blog down, and then go back to edit

Jumping back and forth between writing and editing can make the process of writing a blog slow and frustrating. Try getting everything down first, and then go back to edit your work. 

  1. Don’t focus on yourself

This is a common slip up in blog writing – don’t make it all about you. You are trying to connect to a reader, so try to understand what makes them tick and keep your focus on your audience, not yourself. 

  1. Set a timer

If blog writing is falling to the bottom of your to-do list constantly, it may be because it is a time-consuming experience. It doesn’t need to be. Use a kitchen timer or unplug your laptop to create a sense of urgency. Having the pressure of a deadline works really well for a lot of writers. 

  1. Be humble and honest

Ok, so you are writing a blog because you have knowledge to share, that’s great! But remember, no one likes a know-it-all. You’re not writing for your English professor, so don’t feel the need to show off your extensive knowledge; share what you know, but keep it human and genuine.

  1. Write for your audience, not for Google

It’s incredibly tempting to focus on keywords, titles and headings when you’re writing a blog in the hopes that Google will rank you for a specific keyword. This is not invaluable work to do. However, it’s not where you should start. Focus on your audience. Introduce keywords as you see fit, only once you have delivered a piece of content that works for you and your readers.

  1. Understand your niche

Once you get in the swing of writing, you might be tempted to tell the world about your enthusiasm for other topics – please try and resist! Your audience is with you because they care about your niche, so this must always sit at the heart of what you write about.

  1. Make commenting easy

It’s important to encourage comments, making it as easy as possible for readers to engage in the topic you are discussing. Requiring users to sign in, complete two-step authentication or pick out all the crosswalks they can see is just going to interfere with that process!

  1. Give your blogs punchy titles

Your title is your shop front, so ensure you draw readers in with exciting, intriguing titles. 

  1. Maintain a regular schedule

Sporadic posting is one of the biggest issues with blog posting; if it’s not consistent, it’s not going to get the attention it deserves. Try and carve out time every week to create new blog content, ideally aim to write two a week for the best results. If you’re going on holiday, take advantage of scheduling tools to ensure your posting regime doesn’t slip.

  1. Know your audience

A crucial rule when writing – you need to know who you’re writing for. Is this content for prospective customers or long-term clients? Are they male, female, in the C-suite or working in junior roles? The more specific you can make the persona, the better.

  1. Use spell check

Before you hit publish, ensure you have checked your spelling and proofread your blog. Bad spelling will not only dent your credibility but will also damage your SEO. Double-check everything before going live.

  1. Let your readers help you form ideas

You need to write what you know, but it’s well worth trying to understand exactly what within your niche people are going to want to read. 51% of website traffic comes from organic search, so you need to be writing about things people are searching for your blog to perform well. You can use keyword research tools to help here.

  1. Set goals

Your blog is part of your business, so it’s important to set goals and KPIs, as you would with any other business endeavour. Setting goals will help you monitor your progress, which will also help you to understand what works and what doesn’t. Goals could be page views, comments, subscribers or any other metric that reflects your ambitions. 

  1. Use a blog topic generator tool

If you are struggling to consistently come up with topic ideas, take a look at HubSpot’s blog topic generator. It’s an interesting way to get ideas based on a few keywords that you type in.

  1. Use an editorial calendar

Once you have a solid list of topic ideas, use a calendar to keep on top of your content. With two or more blogs going out each week it’s easy to get bogged down; even a simple excel spreadsheet can help. Include your publish date, keyword, topic, title, link to the working document and a column for every avenue you promote it on.

  1. Write blogs focused on case studies

People love learning from real life experiences, so consider writing about case studies that evidence your product or service working with real customers. It’s the best kind of social proof.

  1. Fact check

When you publish any content, your reputation is at stake. Go through your whole post and check it for accuracy before hitting publish. 

  1. Post your blog on Monday or Thursday mornings

Peak times do vary by industry, and you will have the best insight into your target audience’s behaviour over time by looking at your website’s traffic signals with analytics; however, Monday and Thursday are proven to be the best days to get the most traction. 

  1. Send your blog post to people that are mentioned

Referencing an influential figure in your industry? Be sure to share your blog with them. They might share it to their circles, expanding your reach exponentially. 

  1. Pay attention to your foundation

Your first few months of blogging are an important time. Dedicate time to honing the basic skills of writing, SEO, and social media marketing, then these skills will work as a foundation for your success when you grow.

  1. It’s not writer’s block, it’s writers procrastination

Don’t use excuses.Take responsibility for your inability to get the blog written and use the techniques we advise to get your focus back and get the job done!

  1. Test your blog in different browsers

Ensure your blog looks great in every browser, and that it is optimised for mobile reading. 

  1. Always reply to comments

If your readers are invested enough in your blog to comment, it’s important that you take the time to reply. It will promote a thriving blog community and will keep your readers coming back to comment again. 

  1. Use data to reinforce your points

Good writing offers the main argument, establishes proof and then ends with a clear takeaway for your audience. Use data to introduce your main argument and show its relevance to your readers or as proof of your argument throughout.

  1. Have fun!

Finally, it’s worth remembering that a good attitude will make you a better writer. It will make the process more enjoyable and make your blogs more engaging to read. A positive attitude will turn blogging from a dreaded task to an enjoyable and creative part of your day-to-day. Good luck and happy writing!

4 Ways to Follow Your Audience, Not Marketing Trends

The key to any successful marketing strategy, nay, any successful business, is a clear understanding of your target audience.

We know this isn’t news to anyone, but we think it’s worth remembering when you’re trying to get more leads, customers and referrals in a fast-paced, trend-driven environment.

Don’t get us wrong. Following marketing, trends can get your company’s name out there and position you as a progressive organisation. However, unless you conscientiously integrate these trends into an established and well-researched marketing strategy, it’s unlikely they will lead to significant growth.

Although new popular platforms, ideas and techniques may attract attention and raise short-term revenue, ultimately, following a trend means following someone else’s lead. Doing this can cause you to stray from your own brand identity and values, and move you further away from your own customers needs.

Remember, customers can see right through phonies, so jumping onto TikTok because it’s ‘what everyone else is doing and not because you have a genuine potential to develop leads on the platform could make your company look foolish and out of touch. It could also dent your reputation and cause customers to lose trust in your organisation.

While recent years have brought marketers a load of new and innovative ways to reach out to and connect with their customers, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to marketing, and whilst it’s easy to be susceptible to new trends – not least because they appear a dime a dozen in the marketing world – we urge you to begin with your audience, not the trends. Once you know what they need, you’ll have a clearer perspective on which of those novel fads (if any!) could actually play a relevant role in your efforts to boost conversions and improve customer loyalty.

In this blog, we’ll take things back to the essentials of brilliant marketing, dismissing the fads for a deep-dive look at 4 techniques for effectively listening to and learning from your audience, proving that you should be led by your audience, not overhyped marketing trends.

Do a Deep Dive on Your Analytics

When setting out to gain a greater understanding of your audience, begin by reviewing the current data you have. This includes all analyses your company has conducted about your customers since you’ve been in business, such as focus groups and figures you can gather from your marketing outputs, including website traffic, social media data, email open rates and click-throughs. Use this invaluable data to pinpoint where your customers are engaging the most and to inform the rest of your marketing activities.

This gives you a starting point to work from when learning about your audience on a deeper level — you already have some understanding of the real pain points and challenges they experience and what they need from your product or service.

From there, consider the other types of audience-related information you’re missing and need to obtain.

Ask Your Audience

Surveys are an effective way to listen to both current customers and a prospective audience; it’s the most direct way to understand their needs, as it comes directly from the source. Surveys allow you to continually improve and amend your services in line with your customers’ expectations, increasing retention rates.

Try Social Listening

To really get to know your audience and find out what they are saying about your industry and your brand online, try social listening. It gives you a useful context to see where your brand lies amongst competitors and will go a long way to inform your marketing strategy.

Social listening is not about looking at numbers of followers or likes but about how audiences react to your content and brand and reading their mood. Whether it’s positive or negative, knowing when and how your audience reacts to your brand online is crucial to truly understand your customers.

Create Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. They can help you focus your time on qualified prospects and guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers.

When done well, buyer personas can be really helpful. They can make it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, and services to meet the specific needs of your target audience.

You can build your buyer personas through research, surveys and interviews. They usually consist of information about a prospects age, job, salary and education – now this information can prove useful. However, the best buyer personas include more detail about what actually matters.

What are the tasks they struggle with day to day?

Where are their frustrations?

What work do they love doing?

The answers to these questions are a lot more helpful to marketers, so try to build them into your buyer personas.

As copywriter Gary Bencivenga said: “Emotions are the fire of human motivation, the combustible force that secretly drives most decisions to buy. When your marketing harnesses those forces correctly, you will generate explosive increases in response.”

Listen to Your Audience, Not Trends

Getting to know your audience isn’t always a simple process, but it’s a crucial one. Conducting this work and doing it often will ensure you know what resonates with your audience to create the content and products, and services that your buyer personas and target customers want to buy.

Having a strong understanding of your potential customers will help you convert them into long-term, paying customers. So, start working through these steps to getting to know your audience better and begin building a customer-led strategy rather than letting trends direct your decision making.

How to generate leads for your small business in 2021

Leads are the lifeblood of every business.

In order to survive and thrive, your organisation will need to have a steady stream of sales leads, but even seasoned professionals can find it difficult at times.

It’s no surprise; securing that steady flow is hard work. It requires you to continuously attract new leads, qualify and nurture them, and ultimately turn them into customers. This process, called lead generation, is essentially a technique of finding the right mix of channels that will get you in front of the right people. Using an effective lead generation system will make this process a whole lot easier, but just like any tough job, lead generation requires you to invest some time and effort upfront.

If you’re not sure where to begin, this guide will get you started by leading you through five key strategies to capture and convert those all-important leads.

Create buyer personas

A lead is a prospective customer, so the obvious starting place is to work out just who is likely to buy your product or service, and how you can reach them. Begin this process with research – use the internet to find similar companies to you and see how their consumers are, and study your existing customers, you’ll learn a lot. Consider the basic components that make up a consumer – age, gender, likes, dislikes, purchase habits and financial situation, then feed these into a pen portrait to build buyer personas of your ideal prospect. You should also look closely at the information you hold on existing customers to help build this picture.

Build your marketing plan

Build your plan using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based) goals, and remember to employ a wide range of techniques, with a sharp focus on inbound marketing techniques designs to draw potential clients to you. This ensures the leads coming to you are ‘warm’, making your job securing the customer that bit easier. Here are a few of our recommended inbound techniques:

Digital Advertising

Social media channels and search engines offer incredibly targeted ways of getting your business in front of potential leads. Often referred to as Pay Per Click, they are an effective way to get visitors to your site.

SEO

Digital advertising won’t work for every business, and in some cases SEO is worth greater investment. Google gets an incredible 3.5 billion searches a day, making it prime real estate for lead gen. SEO will improve your visibility in search engine rankings – hopefully keeping you away from the fateful second page of Google results! It must be routinely updated and maintained in order to bring in a steady stream of leads, but when done well can bring in endless warm leads ready to be converted to customers.

A Statista survey conducted among marketing professionals in the US, found that 43% of respondents believed SEO to be the most effective channel in producing high ROI, so this is a powerful place to invest your lead gen budget.

Blogging

Creating engaging content that is promoted well will position you as a thought leader in your field, demonstrating your credibility and bringing a human element to your company. Be sure to include a call to action at the end of each post.

Build a sales pipeline

Once your leads start coming in they’ll need to be nurtured to be transferred into sales. Using a sales funnel model will allow you to organise your customers journey. Once in place, your pipeline will also give you an overview of where prospects are in the sales process. There are a number of reputable platforms that can support this work.

Embrace automation

As you begin to get leads in, you’ll need to find an efficient way to keep in contact with them and nurture them through the pipeline. Plan ahead and look at where automation, such as email marketing, could help you in this process. The beauty of automation is its ability to allow you to scale your marketing efforts whilst keeping your content personalised to your audience. Automation does not mean impersonal – Liana Technologies reported that almost 70% of marketers found improved targeting of messages was one the most important benefits of marketing automation.

All of your prospects have different needs, and having the option to treat them as such will seriously strengthen your relationship. Look for an email service that offers segmentation and tailored, dynamic content which gives you the chance to customise content based on your contact’s needs.

Harness the power of social media marketing

Social media now stands as one of the most effective lead generation channels, and it should therefore feature significantly in your strategy. These platforms are excellent for enabling relationship-building, and once you begin regularly posting engaging content, you’ll attract followers who you can then drive to your website. Here are our top suggestions for using the major platforms to generate leads:

Twitter

According to Optin Monster, 66% of people have discovered a new business on Twitter, so it’s a great place to make yourself heard. Promote your new content such as your blogs, and stay active. Commenting, sharing and engaging is vital to keep a vibrant community.

LinkedIn

One of the smartest things you can do on LinkedIn is to take advantage of the platform’s targeted advertising. It’s in users best interested to keep their profiles up to date, which makes LinkedIn an advertisers dream – you can zone in on just about any part of your audiences profile.

Facebook

Like LinkedIn, Facebook has some incredibly precise targeting options. The platform gives you the option to create campaigns using a Lead Generation objective that allows consumers to fill in a form with their contact information. Most internet users are on Facebook, therefore it’s unsurprising that Smart Bug Media reported that 84% of marketers choose to use this platform to acquire leads.

Remember, business growth can be a difficult and long-term process, and a sign of sustainable progress is a steady increase in sales, rather than random sale spikes. Following these tips will give you insight and overview, allowing you to scale your operations up gradually. Good luck!

How brands should behave on social media during COVID-19

The Coronavirus pandemic is perhaps the largest challenge most brands have ever faced. 

As the world changes rapidly before our eyes it’s vital that we respond appropriately in this trying time. Companies are finding themselves being challenged by consumers like never before – be it about the treatment of workers or how they’re contributing to the cause, how your brand acts on social is more important now than ever before.

Your inclination might be to go quiet across social media. We understand that urge. How do you compete with a global pandemic? Is it even ethical to do so? A number of high profile brands directly affected by the pandemic have made that decision –  there hasn’t been any Twitter activity from easyJet since 17th February as they contend with refunding and rearranging their customer’s flights and hand sanitizer producer Purell haven’t tweeted anything aside from official statements since February. Hygiene companies such as Purell could be accused of profiteering so their silence is probably a wise choice. However, unless the nature of your services or product puts your brand at risk of being insensitive, we strongly suggest you do not go dark. 

Done well, this moment represents an important opportunity for your brand. Perhaps surprisingly, SOPRO has reported that as much as two-thirds (65%) of all industries will experience stable or increased demand – with more than a third (39%) likely to see increased demand during the pandemic. Therefore, it’s vital that you keep active on social media to keep your business afloat, however, this must be done in a sensitive and appropriate manner.  

So how do you navigate this confusing time? Whether your business has temporarily ceased trading, is still in full operation or if you are contending with fewer customers (or too many panicked customers) we’ve assembled these guidelines to help you find a new focus to your digital content strategy.

First things first, 2 very important rules:

Do not try to profit from the crisis, or do anything that could be interpreted as profiteering:

A global pandemic is not a marketing opportunity. It would be not only insensitive but downright dangerous for a brand to try to profit from this tragedy. Corona (who, granted, are in a very unusual situation sharing the name of the virus) have come under fire for running a campaign for their new Corona Hard Seltzer with the tagline ‘Coming Ashore Soon’. It should go without saying, but Coronavirus is not something you want to associate your brand with. 

Do not run campaigns that could be considered ill-timed amid a global pandemic:

KFC recently paused their ‘Finger Lickin’ ads, amidst criticism that encouraging customers to lick their fingers during the global spread of coronavirus was a rather bad idea. Geico also halted their campaign ‘Perfect High Five’ after customers made noise on Twitter about how inappropriate it was. A Coors ad titled ‘Official Beer of ‘Working’ Remotely was also put on hold over concerns that the message would come across as tone-deaf as most of us transition to working from home. The lesson –  a campaign that was seemingly inoffensive a month ago could be seen in a very different light today. 

A New Social Strategy

Due to panic, curiosity or the fact that a majority of people are now stuck at home, time spent on social media is significantly up. 85% of Chinese consumers reported an increase of at-home screen usage during the outbreak. Bearing in mind that your content will likely be sandwiched between rolling news coverage on Covid-19, you should consider the following when creating content amidst the pandemic. 

Distraction

It’s important to steer your focus away from hard-selling. Remember, the increased time we are all spending online is prompting a lot of people on social media to be even more vocal than usual, particularly on platforms such as Twitter. If your company comes in trying to make a hard sell for a product that feels ill-timed, your followers will let you know about it. 

In these economically uncertain times consumers are looking for distraction, so consider what you could offer for free to provide that for your customers. Offering tips to survive lockdown is a good idea, as is providing ideas to keep the kids entertained. 

Connection

Now is the time to build a sense of trust in your brand. ‘Trust content’ allows you to spend more meaningful time connecting with your audience, something they will appreciate when things return to business as usual.  Consider creating long-form content such as articles, video series, podcasts or training content. Adjusting the volume of social media content, you post is perfectly reasonable right now. Give additional attention to creating high quality, meaningful trust content instead.

Figure out how your company can create good will and stand by your customers during this time.  Be it offering more customer service across social or extending return windows, it’s a chance to deepen that all-important brand awareness and trust.

Community-building 

People are seeking social communities online like never before. Virtual communities are popping up across social media – from bands performing live streamed concerts to fitness trainers providing live streamed classes – people are coming together for a whole new type of experiential moment. If your brand can offer this type of experience, great! If not, think of other ways you can rally your audience together, such as sharing content that connects us all to help build that feeling of coming together over a common cause.

Consider changing the focus of your campaigns from hard-selling to raising brand awareness. Community- building should be the focus of your social campaigns, maintaining your recognition level, so your customers can respond when they are ready to spend. For instance, set new conversion goals on your Facebook campaigns so they are raising brand awareness rather than trying to make sales. 

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

With the indefinite timeline of the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be challenging to look to the future, but brands can serve a vital role in doing this. This does not mean offering discount codes for 6 weeks down the line, but just providing simple positive messaging that reminds us all this will come to an end. Switzerland’s tourist board is a particularly good example of this, giving their social media followers a slice of Switzerland from afar, using hashtags like #neverstopdreaming and #staystrong to bolster morale.

Companies must remember that there will be a point someday where everything will return to business as usual. If your business has gone quiet on social media for months on end the effects could be catastrophic; customers would have good reason to think you had gone out of business during the pandemic. Instead, use this time to distract, connect with and support your customers. If you can successfully adapt and offer your customers value in this time of uncertainty, you will win their trust and when normal life resumes and they do spend again, it will be with you. 

Small business marketing ideas!

As a small business that is very interested in small business marketing, we spend a lot of time each week reading tips and advice from across the World Wide Web. So, we thought we’d launch a regular round-up of some of the cool ideas that we come across just in case you have missed them.

So to kick off, here’s a few for starters.

Use Google Data Studio to Analyse Your Facebook Ads

If you are spending money on Facebook Ads to increase reach, conversions etc you are going to want to fully understand your Facebook ad performance. One really good way of doing that is through Google Data Studio.

This article by Social Media Examiner covers how to better track and analyse your Facebook advertising campaigns performance with this free tool.

Get Creative!

Want to be the same as your competitors? Of course not. That would be silly.

From Speed dating with potential customers to Alignment with trade associations, this article by All Business has some brilliant approaches by 10 entrepreneurs that are not scared to look outside the box when it comes to marketing their business and products.

Video marketing is leading the way for ROI

Everyone’s talking about video marketing, and for good reason: there’s power in video, especially for small businesses. Video grabs users’ attention and engages them to a greater extent than text (apart from this blog of course).

We can’t think of a better form of media to engage your target audience than video. 83% of businesses say that video provides a good return on investment and ROI and research by Moovly found that you are 53 times more likely to show up on the first page of Google if you have a video embedded on your site. As Middle Table say; with numbers like that, what’s not to love!

Build your LinkedIn community in just 5 minutes a day

Are you maximising your presence on LinkedIn?

It’s possible to start building your personal network with just 5 minutes effort a day so no more “I don’t have the time” excuses!

South Thames Marketing show you how…

We hope you find some these useful and if you are looking for any tips/advice on how to better maximise social for your business drop us a line. As fellow small business owners, we are happy to chat and advise without obligation. We’re just pleased to help where we can.

 

How to grow your LinkedIn network in just 5 minutes a day

As a small business are you maximising your presence on LinkedIn? Our favourite B2B platform has now got more than 630 million members – 21% of the entire global workforce –  yet, despite its huge number of members, many people are still not using the platform to its full potential.

Despite a growing number of small firms and independent consultants stepping up their social strategies; in what is an increasingly competitive market, many still have work to do.

Research shows that nearly 60% of people now consult social media before making their buying decisions. 70% of them use LinkedIn, so it really is more important than ever to ensure you have a strong, thriving network.

Building your community is all about making connections. So, this month we’ll show you how dedicating just 5 minutes a day to strategically building your first-degree connections can exponentially improve your access to new clients and professional opportunities.

So, whether you’re aiming for that 501st connection, or just want to make your profile work harder for you, read on as we show you how to grow your network by investing just 5 minutes a day.

1. Personalise and connect

Follow up with everyone you meet (or wanted to meet but didn’t) at networking events. You can only do so much at a conference, so use the power of LinkedIn to make those connections count. Before you hit connect make sure you send a personal message, explaining who you are and where you met (remember, this is not the time to sell your services). Dig out those business cards and get searching.

2. Update your status daily

Simply having a LinkedIn profile is not enough to keep those connections coming in. Like any social media platform, you need to engage and participate. As you would on Facebook or Twitter, make sure your content adds value, stays on brand and includes a call to action. Try sharing relevant articles, videos or blog posts.

Keep yourself present in your connection’s feeds to give them more opportunity to like and share your posts. This will get you introduced to their connections and offers a great opportunity to grow your network. When connections share your content it is social proof that you’re an expert in your field, which might encourage those 2nd-degree connections to reach out to you.

3. Participate in groups

It’s impossible to engage on a one-to-one level with hundreds of connections. Here’s where LinkedIn groups are a great way of making and maintaining those new connections. Join relevant groups and pick a handful to stay active on, but avoid marketing yourself or your business. Participate in (or better yet, initiate) group discussions.

If you are a member of any ‘real world’ networking groups look through their membership directory and find those contacts on LinkedIn. Remember to customise your connection request and reference the group you are both in.

You can also consider starting your own group. A certain level of kudos will come with this, and people are keen to connect with experts. When they join they are likely to connect with you.

4. Promote your profile

This is a great way to take advantage of your presence on other platforms. Make sure you have customised your URL, then place your LinkedIn profile link in your email signature, add it to your website, include it on your business cards and list it on your social media bios. This tip is easy to achieve and can really drive your traffic and therefore connections.

5. Engage

Keep an eye on your wall and be sure to share, comment on and like your connections updates and posts. There is always a lot going on with LinkedIn – new jobs, birthdays, job changes. Interacting with these important milestones is a great way to develop relationships as well as building new connections, as it will give you more visibility on the platform.

Conclusion

Give just 5 minutes of your day to one of these tasks and you’ll be able to track your success as your number of connections starts to grow. When you connect with the right people on LinkedIn you are truly taking advantage of one the best networking tools at your disposal, putting you one click away from meeting any one of those 630 million members.

If you would like some support with your LinkedIn or wider social media strategies, we’d love to chat.

A version of this post originally appeared on our good friends at South Thames Marketing’s blog.