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.

5 Minutes With Lucy Paine

Welcome to the third instalment in our series of blogs that look at all aspects of the challenges facing small businesses. For our third edition, we sat down with Lucy Paine from TechSpark who is leading their Tech Swindon ecosystem development project.

What was your background prior to Tech Swindon?

Very varied, I have worked for Pre IPO start-ups in Silicon Valley, within tech and education companies in sales, partner management and marketing, run my own business and most recently spent almost five years at Sussex Innovation Centre putting all my knowledge, experience and connections into helping other people grow their companies, or take their idea into reality.

Most of my roles have been around people and collaboration looking back but I can’t claim that there was a plan.

How do you help support small businesses in your role?

Tech Swindon is a new initiative focussed upon glueing together all the great tech scene in Swindon to then nurture and develop into a community able to challenge for talent against the shiny lights of cities like Bristol and Brighton.

The support we offer ranges from creating a peer-driven Swindon Founders meet up through to one to one strategy workshops – I’m a resource for the SME tech community and what that looks like is flexible as we evolve the proposition and meet more companies.

What inspires you about working with small businesses?

Helping them progress, as a neutral resource I offer can a sounding board, challenge strategy, help them test assumptions, build a team – we are a not for profit and I am not trying to upsell services. The success of Tech Swindon will be reflected by the growth of our small business community, and I hope some of that will come from the confidence and intelligence of the support delivered.

In your opinion how important is growing your small business network, building relationships and nurturing connections to help grow a business compared to other sales/marketing activities?

There are two angles to this question – firstly running a business can be really hard, lonely and having a network of fellow founders means you can share your issues/ highs and lows with a group of peers who understand and can help.

Secondly, the old cliché of people buying people is still true even in 2020 – and through networking, you’ll meet clients, partners and connectors you’d never build any depth of credible relationship with on LinkedIn. Just be picky with your networking, but when you find a group that works commit, go each month and build meaningful engagement, don’t expect a sale, hope for an interesting conversation and it will be worth your time.

You can also use this networking to support your sales and marketing, get onto social, take a photo of the group, tag the organiser, attendees you met etc and add an intelligent comment that they will all share – again do this with integrity and they’ll start sharing your message.

What are the main challenges you see SMEs face in doing this?

Time v perceived value – I have seen some companies go to every networking event going for two months, then decide none are worth it so don’t leave the office for the rest of the year. Research a meeting, check out the attendee list and if no one there is remotely in your space don’t go – find your tribe but also throw in a random one with an interesting speaker.

I think a lot of people worry about how false networking can be, and the first time is always awkward, but the second time you’ll recognise the faces and the conversations will develop from weather to something more meaningful.

I am avoiding the word useful, just sounds too manipulative – if you only look for useful you’ll miss interesting and genuine connections are more to lead to a referral than useful ones. We’ve all met the person who starts with asking what do you do, and looks over your shoulder as soon as he/she has decided you’re not going to buy what he is selling – don’t be that person.

How do you see small business networking, building relationships and nurturing connections changing in the future? Will Tech play a bigger role?

Tech hasn’t mastered the complexities of an in-person networking connection, LinkedIn is great to keep in touch, and webinars for quick calls or training, but we get so much more done in person.

It’s just like dating, apps and matchmaking platforms all sound great, but you only know when you meet someone if it’s going to work. And while business is a different transaction the trust you build in those first meetings is why you buy/ sell/ recommend/ partner with someone.

What is the most powerful networking event you have been involved with?

Powerful networking to me is a group where I feel comfortable, with familiar faces and new ones, in a non-sales environment where the room wants to hear more about you without judgement and who are themselves well connected and able to help you make connections that impact your business – that’s the utopia of networking and very rare.

In Brighton that was the Brighton Chamber Breakfast and their success was underpinned by the team and the culture of the Chamber – there was the odd salesperson but they didn’t tend to come back, they’d missed the point!

Do you have any final words of advice for small business owners wanting to improve their network and their networking skills?

Make time for networking, research the groups around you and try a few. Prepare your 30 second “What does your business do” reply, make it natural and interesting – and then listen to all the replies you get.

LinkedIn with the people you enjoyed meeting, ignore the invitations of the ones you didn’t and commit to going to the group that has the most relevance for at least 6 months, offer to talk, offer to sponsor a lunch/ charity event and see this time as a business and personal investment.

5 Minutes with Michael Gegg

What was your background prior to South Thames Marketing?

Immediately prior to setting up South Thames Marketing, I was head of global marketing for two of Hay Group’s (a management consulting firm) four business divisions. I left Hay after four wonderful years following its acquisition by Korn Ferry. Prior to that, I was head of international marketing and events for several years at Kenexa (now part of IBM). And back in the early days, I held marketing roles at a couple of psychometric testing and recruitment firms. So, my background has always been within the professional services space.

What inspired you to set up South Thames Marketing?

As with a lot of things in life, it was circumstance! I’d left Korn Ferry and was weighing up my next move. I’d always passionately wanted to launch my own consultancy and it felt this was the right time. Three years on, I wouldn’t look back. What inspired me? Having worked my entire career in professional services, I wanted to give back; supporting firms to just get better at their marketing. Working with clients of all different sizes gives me some great diversity, but actually working with an independent consultant or a big four management consulting firm, they have similar marketing challenges, just on a different scale.

How does South Thames Marketing help professional services businesses?

We support firms in several ways. Firstly from a strategy and planning perspective. Getting under the skin of what they are currently doing, assessing what they want to achieve brand and lead-gen wise and developing a strategy accordingly. From there we either hand that over for them to implement, or clients may ask us to support in certain areas (content creation, social media, creative design, campaign development etc) because they haven’t the internal resource themselves, or in some instances outsource their marketing in its entirety to us. We also support several international firms with European expansion or expansion into Asia. But in the first instance, we get to know the client and what they are looking to achieve and build from there.

What are the main marketing challenges professional services companies face?

Great question. There are several. But I think for me the biggest is staying relevant. The web is awash with content: white papers, blogs, videos all addressing a topic – it could be Brexit, it could be productivity, it could be attracting and retaining the best talent. The challenge is getting their voice heard over everyone else who is trying to have a say on that topic. Relevance is so important.

How can professional services professionals/companies stand out from the crowd?

Being human. Too many firms will try and cram every buzzword they know into a piece because they believe it adds credence. But at the end of the day you are writing (or presenting to) another human being –  I guess it could be a robot in the future! – so you need to write accordingly. My biggest tip always is when you’ve written something, read it back to yourself and then ask the question ‘if you’re sitting opposite that person in a business meeting or pitch’ is that how you would speak? If not, then start again. We’re all humans, including your clients!

How would you say professional services companies differ from other industries when it comes to marketing?

I’m probably biased here, but I think if you can succeed in professional services marketing, you can succeed in any industry. Working in professional services you are challenged every day. That could be with the quality of content/materials you have to produce to stay relevant or stakeholders you have to manage in-house, who all have an opinion that is apparently right! Succeed in this market and you’ll succeed in others. Yes, I know every sector will probably say similar, but come and spend a month in professional services and let’s have a conversation after!

What trends can you see happening in professional services marketing?

It’s already happening. More and more firms are adopting the new exciting digital technologies that are out there. The key is integrating your tech stack and maximising the insights you gain from the data.

What’s the best marketing campaign you have been involved in?

One of the last campaigns we rolled out at Hay Group was a campaign that explored the connection between employee and customer engagement. At its core was a report, where we’d undertaken an in-depth survey, but we’d then managed to interview and involve several of our clients from around the world. This was important as it added credence to our voice, but also allowed us to offer some incredibly interesting global insights plus the opportunity to create a number of supporting assets: extended case studies, blogs, videos etc. We rolled out the campaign in a crazy number of countries around the world, working with our local marketing colleagues, who we had to influence that this campaign would work in their particular market. In our planning we fully involved our local marketers, so we adapted versions of the report for different markets – this is so important. We held webinars together with in-person Forums in a number of cities. I attended the London, New York, Madrid and Sao Paulo Forums in person and seeing the report in multiple languages, speakers talking so passionately and importantly just seeing it resonate with every audience member was fantastic. The ROI we achieved was outstanding. Because we had involved clients and worked closely with them in the final report, we also managed to partner with the internal PR departments of some of them, which gave us huge traction when approaching the media. But, I cannot take the full credit, my marketing manager at the time, Louise Shaw, who is now doing fantastic stuff at Deloitte in Australia – I’m really, really proud of her, drove it and the success was 100 per cent down to her. As a leader, there is no better feeling than seeing someone on your team really thrive.

What is the best marketing campaign you’ve seen?

I’m not sure the best, but I love the Adobe marketing cloud ads – if you’ve not seen them definitely check them out!

Do you have any final words of advice for professional services companies wanting to tell their story/better their marketing efforts?

I just refer to what I said earlier, please, please remember your clients and prospective clients are human beings!

The future of B2B marketing

We all know that cold-calling is very much a thing of the past and this will affect the status of B2B marketing. We all hate to be cold-called and are most likely going to ignore anybody who tries to do it. Most of all, it does not inspire trust and confidence in a company. Nowadays two thirds of a buying decision are achieved through online research.

According to recent research quoted by LinkedIn about 75% of B2B buyers use social media as part of their buying decision. 50% use LinkedIn as a source for gathering information on who to buy from, whilst 76% of them prefer to follow recommendations from within their professional network.

LinkedIn Prospecting

Selling your business and services to prospective customers has never been so easy as it is now with LinkedIn. At the click of a button people can look at a list of businesses that provide what it is they need. Therefore, you have to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to scratch and gives customers the first impression you want them to have of you.
Make sure that your profile is always up to date and links up with your website, Twitter, Facebook and contact pages.

Due to our constant information overload and fear of data breaches by social media companies, consumers want to find straightforward advice and solutions to their queries. So, while businesses might find you on LinkedIn and do their research on you, it is far more important that your website is search engine optimised and provides customers with clear information that is relevant to them.

The simplest way to get more B2B connections inside your industry is by being active online. Join LinkedIn groups for joint interests and discussions. This is an area where you can engage with likeminded people within the relevant industry, answer questions and establish relationships. This is not hard selling, it is speaking about your specialist topic and gaining others’ trust in your abilities.

Widen your prospecting scope

When you trawl through the profiles of users you interact with, you can widen your network even more by engaging with their secondary contacts. The more connections and interactions you have online, the more engagement you will receive back.

This exposure will gain trust in your brand and make customers more familiar with you. Any of the connections you have made through groups or by adding your bit to a discussion will mean that these contacts will also come and look at your profile.

If you have pictures, positive feedback or any upcoming events, let them know. In the same way that you might look at a profile and try and figure out who leads the sales team or what services are available, put yourself into a potential customer’s shoes and think about what it is that you would want to find on your profile.

What are the most commonly asked questions you get asked and can visitors find the answers easily on your website? Transparency and ease of use are the buzzwords when it comes to customer experience nowadays.

Put your name on the Pulse

If you have something to say about a topic, why not write a short article and publish it via LinkedIn Pulse? All your connections will receive a notification and in no time,  you will establish yourself as a professional persona that is seen to be trustworthy, in-the-know and proactive. This will increase your authority and your posts can easily be shared by users for even wider reach.

None of these tactics feels like the pushy sales scripts of yore that make people shut off immediately. You are not required to say, ‘You should buy X because we believe that we are the best in this industry, with 20 years of experience’.

This is much subtler than that. You answer genuine questions with genuine knowledge, have conversations about topics that are relevant to you and your clients and build relationships based on trust, hopefully turning strangers into customers and then loyal customers who will be the backbone of your business for years to come.

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.

Taking advantage of the benefits of Twitter for small business

Let’s be honest, Twitter is an interesting world! We follow our favourite celebrities or footballers and we’ve winced at some of the stuff they’ve shared. A scandal hits and one of the first places we turn to is Twitter! We’ve also all had that sneaky look when our phone signal goes down, just to see the comical responses that people post. Why do people get so angry? It can be an intimidating, as well an interesting place!

And in a professional sense, it can be a place where you might think, it’s best just to steer clear and concentrate your efforts on LinkedIn – especially within the B2B world.

Yet, Twitter is actually a very powerful marketing tool and an extremely effective and valuable one to build relationships with your clients (and prospective clients). We’ll be honest, we love it!

You can learn an incredible amount about your customers; you can engage with them; you can make your brand more human and importantly, you can add value by sharing relevant and engaging content. It’s also a great way to stay ahead of what’s happening in the industry and build awareness of your firm. What is there not to like? What’s more, it’s free.

However, the reason people don’t appreciate the value and power is that they do not appreciate the time and effort that is required. You get out of Twitter, what you put in!

So, here are some of our quick tips to help you find that value:

Understand what you want to achieve.

What are your goals? Is it…

  • Increasing sales?
  • Becoming a customer support channel?
  • Increasing brand awareness?
  • Tracking industry trends?

Maybe, it’s a combination of the four, but always be clear and remember you can’t be all things to everyone.

Have a clear content plan

Posting interesting and engaging content, such as blogs and white papers, is important to maintain the interest of your followers. Relevant content grows your following and increases your brand awareness. Complement your own content with relevant third-party content that will be of interest to your following. But, have a plan and remember you need to be tweeting around 3-4 times day. Mix your content up, use images, create GIFs, embed videos – make sure your newsfeed is engaging and looks your own.  But don’t forget while ‘quantity’ is important when it comes to tweeting, it cannot be at the expense of ‘quality’. If you over-post, you run the risk of coming across like an aggressive spam account.

Use Hashtags

Make sure you use relevant and popular hashtags in your tweets. Look at what hashtags are trending with your target audience. This play a big part in growing your following.

Engage, engage, engage

Twitter is not just a place for broadcasting announcements, you have to engage with your community. Retweet posts you find interesting. Add a comment or click Like. If someone comments on your posts, good or bad, reply – professionally! You’ll get positive results from Twitter when you genuinely engage with people, but this requires a time commitment. One simple tip: just take 5/10 minutes a day, maybe during your commute home, to scroll through your feeds and comment and retweet.

In most industries, Twitter is full of influencers; make sure you also follow, retweet, comment and like their posts. If you can build up a relationship with these individuals, there is a chance they will begin retweeting your content. The benefit? They have significant reach and exposure.

Measure and keep track

Twitter analytics enables you to analyse your activities:

  • You can track the performance of your tweets daily and monthly. From this, you can get an understanding of what kinds of content gets the best engagement and you can tailor your plan accordingly. It will also give you an indication of the most effective times to post.
  • You can also track how your following has increased/decreased over the last 30 days, and how many new followers you’ve received per day. You can, therefore, look at what kinds of content was posted on the days you lost followers, did you post too much that day?

Finally, don’t expect overnight results. It takes time to build a relevant and engaged community. So, stick with it and the success will follow – no pun intended!

Twitter is an ‘interesting’ world, but it’s also an extremely effective one. If you would like some support with your Twitter 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.

Social media should not be ignored by B2B companies: Here’s why

Let’s talk social media. We’ve noticed that our clients who sell to customers ‘get’ social media – the benefits are obvious. Less so with B2B firms – they wonder if the benefits are really worth the effort. Writing blogs, creating videos and images all cost time and money. We believe that when done right, it is worth the effort and the payoffs can be significant. It’s our job after all! Here’s why…

Show the human side of your business

Whilst consumer choices are emotionally driven, business decisions are largely rational. Or are they? We’ve all heard the idea that people buy people, not things. This is especially true in the case of B2B services. Providers often win because of the emotional response to the team they present at a pitch, and the relationships they build up over time.

By establishing a social media presence, you allow potential clients to see the human side of the business. This lets people see who works for you, which is important, but it also showcases your values as an organisation. You can show people that you’re the type of person they want to work with, which can leave a meaningful impression.

Promote your thinking

Most experts in a field have something interesting to say, a perspective on current affairs and events in their industry – and social media is a great way to promote your angle, story and take on things. You might choose to focus on future trends in your industry or reflect on past events, talk about products and services or the values and theories that underpin what you do. Whatever you choose to write about, getting it out there is key in making it worthwhile.

According to The State of Digital Marketing in 2017 report, blog posts and articles are considered the best way to generate and engage an interested following, and ultimately convert some of these into leads.

Gain trust

Perhaps the default method of checking out a new firm is to Google them. Of course, it’s our immediate response, followed by checking whether any of our trusted contacts have any experience with them. Social media is good for both these things – it offers a window into the community you’ve endeavored to build around your firm, through your social media marketing efforts. It also offers prospectives a quick route to testimonials, recommendations, and Q&As, which all leads to bolstering credibility.

Harness your video content

People are increasingly getting used to having complex concepts explained to them in video format. Cisco reckons 75% of all mobile traffic will be video by 2021. So what’s this got to do with social media? It offers the ideal platform for hosting and distributing video, allowing people to engage with it, and if it’s really good, share it and extend its impact. It’s also one of the most cost-effective forms of social media marketing with a high return on advertising spend (ROAS).

So whatever your position on social media, and take on specific platforms, we think there’s something out there that could be of benefit. As with anything, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution – and you may well be right that you can’t see your services doing well on Facebook, for example. But, given the time and thought, the benefits we’ve discussed are available to all B2B firms, and they should be considered as part of any digital marketing strategy. You might just find that they start to open some new doors for you.

Why developing a Marketing Persona is the best thing you can do for your Start Up

What is a marketing persona?

First, let’s define a marketing persona. A marketing persona is a fictional character you have to develop in order to characterise the key traits of a particular group of your target audience. Clearly, this is the core of all of your future marketing activities and if you define it right at the beginning, success is inevitable.

Because it takes time, you can’t define your marketing persona overnight! Conduct your best analysis and then make some conclusions based on the qualitative data you have gained during the process.
Getting the right data means that you will have to find out what are their motivations, needs, technical skills and other factors that will impact on how they may interact with your marketing activities in the future.

What you really want to know is what works for every developed persona. Gathering this data will help you optimise the user journey at every stage. You would really want to focus on how to get these tasks done in the most effective way and create a user-focused development process.

Quantitative vs Qualitative research

Conducting research is something you should do to better understand your users and target audience. The question is what do you really want to find out about them? This is the first question you must ask yourself. What type of research method you will use it depends on what your answer will be. Specific methods specialised are for a specific type of information. There are two research types:

1. Quantitative research

and

2. Qualitative research

Quantitative research is focused more on large samples or testing and proving something to a large group of people. This includes surveys and site traffic analysis. Getting the most out of your log files in order to find out how users are moving around your site is a great thing to do. Quantitative research gives thousands of data points which you can analyse and look for statistically significant trends which will realistically reflect the behavior of your users. Quantitative research can help you test a hypothesis you will define with the qualitative research.

Qualitative research is used for smaller samples. It stands for understanding the motivation behind something, gathering reasons, and opinions. You will find out why customers act or behave in a certain way. Interviews and usability testing are part of the research. These methods interact with a smaller number of users (10 – 20) and will help you to uncover new ideas and identify unknown issues. You can’t prove anything with qualitative analysis but you will get insights about your customers which you can use for future testing.

It’s the qualitative research that provides your most valuable insights. According to findings, 82% of companies who conducted qualitative research met their revenue goals. Whereas 70% who did not use qualitative analysis failed in doing so. There is no better way of understanding your consumer. As a startup or a small business owner, your main focus must be on qualitative analysis and research. Remember that!

Avoid these mistakes

Always set realistic goals and conduct a realistic analysis of your raw collected data. Many marketers fail to do this. They add or sugarcoat some ideas and completely miss the point of the qualitative analysis.

Don’t fall into these four traps when creating your customer personas:

1.They make stuff up about their customers

They form marketing persona based on their opinion! The only way to have realistic data is to have a real conversation with your customer.

2.They follow the wrong data

Many people get stuck by following basic data such as gender and demographics which can be irrelevant. What you need to do is include other data in your buyer’s personas such as decision criteria, buying process and buying priorities. Think about what matters for your business and use that as a basis for your actions.

3.They develop too many personas

Another classic mistake people make. If you do your analysis right you will have a base of quality insights. This can be used for developing one quality core persona and then develop different variations based on demographic, gender and job title.

4.They use scripted Q&A interviews

You cannot solve your problem by adding an online survey or conducting lifeless formal telephone script. It will take a little bit of practice but in time you will learn how to have unscripted conversations that will lead your consumers to tell you all of the real and incredible details about their preferences and experiences in the buying process.

The key to success is to implement the qualitative research first and gather realistic data which will help you in creating your ideal marketing persona. Insights about their likes and preferences are something you can use for complex analysis later. Be as realistic as possible and arrange an informal and real conversation with people. Invest in what truly matters for your business at the start and avoid turmoil later.

Want to get some help with marketing personas? Get in touch by clicking here.

‘’As a startup or a small business owner, your main focus must be on qualitative analysis and research. Remember that!’’

5 Tips for Understanding Social Media ROI

Many businesses understand the importance of social media. With its ubiquity in the modern world, it’s essential avenue for reaching clients, customers, and potential leads. But few businesses understand how to measure their success on it. If you have no idea whether your social media efforts are successful, or if your clients are bugging you for evidence of your social media prowess, it’s time to consider social media ROI (return on investment).

ROI provides tangible proof that your marketing efforts on social media are working and doing what they should be. It allows companies to know which posts are successful, and which aren’t, allowing you to improve your offerings over time. It can be a challenge, though. Algorithms are constantly changing, and there are always new tools. However, there are some key steps that can be taken to start measuring your social media ROI properly. Here are five we like to use.

Set (And Know) Your Goals

ROI is about quantifying to what extent you got from your posts what you wanted. Clicks, likes, shares, leads – any measurement of your success depends on your intended goals. Before you can track or measure ROI, you must determine your goals so you know which factors to measure. Setting goals allows you to tailor your posts towards achieving them. If you haven’t set goals, do this now – it will be a big benefit for that which will enhance your ROI further. The most common goals that businesses set for their social media posts are reach, traffic, leads, new customers, and conversion rate. Conversions can be anything from filled-out contact forms (which create leads) and link clicks to file downloads and social interactions.

Suffice to say, there are many metrics from which to measure ROI and these depend on your goals. Want to get more customers? Set goals for account signups or new traffic. Looking to spread the word about your brand? Keep tabs on reach.

Measure Your Visitors

Most social media websites include integrated analytics. These allow you to see the performance of a given post or combination of posts. Alternatively, you can use complementary apps like Hootsuite (for Twitter) to get more sophisticated insights for understanding ROI. For more complex goals, like click-throughs on a landing page, consider using software like Google Analytics. It automatically tracks all kinds of information about your visitors – including where they came from. Sophisticated CRMs and marketing automation tools like Hubspot and Mautic also allow you to create landing pages with integrated monitoring and analytics. This is great for tracking post with a common call to action and a shared goal. You can also use it to compare the performance of different pages or social media posts. By measuring visitor activity, you can find out all kinds of insights. These include: understanding how many users click from your site to your social media accounts; which posts/social platforms visitors came to a landing page from; and what pages they went to after clicking through.

Track Campaigns

Groups of posts with the same goal are grouped into campaigns – a structured effort to achieve something using social media. For each campaign, measuring the time spent, the cost of ads, etc. and balancing it against the performance of the associated posts (in relation to your chosen goal) can help to determine the ROI of a campaign. For example, let’s say you spend 4 hours getting paid £10 an hour to create a campaign of four posts. If this results in 40 purchases being made, then that’s £1 of investment per purchase. That’s a pretty good ROI (depending, of course, on the cost or profit line of those purchases).

Report Your Results

Gathering all the data is useless if you don’t make use of it, so it’s vital to determine a way to report any findings on social media ROI. Whether it’s simple graphs and tables in Excel or more complex solutions like Google Analytics reports, having some kind of visual aid to show the impact of social media on the business can be great for showing success – or for finding ways to improve.

Google Analytics isn’t as intimidating as it seems – this blog from Convince and Convert has a great overview of the top five Google Analytics reports for showing the impact of social media marketing, so you can see what it can do and how to do it.

Review, Reflect and Adjust

Once a report is created, you should be able to quantify and visualise your ROI and review your results. Good ROI tracking can compare different posts to see what worked and what didn’t or compare the performance of paid advertisements against non-boosted posts to see what the added cost got you in return. Reflecting on results can show where successes and failures occurred, and highlight which tactics worked and, just as importantly, which didn’t. Adjusting your goals and posting styles in reaction to your ROI can help to improve your performance on social media over time – and, again, that will show in your ROI reporting.

At the end of the day, social media is a numbers game – be it for likes, click-throughs, or new customers, monitoring and reacting to your ROI measurements can help with all manner of potential goals for your business or website. If you need any help understanding ROI on social, contact us at Colour Me Social today.