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.

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 reasons to use the power of Instagram for your business

Small businesses, particularly in the B2B sector, often overlook Instagram. A visual platform, you might find it hard to see why it’s relevant to your business, particularly if your model is service-based or ‘unglamorous’.

Increasingly, businesses are turning to Instagram to enhance their brand and grow their online presence and sales. Let’s look at 5 reasons why Instagram can be great for your business.

Not just the next generation

Traditional social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become increasingly populated by an older user-base. The newer platforms of Instagram and Snapchat carry a reputation of belonging to younger generations.

Yet increasingly, Instagram is establishing itself as a major platform with significant traffic. 65% of the top 100 brands globally now have a presence on Instagram, while the platform possesses a growing user-base to match. Instagram operates at a useful nexus between emerging and more established social media platforms. It provides a  growing user-base in a market not saturated with smaller business activity such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Be seen

The stripped back nature of the platform and easy direct messaging keeps businesses in close contact with their consumers. For smaller businesses this direct link with your customers can be invaluable. A human insight into your business is well complemented by the ease with which customers can communicate with you directly. With images shown in chronological order, you will also stay seen and not forgotten. This is unlike rival platforms where algorithms prioritise the content of more established players in the market.

A visual edge to your product

The visual nature of Instagram allows you to promote your business, products and services in unique ways.

Customers sometimes struggle to see what it is that you do. Show them. From artisanal clothing design to app building or environmental modelling, there are stunningly visually elements to all aspects of your work. Create a buzz about your product by letting clients and customers see what you do in its intricate glory.

A behind the scenes view

Instagram allows you to open your business to the world. Give your followers an insight into your team training days, your new office space, or your charity fundraiser. All of this gives your business the human side you know it has, but others don’t see.

People invest in stories, people, and the reasons they do what they do. A visual insight into your team and the workings of your business can make you stand out. It allows your customers – current and future – to invest in what you’re doing on a much deeper level.

Improve your content elsewhere

So, you’ve created stunning visual content both for and through Instagram using it’s built-in camera and unique filters. What’s next? Share it across other social media platforms. Don’t be afraid to share your Insta-snaps on Facebook or Twitter. It can in turn help grow your profile and freshen up your social presence across other platforms too.

The visual capacity of Instagram allows businesses to formulate different relationships with their customers. It can help you to uncover fascinating aspects of your business which your customers would want to see, which you would otherwise overlook. Don’t miss out – be part of the visual revolution transforming the world of small business customer relationships.

 

How to Nail Social as a Start-up

Social media is no longer just a procrastination strategy from the impending panic of finishing that project deadline you have. In the past decade, it has become less of an optional marketing opportunity and more of a priority. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become integral parts of brand awareness, content distribution, lead generation, and customer acquisition strategies for businesses.

This is especially true for start-ups, who have smaller budgets and less revenue. However, they are the most in need of good marketing strategies needing customers to make money and requiring money to get customers. Does it create a classic chicken in egg dilemma of what comes first, the marketing or the money? There is no easy answer, however, huge spending isn’t necessary for start-ups to run successful social media marketing campaigns.

Just consider the fact that Facebook is now responsible for a whopping 15.8 percent of total time spent on the internet, and the average social shopper spends an average of £113 when coming from Pinterest and £49 when coming from Facebook. (Source: http://www.greencandymedia.com/33-captivating-statistics-that-could-change-your-marketing-strategy/#.VONDcym4ksk)

Now that the importance of social media has been covered, let’s look at some of the details.

If there isn’t a plan, make one.

Here are some elements that make up a great social media plan:

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals. The more specific, the better. This includes:

  • Brand awareness. This will happen organically as you post content, engage with users, and promote your brand.
  • Lead generation. You would like your social media profiles to be lead generators that drive traffic to your website or blog. This requires a long-term investment and results are not immediate. Remember that patience is a virtue!
  • Content distribution. This involves an understanding of your brand’s voice: Use social media as one of your content distribution and dissemination platforms. Ensure engaging and unique content, and it’s possible that others could share your posts and advertise your brand for you. Posting regularly at peak times is extremely important (there are apps that can help pinpoint your audience’s best times), especially on Facebook and Twitter. For this purpose, you should develop an editorial calendar. Along with sharing your latest blog posts, try posting relevant news, photos, links and interviews you see around the web.
  • Customer acquisition. The best case scenario is that your social media profiles raise brand awareness, generates leads and leads turn into customers. Once you can use social media as a customer acquisition tool, you will have maximised its value.

“Does it really matter which social media channel I use? Aren’t they all just social media?” The answer is Yes and No in that order.

While not every industry has a clear preference for social media channels, there are important determinants that can help you find the right social network: your target audience age group, your business’ location, and the nature of your services. Depending on your strategy, approach, and goals, you should be able to determine which social media platforms are right for your start-up. There are currently five major social media platforms of potential value for start-ups:

Build a tribe

By this, we mean to build and engage a community. For long-term growth and success, the best thing you can do is build an online community of ambassadors. Behind every successful marketing strategy is a genuine human connection. Show your social media audience the people behind the product or service you offer: why you love what you do, and what served as an inspiration for your start-up. You can use this opportunity to look for social media influencers, and turn them into brand ambassadors. These ambassadors provide start-ups with the exposure they need to grow into a global brand. This won’t happen overnight, but a prolonged investment over many months and years will pay off.

If it isn’t working try something else, or better yet, try something new!

Once you your accounts are set up and you have developed a social media management routine, schedule regular temperature checks for all your channels. Tools like Audience evaluate your Twitter presence with one click; you can receive reports on your engagement, reach and profile strength. If your customers don’t engage as well on one of your social channels, check to make sure you haven’t been neglecting it!

Finally, never be afraid to try something new, be it in everyday life (like a new meal for dinner), or in tour social media profile. Breaking the mould or taking a leap outside your comfort zone doesn’t require a huge budget. It just requires a little courage and ingenuity. After all, the essence of start-up spirit is to problem-solve in an innovative, efficient way. Look at the #6SecondScienceFair Vine campaign for GE. The campaign encouraged fans to film their own science experiments, in order to build GE’s reputation as an innovator. It generated over 600 user submissions, 345 percent follower growth and 253,800 engagements, and all in a single week. Good luck!

Wanna talk social? Click here.

The cost of DIY social media

These days, few doubt the importance of social media in growing and developing your business. There are very few businesses not active on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Those who aren’t rouse suspicion from a customer-base increasingly used to easy engagement with businesses possessing a visible social media presence.

Many small businesses now grasp the importance of an active presence on social media. But a still-vast number of these fail to understand exactly what they need to do to make sure they are using it effectively. They are missing a ‘major business opportunity’ as a result.

With small teams and scarce resources, you might try to take on extensive social media management yourself. This, however, is often not cost effective. It can leave your time spread thinly across watered-down output, and a diminished focus on other aspects of your business.

Our team take a look at the challenges you face as a small business trying to manage social media on your own.

Where to start?

Today there are so many social media websites and platforms. It is hard to know which ones are useful for your business, and where to begin. The rise of social media has resulted in a proliferating number of social media channels to choose from. They all have with different – and rapidly changing – features and user demographics.

From Twitter and Facebook to LinkedIn and Instagram, there are many social media channels for use in the business sector. Each one brings different benefits and drawbacks which greatly determine their use to your business. Knowing which to use, and those to avoid is a vital starting point for your social media strategy. Expert consultancy and knowledge of the market can help you get this right.

Learning to engage properly with your audience

Choosing the correct channels to promote your business is one thing. Understanding how to engage with each channel effectively is another. How you engage is a broad term, and encompasses when you choose to engage with your audience and who you want this audience to be. This can be anything from scheduled output and keeping your profile active in particular periods, to more active customer engagement as and when they use social media to reach out to you. You must also consider who you are engaging with. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow businesses autonomy over the people that want to target, beyond their existing followers. Getting this right is crucial, and can require expertise.

Sourcing high-quality content

A key next step of engaging effectively on social media is the sourcing and creation of high-quality content. Experts Hubspot offer the following advice:

“You can’t speed up inspiration, but you can get better at chasing it. Whenever you sit down to write content, you should dedicate a concrete block of time for researching articles, images, and data to support and enhance your narrative.”

High-quality content understandably does not source or create itself. Your social media output is the first thing potential clients see when finding your business. However, doing this correctly diverts significant time away from other areas of your business.

Keeping up with analytics

The need for expertise is no more obviously required than in the field of analytics. Analytics are the ultimate key to measuring the effectiveness of your output. You need information on who is engaging with your channels, when they are doing so, how they are and why. This is hugely important stats to help you refine your digital presence. Making sense of these is understandably difficult. Whilst this data can be used to improve your social media output, you need the necessary skills to both interpret it and craft the necessary strategy in response.

Training

Even in situations where you have staff devoted to social media management, this is no guarantee of success. There are many social media ‘basics’ that employees can be unaware of, ranging from the basics of how each site works to understanding questions of privacy and tone, with a general lack of quality control in-between. Training others to be social media experts can be costly, and requires constant upkeep as staff move on and the social media landscape shifts.

It is difficult to imagine that this money could not be better invested in other areas of your business.

Your time could and should be spent developing your business in areas which play to your strengths, rather than wasting time creating output for social media which lacks the necessary quality and insight to truly benefit your business’ development.

Expert assistance can save you time and money, aiding your growth by giving you better social media content than you could produce alone at a fraction of the cost. With consumers relying on social media and content to make informed decisions, outsourcing your social activity can give you the competitive edge required to drive sustained growth.

Colour Me Social are here to help. We offer a very affordable solution, working closely with you to grow your online presence in a manner befitting your business needs. Click here to get in contact.

 

Thanks to: Hootsuite + Hubspot

How to use social media to drive traffic to your website and generate leads

Social media platforms are a fantastic marketing tool. The level of potential interaction and engagement with your audience is far increased from the old-school methods. However, with this brave new marketing world comes a challenge. How do harness this new tool to achieve the goals those age-old approaches excelled in?

In this article, we highlight some important factors in using modern social media for two vital marketing tasks: getting website clicks and generating leads.

Identify your audience – know what (and who) to target.

Far too often, you see social media campaigns that target an enormously wide audience. While this gets eyes on your brand, it’s very unlikely to generate leads. Even the most thorough, thought-out social media campaigns can end up failing completely if you don’t target your audience effectively. It’s a simple thought process. If your posts are more targeted, the audience is more likely to engage with it. They are then more likely to click through to your website and give you that lead – because of their interest in what’s being shared. Try thinking about who your audience is – their interests, goals, desires – and target your website-linking posts towards them.

Listen to, and engage with, your audience

If you take a look at prominent social media tools, you’ll see that a lot of them boast a superior “audience listening” capability. Listening to the audience is sales 101, but in social media it often means something a little different. By observing social media activity you can learn about the wider world’s attitudes and problems. You can also learn about their likes, dislikes, etc. they relate to these topics – all relevant to marketing your product. Engaging with these users by using keywords in your posts can cause them to engage with her posts. They might even click through to your website.

Landing pages are vital

One of the most important – and popular – tools for lead generation is landing pages. Landing pages are separate from your main website. They’re designed specifically so that a targeted audience will arrive on them and proceed to complete a specific goal. The goal is usually filling in a form, providing an email, or making contact with the business. Landing pages are effective because their audience is targeted. They include a motivation for these visitors to provide their contact information in exchange for a free download (lead magnet) that reflects their desires. Making a landing page with an informative structure, smart design and a good incentive makes it more likely that people will give you their information. This leads to your all important leads.

To learn more about landing pages, and how to make a good one, check out this article from Kissmetrics.

Use the tools of the trade

Modern social media marketing is more than just posts and links. The diversity of potential marketing channels and techniques within platforms like Facebook and Twitter is enormous. Some examples of these powerful tools include:

Twitter cards

You use Twitter cards for advertising and promoting tweets. When using Twitter’s lead generation card, you link your website and communicate your offer with a snappy description and eye-catching image. This is  very effective for getting eyes on your site and capturing potential customer data for leads. Outdoor clothing company Rock/Creek generated over 1700 leads within seven days using this tool. Learn more about lead generation cards on Twitter’s website here.

Facebook page tabs

Adding a tab on your Facebook page for lead generation can be very effective. Great tools for building custom tabs exist, like Pagemodo, to make this process easier. It helps to generate leads without having to send visitors to an external site, which reduces the effort required and will help to increase responses. Try making a tab with a simple lead generation form and perhaps a small motivating reward.

Twitter events

Twitter chats, AMAs (Ask-Me-Anything) and other time-sensitive events can be great for generating leads. By focusing your events around reasons to engage with your website, you can motivate click-throughs, engage with your audience, and market yourself with the help of your fans.

Video

Fortune reports that Facebook Europe VP Nicola Mendelsohn feels that, in five years, Facebook will be “video, video, video” as it is so powerful and so much more engaging. Using live and recorded video on social media accounts ensure that eyes are on your product for a longer period of time than a conventional post, which allows you more opportunity to convince your audience to click-through to your website to learn more or get that special incentive.

By using these tips, you should find a lot more success in getting more eyes on your website and capturing potential customer data so you can follow up on those leads with further marketing. In social media, one of the most important marketing tips is to be creative, so definitely try and experiment with your marketing strategies, try new tools, or even take some inspiration from your competition’s successes. With a bit of dedication, a lot of engagement and some outside-the-box thinking, your social media accounts can be a powerful tool for driving traffic to your website, and driving eyes – and customers – towards your brand.