Posts

GDPR – What now?

Nearly a month has now passed since the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into effect on May 25th and ensuring compliance is crucial going forward to avoid any costly fines. There are still many discussions and blurry lines between what you can and cannot do when it comes to controlling and processing data. Like most of us, you probably received a string of emails leading up to May 25th asking for your consent to opt-in to further communications or to update your preferences, but you may have also noticed that some businesses did not send you an ‘opt-in’ email, but instead something along the lines of ‘We have updated our Privacy Policy’. Here are two possible explanations why they did not send you an email requesting your ‘opt-in’:

either

1. they have already got record that you have previously and actively given your consent

or

2. they are processing your data under the basis of legitimate interest.

 

What is a legitimate interest?

The legitimate interest is a clause under the GDPR which allows for the processing of data without gaining consent, providing there is a balance of interests from both the data processor and the individual. Examples of this include working in the same or similar industry where there may be a balanced interest in the services or products, the individual is an existing client or customer, or when the processing of data is absolutely necessary for legal obligation. Providing the data is not processed in a way that is unrelated to that relationship, you may continue to send communications based on legitimate interest unless the individual opts-out.

In light of GDPR, businesses should have an updated Privacy and Cookie Policy to explain how they collect, manage and use your data, which will also explain the emails you may have received notifying you of their updated policies. A business should explain in their Privacy Policy the legal basis of processing your data, whether that be legitimate interest, consent or both.

For B2B marketers and email marketing in particular, there are some particularly crucial boundaries regarding the email addresses you can and cannot send to under the basis of legitimate interest. You can continue to send to email addresses providing they are a Limited company, a Limited Liability Partnership, or a partnership in Scotland or a Government department, and you are sending an email to a business email address. However, if the person you are emailing is a sole trader or works in a partnership, even if you are sending the email to their work email address and there is legitimate interest, you will require an initial opt-in from them to do so.

 

Completing a Legitimate Interests Assessment

The processing of data based on legitimate interest is a credible alternative where gaining consent is not an option; however, we advise that data controllers undertake a Legitimate Interests Assessment (LIA). This process consists of a series of questions that help you to determine whether the processing of data under Legitimate Interests is viable and if it is, demonstrates that there is a balance of interests between the two parties. You should go through the LIA process each time you plan to newly process personal data under Legitimate Interests.

If you have any questions about regarding GDPR and how affects your marketing, contact us on 01962 600 147 or email info@tlc-business.co.uk.

What SMEs need to know for effective marketing in 2016 – seminar summary

Last week, TLC Business held our annual marketing seminar at The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, but with a slight twist. We teamed up with Simon Harmer and his company Blown Away to deliver an inspirational session for businesses looking to get their marketing up and running.

This year, the focus was to ‘Get Your Marketing in Order for 2016’, and this blog will outline the main themes explored on the day, just in case you missed it!

Social media

With social media now firmly embedded into all our lives, it is clearly of big importance to us marketers. To help you succeed in your social media exploits, here are some top tips:

  1. Make sure your timing’s are on point. Many businesses fail to engage with their social media audience because they are posting at the wrong times. There are now a variety of scheduling platforms such as Buffer that suggests the best times to post updates for your business – so take advantage!
  2. Get your business on the right platforms. If you’re looking to build meaningful B2B connections and the ability to forge lasting business relationships, then LinkedIn consistently comes out on top as your best bet. In contrast, if you’re a B2C organisation and are looking to drive audience engagement and ultimately sales, then Facebook tops the list.
  3. Ensure that your posts have that ‘visual’ appeal. Posts that contain an image are 94% more likely to be shared than ones that don’t. Many marketers miss out on this simple trick that can increase social media engagement and reach dramatically!
  4. Posting the same content to all channels can become a bit tedious for your audience if they are present on each platform. Take advantage of the respective strengths of each social media platform and post content accordingly.

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is still perceived by many as a bit of a dark art. Despite constant algorithm updates, there are still opportunities to play the SEO game effectively and win.

Google is increasingly positioning itself as an ‘answers engine’. The advent of mobile has also put the cats amongst the pigeons (excuse the pun for those SEO geeks out there!) meaning there are even more opportunities to make your local business standout from the crowd.

Tips:

  1. Ensure that Google Analytics and Webmaster tools are installed and active on your website. Combined they will give you all the information you need (and more!) to get your website to be the best it can be. Google Webmaster tools will tell you what terms your site is being found for in Google, as well as identify any aspects of your site that are holding it back.
  2. Take full advantage of Google’s Keyword Planner to help inform the decision making process behind the keywords you choose to optimise your website pages for. And remember, keywords don’t have to be one word; they can effectively be phrases too.
  3. If you only do a few things SEO related on your website, make sure two of them are creating unique meta titles and descriptions optimised for the keyword-focus for each particular page.
  4. Get involved with Google Developer for page speed insights and how accessible on desktop or mobile your website is. Google gives marketers an insight into the loading speeds of their website, and will also give tips on how to increase load speed times. Alongside this, Google Developer provides a mobile-friendly test that will give marketers the tips and improvement suggestions they need to make their site better for mobile users.

PPC

96% of Google’s revenue comes from PPC ads, so clearly PPC is an important tool for them. We are sure you must be aware of the ads that populate Google’s search results pages! Statistics show that the top 3 ads on each search page receive 46% of traffic. PPC click-through rates are also shown to be 10 times higher than organic search clicks.

So what influences a good PPC ad? Each ad on every search page is ranked by Google. One’s ad rank is based on their cost-per-click and quality score. Your ads quality score has the ability to make or break your campaigns success. The quality score is made up of your ads click through rate, alongside your ads relevance to the keyword and your landing page’s relevance to the targeted keyword. The more relevant the better!

Tips:

  1. Make your ad text as relevant as possible to the keyword and ensure your landing page is targeted at that keyword too! Try getting your landing page’s URL to include the keyword in too.
  2. Get retargeting. Retargeting has given us marketers another tool to boost our marketing with. With retargeted visitors 70% more likely to convert, it doesn’t come as a surprise that retargeting is another highly effective marketing technique. To put it in its most simple form, retargeting is the practice of serving display ads to people who have previously engaged with your brand. It is vital for marketers looking to increase marketing results in 2016, helping to drive sales and increase brand awareness.  The numbers are compelling. Statistics have shown that retargeted ads receive a 0.70% click-through rate, compared to just 0.07% for regular display ads. Following this, brand search exposure can increase by over 1000%, just from retargeting. With this in mind, retargeting is a must for 2016!

E-marketing

With 2.6 billion email users worldwide, it doesn’t come as a surprise that e-marketing is still a massive hit with marketers. It is reported that for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25, providing yet more reason for you to start thinking about promotion through email if you haven’t done so already.

The popularity of email marketing is continuing to grow, and more email scheduling platforms are being introduced. Platforms such as Campaign Monitor, ReplyApp and MailChimp are great tools for creating, scheduling and managing marketing email campaigns.

Tips:

  1. Use email marketing platforms such as Campaign Monitor to split test each email campaign. This will allow you to identify what content and approach is most effective at meeting your objectives and enables you to continually refine and improve on what works best.
  2. Personalisation is key! Send emails that are personalised to the recipient. Include their name in the subject line, reference topics and include content that they have expressed in interest in. This will not only help build better relationships between your business and consumer, but it will be demonstrable through better engagement and open rates.
  3. Make the email content mobile-friendly, that way the emails can be accessed by a wider audience.

Content Marketing

Creating and sharing content that engages your audience (Content Marketing in a nutshell!) is now a vital component of the marketing mix for marketers. New and fresh content should be published regularly. What regularly looks like depends on your audience. For B2B marketers, 26% post news and updates multiple times a week.

92% of businesses that use social media, use it as a tool to present content. Email is another vital content distribution tool.  LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube make up the top 3 for effectiveness when sharing content, but all have different advantages and disadvantages; therefore it’s important to make sure your content is tailored to your different channels.

Top Tools

With 2016 approaching, what are the top tools for more effective marketing? We have identified Datananas as a potentially effective tool for those looking to build their professional database, with its ability to export LinkedIn users and their contact information from LinkedIn without the need to be connected to them.

Other platforms like Buffer have also popped up on the radar, with its unique imaging software – Pablo! Brands are now able to upload an image of their choice and add text to it, making each social media post unique and eye-catching for their audience.

SumoMe is another top marketing tool for 2016, incorporating a series of apps all designed to get your website and content working. The toolbox includes on page analytics, free traffic for your site, image sharer and a smart bar that will increase your number of email subscribers – amazing!

What else is there to add to the marketing tool list? Google’s Webmaster Tools crops up again! As mentioned before, Google’s Webmaster Tools is a vitally important tool for anyone with a website. With the ability to understand your site’s organic search performance, as well as providing tips and tricks on how to get more traffic, the tool is a must.

One New Year’s resolution for you – download these marketing tools!

So, what matters for SMEs?

We think the top 5 themes that SMEs should consider in 2016 are:

  1. Content is king – still!
  2. Analytics
  3. Personalisation
  4. Online ads
  5. Video

We hope you find this useful and would like to thank everyone who attended. We look forward to seeing you again soon!

In case you missed it – Key ‘B2B Buying Behaviour’ Survey Findings

Each year, BaseOne commission a ‘B2B Buyers Behaviour’ Survey exploring key themes and channels used by B2B organisation buyers to purchase services and products. Here is a quick summary of the key findings in 2012’s report. Enjoy!
What are the top 5 channels used by buyers to get information when purchasing a product or service?

  1. Web searches – 71%
  2. Word of mouth – 56%
  3. Online community sites – 12%
  4. LinkedIn – 10%
  5. Facebook – 5%

Clearly have a user-friendly and highly visible website is key when marketing to the B2B sector but one should not underestimate the growing influence of social media, so often presented as a more B2B-friendly medium.

Which information channels were deemed to be most useful when making a purchasing decision?

  1. Word of mouth
  2. Web searches
  3. Online community sites

As you might expect, word-of-mouth is the most useful means of getting meaningful information, helpful to the decision making process.

What type of information do buyers regard as helpful when making a purchasing decision?

  1. Visited supplier websites – 73%
  2. Articles and info found in industry press – 47%
  3. Relevant supplier emails – 39%
  4. Relevant press advertising – 20%
  5. Direct mail – 19%

How do buyers here about information sources?

  • Most whitepapers and webinars / videos are found through web searches
  • Most seminars are found out about through supplier emails
  • Most blogs are found via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Key changes in channel usage since 2011

  • The usage and importance of supplier websites, word of mouth, web searches and industry press has all increased in the last 12 months.
  • The usage and importance of press advertising, direct mail, online events / webinars, blogs, Facebook and Twitter have all decreased in the last 12 months.
  • The sharpest decline has been in press advertising, direct mail and Facebook.
  • The biggest increase in importance has been around word of mouth.

Social media usage by age

  • 49% of buyers under 30 years of age use social media for information and advice
  • 26% of buyers between 31 and 40 years of age use social media for advice and information.
  • 23% of buyers between 41 and 50 years of age use social media for information and advice.
  • 13% of buyers beween 51 and 60 years of age use social media for advice and information.

What age are the buyers in your target segments? Having this knowledge could be the difference between an effective social media marketing campaign and a costly one.

Which channel / source is most useful at each stage of the buying process?

  1. Identifying the problem and need – Whitepapers
  2. Identifying potential suppliers – Web searches and LinkedIn, with supplier websites and word of mouth just behind
  3. Supplier selection – Twitter and supplier emails

Hope this has given you some food for thought and will prove helpful in your marketing planning for 2013!

To download the full report click ‘Buyersphere 2012 Report‘.

Are your Lead Generation campaigns LinkedIn?

You may be aware that we regularly discuss the importance of social media for a business, providing you with insights into the latest social media trends and top tips about how to engage effectively with your consumers within the variety of social media platforms available.
From our experience of working with SMEs, the same questions pop up time and time again, ‘How can social media fit with my industry’? ‘How is social media going to generate sales for my business?’

Not all social media sites are relevant for every business, for example, product based B2C businesses are more likely to engage with consumers on platforms, such as Facebook and Pinterest, where a business can take advantage of the visual functions available. If you want to communicate to a B2B audience and business professionals, then LinkedIn with its 150 million members is a good place to start.

LinkedIn enables members and businesses to create profiles, connect with like-minded individuals, share blogs and news items. However, more and more businesses are now discovering the hidden powers of LinkedIn, not only as a social networking site, but also as a platform that can be the foundation for marketing campaigns and a vital component in a company’s lead generation efforts.

So how can your business use LinkedIn for lead generation? Think of LinkedIn as a treasure trove with over 150 million contacts that can be used to support your business activities. LinkedIn is rich with information you can use to help qualify prospects, target businesses and research competitors.

Below are some examples of how your business can use LinkedIn effectively:

  • Do you have a list of potential companies that you wish to target? Are there contact names missing or is the list simply out of date? If so, LinkedIn is a great tool for identifying key decision-makers working in the organisations you are keen to engage with.  This helps eliminate the dreaded entry phrase ‘I can’t put you through; we work on a no name basis’.
  • Is your business launching a new product or service and you are keen to research your target audience? We use LinkedIn as a valuable market research tool. It gives you access to a range of groups and contacts, many of which are keen to share their opinion. Post a question on a relevant group and engage with your target audience to get their thoughts and ideas, there’s nothing better than a service or product that really addresses the challenges and problems customers face.
  • Join groups and develop yourself as an expert in your field. LinkedIn enables you to join and set up industry and career specific groups. Groups of like-minded professionals are excellent for gaining knowledge, sharing news and conveying your expertise. LinkedIn groups allow you to see the issues that your target audience are facing, providing you with an opportunity to share your knowledge and build relationships with potential customers.

A great example of a business getting to grips with the power of LinkedIn is Cathay Pacific. Cathay Pacific Airways is an international airline based in Hong Kong, offering scheduled cargo and passenger services to over 140 destinations around the world. Cathay Pacific faced the same challenges that most businesses face, how to crawl through the jungle that is an overcrowded marketplace and reach their target audience with a message that is compelling. In order to achieve this, Cathay Pacific turned to LinkedIn to help target people who would fly business class between the United States and Asia. The aim was to identify members who belong to LinkedIn groups related to business travel in Asia, such as Global Workers, China Networking Group and Hong Kong Connection, in order to engage with time-strapped business travellers in an environment where they were already comfortable, engaged and spending time.

Cathay Pacific established a company page in LinkedIn and started to engage with the groups and individual members, providing regular status updates. As well as increasing the brand awareness, Cathay Pacific’s LinkedIn activity generated a total of 1,324 responses from business travellers, produced 97 LinkedIn page recommendations and increased the clickthrough rate on to their main website.

With the ever increasing array of social networking sites available to businesses, large and small, and the constantly evolving digital world, a business must establish the platforms that offer their business most value. Social media is free but your time is not. You need to use it wisely. We believe that increasingly, if you operate in the B2B sphere, LinkedIn represents an effective investment of your time. It is now so much more than just an online CV; it unlocks the doors to millions of opportunities for your business.

Pinteresting…

Recently we mentioned Pinterest in our March marketing top tips and we thought it would be a good idea to share a little more about the latest social media trend and how your business can get involved.
Pinterest recently hit our social media world with an almighty bang, receiving more than 103 million visits in February. If you have not yet joined the millions of other social media enthusiasts on Pinterest, it may be hard to understand the fascination. At first glance, the Pinterest home page may appear to be a wall of fashion trends, cupcakes and food thumbnails. However, once you start searching your own interests, you may find yourself quickly addicted to the new world of pinning.


How Pinterest works:

Pinterest invites visitors to set up their own  virtual “pinboards”, incorporating interesting images, designs and styles into different categories that the user invents.  From kitchen designs to jewellery collections, there is an array of ‘interests’ to suit everyone’s needs. So how is Pinterest a social networking site? Well, Pinterest allows members to comment on each other’s images and follow their pinboards. If a photo strikes a user’s fancy, then they can simply repin it.

Who’s involved? 

 Google Ad Planner recently showed that nearly 1.5 million unique users are visiting Pinterest daily, and spending an impressive 14+ minutes on the site. Pinterest is very much tailored towards the US market at present but it is rapidly growing in the UK. According to Andrew Lipsman, ComScore’s Vice President of Industry Analysis, females account for 68% of the site’s visitors worldwide and a whopping 85% of the activity. However, in the UK, the demographic is different, with a mostly male audience, interested in more than just re-pinning and showcasing photographs. Instead, they are focusing on the web statistics and analysis associated with this new social networking phenomenon.

How can my business get involved?

So, can a business benefit from yet another social networking site?

SMEs who currently promote their brand on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ should start thinking about adding Pinterest to their mix. Pinterest HQ suggests that businesses first spotlight “aspects of your brand that may not come to mind at first,” such as charitable activity and coporate social responsibility schemes. They also suggest incorporating other aspects of social media, creating a communication hub to new and potential consumers.

Currently, Pinterest works best for brands that can display their service or product in thought provoking, attractive and sometimes funny images. Photographs are a great way of engaging users and encouraging them to follow and interact with your brand. Businesses can also make sure that a Pinterest user who clicks on their photos will be taken directly back to their website, where the product or service is displayed. According to top marketing researchers, last month, Pinterest delivered more referral traffic then Twitter.

However, like any social networking site, Pinterest comes with a warning. There have been recent headlines claiming there are copy right issues regarding Pinterest. Our advice would be, as always, be careful what you upload online, if you ‘re pin’ an image, check that the link goes back to the original website, thereby providing referral links & traffic to the copyright owner. Inform your employees of your social media best practice and finally use this as an excuse to upload original and creative content that reflects your brand and engages your consumer.

See below for a couple of brands using Pinterest, one you may expect and the second one you may not.

Unicef:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GE:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more advice on safe social media for your business, click here.

Top Marketing Tips For March 2012

  1. Following on from this month’s blog on Google+, we have provided you with a useful website that includes 5 simple steps to building a good business page on Google+.
  2. Pinterest is the latest social networking site aimed at sharing what interests and inspires users. Pinterest is a pinboard-styled social photo sharing website. The website allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections. Pinterest’s goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.
  3. Twilert is a Twitter application that enables you to receive regular email alerts of tweets containing keywords associated with your brand, product and service. Think of it as theGoogle Alerts for Twitter.

Safety First

You may be aware that earlier this week the BBC launched their Share Take Care’ campaign, encouraging everybody to actively protect their online activity. As a society, we are concerned about the photographs, status updates and information we share with fellow family members, co-workers and friends, taking time to monitor our own security settings. However, how many of us apply the same effort and methods to protecting our business accounts online?
Social media presents businesses with many opportunities, including customer support and the ability to communicate quickly with customers and suppliers. The communications giant NETGEAR recently commissioned a piece of research looking at how important social media has become for businesses. NETGEAR asked 300 small business owners and IT managers how they were using social media in their company. Nearly half of those polled said they were using social media to stay in touch with their customers and nearly 60% said they were using social networking for internal communications. But only 29% said that had made moves to educate their staff about the risks social media may present to their business and what they should be doing to monitor their brand awareness online.

The reputational risks of social media can easily equal or exceed the reputational benefits. The reason is simple; the vast reach of social media platforms enable brands to communicate every second, globally, providing both opportunities and risks. You may remember last year, TLC Business highlighted key areas to help protect your business online.  We thought now would be the prime time to inform you again of the simply steps you can perform, in order to secure your business and its reputation on social networking sites.

Educating employees:

The developments in social media are here to stay, so empower your employees with best practices and guidelines.

  • Create, update, communicate and enforce a company policy that specifies social media do’s and don’ts, including how employees may interact with visitors and use visitors’ information.
  • Identify the key players who will be responsible for developing, executing, and monitoring your social media strategy. Assign at least two administrators for your account. The admins should monitor and promptly respond to new Facebook and Twitter policy changes and features, always considering the impact on the business
  • Sit down with your team and explore the topics and voice you would like to channel to your target audience; create a content plan that employees can follow and use as a guideline throughout the year.

Monitoring conversation online:

Here at TLC Business we recommend Google Alerts as a vital tool to monitor what is being said about your brand. Google Alerts is about understanding what type of information is out there that’s tied to your name, and most importantly your business.

Google Alerts are email updates that are sent to you for whatever keyword or phrase you decide to set the alert. As soon as your name is mentioned anywhere on the Internet, you are sent an alert immediately.

There are other tools out there that do a similar thing but be aware that the results are not definitive, the web is a massive place.

There are only 5 pieces of information that you need to provide to start using Google Alerts:

  1. The word or phrase you want to be alerted about: company name, your name, your products, etc
  2. The type of search: news, blogs, video, discussions, or everything
  3. How often: as it happens, once a day, or once a week
  4. Volume: only the best results or all results
  5. Where the alert should be delivered: email address or feed

One of the latest social media activities to come under fire is a campaign ran by McDonalds. The fast food chain started a campaign on Twitter promoting #MeetTheFarmers, to show how good McDonalds is, but suddenly they changed gears to #McDstories; which unfortunately backfired when people shared their horrifying stories.  See below for some of the tweets circulated worldwide:

  • #McDStories Take a McDonalds fry, let it sit for 6 months. It will not deteriorate or spoil like a normal potato. It will remain how it was
  • ‘These #McDStories never get old, kinda like a box of McDonald’s 10 piece’

Like any business feature or marketing activity, creating and communicating a clear plan is crucial to avoid mistakes. If you are worried how your brand is going to be perceived online, spend time evaluating the right message you want to send out to your target market, what information they will find useful and more importantly what messages can be monitored and dealt with by your team.

Top Marketing Tips For January

  1. E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber. You may have heard us mention this great book in the past. E-Myth Revisited should be required reading for anyone thinking about starting a business or for those who have already taken that risky step.
  2. Having multiple social networking accounts online means having to individually update your profile picture on each network. Avatar Harmony helps you synchronise your profile pictures between Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Create your own QR code online. QR codes are a square matrix type barcode that hold encrypted information. They are widely used in marketing to provide an extremely easy way for end users to be directed to web content, initiate an SMS, and receive contact information as a Vcard and more.

 

Marketing Trends 2012

2012 has arrived and we are very excited! It is time to look at the challenges and opportunities ahead and start planning your marketing strategy for 2012, if you haven’t done so already.
Relationships are key

According to numerous marketing sources and we’d agree, the future of marketing lies in customer relationships. This is supported by the rise of social media, where consumers can engage with your brand at anytime. Gone are the days when companies could control external communications concerning their organisation. The power now resides with the consumer or client. Listening and responding to their needs is vital.

Traditional advertising is over

Your customer’s ability to identify whether what’s being promoted is something useful to them or just “advertising” has become infinitely more acute. According to Andrew Baird at Amazing Business, ignoring ads is at an all time high, so successful marketing relies on being shared online. Customers can then “like”, recommend and share their opinions through this medium.

Word of mouth marketing

Now more than ever, a consistent online presence is crucial to business success. Through conducting regular client surveys on behalf of our clients, TLC Business has persistently found that referrals, whether on or offline, are still a vital tool for sourcing a new service. The rise in social media activity has made it much easier for consumers to recommend or advise against a service and have their message shared far beyond their own social circles. This is further verified by the Buyersphere 2011 report on changing B2B buyer behavior, which identifies referrals as one of the most influential channels when appointing and sourcing a supplier.

Integrated on and offline

Alongside active consumer engagement, TLC Business emphasises the importance of  on and offline marketing convergence.  With all the noise about digital marketing, it is easy to forget that more traditional marketing methods can still be incredibly effective. Using both mediums together can result in greater returns on your marketing investment. Integral to successfully implementing this strategy is ensuring all your marketing efforts support each other, working in unison, rather than each independently in its own bubble. For successful integration, make sure online and offline business campaigns are consistent, coherent and in sync with each other.

QR codes

TLC Business’ Director, Josh Spencer, believes that 2012 will be the year QR codes finally realise their potential and become more widely used. For those that haven’t heard, QR is short for Quick Response. These barcodes are used to take a piece of information from an advertisement or product and transfer it to a mobile device. For small businesses, this code can be added to a wide variety of marketing material, including: stationery, adverts, promotional items, posters, stands etc. and direct users to a specific landing page. Using this tool means that information about your business can be accessed instantaneously and at any time. Crucially, it also gives businesses a fantastic way of measuring the effectiveness of a variety of marketing tools that previously would have proved difficult.

Don’t get lazy

Don’t rest on your laurels. What has worked in the past will not necessarily prove effective today. Make sure you adopt strategies that are up-to-date with today’s “switched on” consumers and exploit the latest improvements in marketing tools and technology. For businesses looking to grow their client base and improve customer relations, developing a well rounded and relevant marketing plan is essential. In today’s fast moving society, marketing strategies should be constantly evolving and changing; tools that were successful in 2011, may not be as effective in 2012.

Do your homework

The beginning of a new year also allows business owners the opportunity to diversify their marketing. Research shows that 57% of entrepreneurs interviewed said that marketing was their top priority this year. SMEs that want to continue to build their reputation in the marketplace in 2012 must be aware of consumer needs. Experimenting with different channels will enhance your opportunities, so what better time to try new approaches. Determine those channels that are most profitable and those that aren’t. The New Year marks a time for change, and small businesses are no exception. By refreshing your marketing strategy, you can breathe new life into your business and make 2012 a great your for your business.

We are looking forward to joining you on your journey!

A Digital Christmas

We know Christmas is upon us when the Monday morning office discussion is based around Mariah Carey vs. The Pogues or Buble vs. Bieber, like it or not, Christmas is a matter of days away.  Whilst many B2B businesses look at the lead up to Christmas as an opportunity to get their house in order, for many B2Cs this is the most important time of year. With shoppers keeping tighter hold of their purse strings this Christmas, it is important for marketers, whether in the B2B or B2C sectors, to think creatively about how to use the wealth of marketing channels out there.  Here is how some more well known brands have been using social media and mobile marketing to engage with consumers this Christmas.
Mobile marketing – Santa’s little helper

Christmas is just around the corner and recent surveys have predicted a significant growth in the use of mobile this Christmas. With almost half of the UK population now owning a Smartphone, more people are turning to their mobiles for shopping research and purchasing decisions. Consumerchoices.co.uk has found that the UK alone is to spend as much on Christmas via mobile phone as the rest of Europe. The growth of mobile commerce continues to show that consumers are becoming more confident in using their mobile phones for shopping and purchasing items on the go.

The NSPCC are a great example for those thinking about mobile marketing in the lead up to Christmas. The NSPCC is once again running a seasonal campaign that will send the child (or big kid!) a ‘Letter from Santa’. The latest campaign from the NSPCC will be promoted and delivered via mobile marketing, with the charity looking to capitalise on the growth of the mobile internet in order to raise more funds in this festive period.  This year, the NCPCC have taken their traditional letter campaign a step further, a special microsite has been established, where parents will be able to order a letter from Santa for their children simply via their smartphones.

Mobile is becoming a key component in marketing and mobile advertising spend is expected to ramp up this Christmas as advertisers focus their efforts on reaching a growing, and increasingly engaged, mobile audience.

Social media this Christmas – Spread a little festive cheer

 Companies are finding new ways to talk to their consumers this Christmas. Stephen Haines, UK commercial director, Facebook, said: “Retailers are seeing more and more value from joining conversations on Facebook as a great way to hear directly from fans about what they want and what’s interesting.

“This Christmas, we’re seeing a lot of brands taking advantage of those conversations to reach not only fans but also their friends in fun, creative ways – including wish lists, gifting apps, exclusive deals and special Facebook offers. “

Facebook gives companies the forum to interact directly with their customers and for a real conversation to take place about the brand. This year Nivea launched a new Facebook campaign for Christmas, the Facebook page is designed to fit in with the skincare brand’s ‘Feel Closer’ positioning. Consumers can use the app to buy and send a friend a Nivea gift set, which will be wrapped in personalised wrapping paper featuring photos they have both been tagged in on Facebook. 

It hopes to target women aged 30-54 by encouraging the use of Facebook to share “moments of closeness” by uploading photos and liking, sharing and commenting on other people’s pictures.

Mobile service provider O2 has launched its festive social media marketing campaign, which will provide customers with a personal message from Santa. Using the social media platform, Twitter, consumers can send their messages to the O2 Santa.  O2 will then create a personal video message for the sender, which can be shared amongst friends.

This Christmas campaign has been designed to spread a little festive joy. Consumers can participate by tweeting the official O2 Twitter account, @O2 with the hashtag #O2santa. All of the video messages created will be hosted on YouTube, enabling customers to watch them again and again.

Head of social media at O2, Alex Pearmain, commented on this latest social media marketing initiative.

“Our social channels seemed the ideal platform to cheer customers up and we hope this campaign will help to cut through some of the current consumer gloom and spread some festive cheer.”

For any business owner, developing a strategy to encourage new business or shoppers back into stores for the crucial Christmas period is increasingly difficult; however, Christmas is a great time to get creative and build customer interaction, ready for the New Year. Last year, we reflected on the increase in online shopping. This year, online marketing has gone social.  So what will next year bring? Will Santa be teleporting his gifts down the chimney? We are looking forward to finding out!