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.

How will GDPR affect Marketing?

With the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) coming into effect on May 25th 2018, TLC Business have taken a look into how the new laws will affect the B2B Marketing industry and what precautions we can begin to take to ensure we’re not in any breach of the new regulations – as we could encounter some pretty significant and unpleasant fines.

So what is GDPR and what do we need to know about it?

The GDPR is the biggest change in data protection laws in 20 years and it will affect any organisation that collects or processes the personal information or data of any European Citizen. The intentions of the GDPR are to give back European citizens control of their personal data and to enforce stricter regulations. These new set of rules, set by the European Commission, will make major changes to all of Europe’s privacy laws and replace the current outdated Data Protection Division (1995). If businesses do not comply with the new laws when the regulations come into force on May 25th, they could face some pretty hefty fines. Depending on a series of factors, these could be up to €20 million Euros or 4% of their global annual turnover for the previous financial year, whichever is greater – alongside this, they also face huge damage to the company’s reputation.

What about Brexit?

The UK’s forthcoming exit from the EU will not exclude UK businesses from the GDPR, as the new regulations are already agreed and in place, ready for enforcement in the UK in May. Even if the UK was to repeal them post-Brexit, bear in mind that currently the UK sends around 40% of all its exports to the EU and by complying with the new principles set out in GDPR, a business will ensure it is compliant for continued trading with EU citizens and businesses going forward post-Brexit, whatever the outcome.

What are the most significant changes? And what does this mean for marketers?

The biggest change brought about by GDPR for all marketers, whether they specialise in direct marketing, email marketing, telemarketing or digital marketing, is the new ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ permission rules. Historically, businesses and marketers have provided pre-ticked opt-in boxes, therefore, by default, their audience is opted-in to receiving an array of marketing communications. The data collected through this method is used freely by companies, how they choose, meaning that the data processors, be it the company or their partners, can send you communications about absolutely anything – regardless whether you actually want it.

Although many businesses have now improved these practices and include clearer and more straight-forward options to ‘opt-out’ or ‘unsubscribe’, GDPR will forbid this practice. From May 25th, organisations will no longer be able to pre-opt in people to their marketing lists and will also be required to maintain records of how and when consent to receive future communications was given by the individual.

However, there are also a few exceptions to this rule:

You will still be able to call businesses with no opt-in but must state who you are calling from and give people the right to opt-out of further calls.
You will still be able to send direct mail with no opt-in but must give people the right to opt-out of further mails.

Another point to consider under the new regulations, is that businesses can only keep data and personal information for a fair amount of time before requiring the individual to re-subscribe; however, it is not yet clear what is considered ‘fair’ and we hope this will be made clearer closer to the GDPR launch.

The right to be forgotten

Businesses must also give individuals the option to remove all personal information and data from their systems at any time – as long as it doesn’t mean they are in breach of compliance or industry regulations. This ‘Right to be forgotten’ principle is much more thorough than an opt-out and no longer sending them messages. Instead, it gives individuals the right to be removed from an organisation’s database entirely. As a result of this, if they wish to receive marketing content again in the future, they must resubmit new contact information and provide consent in order to do so.

The right to request what data on you is held

A significant aspect of GDPR that directly affects marketers, is the right for individuals to request a copy of data held on them in any readable, electronic format. Alongside this, they are entitled to ask exactly what information is being used by an organisation or processed by their company and for what end purpose.

The GDPR intends for data subjects to regain control of how their information and data is handled and directly threatens ‘batch and blast’ marketing, where businesses will often use bulk purchased data from data providers in an untargeted manner and without consideration of the data subject’s interests. Small to large companies often rely upon data purchasing to populate their sales pipeline and expand their audience reach.

However, despite the stricter rules and regulations of gaining consent, the European Commission has made some compromises. Marketers may be be allowed to use data without gaining consent providing there is a degree of  ‘legitimate interest’. This ‘legitimate interest’ clause applies to both personal and business data subjects. Many marketers are claiming ‘legitimate interest’ will enable them to continue business as usual. Whilst we think this is unlikely, it remains to be seen what can be considered a ‘legitimate interest’ and only once cases are brought to court and precedents are set, will we truly know.

The ‘legitimate interests’ clause

The GDPR recognises the fact that data processors may have legitimate reasons for processing personal data and that sometimes data processing is absolutely necessary for legal obligation. In regards to the marketing industry in particular, the ‘legitimate interests’ clause is intended to allow data processing without consent, provided certain conditions and requirements are met. At present, this list is still quite vague.

It is also important to mention that individuals can in fact object to their data being processed for legitimate interest reasons and will still of course have the option to opt-out at any time. All organisations must make it clear to individuals how they intend to use their data in a statement and provide a legitimate interests opt-out option as well as the usual opt-out. It should also be clearly stated in the organisation’s privacy policy in line with the ICO’s recommendations on privacy notices.

One of the conditions of processing data under the legitimate interest clause is there must be a balance of interests from both the data processor and the person receiving the marketing. Examples of this include working in the same or similar industry or an interest in the services or products based on existing records. Another example of this is if the organisation has an existing relationship with the data subject; such as a previous client or customer. In this circumstance they must ensure they don’t process data in a way that is unrelated to that relationship.

To be on the safe side, we advise that any organisation processing data under the ‘legitimate interest’ clause, maintain a record of how they have made an assessment of legitimate interest, in the off chance that they are questioned and can therefore demonstrate that they have given the proper consideration to the data subject’s freedoms and rights.

In order to fulfil the requirements to use the legitimate interests clause for marketing purposes, marketers can conduct a ‘Legitimate Interests Assessment’; which can be used to determine that either the processing of personal data is absolutely necessary (which mostly refers to legal obligation) or to establish whether there is a balance of interests between the two parties and the interests of the organisation don’t outweigh the interests of the data subject.

While using legitimate interests is a good alternative when gaining consent from the data subject is not possible, it has been advised by many experts not to wholly rely upon this clause in the GDPR, as there are risks you could face and it is considered more difficult to fulfil the requirements, compared to gaining consent, which is considered the safer and easier option.

B2B email marketing and GDPR

An area of GDPR we are particularly interested in is around email marketing to individuals within businesses and organisations. Currently, the following rules are in place for when GDPR comes into practice:

If the person you are emailing works for a limited company, a limited liability partnership, partnership in Scotland or a Government department, and you are sending an email to their work email address, you can email them as long as there is legitimate interest. They need to be easily able to opt-out of receiving emails and you are required to provide your company information in the email.

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.

So what actions can marketers begin to take?

The number one action marketers can take now is to provide a simple and clear opt-in process for data subjects to opt in to their future communications, to ensure your data is GDPR compliant on 25th May.

We recommend that an internal audit of the current practices and systems used to collect data should be carried out to highlight any areas that need to be updated before the GDPR comes into effect.

For marketers who wish to use legitimate interests in order to continue their direct marketing without consent, the Data Protection Network has released a ‘Legitimate Interests Guide’ to give organisations an idea of the requirements and includes the assessment mentioned earlier. You can find the downloadable guide here: https://www.dpnetwork.org.uk/dpn-legitimate-interests-guidance/

If you have any questions about how GDPR is going to affect the marketing of your business or organisation, contact us on 01962 600 147 or email info@tlc-business.co.uk.

 

2017 Top Marketing Statistics To Help You Plan For 2018

As 2017 is drawing to a close, and 2018 is on the horizon, TLC Business have taken a moment to look at the digital marketing statistics of 2017 and picked a few to explore in greater detail, to help shape your marketing content strategy in the year to come. Not only will we be discussing the relative merits of the various social media platforms, but we will also take a look at the current influences and trends around video, email and content marketing.

Who won the Social Media war in 2017?

Published figures suggest there are around 2.3 billion active Social Media users in the world right now. For most marketers who have utilised social media into their marketing strategy already or for those who are planning to, their biggest concern is about successfully targeting the right audience on the correct social media platform. So, let’s take a look at which were the most popular social sites in 2017, ranked by number of active monthly users.

1. Facebook

Coming in at the number 1 spot is Facebook, with 1.9 billion active users every month and an average of 6 new profiles created every second. Facebook is the most popularly used social media platform, with 22% of the world’s total population using it. It is also an ideal platform for targeting females between 18-49 years old. Statistics indicate that 83% of women online use Facebook, compared to 75% of men online. However, it still holds a wide general appeal, with the widest demographic of users and the most active out of all the platforms; therefore, it is no wonder Facebook is the overall top choice of platform for businesses. There are already 40 million small business users who actively use Facebook and 2 million businesses pay for Facebook advertising.

2. YouTube

With 1 billion active monthly users, YouTube is the 2nd most popular of the social media sites and has a higher proportion of men using it. 55% of males online use YouTube, compared to 45% of females online. More than 500 million hours of videos are watched by its audience of predominantly 18-49 year olds every day, this equals an average of 2 million video views per minute! Video marketing is one of the hot topics for 2018 and we will explore it further in our top trends for 2018 blog.

3. Instagram

At number 3 is Instagram, with 700 million active monthly users. Owned by Facebook, statistics show that 90% of Instagram users are under 35 and the users are predominantly female. 53% of ‘Instagrammers’ follow brands on the platform, making it another popular choice of social media channels for businesses. For millennials, Instagram is considered their most important and favourite social network to use. Over 80 million photos are uploaded by users every day, and in June this year, they introduced the function to add Instagram Live videos to your Instagram Story for 24 hours, as well as the ability to save live video to your device, making it a particularly popular platform for live video functionality.

4. The Rest…

Following Instagram in fourth place is (the now not so popular) Twitter – that is unless you are a male and between 18-29. The platform has 328 million unique monthly users, most of which only use Twitter for an average of 2.7 minutes per day. A staggering 53% of Twitter users never post any updates. Snapchat is in fifth place with 300 million active monthly users, 74% of whom are under 34 years old and 70% of which are female. LinkedIn, in sixth place, has 106 million active monthly users and is the No.1 choice of platform for professionals and particularly B2B organisations. Fact: LinkedIn users are slightly less likely to use another social media network compared to users of other platforms. In seventh place is Pinterest. It has 200 million active monthly users and is the most popular network for women aged 18-64, with 42% of all women online using the platform vs only 17% of men online. Another interesting point to add is that 10% of people that click thru to an e-commerce site via Pinterest are more likely to make a purchase compared to if they were referred from any other network. Something to consider for the B2C marketers out there.

The Rise of Video Marketing

2017 saw another increase in the use of video marketing in campaigns and the statistics continue to grow as we get closer to 2018. If you’re unsure of which platform to use, the answer is don’t worry about it. They all have their merits. Facebook generates 8 billion video views on average per day according to Social Media Today and YouTube reports mobile video consumption rises 100% every year (Hubspot), so it’s no wonder that video has become increasingly popular as a marketing method and marketers are investing more and more in paid or sponsored social video. According to Hubspot, a staggering 80% of users recall a video ad they have viewed in the past 30 days and after watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online. Live streaming videos have also been in the limelight in 2017, with people spending 3 times longer watching a live social video compared to one that is pre-recorded. By 2020, 80% of global internet traffic will be attributed to video consumption and 48% of marketers plan to add video to their content strategy in the next year if they haven’t already done so. But not only is video being uploaded and shared on social platforms, it has proven to be successful within web and email marketing content too. According to Unbounce, including a video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%. In terms of email marketing, Syndacast said using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line boost the open rates by 19% and Hubspot suggests a video in an email leads to 200-300% increase in click-through rates. So, if you haven’t already incorporated video into your marketing plan, now is the time to do so.

Increasing Content for Mobile

The number of users web browsing on mobile devices increases +25% year-on-year and mobile is the number 1 choice of device for accessing the web and social media. By 2018, mobile content will account for 72% of digital ad spend according to eMarketer and the growth in businesses creating mobile-ready content is rapid. Businesses are creating more content for the smaller screen, including mobile-optimised websites, social media pages, videos, imagery and mobile-optimised emails. Tubular Insights recently stated that 84% of viewers are watching social video via mobile; therefore, creating video that seamlessly adapts to the size of screen it is being watched on is important for creating an effective user experience. According to Forbes, square videos take up 78% more space in the Facebook News Feed and get more engagement than horizontal videos. Mobile-only social network platforms, such as Snapchat, also continue to grow in popularity and are encouraging more time to be spent on mobiles. However, despite the favourable use of mobile devices, statistics show that mobile conversion rates are still much lower than desktop conversion rates, as people simply aren’t as ready to buy on the small screen. There are plenty of understandable reasons for this: people find it hard to navigate websites and make purchases on a smaller screen; people may not feel payments are as secure on mobile as they are on desktop; people might see phones as a device for browsing and entertainment, whilst desktops are the devices for making purchases. These are all issues which can be overcome with relatively simple strategies, such as: adapting your online content to fit mobile screens, introducing better access and ease of navigation across your website, providing a clear message that the online security measures are the same as desktop devices etc. Measures like these will improve mobile conversation rates and overall user satisfaction. Ultimately, you are playing into your competitors’ hands if you are not able to reach and engage with your audience through mobile and you are missing a trick.

Creating consistent content across multiple platforms is also important for delivering a smoother user experience online. Users rarely stick to one device and will often be multi-screening across several devices. Whilst mobile is the number one choice, many users still express preferences for visiting certain websites on desktop over mobile; therefore, although it’s important that organisations should offer mobile-optimised sites, in the meantime the desktop experience should not be sacrificed. This is why the majority of businesses are using adaptive designs in their content strategy, where layout and content are tailored for both desktop, tablet and various mobile screen dimensions. Another point to consider as part of a mobile content strategy is the creation of mobile apps vs mobile sites. Particularly for B2C businesses, the consumer preference for apps over websites or vice versa should be considered. Make sure you do your home work over which option your customers prefer.

E-mail Marketing

Did you know that 50% of smartphone users grab their smart phone immediately after waking up to check their social media networks and emails? This probably comes as no surprise as there’s a 50/50 chance that you do too. Integrating a mobile responsive email template into a businesses’ content plan is the bare minimum you should be doing, considering mobile email opens have grown by 180% in the last three years according to Email Monday. By next year, 8 in 10 email users will likely access their email accounts exclusively from their mobile devices and 79% of people already use their smartphone for reading emails; which is a higher percentage than those who use it for making calls. However, not only is mobile-optimised email content a necessity for successful email marketing. So too is utilising a rich variety of content and employing segmented email campaigns. Firstly ‘rich content’ can facilitate user interaction, for example videos, polls and infographics encourage user interaction, whilst simultaneously collecting consumer insights. Segmented email campaigns have an open rate that is 14.32% higher than non-segmented email campaigns according to Mailchimp; therefore, it is important to ‘clean-up’ and order your data regularly. GDPR will make this even more relevant in 2018.

A simple tip, if you are embracing email marketing in 2018. Before you start smothering your emails in graphics, videos, polls and fancy templates, first test your campaign and check that it displays effectively on different email platforms, such as outlook, gmail, yahoo, etc. – it is very common to encounter compatibility issues across different email clients and operating systems, which may affect your audience experience. Most e-marketing software platforms will allow you to do this simple and painlessly.

How to Increase your Email Open Rate

Millions of emails are sent out and read every day, and it’s estimated that over a third of the world’s population will be using email by 2019. However, with UK businesses only achieving an average open rate of 24.7% last year, it just goes to prove no matter how great your email is, if you can’t get them to open it in the first place, you’ll never be able to convert them into loyal customers. With this in mind, we’ve summarised some of our top tips to increase your emails’ open rates.

1. Create an engaging subject line
The subject line is the first thing your subscribers will read, so it’s vital you start off strong. There are several ways to improve your subject line. Personalisation is a great way to engage the reader, and don’t forget to keep it short and sweet. Avoid words and phrases such as “free” or “save cash”, as these aren’t only uninspiring, but they’re more likely to send your email to the spam folder.

2. Make sure your email is responsive
Ever opened an email and found yourself frustrated by having to alter the text or images because they don’t fit the screen? Your subscribers probably feel exactly the same, so it’s important that your email is responsive on all devices, and not just desktops. Nowadays there are many sites you can use that have responsive templates you can use to design your emails. Other tips include not using too many images and avoiding menu bars.

3. Send your email at the right time
Yes; even timings can affect your open rate. If you want to know what time is best to send emails, carry out a few tests before sending your final version to see when you have the highest open rate. For example, if you’re sending your emails to people’s work email addresses, you’re not going to want to send it on the weekend, when checking work emails is the last thing on their minds. You’ll not only want to consider which day of the week, but also what time of day you want to send it. On average, emails in the UK had a higher open rate between 10am and 11am in 2016, but it’s important to find what works for your business and audience.

4. Quality not quantity
Don’t forget that your email needs to be well written, as well as visually appealing. Make sure you proof read your email several times before you send it; looking for grammar mistakes or ways to improve your wording. Sloppy mistakes never look great and are likely to decrease your open rate.

5. Segment your subscribers list
It’s important that you’re sending your emails to the right people. By segmenting your subscribers into lists based on factors such as location, buying habits or gender, you’re more likely to send your customers relevant emails, which are therefore more likely to be opened. For example, if you’ve noticed that a selection of customers are buying the same products from your website regularly, make a subscribers list for them, which you can use to send them emails when their favourite products are on sale.

6. Revise your subscribers lists regularly
If you’ve done all of the above, but still aren’t getting a good open rate, it may be wise to review your subscribers list. Remove inactive email addresses or email addresses with misspellings, and don’t forget to check that the lists your subscribers are in are still relevant. You don’t want to be making avoidable mistakes, like sending existing customers’ exclusive offers only available to new customers! Not only will this improve your open rate, it’ll also save you money.

 

RE: Tips for increasing your email opens

Did you know that you have fewer than 5 seconds to convince a recipient to open an email? When it comes to email marketing, enticing your audience to engage with your email is a common struggle, and with a bland subject line, your chances of getting that email opened markedly decrease.

New trends are emerging throughout the world of email marketing all the time and a number of these revolve around the never-ending quest to create engaging and eye-catching subject lines. For instance, of late, you may have noticed the retail sector increasingly using emojis in their subject lines to attract you to open their email. However, whether this is suitable for own audience needs to be considered carefully. The fundamental goal of a subject line is to get as many opens as possible, and to give you a little help, we have come up with 5 top tips for writing an irresistible subject line.

  1. Less is more

Whilst it’s important to make your subject lines as clear as possible, it’s also important to keep them short and sweet. For best results, a subject line shouldn’t be any longer than 50 characters. Whilst this may be a struggle, give it a try and see how you get on.

Particularly with mobile devices, making a subject line longer runs the risk of it being cut off prematurely. According to a study from Sidekick, 40% of emails are opened on mobile first – where the average mobile screen can only fit 4-7 words max.

  1. Beat that filter

There’s only one thing worse than having your email sent to the ‘trash’ folder, and that’s the email being sent to the ‘spam’ folder. Sidekick found that 69% of email recipients report emails as spam based solely on its subject line, so making sure that your subject line isn’t ‘spam-worthy’ is a must.

There are also a range of words that act as a warning sign for email accounts, so be sure to avoid the following:

  • Reminder
  • Increase your
  • Dear
  • Free
  • Help
  • Get out of
  • Urgent
  1. Make it personal

One of the easiest ways to get an email deleted from an inbox is if it comes across as too generic. These days, consumers are attracted to a product or service with their name plastered on it – a prime example being CocaCola’s #ShareACoke campaign.

Personalising your subject line is one of the most effective methods for generating opens for an email campaign, and it can even be as simple as using the term ‘you’. Emails which contain personalised subject lines are 20% more likely to get opened – it’s a no brainer!

  1. Urgency is important

There’s nothing wrong with creating a sense of urgency in your email. We have a deep fear of being left behind, or missing out, and this can be your chance to use it to your advantage!

In recent years, Sidekick have seen a 61.8% increase in opens when using the word “alert” in a subject line.

You need to make your recipients feel like they must open your email without any hesitation. Examples include:

  • Get your marketing MOT today
  • Today only
  • Ends soon
  1. Be humorous

We all love a bit of ‘banter’ here and there, and a humorous subject line can really stand out from the other dull, bland emails that surround it. However, humour can be a touchy subject, and without knowing your audience well enough, it can go wrong, so be aware.

We’ve come across a range of amusing subject lines:

  • Groupon – “There are no deals in this email”
  • Customer Surveys – “Baby got (feed)back”
  • Move Loot – “Seat your heart out”
  • Barack Obama – “Hey”

 

If you’re looking to be sneaky, include ‘RE:’ before the subject line, as the top 5 subject lines in a recent study from Sidekick had ‘RE:’ at the beginning.

Whatever you choose to do to improve your email marketing’s effectiveness, make sure you put improving your subject lines at the top of the list. It doesn’t matter how great the content in the email is, if it doesn’t get opened.

If you have any tips for successful subject lines, get in touch!

Making your marketing work

Spring has sprung…finally.  This is a good time of year to reflect back on the last few months and decide what worked and what didn’t for your business. All too often, companies at the start of the year create and launch marketing campaigns without ever reviewing the end results.  In order to ensure your marketing is performing as it needs to, to enable you to meet your business goals, it is vital that you take the time to look back at the last few months and review the impact of your marketing activity.
To help you get started, we have highlighted below some key areas your business should be reviewing and some simple steps to help get your social media, website and email campaigns running smoothly this Spring.

 

Website:

We cannot stress enough the importance of reviewing your website’s performance through Google Analytics. Yes, the amount of data can be overwhelming and sometimes it’s difficult knowing where to start and how to use the data available. Reviewing the basics first, for example number of visitors, referral, search and direct traffic and the bounce rate, will help provide you with a good idea of how successful your website is performing. However, there are a few additional metrics we’d recommend including in your review:

  • Page load speed

There has been an increasing importance placed on page load speeds when it comes to user experience and its impact on a site’s search engine ranking. Internet users have a notoriously short attention span and if a site takes more than a few seconds to load a page, users will quickly loose interest. To find out how you can improve the page load speeds on your website, the nice people at Google have provided a free tool, PageSpeed Insights

  • Devices

The way we engage online is changing. More and more people are using mobile devices to access information quickly. You might find that the majority of your visitors access your site through mobile, if so, you would need to present you site in a way that bests fits with this form of device.

 

Social media:

Vowed to make the most of what social media has to offer your business? It is common for businesses to dive into social media, joining all the relevant platforms and making a promise to move the company’s marketing online. However, many companies are often disappointed with the results social media generates.

Has your social media activity been disappointing? Have you struggled to write interesting content and find interesting updates to share with your followers? Like any marketing activity, you will need to put in place a social media strategy that aligns with your overall marketing objectives. The strategy doesn’t have to be complicated, but it will help your team understand what it is you want to achieve from your social media activity and how you plan to achieve it. Consider what content they should be sharing, what links they should be including and who they should be targeting.

Social media doesn’t have to be time consuming. If you’re struggling to update your accounts consistently, there are tools like Hootsuite that will let you schedule tweets and Facebook updates. You could schedule a whole week’s worth of posts in 15 minutes.

 

Email marketing:

Have you recently launched an email campaign? Did you review the results? Was it successful?

We have previously discussed the importance of fine-tuning your email marketing and making the most of what email software has to offer. If you are struggling to get good results from your campaigns, it is important that you review where you might be going wrong. Several factors can influence the success rate of your marketing emails, including:

  • Time of day your emails were sent
  • The subject line
  • Email content and links
  • Plain text or HTML?
  • Your data

A/B split testing campaigns can help you decide what time of day, content and subject line work best for your database.

Segmenting your database down into sensible groups, rather than sending one email to everyone on the list, will improve open and engagement rates. In addition, it will also help you identify if certain segments of your list are poor quality or not receptive to email marketing as a marketing medium.

A poor campaign could actually be the best thing that happens to your marketing, if it provides you with an insight which can inform and improve your future marketing programmes. If you cannot pinpoint what went wrong, it then just becomes a waste of money.

To aid this process, make sure you make changes to campaigns iteratively, so you can attribute any changes in results to a particular amendment.

Good luck and make sure your marketing is working for your business!

Fine-tune your email marketing

Email-marketingModern marketing requires the use of a balanced blend of marketing channels, all working in harmony for the common good – to grow your business.
One channel that many small businesses mistakenly overlook is email, assuming customers view email marketing as spam or that it’s too easy for customers to unsubscribe or simply delete messages.

However, email is alive, kicking and effective. Thanks to the rise in technology and smart phones, consumers are connected to their inbox 24/7, reading emails with the same immediacy as they do text messages.  Businesses are keen to get more bang for their buck and email marketing is certainly a platform more businesses should be considering when engaging with potential customers. Not only is it relatively low cost compared to comparable channels, but it is also incredibly generous about giving your business a wealth of marketing information off the back of a campaign, vital for giving you insights into your target audience and the ROI of campaigns.

Like any marketing activity, a business should plan their approach; simply pressing ‘send’ in Outlook isn’t enough.  To get more mileage from your marketing campaigns, adopt these strategies to fine-tune the effectiveness of your emails:


Look beyond Outlook:

There are various tools and software out there that can help you create effective and engaging emails, test and send them, then manage and track the responses without any technical skills needed. Mail Chimp is one of a number of easy to use email marketing systems out there for businesses. Others include:

Virtually all will allow you to import your own HTML design or edit one of their existing templates to reflect your brand.  Mail Chimp has the advantage that it is free if you have fewer than 2000 email subscribers and send emails no more than one a month.  The software also helps you manage your subscriber lists, track campaign performance and sync your email marketing across social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

Before you send your emails think about the following:

 

1. Segment your database into groups, for example, prospects, clients, past clients etc. Email software allows you to send personalised messages with custom offers. You could even send an email to one segment of your list by sorting on gender, role, post code or industry.

2.  If you’re sending a newsletter, think about incorporating links that drive back readers to your website, where they can access the article in full. Not only does this get recipients on your website, where they can learn more about your business, but by reviewing your email statistics, it also provides you with vital information about specific areas of interest for database member. This information can be used to target marketing campaigns more accurately.

3. Make sure you test your emails. HTML designs can appear differently in different email clients. Likewise, something you may consider as eye catching, could be difficult for contacts to actually read. Most email systems will allow split testing, which is a great tool to use to identify the most effective subject line or content. If you want to increase open rates, test your subject lines. If it is your click-throughs you are looking to boost, then test design and content variations.

 

Your campaign doesn’t stop there – Review your performance:

After sending out your email messages, your next task is to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. Measuring the response rates will help you determine the kind of articles and services  your readers want.

How do you know if your campaign is effective? The first indicator is your open rate, the number of people who actually opened your email. If you use an email marketing function like Mail Chimp, you will be able to access the full list of contacts who engaged with your campaign.

Your click-through rate is the other important indicator. Click-through rates measures the percentage of people who were sent the email that actively clicked on a link with the text. The more clicks the better.

You will also need to keep track of your unsubscribe rate. If the number of contacts requesting to be removed from your list increases, you need to re-evaluate your email campaigns. Are people unsubscribing because you are bombarding them with emails too frequently? Is the email message simply too long, or are your offerings lacking in appeal?
If planned and implemented properly, email marketing provides businesses with the opportunity to engage with a large audience in a short space of time. Not only does it offer your business a cost-effective marketing tool, it also provides you with vital information to help you integrate other forms of marketing into your mix……How about using telemarketing to follow up the contacts who clicked on a link within your email?

Don’t delay – review your marketing straight away

As the end of the year approaches, businesses need to take the time to look at how they are going to improve their marketing’s effectiveness and grow their business in the coming year.
What tools are you currently using for business growth? Are you reviewing their success? Are your campaigns actually generating your organisation new business?

No matter how brilliant, creative and unique a marketing strategy may seem to be, if it doesn’t generate results and return on investment, something needs to change.  Now is the time to go back to basics and simply look at what worked and what didn’t in 2012.

So where do you start? How do you review your marketing and what should you be looking for?

For any marketing campaign you undertake, analysis should be a vital part of your plan. If you have missed this step, or you are unsure what you should be reviewing, take a look at our 3 top tips for reviewing marketing effectiveness.

 

Email marketing – don’t ignore the data:

Many businesses understand the importance of sending out emails to their database, whether it be a monthly e-newsletter, or the occasional special offer.  A company invests time and resources into creating campaigns, but few measure the end result effectively.

There are many email software packages available to businesses, two of the biggest are Mail Chimp and Campaign Monitor. They allow you to review in-depth results generated from your emails, including open and click-through rates. The results are key to determining if your campaigns are effectively engaging with your database. An open rate indicates the percentage of people who opened your email, whilst a click through rate measures how many people actively clicked on a link and engaged with your communication.

The subject line and email address will influence the open rate most significantly.

The click through data reflects the level of engagement in your email. It shows exactly what information people are interested in. If you’re writing about multiple topics in a newsletter, click-through information can be used to determine which topics are of most interest to readers. Are the same people reading your emails each week, if so, are you following up the email with a telephone call?

Use you results to establish trends. Look at what time of day your emails are sent and what subject lines you include. Does your email include a hook?

 

Social media isn’t just for show – measure your engagement 

Like any marketing activity, in order for your social media activities and goals to be achieved, you need to put together your company’s social media strategy. Your strategy is just like your business plan; it enables you to define your social media goals and future objectives.

It is important to review the social media channels you currently use. What platforms are popular amongst your target audience and what content is worth ‘tweeting’?   In the past, a measurement of social media success was determined by the number of followers or ‘Likes’ generated through Facebook and Twitter. Google Analytics have taken their social analytics tools a step further, enabling you to drill down and measure the full value of traffic to your website coming from social networking sites. Follower engagement is also an import metric. How engaged are you with your social network? Is your content being retweeted? Are you interacting with your network?

The world of social media is constantly changing, what was popular last year isn’t necessarily relevant this year , stay on top of the trends and engage with your target audience effectively. There are many social media analytic tools out there. Some are free; take a look at Hootsuite’s free in-built analytics function or Topsy for instant social media insights.

 

Website – analyse your traffic

We can’t stress enough the importance of reviewing your website analytics. Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools out there for businesses, providing a wealth of insight and data into the performance of your website and marketing overall. It is invaluable for monitoring and analysing traffic, allowing you to evaluate both on and offline marketing campaigns. Simply installing analytics won’t give you the results you need; value is only gained when that data is used to drive action to improve your site.

The volume of results available can be daunting; however, if you break down the data into more manageable chunks, like: traffic, bounce rate, visitor flow and keywords, you can start measuring your performance more effectively.

For more guidance on what you should be measuring with your Google Analytics, click here.

 

No matter what marketing activity you undertake, return on investment is vital.  When reviewing your marketing you need to consider every element of your campaign, from data and content through to execution and evaluation.  Reviewing your marketing each year can be the difference between having an ok year and a great one. If you have failed to generate enquiries from an advert, email or campaign, something needs to change. Start reviewing today and make use of your findings….don’t ignore the data.