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Another day in the office…

Just another day at TLC Business… Otto enjoying his first photo-shoot! 🐶

How to Make Your Website Responsive on Mobile

No matter how big or small your business is, it’s important that your website is responsive across all devices, especially mobile. A recent survey found that 88% of consumers who search for a local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours, and 57% won’t recommend a business if the website isn’t responsive on mobile. Thankfully, with just a few simple steps you can improve your website’s ‘viewability’ considerably and give your customers the seamless experience they’ve come to expect.

  1. Re-evaluate the template you’re using
    If you’re using a DIY website building site, like Squarespace or Wix, and your current template isn’t responsive, it’s time to re-evaluate! There will be a plethora of responsive templates you can choose from to replace your current unresponsive one. Take a look at them and choose one that is best fit for your business. Even if it means you have to spend some time altering the layout and content on your website, it’ll be worth it in the long run. If you have a bespoke site, created by a developer, get in touch with them to discuss making your site responsive. It might cost you a bit of money but it will certainly help your site perform better in the search engines and improve your visitors’ user experience.
  1. Make navigation simple
    Avoid long navigation bars which require consumers to zoom or make it harder for them to click the right link, as this easily puts people off. Less is more when it comes to navigation bars, so keep your options in the 4-5 range and make sure each one has a strong title with  clear calls to action. The text size is also important as consumers need to be able to easily click the link.
  1. Keep the text short and sweet
    Mobiles can’t display as much information as desktops and tablets, so it’s a good idea to review your website’s text with this in mind. Can you be more concise and reduce the volume of text? This will almost certainly have benefits outside of improving the mobile experience of your visitors. Once again, you need to make sure your calls to action are clear and customers understand what your business does, and why they need your services. Typography is also important; make sure the text isn’t too small and the spacing is even as this will allow for easier reading.
  1. Make sure your images are optimised
    Images which aren’t optimised can slow down your website a lot and could potentially lose you customers if your site is taking too long to load. JPG, PNG, and GIF files are usually fine and there are many tools you can use, such as Optimizilla; which will optimise your images for you. Images which are too big can also reduce your websites responsiveness, so make sure you check the size of your images too.
  1. Use mobile specific features
    Adding interactive maps and providing icons for your contact details are great for customers using your website on their mobile. This way they can get in contact with you much more easily than having to re-type your details into a search engine.
  1. Avoid using pop ups
    Pop ups can be a serious buzz kill, especially on mobiles as often browsers don’t support them, so avoid using them as they can easily put customers off.

To conclude, a responsive website is a necessity. By making your website responsive, mobile visitors are more likely to have a positive experience, which means they’re more likely to turn into loyal customers. Your websites ‘viewability’ will also affect where you rank on search engines, so make sure you check your website is providing the best mobile and desktop experiences frequently. Once your website is responsive you’re well on your way to success!

 

Spring Budget 2017: What Marketers Need to Know

Phillip Hammond delivered his first Budget as Chancellor last week. Whilst it was perceived as being a fairly lacklustre affair by many, there were elements that had a relevance to marketers. From education to technology, here are some of the key proposals and facts marketers need to be aware of:

  1. The economy is growing faster than expected
    Growth in the UK economy picked up more than expected in 2016, despite the turbulence of the Brexit vote. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had initially predicted the economy would grow by 1.4% in 2017, however the Chancellor announced a new forecasted figure of 2%.
  2. .Large investments to be made in 5G technology
    In a bid to make the UK one of the leaders for 5G, Phillip Hammond announced that £16 million would be invested into trialling the technology with a view to making it available nationwide. The Chancellor also announced that a further £200 million would be invested in local projects to provide more reliable broadband networks. Consumers are becoming ever more demanding when it comes to their mobiles, and staying connected it fast becoming a perceived necessity. It’s important marketers remain in touch with these evolving expectations and stay alive to the opportunities they afford.
  3. T-Levels to be introduced by autumn 2019
    The Government announced the introduction of T-levels. T-levels will provide 16-19 year olds with technical skills across a variety of industries and disciplines; which many argue are desperately needed to boost UK productivity. With a huge demand for digital, creative and design skills in marketing, these qualifications are sure to be welcomed by many in the industry.
  4. New ways to protect consumers
    In an effort to protect consumers and make them better aware of their legal rights, the Chancellor also announced that the Government will be introducing new ways to protect us. This includes making online terms and condition simpler and fining companies that mislead or mistreat customers. Marketers need to be careful, therefore, to be clear and fair when it comes to promoting their products, services and content.
  5. Sugar tax confirmed
    Phillip Hammond also confirmed that the controversial sugar tax will go ahead in 2018. The tax; which will affect soft drinks with more than 5 grams of sugar per 100ml, will be a blow for many marketers in the UK soft drinks market. Companies will have to seriously rethink their marketing strategy if they want to persuade customers to pay more for their products.

If you spotted anything else in last week’s budget that stood out to you from a marketing perspective, please let us know. In the meantime, enjoy and good luck with your marketing!

 

Spending a Morning at the University of Southampton’s Computer Labs


After an exciting meeting at the Uni of Southampton about future events for our clients , Josh was given a tour of the Uni’s newly refurbished computer labs.  The facilities received a £4 million investment in 2015, which went towards more than 200 high-spec multi-core PCs, as well as iMacs and self-studying areas. The state-of-the-art labs were specifically designed for students studying Electronics, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, IT and Web Science.

How to Provide Great Customer Service through Social Media

Social media is changing the way we interact with customers, and it’s no longer just about whose posts get the most retweets or who has the most followers. An estimated 67% of consumers now use social media for customer service, and this online social support is becoming increasingly important for businesses wishing to maintain or develop a reputation for good customer service. If you want to improve your customer service through social media, read our top 5 tips below and take a look at a few industry examples we’ve found:

1. Respond quickly
Customers expect quick responses on social media; in fact 42% expect a reply within 60 minutes! Social media is all about immediacy and it’s therefore important to keep on top of all your social media accounts; look out for possible new messages, mentions or reviews and reply as quickly as possible.

2. Don’t just acknowledge the positive reviews
Of course no one likes a bad review, but if you can acknowledge it and show that you’re willing to resolve the issue, it shows that you’re dedicated to providing good customer service. It’s your chance to turn a negative review into a more positive one in the future. For example, if a customer is unhappy with a product they’ve received, you may offer to send them a new one free of charge and offer them an exclusive discount for their next purchase.

3. Engage with your customers
Customers spend 20-40% more when brands engage with them on social media, so don’t just wait for your customers to come to you. Reposting images or initiating conversations shows you have a genuine interest, and gives your customers a more personalised brand experience, which never goes unnoticed.

4. Be creative with your responses
Customers value professionalism, but they also like brands that show a bit of personality too. Customers don’t just want to talk to a generic robot, they want human interaction. So whether it’s adding a bit of humour or responding in a chattier manner; if you think it’s appropriate, give it a go.

5. Don’t forget to follow up
Just like with any customer feedback you’d receive offline, don’t forget to follow up customer responses you’ve received on social media. Once again, it shows that your business genuinely cares about its customers, which means they’re more likely to stay loyal to your business.

Here are a few examples:

1. Starbucks

 

 

 

 

 


2. Pizza Express

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Tesco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Domino’s

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.

 

Blow Away those Marketing Cob Webs and Get Your Marketing in Order for 2016

blow away event-1
TLC Business have teamed up with renowned inspirational speaker Simon Harmer and his company Blown Away, to deliver an insightful and inspirational working-lunch session for businesses who are looking to get better results from their marketing in 2016.

Not only will the session include marketing tips, cheats and ideas, but it will give you an insight into marketing trends for 2016, provide advice on how to get the biggest bang for your marketing buck, and inspiration to actually make those necessary marketing changes for 2016.

So when is it? The FREE session will be held on the 25th November 2015 at The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, between 12-2pm. As well as this, the networking session will include lunch and two presentations.

We guarantee you’ll leave with lots of fresh ideas and feeling motivated to put them into action. Places are limited, so reserve your seat now to avoid disappointment. To reserve your ticket, click here.

#MarketingTitbits – Obama, Growth Vouchers, DHL

ferns-vouchers-DHL-smaller1. Obama goes between two ferns with Zach Galifiankis
‘Between Two Ferns’, with Zach Galifiankis, is a series of videos shown on the Funny or Die website. In each episode he conducts an interview with a celebrity between two potted ferns. His typical interview style consists of normal interview questions, random non sequiturs and some inappropriate comments and questions.

Celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Jennifer Anniston and Bradley Cooper have gone between two ferns in the past but the most recent celebrity to do so was Barack Obama. Some of the topics the pair cover include Dennis Rodman, same-sex divorce and the Affordable Care Act. To watch the video, click here. 

 

2. Growth Vouchers: month one results

This time last year, George Osborne first announced Growth Vouchers. The drive behind them is to help SMEs access the advice they need to help them grow. The businesses that participate are allocated a voucher up to the value of £2,000, matched with their own funds, to spend on advice and guidance from industry experts.

The vouchers were launched at the end of January and so far, nearly 1,500 businesses have applied, with nearly 600 vouchers allocated (over £1 million). Nearly 50% of the vouchers issued so far have been for advice in marketing, attracting and keeping customers. If you have not applied yet, it is still not too late. To read more, click here.

3. DHL’s brilliant ad

DHL claim that in many countries the company has more offices, more vehicles and more employees than there competition, which is why they are faster. To illustrate this, they came up with a brilliantly conceived guerrilla marketing campaign to get their competitors advertise for them.

To do this, large DHL packages were covered in thermo-active foil and cooled down below the freezing point, allowing the plastic wrappers to turn black. They then asked for the competitors to deliver the packages to hard-to-get-to addresses in big cities. As the plastic warmed up the message from DHL became clear… to watch for yourself, click here.

April’s Top Marketing Tips

  1. A selection of SME apps for your blackberry. From a travel assistant that gives users instant access to travel and weather updates to an app to help you source the best place for a business lunch.
  2. Mylikesbox – Facebook application that provides an easy way to view your Facebook likes.  Each page’s thumbnail image is shown for easy recognition. You can also filter your Likes by viewing pages according to their categories.
  3. Do Less – Another eBook from Seth Godin. Learn how to be pickier about what you do and who you do it for so you can enjoy more of your life.

Marketing Budget – Money Well Spent?

As the new financial year begins, many of us will be busy putting together our new marketing budget for 2011. Budgeting can be a difficult process; many companies estimate or base their budget on last year. We feel there are more effective means but an estimate is better than nothing. Either route you take, it is important to review and evaluate what worked and what didn’t for your business in 2010. Any time and money you spend on marketing is an investment in your business, so you need to make sure it’s time and money well spent.
When completing your new marketing budget, it is important to consider any changes that may have happened in your industry. Have there been any important innovations? What about the use of technology within your market? What about the distribution channels used to deliver your product or service?

As well as looking outside the box, it is important to consider factors within your business. What were the most successful marketing activities last year? Can they be repeated? It might be an event your business ran or a successful lead generation campaign. Likewise, what are the failures that should be omitted all together this year? Did your advert generate any sales? What about the mailouts? Did you follow them up with a phone call? No? Perhaps that is why they weren’t more effective. When evaluating the relative success or failures from last year, it is important to ascertain whether it was the implementation of the campaign or the activity itself that was fundamental in the success or failure. Don’t make kneejerk reactions.

A new international survey from E-consultancy and SAS found that overall marketing budgets are up, with over 52% of UK businesses claiming to have increased their marketing budget for 2011. Digital marketing continues to be the focus for many marketing budgets, with 72% of companies investing online, compared to 26% purely on offline channels such as print and direct mail.

As an SME ourselves, we understand that marketing budgets can be tight. But that doesn’t mean you can’t budget. We’ve put together some effective, low cost activities that your business can do online in 2011. The success of these activities can be easily measured, helping evaluate the success of your activities when it comes time to define your budget for 2012.

  • Web Content – Is your website up to date, do you spend time generating new and relevant content for your website? Keeping your content moving is a great way of getting the search engines to love your website and keeping your target audience fully informed. Do you use Google Analytics to review traffic to your website on a monthly basis? Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool for businesses to understand and measure the effectiveness of their marketing mix – a great way to determine appropriate areas for your future marketing budget.
  • Social Media – Do you have a strategy in place? Have you set a target of likes/followers you want to reach in the next 6 months? Yes, you do have to invest your time in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, however, it’s a great way to showcase your business and keep customers up to date with your business activities and news.
  • Email Marketing – Do you monitor who views and opens your email campaigns. E-marketing software is a great tool to measure how successful your emails have been. Integrate your email marketing with telemarketing; call the companies that are showing an interest in your emails.

Now is the time businesses need to look closely at their past, present and future marketing activities. Businesses need to create more revenue for less cost and this can take some creative thinking. If you are struggling to know where to spend your marketing budget most effectively on measurable solutions, click here to find out more about TLC Business FREE Marketing MOT.