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#MarketingTitbits – John Lewis, mobile optimisation, Instagram

johnlewis-mobile-instagram-smaller1. John Lewis’ director of comms on upholding the reputation of a loved brand
As one of the UK’s biggest brands, it’s no surprise that John Lewis has a tough task on its hands maintaining the reputation that has been built up over the past 150 years. Communications Director, Peter Cross, has spoken to Marketing Week and reveals his thoughts on the pressure that he faces.

Cross describes the challenge as a ‘privilege’, explaining that working in retail today requires bravery to allow you to stay ahead of the game. He also tells of an annual sales report revealing that at a time of digital evolution, 85% of the brands sales involved the store in some way, showing that roles of different channels are being reshaped to enhance experiences for the modern shopper.

2014 marked a huge 150-year milestone for John Lewis, but what does 2015 hold for the high street giant? To find out, you can click here.

2. 23 reasons why mobile users will abandon your site

Mobile commerce seems to be in a never-ending cycle of growth, with 37% of all retail sales over the Christmas period being completed through a mobile device. However, there are still many ways in which brands are failing to provide the best user experience through these devices, so we’re revealing just some.

Examples of brands that have been caught out for their mistakes include Currys, for the unwelcome appearance of numerous pop-ups, Tesco, who make people’s lives that bit more difficult with their tiny links and Thomas Cook, who wouldn’t appear to make many conversions through mobile whilst pages load at an extremely slow pace.

If you’d like to see the remaining guilty parties, click here.

3. How to build your business on Instagram

After launching a clothing business from the comfort of his own home, Alan Wardle and AnyForty have finally moved into their own offices after 6 years, and declare Instagram as its key marketing tool. But how do you succeed on the photo-sharing app?

Instagram has allowed creative businesses like AnyForty to build a solid customer base that can be constantly updated with new visual content that is fun, exciting and relevant. Alan shares a number of tips, which include scouring for relevant hashtags that could be beneficial to your business, replying back to photos your business is tagged in and always keeping followers up to date by posting fresh content on a regular basis.

To read more about the success of this start-up and how you can do the same, click here.

#MarketingTitbits – Facebook secrets, B&Q, startups

facebook-b&q-startups-smaller-11. Shh… three Facebook marketing secrets
You may have read some of our Facebook advertising news stories over the past few weeks, but this week even more has been revealed. Some of the most experienced Facebook marketers may be surprised to hear about some of the hidden features that they keep behind closed doors.

Now, Facebook can tell you all you need to know about your audience. For example, you can find out whether they’re using desktop or mobile, their age, and whether they’ve graduated or not. However, if you have an American audience of above 1000, then your ‘spying skills’ can gain much more depth, as you’re able to identify income brackets and even the cars they drive (although, this may be bordering on stalker tendencies).

To check out other insights, click here.

2. B&Q’s new £60m responsive website reviewed

What could you buy for £60m? Fifty Bugatti Veyrons? Possibly a chunk of Buckingham Palace? The list could be never-ending, yet did it cross your mind that you could also invest in a new website for yourself or your business? Maybe not, but that’s exactly what B&Q have done. Will their new web design blow you away?

Econsultancy undertakes a comparison between new and old, so you can make your judgements on whether the more contemporary design works for B&Q. They have now followed in many brands footsteps by introducing the ‘click and collect’ feature, although the products available to take advantage of this are unfortunately limited. An important point is has the company already lost customers by removing the option for a guest checkout, resulting in more shoppers ditching their virtual baskets?

To take a look at the review for yourself, click here.

3. 8 of the most first-world startups on the planet

Why are start-ups aimed at the world’s wealthiest people becoming increasingly popular? Well, it seems that 24% of your average app developers make nothing from their creations, so maybe attracting the millionaires of the world is the way to go. However, if you would like to indulge yourself in the high-life rather than create it for others,  these apps could be perfectly suited to you.

The apps consist of the seemingly normal and of course, the weird. For example, Priv is an app that allows users to pay rather steep amounts for professional beauty and wellness services sent straight to them. Whereas Hangover Club was created to send buyers specialised IV drips to cure the after-effects of the night before, for prices ranging from $175 to $250.

If these apps have interested you, then click here to see the remaining six

#MarketingTitbits – news sites, images, clickbait

news-images-clickbait-smaller1. BBC is the most shared UK news outlet on Twitter, Mail Online is filth
A new study from PeerIndex shows the most popular news outlets in the UK compared to the number of shares they have on Twitter. Perhaps unsurprisingly, The BBC is the most shared news website, with just over 4.2 million articles shared on Twitter in January 2014. In second place was the Guardian with more than 2.4 million articles. The Telegraph and the Independent came in 3rd and 4th place respectively, with 913,000 and 616,000 shares respectively, but the most interesting figure of all is number 5 on the list.

The world’s most popular news website, which had almost 190 million unique visitors, worldwide, in January alone is none other than the Mail Online. However, whilst many people are looking at it, it seems not as many are willing to admit that they spend their lunch breaks perusing the website, with far fewer visitors sharing its content than on their less popular rival news sites. Their content may be interesting and eye-catching but is it really sharable? Only 453,000 people shared content from the Mail Online with their Twitter followers in January 2014. It suggests the Mail Online may be many people’s guilty pleasure! 

 

2. Eight free image resources for your website or blog

For all you bloggers and website owners out there, we have found a great article that highlights some of the best free image resources for you. We understand how tempting it can be to use Google images rather than searching for the perfect picture from pages of cheesy stock images. However, it is important not to breach copyright, which if challenged can come with a hefty price tag.

Changing your settings on Google images to filter out any that you can’t reuse is one way to find images, but in addition to this there are a number of free sites you can use. To read more, click here. 

 

3. The dirty secrets of clickbait

It might be that you have never heard of “clickbait” before; however the chances are you’ve probably experienced it. The term refers to an eye-catching link on a website which aims to make people read on, no matter how ridiculous, pointless or far-fetched the title seems.

To read more about the dirty secrets of clickbait, why people seem to have a love/hate relationship with it and what marketers can learn from it, click here.

SEO: Video makes a difference

seo-image-final!Last month, we provided you with a series of top tips to help you improve the visibility of your website, by uploading regular, quality content.  To help you make the most of your website, the second part of our ‘demystifying SEO’ blog delves into the world of video and viral marketing.
If executed correctly, video content can be extremely beneficial when trying to improve your organisation’s position online.  The average internet user views 32.2 videos a month and it’s been shown that videos can increase the number of website visits by 55%. It has also been predicted that by 2014, 90% of website traffic will be video. With numbers that significant, what business would argue against the incredible opportunity video can offer your organisation?

In order to use video to boost your online presence, it is important to consider the following points.

1.  Outline your SEO goals, strategy and content:

With SEO and video, it’s important to first establish what you want to achieve. Do you want to increase your social presence? Generate lots of views on YouTube, or perhaps create more tailored traffic to your website? Designing and making the video is the simple part, but companies often fail when it comes to defining goals and putting an online strategy in place. Goals can include:

  • Improving website traffic as a whole or for specific pages
  • Generating social shares and creating a viral campaign
  • Increase sales from your website
  • Building your brand awareness online

In addition to this, you will need to decide what type of video you want to produce. Over 80% of the videos that list in Google’s search results are informational. Pushy sales videos do not tend to rank as well within Google, so it is important that you produce content that appeals to your target market and adds value.  Video content can include.

  • Client testimonials
  • Introducing your organisation and team
  • Product demonstrations
  • Top industry tips
  • Fun viral video about your organisation

2.  Include a title and description within your videos:

Search engines look at the information you have provided about the video and compare it with the context of the page that the video is on. If the page title and the video title match up, there is more of a chance that you will get a higher ranking on Google.  It is also very important to make your video’s title specific; you are much more likely to rank higher when the keyword is not too general.

3.  Take into account the length of your video – less is more

Most people would rather spend two minutes watching an interesting video than spend ten minutes reading an article. Statistics show that people tend to engage with online videos for 2.5 minutes on average, so when making your video, try not to make it too long in order to keep you audience interested.

4.  Duplicate your video across several platforms.

To reap the SEO benefits associated with video, you will need to include your content on several different platforms. There are numerous outlets for you to take advantage of, the most important being YouTube.  Having recently celebrated their 8th birthday, YouTube is now one of the most viewed websites in the world, generating billions of hits. Once you have created a YouTube channel, you can then embed the video on to your website and include it on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to increase the exposure and linking potential.

5.  Create a Video Sitemap

Once you have included the video on your website, you will need to create a Video Sitemap. Currently search engines can’t look at what is in the video, so the Video Sitemap tells the search engine everything it needs to know about the content, for example, the title, description and duration.

6.  Measure the success of your video with Google Analytics:

Like any other marketing activity, you will need to measure your results.  Free tools such as Google Analytics will help you establish if your video content has increased the level of traffic to your website.  You could produce a couple of different videos and compare the results, this will determine the type of content that your audience responds the best to.

Even though video isn’t new to the web, many businesses fail to make the best use of tools that will take their video and SEO results to the next level. If you are going to invest time and money in boosting your SEO, start considering video in your marketing mix.

Not only is video a great way to share your story, it’s also  an effective way to build links back to your site and if you target your audience in an exciting, unique way, maybe your video will even go viral. This is where the major search engine optimisation benefit comes into play.

SEO: Content is key!

SE0-Content-Final3-1Over the past few years, there have been several changes to Google’s SEO algorithms. It feels as if as soon as companies start to master search engine optimisation, Google decides to move the goal posts. This can be frustrating for businesses; however, quite rightly in our opinion, each evolution of search is driven by improving the experience for the end-user, so it is important for companies to get their SEO strategy right, in order to make the most of their website.
With the SEO goal posts constantly moving, knowing how to improve the page rankings and performance of your website is often easier said than done. With this in mind, over the next few months, we will provide you with a series of blogs to help you demystify SEO and improve the visibility of your website.

 Creating content for your website isn’t about embedding as many key terms and phrases on your site as possible.  Google can distinguish between content that adds real value and content that has been posted solely for SEO purposes.

 

Use keywords, headers and page titles to support your text:

Quality content is the key! Most end-users aren’t looking to read long, academic papers; instead, they’re skimming the text, looking for what they need. Search engines do a similar job when indexing your site. Include keywords in the page title, headers and toward the top of the content. By doing this you are giving your website the best opportunity to be placed higher in search engines for those terms. Don’t be tempted to bombard your readers with links or bury the answers to their questions underneath vast swathes of ‘fluffy’ text that adds nothing to the reader’s experience or knowledge.

 

Write for your audience, not the search engines:

It is important to include good content that has been written for your end-user and not for a search engine. Before you can create great content for your website, you have to understand who your target audience is. Who are you talking to? Who is most likely to buy your product or service or religiously read your blog? If your target audience is a group of engineers, the content you create and the tone you use is going to be different than if you were targeting the over 50s looking for information on pensions and investments.

 

The frequency of your content matters:

Uploading one blog every few months isn’t going to generate the results you desire, but producing content with value on a regular basis is! Being a marketing company ourselves, it is extremely important for us to practice what we preach. During the busy Christmas period, we didn’t upload as many blogs and top tips on to our website as we would usually. This had a knock on effect on our search engine rankings. By increasing the frequency and quality of our content, we have experienced firsthand the positive impact on search engine rankings afforded by regular quality content updates.

 

Schedule and plan your content:

In order to help your online marketing stay on track and make the most of what good quality content can do for your website, we would recommend creating an editorial calendar to help support your marketing plan. Strategically plan out the order, topic and timing for each blog or news piece.  Don’t feel like you have to be the sole source of content for your website. Introduce different voices within the organisation and get employees involved in providing fresh content. You might be surprised by how much good quality content is available right at your fingertips.

 

Don’t forget to measure your website analytics:

Once you have started the process of making your content more search-engine friendly, it is important that you measure your results. Tools like Google Analytics will allow you to review traffic levels and identify any particular trends associated with the content on your site.

 

Stay tuned for more top tips to help you improve the visibility of your website.

Marketing Titbits – Crowd Funding, Marketing Grader & Delivering Happiness

1. Crowd funding:
By now, you must have heard about Crowd Funding. It is a relatively new and innovative way of raising funds for a project or business, without the need to go to the bank and ask for a loan.

You might ask why are we referencing it in a marketing blog and the answer is simple. If you are developing a new product or service and you look to crowd funding as a means of funding it, at the end of the project you potentially have a preformed client base. This is particularly well exemplified across the gaming industry, where new games are crowded funded by enthusiastic individuals, passionate about the game and keen to help fund its development. These investors are frequently the game’s target audience and are emotionally, as well as financially, invested in the final product. Crowd funding can be a shrewd way of building a product / service’s client base, as well as funding its development.

If this has got you intrigued, here are a few sites to take a look at:

2. Marketing Grader from Hubspot:

Interested in finding out how your website scores across the following categories against competitors and industry best practice?

Blogging
Social
Lead generation
Mobile
SEO

Visit Marketing Grader for a quick and insightful report outlining where you site is performing well and where there are areas for improvement. It is free and they will even keep you updated on the impact of your future website changes on your site’s benchmarked performance on an on-going basis.

3. Delivering Happiness – A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose

This book comes very highly recommended and is a must add to the libraries of all those interested in learning how CEO Tony Hsieh took online retailer Zappos (now part of Amazon) to annual sales of $1 billion by employing some rather unconventional and innovative methods. SMEs can take inspiration and ideas from Hsieh’s techniques.

You can find out more about the book here – Delivering Happiness.

Facing Tough Competition

Is your business on track for marketing gold?One of the key factors for business success lies in knowing who your competitors are and what they are doing. Facing up to strong competition can be a challenge; however, we believe that with the right research and analysis, you business can be armed with the tools necessary to achieve market dominance.

You may think you already know your competitors and what they are up to, but how often do you check their social media platforms, promotional material, website or customer service? Time and time again we speak to SMEs who believe they already know their competitors and that research is not a priority. We would have to disagree. Understanding how your competitors engage with your target audience and identifying what their strengths and weaknesses are, gives you a valuable insight into how you can improve your business. Competition can be fierce and in order to form sound business strategies, you need to have as much information as possible.

Ensuring your offering is different (in a good way!) is vital. If you don’t have up-to-date information about competitor activity how can you be sure you are?


So where to start? How about asking yourself these questions.

  • Who are your direct competitors? Have you actively searched for new companies that may have entered your market place?
  • Where are they located? Do you all operate in the same region?
  • What services do they provide? Have they introduced a new product offering recently?
  • Do they have an experienced team?
  • What about indirect competitors? Who are they? The watch market didn’t see mobile phones as a threat, now their market place is shrinking as people use their mobile to tell them the time.


What else might be useful to know?

  • Do they have an effective website? What content do they upload and is it updated on a regular basis?
  • Are they actively participating in social media? What content are they sharing and what platforms are they utilising? Are they effective users of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn?
  • Do they have a USP? Are they providing a service or product that you are not?
  • Have you mystery shopped them?
  • Are your competitors publishing regular press releases?
  • Is there a news or blog function on their website? What are they talking about?
  • Do your competitors advertise, if so, where?
  • Do you know what terms they are optimising their website for?

All this may seem overwhelming, but preparation and research are vital within a crowded market place. Your findings will help shape winning marketing strategies that help drive future business success.

So if you can’t answer many of the questions above….start researching you competitors today.