The Grass is Greener2

The Grass is Greener

The word ‘change’ elicits different feelings for different people;

  1. The ‘run a mile’ reaction: Change is the last thing you want to go through. You’re happy as you are, you don’t want to rock the boat and change can only be a bad thing right?
  2. The ‘carefully consider’ response: You’re the kind of person who likes to weigh up their options, assess the pro’s and con’s and take a bit of time to think about the possible outcomes.
  3. The ‘pick me, pick me!’ person: You are the change lover. You firmly believe in taking the opportunities laid out before you and making the most of them. Yes, there’s a risk involved but you can navigate that and you crave challenge.

Recognise yourself in one of those categories? Me too. I think the problem with ‘change’ most of the time though, is that it’s perceived in a bad light. Will things actually be better? Is it too risky? Am I’m good enough? Will that grass really be greener?

Let me shake it up a little; how about replacing the word ‘change’ with ‘opportunity.’ We often forget that progression, development, growth and success rarely come out of standing still. Maybe if we took a ‘glass half full’ approach to new things, we’d experience greatness a little more often?

Here’s an opportunity. I am part of Creare, a large digital marketing agency based in the Midlands. Creare work alongside small businesses to help them grow online and become successful. I am looking for people to join me.

Here’s a fact. I love my job. I get to talk to a huge variety of people on a daily basis, work out what makes them tick and partner with them to help them succeed online.

Here’s what we believe.

  1. We believe in giving blue chip quality service at prices affordable to SMEs
  2. We are on a mission to demystify the digital space (it can be a confusing place for many business owners)
  3. We are passionate about transparency and show tangible actions and results to our customers
  4. We believe in consulting regularly with our customers, giving them the support they require

Here’s the offer. I am looking for people who are passionate about selling the right solution to customers and have proven success in doing it well. As a Digital Telesales Executive, you’ll own a portfolio of clients, be responsible for sourcing leads, communicating with customers and driving sales. We’ll reward you for your hard work with an uncapped bonus scheme on top of your basic salary alongside a great opportunity of career progression for the right candidate.

The question. Are you up for it? Email me your CV if this opportunity grabs your attention and makes you curious or call me to discuss the opportunity further. I’d love to hear from you and trust me on this, the grass really is greener.

 

Email: [email protected]

Tel: 01788 438110

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Why Case Studies Should Be A Part Of Any Marketing Strategy

We all know that customer trust is key to repeat business, as well as ensuring growth and a positive reputation remain in good stead. Case studies are a prime example where, customer stories, add huge value to a campaign.

Unfortunately, many businesses still aren’t bought into the idea of promoting the work they’ve undertaken, and this can be due to the labour required to source such information.

So, it’s my mission with this article to change that way of thinking, and show that the on-going rewards case studies can provide outweigh the investment of time needed.

The Difference Between Reviews & Case Studies

One thing to remember is that case studies are not the same as reviews; case studies are in-depth articles about the experience from both a consumer and a business, and their journey of working together.

Although reviews are also crucial to gaining trust, they are often one-sided and don’t give a full picture of the relationship between consumer and seller.

Think What Makes You Purchase

When deciding whether case studies are worth your time, consider your thoughts and decisions as if you were a buyer:

  • What helps you decide to choose a company?
  • What information do you value?
  • What would help you decide between 2+ companies?

Although you are a business owner, you’re also a consumer, so understanding what makes you part with you money should be applied to your own marketing strategy.

Case Studies Support Branding

If you’re a relatively new business, then your reputation and brand exposure may be high on the list of your marketing strategy; especially if you’re a little fish in a big pond.

Fortunately, many consumers follow a growing trend of wanting to support the smaller businesses, but convincing them you’re the right one can be harder without the recommendation of others.

Case studies offer a solution to this and not only allow people to see the ups and downs of the projects but, by relating to a real story, that connection is something more than what a faceless corporate may be able to offer; despite their 30 years’ experience!

Video Case Studies Are The Way Forward

We as consumers are becoming lazy, which means spoon-fed information is always preferred over having to work for it. Case studies pack more of a punch if a buyer can see and hear the story first hand, making video the perfect format.

Think of television adverts and the success of these for many businesses; they often use case studies as part of their advertising strategy. A modern take on this is the case study videos Google Chrome used for an ad campaign, such as this one for The Cambridge Satchel Company. The end result of this campaign was increased trust and visibility for both brands – Google and the businesses of its video case studies.

Most Importantly – Create Trust With Customers

As with all content, case studies are pointless if no one appreciates the value of what you’re trying to show. In short, this type of content should invoke emotion from clients which triggers a reaction, whether it’s to share the story, use your services or purchase your products, or voice an opinion on their experiences.

Case studies are worth investing time into for marketers to tell the story about a business relationship. Case studies aren’t just suited to businesses that deal with big projects or contracts; if you provide any kind of solution for your customers, then discover what they have to say and how they found the services through the most suitable means. The end results you get from doing so may just surprise you.

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Social Media Marketing – Agency vs In-House

In the blue corner, we have a Social Media Marketing Agency….and in the red corner we have an In-House Social Team. Ding! Ding!

In-house or agency? It’s a debate that every small business will ask in the future as the importance of having a presence on social media becomes more apparent. But the question you really need to ask is….what do I want out of my social media campaign? It may seem extravagant to employ an agency to manage your social media accounts, but there is a lot more to a social media marketing campaign than simply posting status updates on Facebook.

A social media savvy teen vs a socially specialised consultant

59% of the UK population have active social media accounts. Aside from showcasing the strong need to market your business via this medium. If we all use social media as individuals do, does that qualify an entire generation to deliver social? The temptation for most business owners who feel the pull towards putting their business on the social map, is to give Sue in accounts the job of updating their business profiles, or employing a young whippersnapper (who has grown through the digital age & has no knowledge of a world without Facebook) to be entrusted with their business’s social presence. With this in mind, why is working with an agency a good investment?

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Social media is a fast-moving landscape, with new features, algorithm updates & the ever increasing push towards paid media, all this makes getting your content in front of the right people an art form. With an agency you have a team of socially savvy nerds {insert headphones} tuned into social platforms, listening to brand mentions, & managing conversations. An agency makes it a top priority to invest time into research & development to ensure they stay ahead of the curve.

By the time you have read this article & tweeted about it a new update or social platform has already been launched……

5f9af7f6b9e5ebaf43a24a78fc85d742You’re not fooling anyone, especially not your accountant…

 

Cost is a hard pill to swallow for some businesses when looking at outsourcing your social media activity. But don’t be fooled by the soft cost of using an internal resource or hiring an in-house social media manager as there is hidden costs associated with this too.

“It’s free, I do it in my own time, how hard can it be? Sue from accounts enjoys dabbling with our Facebook page. Or I could employ an in-house Social Media Manager”

The average salary for a Social Media Manager is £25,407 per annum, that’s excluding the recruitment costs, overheads like equipment/software & if they have a day off sick, who covers the social media activity?

You wouldn’t pay someone £20 to be your friend, so don’t buy likes!

In my experience, the businesses who assign an employee to manage their social presence have no understanding of how to measure the success, they get distracted with Likes or reach, leaving a [MIND THE GAP] moment when asked how much traffic or how many sales/enquiries they are generating through their current activity.

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It’s false economy, don’t focus too much on the size of your audience & get sucked into paying to increase your likes. You will grow an audience base in some far off country that will never buy or use your product or service.

An agency can help set some key metrics in line with your business goals & put a strategy in place to ensure those goals are reached.

Dot to Dot

Join the dots of your online marketing activity. The boundaries between SEO, PPC (Adwords), Email Marketing & Social Media all blend into an integrated strategy instead segmenting the activity into individual campaigns not working in harmony.

If you collate all of this activity under one roof then you will get consistency & much more bang for your buck. If you outsource SEO already, it makes sense to reach out to the same agency to find out what social packages they can offer.

Invest in the Best

Just because I can drive a car, does not make me a racing car driver. Being an F1 driver takes skill, talent, practice, strategy & teamwork to stay ahead of the competition.

Apply this theory to your social media marketing:

Skill – Invest in the best agency with an eye for creating visual, social content

Strategy – Strategically set up paid adverts to support your campaign

Practice – Ensure you have the resource to deliver a cutting edge campaign

Teamwork – An agency who are willing to work with your team to extract the right information to really make your campaign pop

Stay Ahead of the Competition – Results driven campaigns, let the data drive your decision

In conclusion, if you’re a startup then do your homework & educate yourself on the best way to launch your business into the social sphere, we have some great articles on our advice centre to help with this journey. But if you want a strategic campaign that delivers results, complementing the other areas of your marketing, don’t underestimate the expertise of a social media consultant (we may be seen to sit on Facebook all day), but for us, Facebook is a fast paced, marketing machine that we are harnessing to drive new business & brand awareness.

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3 Ways to Discover Relationships that Deliver

I recently read a great post from Chris Ducker titled ‘5 Ways to Develop Successful Relationships’ – business ones of course.

In his blog, Chris talks about how in order to achieve your goals and dreams as an entrepreneur, “…you’re going to need to enlist the help of others to get it.” He goes on to list five ways of developing fruitful relationship; have a long term mind-set, spend time developing yourself, give out more than you receive, talk to people as people (not stats/open-rate/subscribers) and finally, be intentional with your actions. Now, all of this is great stuff but as a business owner, how do you find the right people to do this with? Here are my three tips that will help you in that discovery process…

  1. Look in the right places

You may find your true love in a bar but let’s be realistic; you are not going to find your biggest investor there. Scope out the skills sets you need in your business relationships and match those to locations/events/social spaces in which those ‘kinds of people’ will hang out.

Some of the best connections I have made have been born out of two things. Firstly, get introductions. Leverage the people you’re already working with and get them to introduce you to the people they have connections to. The likelihood is that you will know someone who knows someone who has the skills and expertise your after. The bonus with this method too is that you can be pretty sure your contacts recommendations will be fairly good quality – not many people recommend something bad!

Secondly, love LinkedIn. Many people don’t use this to its full potential and it’s a fantastic online network connecting people from all sorts of business and backgrounds. Head to ‘My Network’ and scroll through ‘People You may Know’ and just spend ten minutes seeing and adding those people who spark your interest. Pop them an informal message and take it from there.

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  1. Pursue honesty

Honesty, in my opinion, is one of the most admirable qualities when doing business. No one likes a liar.

When you’ve been introduced or connected with someone who could potentially help your business, be upfront about who you are, where your business is at and where you want it to be. Don’t over-inflate figures or your CV. Equally, be truthful about your dreams, ambitions and goals for your company.

A good business relationship will only form if you both start on an even keel with the same information so endeavour to be honest, even if things don’t sound as good as you’d like them to be.

Honesty

  1. Don’t take the first wave

This was a phrase that I learnt off my Dad (despite me defying everything he said as a teenager, he was actually quite right – although, I hope he’s not reading this as I’m not ready to admit that to him yet). It basically means that the first opportunity that comes up isn’t always the best one. Sometimes, waiting a little longer can prove the better move. Use your commerciality and sound judgement to decided whether your new connection will develop into that beneficial business relationship your after. At the end of the day, good relationships require work, is this person worth the investment?

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Hopefully these three tips have given you some food for thought as to how to move forward finding those people and forming those relationships that will help your business seize it’s opportunity.

Do you have any other tips that you can share with us though? Drop us a comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Crystal Ball

Our Search Predictions for 2016

With Google always moving the goalposts, it can be hard for SEOs and businesses alike to keep up. Fortunately, if you keep your ear to the ground, you can monitor rumours and trends to predict and plan for the year ahead.

With this in mind, here are my top five search predictions for 2016:

Google Knowledge Vault

As we have already seen in 2015, we can expect Google to become an even bigger authority by expanding it’s knowledge vault – moving away from just directing you to different resources to answer your query, to providing the answer directly at the top of the search results.

Google Knowledge Vault

The Knowledge Vault collates information from across the web into a single database of over a billion facts, providing what Google sees as the most relevant answer to your query, along with related questions in some cases.

This is likely to push organic results further down page one, and potentially cause drops in traffic for sites ranking for longer tail query-based searches, if users can access the answer they need instantly. You are likely to see the big players like Wikipedia showing in the knowledge vault for a lot of searches, but there is an opportunity for sites with a lower domain authority to show if they can provide information about a query that Google sees as particularly relevant and accurate.

Penguin Becomes Real-Time

Google Penguin Algorithm

If you’re anything like we are, you will have been talking about the new Google Penguin algorithm for what feels like a lifetime, cleaning your backlink profile and ensuring your links are as natural as possible. But what’s different this time around, compared to the 2012 update that targeted black hat link-building tactics?

The premise is basically the same, but this time around the update will be working in ‘real-time’, meaning that sites who are penalised but clean up their act can expect to see a quicker recovery in rankings than experienced with the previous update.

The Rise in Mobile and App Search

Apps

Mobile search has become more prominent than ever before, with many SEOs suggesting it reached its peak in growth in 2015. As digital marketers and business owners, it’s now more important than ever to consider all devices not only when building a site, but creating campaigns to ensure the user gets the best possible experience whether they are on a desktop, using a tablet or their mobile phone.

We have already seen the number of mobile searches take over desktop searches in certain countries including the US and Japan, and we expect this trend to continue in 2016. If your website still isn’t mobile responsive – it’s time to get that upgrade.

App search will also continue to grow in influence. The introduction of app streaming by Google enables users to find and browse content within apps as easily as you would on a website. With app streaming, Google will  show you the content you’re looking for within an app, without requiring you to download it at all. If it works as it should, this is great news, especially for app-only publishers who want to get their content in front of users in the search engine results.

Using Schema to Differentiate

There are still a lot of companies (including big brands) not utilising schema mark-up to make their search listings stand out from the crowd. This is a fairly simple tactic to ensure your listings contain relevant information to drive the user to your site – with the Google Knowledge Vault ramping up, it’s obvious that consumers want as much information as possible in the search results – and it stands to reason that they are more likely to click on a listing that provides this.

A great example of this can be seen below for goodtoknow.co.uk, which is currently ranking organically for the phrase ‘cupcake recipe’, which includes reviews, the time it takes to make the cakes and how many calories they contain:

Search Listing Schema Mark-Up

With few companies adopting this, it represents an opportunity for companies to mark-up their data to differentiate them in the SERPs, and we expect to see more of this in 2016.

The Rise of Voice Search and Personal Assistants

Voice Search

Voice search is going to continue to grow, with the rise of mobile search as well as the likes of Microsoft adding their smart assistant Cortana onto Windows 10 for desktops last year. Add Google Now and Siri to the mix and voice search is set to grow quickly.

It’s important to consider how voice searches differ from text searches, in the language used and the fact that voice searches are likely to have more words per search and be more qualified. For example, rather than someone typing ‘B&Q’ in the search bar, they are more likely to ask ‘where is the nearest B&Q?’ if using voice search. This prompts content marketers and SEOs alike to think more about how they target their content and keywords to cater for the language used in voice searches compared to text searches.

While we can monitor trends and predict what Google will do next, the main thing to remember is that search is going to continue to evolve in 2016 and beyond, so we need to be responsive to change if we want to continue to compete.

Sources:

https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/news/2419288/is-google-testing-a-knowledge-vault-update
https://econsultancy.com/blog/67282-seo-trends-in-2016-what-do-the-experts-predict/
https://econsultancy.com/blog/65621-penguin-3-0-what-s-it-all-about/
http://searchengineland.com/its-official-google-says-more-searches-now-on-mobile-than-on-desktop-220369
http://marketingland.com/google-app-streaming-web-of-apps-152449
https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2407782/the-rise-of-voice-search-and-something-you-can-do-about-it

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5 Reasons Why Running a Business and Refereeing Sport Are The Same

By day I run a marketing agency called Creare, then at weekends for the best part of 20 years, I have put on a pair of ice skates, a stripey shirt and a lot less padding than the players and officiated professional ice hockey.

I don’t know how much you know about ice hockey, but it can be a pretty brutal sport. Played by tough characters each carrying around a piece of timber in their hands, shooting a solid rubber puck around the ice at 100mph and crashing into each other at high speed. And then there are the officials who are in the middle of all that trying to make split second decisions and maintaining the peace, all whilst being yelled at by the thousands of fans in attendance.

It certainly is a random mix of career choices and one I wouldn’t change for anything, but it got me thinking about the skills required for each role and I quickly realised that refereeing professional sports and running a business often aren’t too dissimilar.

 

  1. Dealing with characters: The sport of hockey, much like many sports is a game loaded up with unique and sometimes firey characters. As a referee, just like a leader in a business, you need to know how to manage these individuals, but not constrain them too much because often, they are the team players that deliver enormous value.
  1. Communicating with clarity: The key for any leader in business is to communicate with clarity, getting your ideas and decisions across to the necessary audience. Communication is also a big part of officiating professional sports, you need to have a good relationship with the coaches and clearly communicate your decisions to the teams and all those in attendance.
  1. Great team work: Just like the two teams competing, team work is a big part of officiating professional sports, we go out there as a team and work together to make the best decisions possible. A leadership team in a business is no different. It would be a pretty lonely ride if you didn’t have a good relationship with your team mates and you weren’t all heading in the same direction, backing each others decisions and forming a united front.
  1. Staying cool under pressure: Sometimes in business times can be hard, just like those moments in a heated game where the players and fans are on your back, you need to maintain a calm and controlled appearance. If you lose it in either job, the situation will likely descend further and then you really have lost control.
  1. Not being afraid to make unpopular decisions: Probably the most fundamental thing is simply knowing that if you’re the boss, or the referee in charge of a game, you aren’t always going to be popular. You have to make decisions and take action that won’t be universally agreed upon, but you must always base those decisions on the best information available and with total integrity every step of the way.

Back at the beginning of my career, I was criticised by a potential employer for having ‘Ice Hockey Referee’ as a job on my CV. The day has always stuck with me, because in that moment, and every step of my journey since, I fundamentally disagreed with that mindset, always believing that the wealth of transferrable skills from my ‘other’ job were vast.

The beauty of the world of business and the world of sport is that both are fast paced, challenging and rarely feature a dull moment. I believe more businesses should look to the wider skills and experience people possess, because it’s that broad set of experiences that make people successful, and ultimately it’s those people that make businesses successful.

Check out more articles about business, technology and digital marketing on Creare’s Advice Centre.

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6 Digital Marketing Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

The New Year resolutions have begun. Lots of people have already promised to go to the gym and only eat courgette spaghetti. But if you’re looking for targets to set for 2016 to improve your digital marketing campaign, we have some suggestions that are easier than finding the newest quinoa recipes. 

Follow a Marketing Strategy

This should be at the top of your New Year’s resolution list; a digital campaign cannot thrive without even a basic marketing strategy.

First thing is to review what you did over the last 12 months and see whether your previous efforts proved fruitful, as well as constructively assessing what can be improved upon for the coming year.

Of course in marketing, everything moves so quickly. Keeping your strategy up to date allows you to choose best practice rather than relying on what worked months ago.

Keep Your Blog Updated

Keeping your readers up to date is crucial for an effective campaign but only if the content is relevant. Don’t feel forced to create content every day; readers see through this and you may actually lose engagement as quickly as if your blog is outdated.

Choosing topics about should be planned within the strategy making it so much easier to choose the best writers for each post. For ad-hoc pieces such as conference write-ups or recruitment drives, you can slot these in and around your strategy as and when they are needed.

Make the Effort to Network

Learning and researching from others is what digital marketing is about, so making the effort to reach out and network with like-minded people should be part of your resolution list this year.

Make this the year you attend industry events and get talking to experts within your field to build relationships – who knows where this could lead?

Listen More to Your Audience

There is a rule within content marketing, which is ‘Write what your audience wants to read, not what you want to read.’

It’s really important that you listen to what your audience is asking for by researching popular posts within your industry (there are many tools you can use) and consistently reviewing the trends of posts you’ve written.

If your marketing isn’t engaging your target audience, review your strategy and see what changes you can make to answer their questions, concerns, or offer support and solutions.

Make Yourself Easier to Find

We all know that digital marketing works best using a combination of practices, but many businesses focus all their efforts on one area whether this be content, social or PPC, forgetting that together these make for better outreach.

This year, make it so you’re unavoidable online by appearing for your services high in the search engines through your Google My Business page, achieving results from your SEO efforts and of course, keeping up with all the other areas that you’re so good at already.

By helping your business thrive elsewhere online you will reap other rewards, which in turn, could help you achieve bigger and better goals.

Branch Out Social

We’ve already mentioned networking, but remember not to forget your social channels. For 2016, don’t just focus on the top 4x social platforms, but think about how Pinterest or Instagram can help your business.

There are so many social channels that support digital marketing campaigns of businesses that are not being utilised. For more information on how to make more of social channels, read our post here.

Change

Digital Marketing in 2015 – What Changed?

Are you one of those people that loves or loathes change? After a brief straw poll in the office this morning, I think it’s fair to say we’re a 50/50 split here. Some love the idea of moving forward, a new challenge and time to think outside of the box, yet some prefer the philosophy of ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.’

Well in 2015, the digital world was a year of change, progression and speeding forward. From Google’s mobile-friendly announcement that rocked the big hitters as well as the SMBs to the rise of web videos, this industry is not known for sitting still and last year was no exception.

In this article, I’m taking a look at the 4 big changes in 2015 that changed the way we do digital marketing forever…

1. We Declared Our Increasing Love For Mobile

In 2015 our love-affair for ‘information on the go’ continued to rise. More and more people were on their phones  looking for those how, what, where and when moments. Mobile data usage increased by 70% and if you’re aged between 16-24 then there is a pretty good chance you were in the 93% who had access to a mobile phone.* Mobiles increasingly play a huge part of our lives.

These stats indicate how important digital marketing has become, whether it be sponsored posts on social media, Google AdWords, email marketing or mobile-optimised content, mobile in 2015 continued to form a highly important part of digital marketing for both big and small brands wanting to reach their consumers.

Mobile

2. We Had To Get Responsive

In February 2015, Google acknowledged the fact that we are loving mobile so along with announcing that searches on mobile devices had taken over those on computers in over 10 countries,they also announced that they would begin to use mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. This change to search had  a significant impact on search results from April 21st 2015 and boy did it have an affect, from the likes of Next to The AA, Google’s announcement rocked the rankings of many a business.

Zooming on a website on your mobile phone is frustrating, hard to do and generally just a pain. The easy solution if you’re a consumer? Press back and go to the website which explicitly says its “mobile-friendly” in the Google results page. Because of the seamless way people expect to use their smartphones many will no longer accept anything less than a fully optimised site. So what should you do if your site is not up to scratch?Give your current web developer a slap on the wrist and make your site mobile friendly! Take a look at our Digital Health Check to see how your website is currently performing.

3. Social Media Advertising Was Really Born

50% of the population check social media daily. I’ve personally checked it twice and put out a tweet just whilst writing this post! In 2013, there was £7.6 billion spent on social media advertising. In 2015, there was £16.03 billion spent, and guess what? It’s not going to get smaller in 2016.**

Apart from the fact that there are billions of pounds being spent on this form of advertising, targeting specific audiences is also getting smarter. The “Sponsored Posts” are becoming more frequent and you know what, I’m totally cool with that. A good deal of the sponsored adverts that I see on Facebook are things I actually want to see films I’ve watched, business pages I’ve liked, places I’ve been and what I do in my job -I love it! The phrase ‘people love being sold to,’ cliché though it is, is true. I’m always interested to see how someone put everything about me into a box and came up with the fact I might be interested in a company who make Star Wars X-Wing Knife Blocks (don’t judge me)…

Social Media has become an integral part of our online marketing strategies. Gone are the days where you could SEO the hell out of your website and generate all of your sales and in are the days where a holistic marketing strategy encompasses Social Media, SEO, AdWords, email marketing, reviews and videos in order to utilise your marketing spend for so you get the most bang for your buck.

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4. Web Video Took Off

Content is King… If I had £1 for every time I have heard someone say that then I would be able to afford a proper T-65 X-wing starship and not a chrome-plated knife block. Don’t get me wrong, I love my knife block, but imagine the amounts of likes and shares I would get on Facebook with a video of me flying around in one of those bad-boys!

Really though, content IS king and not just the written word , but visual, engaging and easy to digest content. Now, would you rather be reading this, or would you rather watch a video of me flying a T-65 x-wing starfighter and talking to you about the digital changes in 2015? I know, laser cannons win hands down.

The play button is becoming a central call to action on websites, emails and social media channels. You can tell a short, memorable story to build trust in your consumers and dramatically increase your conversion rates. In 2015, videos became a more and more important as part of holistic marketing strategies and are predicted to rise in popularity this coming year.

These days, almost all types of businesses can benefit from a well-produced video to showcase their business, products or services, with at least 64% of people more likely to buy a product or use a services having watched one. Here is a great example of a video we made for Simon Wright and his bespoke jewellery business.What other piece of content can do this?

So there you have it, the 4 big changes of 2015 that have transformed digital marketing strategies in businesses across the UK. Keep your eyes peeled on our Advice Centre over the next few days to see our predictions for 2016…

Video

Sources
* http://media.ofcom.org.uk/facts/  / http://www.statista.com/statistics/271405/global-mobile-data-traffic-forecast/
** http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Social-Network-Ad-Spending-Hit-2368-Billion-Worldwide-2015/1012357
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Creare Supporting ReachLocal Customers and Employees

Following the news that ReachLocal has gone into administration in the UK, Creare is working actively to provide support to affected clients and employees of ReachLocal.

As one of the UK’s leading digital marketing agencies and with the core brand value of Demystifying Digital, we are happy to step up and provide support, ensuring the impact on busy SMEs is minimal, particularly at this time of year.

Creare’s Chief Commercial Officer, Tom Darnell said:

“This has obviously been a difficult week for both the clients and employees of ReachLocal and couldn’t have come at a worse time. However, it is heartening to see the wider marketing community, including Creare, jumping to the support of ReachLocal clients and employees alike, ensuring the impact to business owners is minimal and that there is a lifeline for the many affected ReachLocal employees.”

For ReachLocal clients: Creare is offering free setup* for customers who transition their Google Adwords account to Creare (normally £500). We are on hand across the Christmas season providing a smooth transition to Creare from ReachLocal, ensuring minimal disruption to your Google Adwords campaigns as we head into 2016.

As a Google Partner and digital agency that operates with complete transparency, you can be confident your marketing investment is in safe hands. In fact, Creare places a much greater percentage of your budget directly into your click spend, meaning more leads and a better return on your investment.

ReachLocal clients can find more information at www.creare.co.uk/reachlocal

For ReachLocal employees: we appreciate the news you received last week couldn’t come at a worse time of year. As such, Creare has created a number of Associate Business Development Manager roles with an immediate start date for successful candidates.

The associate business development manager role will give a lifeline to ReachLocal sales professionals at this difficult time. In addition to an attractive remuneration package, Creare will offer a training & development programme, providing further skills and experience in our full range of digital marketing solutions – skills applicable for future roles at Creare or other organisations.

ReachLocal employees should reach out to Creare’s CCO, Tom Darnell, whose contact details can be found at the end of this press release.

– Ends –

Notes to Editor

About Creare

Creare provide a holistic digital marketing solution for small and medium sized businesses in the UK, including websites, ecommerce stores, search engine optimisation and pay per click marketing, social media and video. Established in 2007, Creare has helped over 4,000 businesses achieved a fantastic online presence through its range of solutions.

For further information, please contact:

www.creare.co.uk/reachlocal

Tom Darnell, Chief Commercial Officer, Creare

Tel: 07595 075724

Email: [email protected]

 

black-friday-1042311

Are you ready for Black Friday?

With Christmas just over 5 weeks away, you would be forgiven if you’ve started to think about the looming festivities. Some well deserved time off and spending time with loved ones will be top of the agenda for most of you.

However, as a commercial e-commerce organisation, thinking that far ahead could do more harm than good. There are some key dates that you need to think about, starting with next Friday.

The Black Friday hypes starts from next week and is set to be the biggest sales event to date. It has been part of the rapid expansion of pre-festive sales that have organically replaced the post-Christmas bargain hunters.

Now preparing for Black Friday has never been more competitive so I hope you have started early. Here are 5 tips to ensure you maximise your revenue potential.

1. ADVERTISE
If you advertise your products, the likelihood is people will buy them. Mix up your marketing with both offline and online activity to push out offers and brand. Make your online offers clear and visible on-site. DON’T compete on price otherwise you could spend too much and never make a profit.

2. REVIEW YOUR SERVER
Expect your website to get more traffic if you advertise correctly? If your website server is not correctly performing, expect a lot of downtime, so before you start your black Friday promotion, double check the server and ensure it can handle the increase in traffic.

3. LEARN FROM LAST YEAR
If last year taught you anything, you need to use that to your advantage. Don’t miss a trick – look at analytical data to see where you may have gone wrong and right and use the information to tailor your promotions to key audiences.

4. MIX IT WITH SOCIAL
If you have a pre-existing social audience, engage with them and let them know about your promotions. If they don’t buy themselves, they may share your status to friends and family.

5. ADD LIVE CHAT
Nothing says we care like communicating to a customer like they are in store. Consider adding Live Chat to your website for Black Friday so customers don’t pick up the phone for an online query. Think of think of the increase in saving rather than the cost.

So, there you have our advice on how to make the most of Black Friday for your business. For any further questions or for help on setting up your to maximise the Black Friday potential, get in touch with us online.

Photography

Website Images: Are They Really That Important?

Humans are visual creatures, with 40% of people claiming they respond better to visual information than plain text*. For this reason, the design of your website and effective use of imagery is extremely important in engaging your customers and prompting them to make an enquiry or purchase.

With the rise of image central social networks like Instagram and Pinterest, we have learned to process information extremely quickly through visual cues, forming impressions within seconds. In order to make your message understood, it is therefore essential to accompany this with related imagery to ensure an almost instant understanding of what is being communicated.

We have identified some tips to ensure your images enhance – not hinder – your website:

Choose eye catching images

‘46% of consumers say a website’s design is the number one criteria for establishing the credibility of a company’ – Hubspot

It is essential to ensure the images used on your site reflect your company values, look professional and effectively frame your content.

Imagery should relate to your offering, but doesn’t have to be literal. For example, if you sell fire safety equipment, a static image of a fire extinguisher might not be as engaging as an image of a fire being extinguished. Consider how to best catch the eye of the consumer as soon as they land on your site.

Fire Image

Consistency is key – just as you should replicate your company’s tone of voice across all communication through the website and social media, the style of imagery you use should also be consistent to affirm your brand identity and build trust in your customers.

The Jaguar website is a great example of this – they only use high quality lifestyle shots of the cars on their homepage, enhanced in post-production to look as if they are moving, to infer the speed of the vehicles. They haven’t confused the message by including product shots of the cars on white backgrounds, or any imagery containing people – it’s all about the cars and it’s consistent.

Jaguar Photography

While you may not have the budget or resource to produce images of this high a quality, it is important to consider how all of the images on your site complement one another and represent your brand.

Use images to sell

‘67% of consumers said the quality of a product image is ‘very important’ in selecting and purchasing a product’ – Jeff Bullas

If you are selling products on your site, it is essential that you provide as much imagery as possible to give consumers the best possible sense of how the product looks. Mix lifestyle shots in with product shots where appropriate, i.e. if you’re selling a piece of furniture, show the product on it’s own but also include it in a decorated room to give an impression of how it can enhance this space, or if you are selling clothing show this on a model styled with other items to show how it fits a real person rather than just shots on mannequins. Victoria Plum offer a range of product images including shots of the furniture in use:

Victoria Plum Product Image
Victoria Plum Product Image

With the absence of the ability to touch and feel the product, give customers the opportunity to see the product from every angle where possible – 360 photography can enable you to let consumers rotate the product to see every angle.

People buy for emotional reasons, so consider how you can appeal to users’ emotions when selling your products – especially if they are high value purchases. For example, holiday companies often include smiling couples or families in their photographs, appealing to consumers’ emotional attachments to the loved ones they will be taking the holiday with.

Be selective with stock photography

Stock photography can be extremely hit or miss – it can be utilised by companies who do not have the budget or resource to take photos in-house, but it can often be misused when cliché or inconsistent imagery is used.

If you need to use stock images, take some time to browse the resources available – there are a wealth of websites offering free and paid images, of varying quality. Sites such as Stocksnap contain free images supplied by photographers, which are much more creative than some of the other platforms providing generic images. Shutterstock is a great resource for paid imagery, with packages available to save you money when buying in bulk.

Consider using iconography or illustrations instead of photography if you are struggling to find good images. Moz have produced an illustrated mascot, and use attractive iconography across the site which consistently communicates their brand values:

Moz Iconography

Add team and company photos

Including images of the team can give your brand a face and personality online. Browsing online is in the most part an impersonal experience, so help your customers to connect with you by showing images of the people who own and work at the company. People buy from people, so this is an effective way to convey your company’s culture. At Creare we feature colourful images of our staff to communicate our brand personality:

Creare Team

Images of the office can also help to attract customers and potential new employees, by giving a sense of the environment you work in. This enhances the legitimacy of the business, and can be much more engaging on your ‘Contact Us’ or ‘About Us’ page than a generic stock image of a call centre worker.

Studies have shown that on average, over half of users spend less than 15 seconds on a website*. This gives you an extremely short window through which to communicate your message; follow these tips to ensure your imagery helps you to convert visitors into customers.

*Sources:
http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33423/19-Reasons-You-Should-Include-Visual-Content-in-Your-Marketing-Data.aspx
http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/chartbeat-website-engagement-data-nj
http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/05/28/6-powerful-reasons-why-you-should-include-images-in-your-marketing-infographic/

Image sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_extinguisher
http://www.stockvault.net/photo/102582/arcadia-fire
https://victoriaplum.com/product/reach-for-the-sky-2-over-3-drawer-chest-in-reclaimed-pine-repi04
http://www.watchshop.com/mens-emporio-armani-watch-ar2457-p99955995.html
https://moz.com/

JH

Branding is for big business: dispelling the myth

Think brands or branding and you can be tempted to categorise this as a big business issue…

Forget size

Every business relies on being seen, attracting attention, a solid reputation and delivering something their customers’ want, come back for or talk about with others. Every business needs to think about and execute a good brand plan, large or small, local or global.

Forget the jargon

Perhaps branding suffers from ‘daft marketing jargon syndrome’. It certainly sounds fancy, and more akin to big business. Forget the jargon if you like, this is about insightful business planning more than anything. People buy into a business and people they like. They buy into brands and take comfort in purchasing something that has a collectively held positive view. Be it a business service, shop or retail product.

Brands provide safety. Customers keep coming back for more if it fits their needs and outlook. Brands provide safety when making choices, and we choose between smaller business brands every day

Those customers will recommend your business, or even make you an automatic choice if you keep delivering what they bought into. Regardless of size, all the things mentioned in the previous post about ‘what a brand is’ stay true.

Smaller business examples

Let’s think about smaller businesses that aren’t known household brands for a minute. We all need to stand out. The best ones stand for something, and use the power of brand to achieve that stand out and get a collectively held positive view:

  • The farm shop that realises breeding/growing what they sell right there makes people confident in what they’re buying, it’s posh, aspirational and trendy. So the shop environment, packaging, logo, sausage and cheese selection and expert butcher to match all fit that exclusivity. You’re buying ‘exclusive quality’.
  • The small double-glazing business that emphasise traditional methods, craftsmen and an obsession with quality. They reject the idea of sub-contractors that fit the final product. You’re buying ‘quality craftsmanship’ throughout the process.
  • The architects that instil such a level of quality checking and precision that their house-building customers give them work to check from other architects. You’re buying ‘a safe pair of hands’.
  • The mobile coffee guy that specialises in home-made croissants of every variety and ice-cream and coffee worth stepping out of the office for. You’re buying ‘convenience and quality’.

Big/Small: You have a brand

A brand story, plan or reputation has to be earned and any business, whatever the size has to work at their brand constantly. Every business has competition. Every business needs to stand out. So if you have a business, you have a brand! John Hayward runs his own consultancy, Hayward Brands, providing brand and marketing consultancy for businesses in the UK. Never complicated, just cleverly done.

 

John Hayward runs his own consultancy, Hayward Brands, providing brand and marketing consultancy for businesses in the UK. Never complicated, just cleverly done.
Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 09.43.24

Creare Represents the Technology Sector Alongside George Osborne

September marks the release of The Parliamentary Review 2014/15, comprising of twelve separate editions, each focusing on a key policy area. Several outstanding organisations, including Creare, have been selected to highlight best practice, representing the tech sector.

 The Parliamentary Review aims to showcase exceptional practice as a learning tool to the public and private sector, with the Technology Edition aimed particularly at leading policymakers and executives in tech.

 This Review also consists of a look back at the year in technology and Westminster, with introductions from The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, and Ed Vaizey MP. The political commentary is written by Mark D’Arcy, the BBC’s Parliamentary correspondent.

 The document has been sent out to tens of thousands of leading policymakers including all MPs, Peers at the House of Lords and leaders from across the technology arena including Directors, Consultants, Engineers, CTO’s, Developers and many more. The total distribution of the Review across all policy areas is over 250,000.

 Director of The Parliamentary Review, Daniel Yossman, said: “This year’s Review demonstrates, once again, the enthusiasm of the Public and the Private sector to share best practice for the betterment of industry as a whole. Next year we will be adding new editions to cover additional policy areas and help broaden the discussion yet further. I look forward, as ever, to the challenge.” 

 Editor of The Parliamentary Review, The Rt Hon David Curry, said: “The Review shows just how creative and committed the people are at the ‘coal-face’ of Britain’s economic and social performance.”

 These thoughts are echoed by George Osborne, who uses his piece in the Review to state that: “Improving productivity – the amount that British workers produce for every hour they work – is the key route to making the UK stronger and families richer, and it’s the greatest economic challenge of our time.”

The online copy of the magazine can be found by clicking here.

-ends-

Notes to Editor

About Creare

Creare provide a holistic digital marketing solution for small and medium sized businesses in the UK, including websites, ecommerce stores, search engine optimisation and pay per click search marketing, social media and video. Established in 2007, Creare has provided websites, ecommerce solutions, search marketing, social media and video solutions to over 4,000 businesses.

For further information, please contact:

www.creare.co.uk

Tom Darnell, Chief Commercial Officer, Creare

Tel:                           +44 7595 075724

Email:                     [email protected]

cro

Conversion Rate – Why It’s Worth Your Focus

It’s often thought that driving more traffic to your website is the best investment for your digital marketing budget.

Although I do agree that increasing the visibility of any website is important, sometimes we can impact our businesses more effectively by focusing on the conversion rates of our existing audience & traffic.

If you’re not familiar with conversion rate optimisation (CRO),

It’s the process of using data, best practice and common sense to increase the chances of your existing users converting into a sale, enquiry or buying more and increasing their average order value.

Most companies in the digital space can offer CRO as a product or service, often they’ll use software on your site to understand user behaviour and make changes based on data, primarily using A/B testing to review call to actions, colours and layouts. This is standard practice and software such as Session Cam & Optimizley are great ways to get started.

Such testing does work, however, I think it’s important to look at the conversion rate of a site a little more commercially. A/B testing might be able to drive a small increase in conversion by ensuring a ‘buy now’ button is the correct colour, but ultimately if your business falls down when compared to your competitors, the chances of dramatically increasing conversion is unlikely.

Below are my top focuses for conversion rates that are specifically targeted at business owners and not digital teams using software. These in theory should be things that are easily changeable from a content management system or in house, reducing the need for external support.

  • Price point – In the past we’ve increased the number of users to a site via digital marketing and they don’t convert as expected. It’s really important to challenge the price point of your product in comparison to other companies in the market place. Most users once they understand the product will spend time reviewing price points from multiple sites or sources.
  • Trustworthiness – Alongside price point, ensuring that a user feels confident making a purchase online and that the company they’re purchasing from will be reliable is vital. It’s hard to portray this successfully all the time, although ensuring your site design is up to date, includes industry accreditations, recognised brand mentions and customer reviews will all contribute to conversion rates. You can generate and accumulate reviews using a plugin or widget, we recommend reviews.co.uk for capturing merchant and product levels reviews to build trust across your website.
  • Language of content – Sometimes the content of a page can be overlooked, but take some time to put yourself in the eyes of your perfect customer and consider what information may be relevant. It’s also a chance to qualify some of your audience, not all leads are good leads, so think about detailing the requirement from your customer or price qualify them prior to them picking up the phone. Remember to be clear, informative and as engaging as possible. Finally, make sure your spelling and grammar is perfect, it ensures a level of professionalism that can only be well received.
  • Access to information – Make sure your users have access to key information that may be relevant to their purchase. This includes delivery prices and timings, Terms and Conditions and Returns policies. We don’t want to hide anything from our customers, this could also be another chance to vet any enquiries that might not be serious or that aren’t at the purchase phrase of their journey.

With all this mind you should be able to affect the conversion of existing users, but how do you know whether you’re doing well or not? Wordstream published a great article around conversion last year and in it they highlighted an average conversion rate based on their study, the results are shown in the table below:

conversion table

Don’t panic if you’re not quite achieving the average, take a view of your site based on the pointers above and work with your digital team to make the improvements needed. Ultimately it’s good news, as you’re now in a good position to possibly affect the performance by changing some basic components, without having to spend money on driving additional traffic – Bonus!

Key Take Aways:

  • Not everything that effects conversion rate is technical, apply a level of common sense.
  • Think Big – Big changes = Big Gainz
  • Think about the opportunity to qualify your audience to get the right type of enquiry.

My final thought, don’t expect to get this right first time, every time. It is something you need to spend time refining and testing.

 

Email Marketing Image

Top 10 Habits of Successful Email Marketers

Are your email marketing campaigns generating the best possible return? Are you struggling to get your customers and prospects to engage with your content?

To help you think more strategically about your email campaigns, we have looked into the habits of successful email marketers in our Top 10 Guide:

Top 10 Habits Of Successful Email Marketers

In order to become a successful email marketer and implement our tips, you also need a great platform to work with. Here at at Creare we are proud to partner with email platform provider Constant Contact and to get you ahead of the game, we are offering all of our readers a 60 day free trial. Sign up here to get going with it!

Map

QUIZ – Are You Navigating the Dynamic Digital Marketplace?

The digital marketplace is always evolving, making it a difficult landscape to navigate. As an agency, we know the process of setting out your marketing objectives and putting a plan into action can be daunting.  

Don’t know where to start? You’re not alone.

These questions have been designed to help you figure out where you are right now, how you can start to define those goals, and what you can do to help your business along in the right direction.

Ducks_in_a_row_feature

5 Steps To Prioritise Your Digital Marketing

It’s no secret that the marketing industry has changed; gone are the days of being able to rely on handing out leaflets and placing a small text ad in the local newspaper to generate sales.

Digital has redefined the marketing landscape, and with £1 from every £7 spent expected to come from online sales by 2018*, those not responding to this are likely to fall behind.

But in an ever changing marketplace with an increasing number of digital channels available, how do you know which tactics to deploy and how to prioritise your marketing budget?

Step 1 – Put it into context

Before you start investing in digital marketing, try asking yourself the following questions:

Your Business: What do you want to achieve? How much budget are you willing to invest? Do you want to establish a long term strategy or are you more interested in short term wins?

Your Audience: How have customers found your company in the past? Which digital channels are they most likely to be receptive to? Do they typically buy your products/services online or in store?

The Market: How competitive is the market in which you operate? Is this reflected online? How do your competitors advertise?

There are various online resources you can use to help you identify the right digital channels for your business, for example Think With Google shows an overview of how each channel assists in the customer journey to purchase for different industries:

Think With Google Channel Split

Source: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/tools/customer-journey-to-online-purchase.html#!/the-uk/business-and-industrial/medium/generic-paid-search
 

For B2B, Google have identified that organic search (SEO) and email campaigns act more as assist interactions, whereas social media, display and branded PPC campaigns are more likely to be the last stage before purchase.

Step 2 – Optimise your website

Before investing in any online advertising, it is essential that you ensure your website is up-to-date with new and relevant information, is optimised for all devices, and contains clear calls to action. If these factors aren’t in place, your campaigns will be driving customers to a website which provides a poor experience and they are less likely to purchase.

It’s important to check your website is optimised for any campaign you are looking to run e.g. an email marketing campaign that contains links back to your website needs to drive customers to pages which contain relevant content and provide a clear path to conversion.

Step 3 – Choose your tactics

Depending on the competitiveness of your industry online, your budget and whether you’re looking for a short or long term campaign, each digital marketing channel has different benefits:

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation focuses on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) Google search results. SEO is a long-term strategic tactic as particularly in competitive markets, it can take time to generate tangible results. Investing long-term in SEO can generate great returns in terms of brand exposure, increased traffic and conversions.

PPC – Pay-Per-Click advertising involves paying for ads to be displayed in Google search results. It’s a great tactic for generating quick wins as it is possible to bid your way to the top of the search results instantly. However, depending on how competitive the market and search terms you want to target are, it can be very costly. PPC is recommended as a short term solution while longer term tactics such as SEO build momentum.

Display Advertising – Display campaigns enable you to create eye-catching ads, and place these on targeted websites based on the interests of your consumers. Similar to PPC, display advertising can be costly and the return is less likely due to lower average click-through-rates. However, these campaigns can be great from a brand building perspective.

Email Marketing – Email marketing is a great way to engage with existing customers and build brand loyalty. In order to make the most of your email campaigns, it is important to create a clear content strategy – for example, plan out monthly newsletters to keep your customers engaged, along with seasonal promotional offers to incentivise them to purchase.

Social Media – Social media is a great platform to engage directly with customers online. Paid advertising campaigns on the likes of Facebook give you access to their extensive consumer database, enabling you to target your products to customers who have liked your competitors profile, or have specific interests. It is important to have a content strategy in mind and develop a consistent tone of voice across all social platforms in order to get the best out of your campaigns.

Step 4 – Set up goals

Make sure your website is connected to Google Analytics, and add tracking codes to any campaigns you run, so you can measure the traffic specifically coming from each campaign. Setting goals in Analytics will enable you to measure each campaign against your KPIs, be it revenue generation, visits to your site or engagement metrics such as the time spent on site.

Step 5 – Analyse the results

The great thing about digital campaigns is that they can be easily scaled based on their cost and performance. For example, if your PPC campaign is costing too much, you can look at only running your ads at certain times of the day when you know your customers are likely to be browsing. Here, you can weigh up the investment in each channel with the return and tailor campaigns accordingly. It is advisable to utilise a mix of brand building and direct response campaigns to ensure you not only achieve short terms wins but keep customers engaged to sustain momentum.

If you’re unclear as to how to optimise your website, or you would like help in identifying the best digital channels for your business, try Creare’s free Digital Health Check tool, which gives your website a score based on best practises and clear recommendations on how to improve it.

*Source: https://www.onestop-webshop.co.uk/blog/prioritise-online-marketing/
blogpost1

Understanding Your Search Visibility in Google

Most businesses in the UK understand the need to have a digital presence and with that, a visibility in Google.

Digital Marketing agencies will look at the opportunities in Google for potential customers and build out a paid and organic proposition for a prospect. But this isn’t a dark art and any business owner has the ability to understand their market themselves.

Below is a simple step-by-step process which illustrates how to use the Google’s Keyword Planner tool to review search volumes and opportunities for your services and areas, followed up with a simple method of adding some perspective to the data.

If you haven’t already you’re going to need a Google Account, You make one by following the instructions here.

We’re going to use an example business that has a local coverage, in this case a plumbing company based in Leicester. This way we can look at different types of services that relate to a plumber along with a selection of cities and towns related to the target coverage.

Firstly, we’re going to use the Keyword Planner Tool; Simply sign into your account and you should see a screen that looks like this:

blogpost1

Click the ‘Search for a new keyword using a phrase, website or category’ option.

blogpost2

For best results add your products and services into the ‘product or service’ box. Add as many keywords you can think relate to your business.

blogpost3

Personally I would ignore the ‘website’ and ‘category’ options and head straight to the ‘Targeting’ option. Use this to add your locations of service or if you operate nationally, leave this set to UK. If you operate locally, remember to remove the UK option before continuing.

blogpost4

Once you’re happy with all the products, services and areas click the ‘get ideas’ button. I recommend leaving the other options to their default settings at this point, you can always change these at a later stage.

blogpost5

You’ll then see the following screen, this is a default recommendation from Google for Paid search Adgroups and although this can be helpful, what we’re really interested in is the ‘keyword ideas’ tab.

blogpost6

Once you click ‘keyword ideas’ you’ll be presented with the average monthly search volume for your specified keywords and areas. This will start to give you the data needed to understand the opportunity in Google. You can see some key information, including Avg. monthly searches, competition and suggest bid cost on Adwords.

blogpost7

Already from our example we can start to see which keywords have search volume and may be important to a search campaign. It’s important to note that although a search term like ‘central heating installation’ has a much smaller search volume than ‘plumber’ the user is much more targeted with their search query meaning they may be more inclined to buy or may convert at a higher order value.

This data is perfect for starting a discussion with your digital agencies as you can start to find trends, opportunities and search volumes around phrases relating to your business.

Fantastic and simple! However, we can go a level further to be even smarter with our data by applying a level of business sense to each of the keywords.

Once you have a list of keywords I recommend exporting them to an Excel spreadsheet and adding a couple of extra columns, firstly ‘Business value’ and secondly ‘Priority’. You can score both of these out of ten against each keyword.

‘Business value’ is what this type of enquiry means to your business. In our example we know that a full central heating installation could be a higher order value and more desirable than fixing a leak on someones toilet, meaning you might give ‘central heating installation’ a higher ‘Business value’.

On the contrary, you might have too many ‘central heating installations’ on at the point you start your search campaign, so decide although the ‘business value’ is high the ‘priority’ is lower as you actually need odd jobs to fill your teams work flow day in day out. In which case you’ll have a higher priority for the more generic terms such as ‘plumbers’ and ‘plumbing’.

Your sheet should end up something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 16.13.59

This shows that something like ‘central heating’ has more value to your business than the generic phrases, as the search volumes are good combined with a higher business value and priority.

Understanding this data allows you to have a great starting point with your digital team to focus their attention at the start of a campaign.

If all thats too much, my recommendation would be to use Creare’s Digital Health Check which will review your sites performance and gives the opportunity for a user to find out search exposure for their industry without having to use the Google interface.

This post was Inspired by : https://moz.com/blog/cant-do-keyword-research-like-its-2010-whiteboard-friday

 

Networking

5 Ways Your Business Contacts Can Boost Your Digital Presence

Since starting your business you’re likely to have made a number of valuable connections through networking. However, we often overlook the value that these relationships can provide in the digital space.

Here are five ways to use your connections to boost your digital presence:

1. Ask Your Clients for Reviews

Quick question. Which of the following plumbers stands out the most?

Reviews

Naturally, our eyes are drawn to the business with the highest number of quality reviews. Without even contacting ‘J S Gas & Plumbing’ we already trust them more than the others.

Reviews are a huge part of the online decision making process.

Utilise your existing customers to build up a number of quality reviews to ensure you appear favourably against your competition.

Ask them in person or email your satisfied customers with a link to your review page.

Quick Tip: Getting at least five Google+ Reviews brings up the stars in Google search – this can greatly improve the chances that people will click through to your website.

Relevant to: Customers and Clients.

2. Gain Testimonials from Loyal Customers

Testimonial

When approaching a business for the first time, consumers can often be skeptical about whether or not to trust a brand.

Testimonials bring an external voice to the decision process and can help potential customers to overcome any doubt they may have about the product or service.

Approach your most valuable customers and ask them to write a testimonial for your product or service – placing this strategically on your website will bring an increased level of trust to you and your brand.

Quick Tip: If you’ve personally been working closely with a contact, also ask them to leave you a LinkedIn recommendation to boost your personal credibility.

Relevant to: Customers and Clients.

3. Collaborate with Contacts to Enhance Your Content Strategy

Warren Knight

When creating content to be posted on your website and blog, consider getting some input from your business contacts.

Here are some ways of collaborating with your connections:

  • Interview a customer, partner or supplier to form a unique and interesting blog post
  • Ask for some quotes to support your content
  • Run a survey across your business contacts and use the data in a post

Getting your business contacts involved in your content strategy does three things:

  1. Gives your content some credibility and support from a third party
  2. Gives them exposure to your audience which enriches your existing relationship
  3. Creates an attachment between them and your content which makes them more likely to share it with their audience

Quick Tip: Collaborate with business contacts who have large social followings to maximise the reach of your content.

Relevant to: Customers and Clients. Suppliers. Industry Contacts.

4. Earn Links from Your Business Contacts

Pitch Supporters

If you are running an SEO campaign then you’ll know that building hyperlinks back to your website is an important factor in improving your rankings.

Building quality, relevant links can be difficult and time consuming. This is where your existing network comes in:

  1. Visit the websites of your business contacts and look for relevant webpages on their site where you or your brand could be mentioned.
  2. Outreach to your contact and ask them if they would consider adding you, your brand or your commentary to their site

Quick Tip: Adapt your approach to each website that you contact. You could write an article for their site, provide some images to their existing blog posts etc.

Relevant to: Suppliers. Industry contacts. Event Hosts. Industry Bodies.

5. Write Testimonials for Your Suppliers

Our testimonial

Writing a testimonial for a supplier not only helps them to grow and enriches your relationship but it also has direct benefits to you as the reviewer:

  • Being listed on their website gives you exposure to the supplier’s audience
  • This often creates a hyperlink back to your website to support the SEO campaign

Approach your suppliers and ask them if they would like you to write a testimonial to add to their website.

Be detailed and genuine when writing your testimonial to improve the chances it will be published, the best testimonials share the key benefits that you receive from the supplier.

Quick Tip: Try to include a link a link back to your own website somewhere in the testimonial.

Relevant to: Suppliers.

 

How else have you used your business relationships to benefit your business online? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @creare.