Posts tagged: digital marketing

Small business SEO – Digital Marketing Strategy for Ivory Promise Brides

4 January 2018

Pnina Tornai wedding dress from Ivory Promise BridesDuring the Christmas break, I’ve been helping out Ivory Promise Brides in Bolton with their small business SEO strategy. Like a lot of small companies Ivory Promise have a WordPress website. They are selling designer wedding dresses from the likes of Pnina Tornai, Eve of Milady, Naama & Anat, Blue by Enzoani, Mon Cheri and Charlotte Balbier. 

I hadn’t heard of these designers before – but they are really impressive and there’s clearly a market here for affordable luxury. The shop are also offering competitive prices and exclusivity to the UK or Europe, so there is a clear value proposition. They have even had enquiries from Dubai where people will fly across the world to their shop in Bolton to see their exclusive dresses.

The first thing I did was try to define who the buyer persona is and then think about the appropriate channels, content and data in order to inform the digital marketing and SEO strategy. This is of course from our very own #Passion4Digital Buyer Persona Spring (shown below) from our book Digital and Social Media Marketing: A Results-Driven Approach. It’s ideal for Small business SEO strategy or indeed for larger companies!

Buyer Persona Spring - useful for Small business SEO strategy

I logged in to their WordPress dashboard and then looked at the data they have from their social media channels, Google Analytics and Google Search Console to start snooping around for data and insights.

What I found was that the site was driving a pretty reasonable amount of traffic, but not really generating many enquiries or conversions. The majority of users are female between the ages of 25-54 and generally from the UK. They were browsing the site usually on mobile (60%).

Small business SEO - demographics

Analytics shows that the buyer persona is female, age 25-54 and usually on a mobile from the UK

I’ve also recently been reading the excellent book E-Commerce Website Optimization: Why 95% of Your Website Visitors Don’t Buy, and What You Can Do About it. Ivory Promise isn’t an ecommerce site in that, it doesn’t sell through the website, so the goal is to generate interest and enquiries. That said, there are a lot of useful insights in the book around user experience, copy optimisation and testing. Basically, the book advocates testing and subtle changes, which can make a big difference.

I formulated a list of things for improvement such as:

  • Install the Yoast plugin for SEO and use to optimise pages
  • Do some keyword research using Keyword Planner and Search Console
  • Split the product pages up so that each could be SEO optimised
  • Create unique titles and meta descriptions based on keyword research
  • Create and encourage more external links including from social media, suppliers and others
  • Make sure the pages are mobile friendly, no errors and explore AMP (accelerated mobile pages) through an AMP plugin
  • Add a contact form and make the contact page clearer and linked from key pages and AMP
  • Take into account the buyer persona in terms of use and behaviour
  • Added a goal in Analytics for the contact page and derived keywords used, demographics, traffic etc.
  • Various other tweaks, copy changes and others
  • Sat down with the client and talked them through the changes and what needs doing on an ongoing basis

Pleased to say, soon after the changes were made, page views have doubled and the shop had a record day for enquiries through the website. Still much work to do – but I think this goes to show that some small changes can make a big difference. It is still a work in progress of course, but shows that you don’t need to spend a fortune, sometimes some small tweaks and attention can make a difference. Have you got any similar experiences or thoughts about small business SEO? We also run short face to face or distance courses in Search and Social Media Marketing. Please Drop me a line on any of this, I’d love to hear from you!

Ad Blocking Should Be Banned

22 November 2016

ad blocking should be bannedOk, so ‘Ad blocking should be banned’, maybe a little over dramatic, but Internet adverts are the primary source of revenue for most of the websites. The majority of sites are free to browse which is thanks to the advertisements displayed on the web pages. This model of the internet has been steady over the last two decades. As time goes by, ad companies have become more and more aggressive in their approach, and this has led to the use of ad blocking software rising dramatically.

At the present time, if you open a web page, you are to likely to see many ads based on your browsing history, cookies and other private information. More annoyingly, many ads are merely deceiving, forcing the users to click on them to view the original content. No one will disagree that the digital ad business has now reached a point where the users find the ads an annoyance rather than useful.

This atmosphere has given birth to ad blockers. You just install software or a browser plug-in to block the ads from being displayed. This prevents the ads from displaying and also prevents hefty ads from eating up bandwidth and lets pages load faster. Ad blockers are gaining more and more popularity. From old players like ‘AdBlock Plus’ to Opera’s new, free built-in blocker. The rise of ad blockers is threatening the economic model that the internet is based on. For these reasons maybe ad blocking should be banned. Read more…..

Digital marketing and SEO – the ten commandments

24 March 2016
Get ahead in SEO and digital marketing

CC by hin255 from freedigitalphotos.net

The Search and Social Media Marketing course at Salford University has some brilliant SEO and digital marketing tips . Small businesses like mine need to be able to market themselves online. We all know we have to be at the top of the rankings to get noticed. Here are the ten most important lessons we’ve learned so far:

Read more…..

Digital marketing strategy audit – turning ideas into action

24 November 2015

Over the past 5 weeks on the Salford Uni course we’ve listened to our tutor and 5 industry speakers share more than 300 slides of the latest digital marketing goodness. Question is, how do we use these tools in the real world of limited time, people and budgets?  To investigate, I’ve done a digital marketing strategy audit.

My client Trafford Builders is a growing family business. They do home extensions, loft conversions and open plan living. My challenge is to use digital marketing gracefully to help them build their brand and win new customers through enhanced word of mouth.

Digital marketing strategy audit example: Trafford Builders

And here’s the rub –  I’ve only got at most an afternoon a week to achieve results. Here comes my digital marketing strategy audit.

Read more…..

5 ways small businesses can make big impact with #SEO

2 November 2015

SEO for small businesses can be a challenge, working in a small business inevitably means you are

  1. always short for time
  2. always focused on hundreds of things at once
  3. always passionate about what you’re doing

Even your job title can feel like a minefield – does Account Manager cover advertiser, marketer, receptionist, sandwich runner, tea maker, cleaner, product developer… etc. etc.?

So when you’re told that Social Media and Search Marketing will make big impacts, you inevitably want to throw yourself into it full throttle and full of enthusiasm. Trying to navigate it yourself however leaves you frustrated and disheartened. I’ve done 5 tweets today, why haven’t I had 3000 orders?!

That’s where the Search and Social Media Marketing Course came in. As chief Tea Maker, amongst many other titles, at Safer Surfacing, I was very keen to learn what impacts a small company could make with SEO. We’re all pushed for time, and time will always inevitably be money to the small business owner, but these five starting points should have you well on your way to that all important Return on Investment (ROI).

Read more…..

Copywriting for SEO, Social Media, and Charity Ducks

7 May 2015

Soap home page

Although I’m a content writer I’m also expected to lead Soap Media’s social media marketing campaigns and, naturally, I’m Copywriting for SEO – page rankings are always in mind. Some established Copywriters lament the new generation and complain about where the talent’s gone, but Copywriting with Google’s algorithms in mind is now the way of things, and content is primarily about SEO, keywords, and Call to Action (CTA) buttons.

It’s a complex time, and this is what I’ve learnt after four years of SEO, and following two months of The University of Salford’s Search and Social Media Marketing (SSMM) course…

Read more…..

Why I chose the Search & Social Media Marketing Course

27 November 2014

Hmmm… So, which course?  These were my initial thoughts.  Do I do a long distance course or do I stay close to home and come to the building.  By opting for the SSMM (Search and Social Media Marketing) at Media City, I now know, I made the perfect choice.

salford university media city

University of Salford Campus – Media City

It had all the aspects that I was hoping for and none of the ones I feared.  I didn’t want to just do ‘a course on seo and social media’… I wanted the course that would add value to my skillset.

When you leave University and/or Further/Higher Education, the question usually is… “What experience do you have?”… This is usually followed by an answer consisting of erms, buts and opportunity.  In other words, doing your best to prove you are willing to learn.

For probably only the second time in my life, I found myself on the other side of the argument.  As, somewhat fortuitously and serendipitously I found myself knowing a lot about SEO, social media and digital marketing, but didn’t have the academic or professional qualifications or accreditations to back up my experience or prove what I knew.  So it was important on my part that I showed evidence of Continued Professional Development (CPD).

I work in the charity and voluntary sector, so it is vital to spend the limited resources we have in the most productive, efficient and effective way possible.   This just happened to involve social media, website building, search engine optimisation and other aspects of digital marketing.  This is because, these activities can be done on a very limited budget; the challenge being, knowing what to do and having the time to invest.

So began my journey into the world of social media, website building and SEO.  It started off as a hobby with the website/organisation I founded called, Positive About MS (www.positiveaboutms.com) and it’s social media following which now reaches out to about 10,000 supporters!  Subsequently I developed a website called, The Luggie Scooter (www.theluggie.com), which features on the first page of Google and in some cases features in the coveted Golden Triangle section of Google on page1!

So you can see SSMM was something I fell into and something I just happened to enjoy too, not realising at the time it would become Web 2.0.

However, all this experience didn’t give me what I needed, which was a way to quantify what I know and give me a recognised professional accreditation and/or qualification.

The Search and Social Media Marketing course

Right from the first week of the course I liked what I saw.  From the email communication prior to arrival, to the structure and general feel of the class.  It was just what I hoped it would be.  There was a structure to the whole course and it was clear what the course would give you.  I thought it would be more formal and not as comfortable, but I was pleasantly surprised.   I really liked the layout, atmosphere and the general way of teaching.

One of the reasons I opted for the course, was the opportunity of interaction with the course leader (Alex Fenton @AlexFenton) and the chance to ask questions in person.  This also exceeded my expectations.  You could speak in person, via social media, on private linkedin groups or by email.  It gave you further reassurance that you weren’t just going to be given course notes with a presentation.

Guest speakers

The format of giving you a presentation on the subject matter, followed by a talk and Q&A session from an industry professional worked really well and I got more than I expected from it.  We got the opportunity to hear from the likes of Phil Morgan (@PhilipMorgan) & Tom Mason (@totmac) from Delineo (@Delineo), Aisha Choudhry (@AishaZulu) from Fast Web Media (@FastWebMedia),  and the UK’s Number 1 best selling small biz marketing author; Dee Blick – pictured (@DeeBlick) of www.themarketinggym.org.

 

dee blick pic

Dee Blick – Guest Speaker

I also felt the course was well pitched and did exactly what it said on the tin!  Initially I was apprehensive that parts maybe too basic or complex, however this was not the case and it was helpful that Alex Fenton would sometimes spend more time on certain subject areas than others, based on the group and what we needed.

It was never a case of times up and that’s it, you got a chance to review what we’ve already discussed and check your understanding.

One of the many revelations to me personally was the benefits and features of using Google Drive, something I was neither keen nor found necessary to use before I went on the course.  Google Drive allowed you to revisit slides and talks from previous weeks and made it very easy to review course notes.

I found it very refreshing and useful that information on the course and was freely shared by Alex, and that was what I had hoped for.  If there was something you were not sure on, there was always the opportunity to revisit it out of class time, with informal group sessions.

Overall, this course has filled in those missing gaps from my own learning’s and has also introduced me to industry terms and given me a chance to quantify what I already knew, by putting names and phrases to the processes I was practicing.

Furthermore it has opened up my eyes more to the idea of Web 2.0 and the importance of Digital Marketing.

Hopefully, this has helped you regarding your professional development course choice.  Feel free to share this post or share your views, I am @mrkazlaljee on twitter and you can use the hastag #ssmmUoS

More information & booking details for the Search & Social Media Marketing Course  &  Salford University location at Media City UK – Video

Social Media Marketing for the Haters.

27 November 2014

Tapping the Social Media apps on my phone has become more of a habit than a conscious decision. Whether it’s to check out the persistent notifications for a picture I clicked ‘like’ on days ago; or to answer a private group message about a friend’s birthday meal. I no longer need to simply wonder how an old friend is doing, as their profile picture and status updates will tell the story of their relationships, hobbies and interests. Status updates can be akin to a diary extract; often telling us a lot more than we care to know.

Everything is Good by David Shrigley

Everything is Good by David Shrigley

Pew Internet’s research has shown that, “As of January 2014, 74% of online adults use social networking sites.” Whilst we live our private lives in the public eye, it’s important to consider that a respective new employer is able to scope us out before that life changing job interview. They will have already have made an opinion based on our online public persona. Perhaps due to this ‘social’ nature of Social Media, some companies aren’t taking it seriously enough and are reluctant to use it.

If you choose to use it to your advantage, you could be just one social media campaign away from beating your competitor to the number one spot in Google rankings. You will be better connected to your customer base, promoting your business to a wider audience all whilst being inspired and quite possibly entertained.

Choose Life, choose a Social Media platform

Consider the strengths within your company and use them to your advantage, but firstly…

  • Who are your target audience?
  • What’s your unique selling point?
  • What objective are you trying to achieve?

Once you have established all of the above, you will be able to determine the correct Social Media platforms to use. Here are some of the usual suspects:

  • Facebook

Facebook is still, far and away, the most popular social media platform. According to Statista.com, ‘As of the third quarter of 2014, Facebook had 1.35 billion monthly active users’.  It speaks volumes really. You can set up your company and wait for the ‘likes’ to come in, or if you have the capital, use pay per click adverts that work on pay per interaction rather than pay per impression. This is a real advantage over some of the more traditional online advertising techniques, where Return on Investment (ROI) can be low.

  • Twitter

Despite being, arguably, the second-most recognized platform out there, Twitter is fourth in usage. The ultimate, real-time conversational micro-blogging platform; perfect if you like to keep your posts short, sweet and less than 140 characters.

  • Instagram

If you are an ‘image heavy’ company this is an excellent medium to use. It’s fun, requires little management, just maintain a good level of high quality images.

  • Tumblr

Hosting some 188 million blogs, Barack Obama took to the ‘micro-blogging’ platform to discuss issues such as national security, instantly dispelling previous perceptions that the site was little more than a hub for playground discussions between teenageers. Tumblr gives you ‘gofollow’ results, which is SEO GOLD! You can also use Google Analytics to track key metrics.

You can use ALL of the above, or just one, depending on how much time you available to dedicate. If you can spare at least half an hour a day to Social Media, make sure you use the platform that will create the most engagement. You can use a Social Media dashboard, such as Hootsuite to put out the same content  all the platforms at once, you can even schedule a suitable time in the day; reaching your audience in the USA when they are drinking their morning coffee. This will save you from setting your alarm for the middle of the night to send a Tweet.

To rank at the top of Google, you need to have a fresh unique website which is updated on a regular basis. A neglected page will make you drop off the first page on Google faster than you can say, ‘sneezing panda’. Set time aside each week to update the website. Try adding blog posts from guest bloggers, who have their own suitably engaged followers who can link back to your site.

Here’s a stinky statistic for you; according to Mashable, “There are 6.8 billion people on the planet. 5.1 billion of them own a cell phone, but only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush”. This shows how imperative it is to have a mobile friendly website, we are all using our mobiles to view Social Media.

Be a Smarty Pants

One of the many fun things about Social Media is you can be a bit of a smart ass. There are so many things you can do, beyond basic tweeting and using the correct hashtags. Google trends is an excellent way of engaging with your desired audience, this will help to stay on top of trends relating to your business. It will inspire you to write a tweet at the perfect time. The best timed tweet I ever did was for my DJ collective project, Dance Lady Dance, (shameless promo) during the World Cup which got us 52 new followers. Thank you Miley!

Dance Lady Dance July tweet

Albeit, more football fans than music fans followed us…. which swiftly leads me to my next point:

Find the right audience 

Buying Twitter followers, or going on a follow-frenzy, is not going to be beneficial to your company. Locate your audience, who do they follow? This may be your competitor; if so ‘follow’ their followers, they may soon follow you back. Use an appropriate hashtag # that relates to your business and follow the latest followers who are tweeting about related topics. You’ll soon have a relevant audience who are ready to interact with you.

The best Social Media Marketers are creative thinkers who take risks. SEO and Social Media Marketing is ever changing, so there really is no guidebook on how to do this; its trial and error. Youtube hosts countless videos on unsuccessful marketing campaigns. Only the very best campaigns will go viral via Social Media (or ones with cats playing instruments).

You are ready!

Remember that your profile picture and cover photo is the first thing your audience will see, you have about five seconds to win them over, so make it count. Use something that represents your company and what you have to offer; always have a link to your website in your profile.

Follow the steps, keep your content updated and you’ll soon find that people will follow you whenever you go.

Connect with me @louloupembers

Social Media and SMEs – It’s not so scary!

7 May 2014

Working on a business assistance project for small and medium enterprises we hear time and time again from businesses that they know they need to be using social media but “I’m too old for all that”, “there are so many different sites I don’t know which ones are right for me” or “I’ve given it a go but I can’t see any obvious gains”. As someone who before my current role, has only used social media in a personal capacity, studying on the Search and Social Media Marketing course has made me realise that getting social media right will take some effort but there are definite benefits.

Strategy! Strategy! Strategy! Social Media

You wouldn’t embark on an advertising campaign without having first developed a strategy, the same applies to social media. Ask yourself some key questions. What do you want from it? Who are you trying to target? If you sell plumbing parts then taking hundreds of beautiful pictures of your products and putting them on Pinterest may not be the best use of your time…please feel free to prove me wrong though! CMO.com have published a guide to some of the main social media options. What resources do you have? If you only have limited resources then don’t overstretch yourself. Don’t forget to think long term, just as in traditional business, building up customer relationships is key and social media is a great tool for this. Keeping your followers engaged is essential which is when you need to think about…

Content! Content! Content!

Good quality content is just as important on social media as it is on your website. If you are putting out the same (dull) message over and over again your followers are going to lose interest pretty fast. Rebecca Rae, Head of Social Media at Photolink Creative Group, recommends focusing on three key points when planning your content 1. What they want. 2. What you want. 3. Something new. When all three overlap you will have the perfect piece of content! Creating a bank of content and using social media scheduling tools will definitely help you manage the time you dedicate to social media but don’t forget to be reactive too, use trends and news stories to your advantage but don’t miss the boat (Google Trends is just one of tools that can help you out with this). On the theme of being reactive your customers may use social media to contact you with queries or complaints so don’t lose sight of…

Customer Service! Customer Service! Customer Service!

Social media is in many cases a public forum and any negativity can spread fast! This course has taught me that it is vital to develop a response strategy and ensure that all employees that have access to social media channels are aware of it. Don’t be tempted to just delete negative posts, by responding effectively and in good time you have the opportunity to turn things around.


These are just a few of the things to consider when entering the world of social media marketing and for SMEs it can definitely seem like a daunting prospect but help is out there! Unite with Business is an European Regional Development Fund Project which offers free business support for Small to Medium sized companies within the North West of England. The University of Salford is one of a partnership of six universities who can provide funding for student and graduate internships in SMEs. The project has provided support in a wide range of areas, SEO, social media strategy and content production are particularly popular. For more information go to www.salford.ac.uk/business-school/business-services/unite-with-business. We are also always looking for students and graduates interested in participating, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @SalfordUniUnite.

 

SBS Logo

Using social media to advertise boring products.

7 May 2014

Cones as you may have realised aren’t interesting, they’re not funny, sexy, or appealing in any way, how then do you market one to the general public?

Cones

As a manufacturer of traffic management products we’re not exactly on trend, or in high demand. Basically cones are boring, and as a business to business company we didn’t think social media would benefit us in any way. After starting the Search and Social Media Marketing course though I thought why not try setting up a twitter and see where it gets us.

Before I set up the account I looked into other social media campaigns for boring products. The most successful one I could think of was Will It Blend?If you haven’t seen the videos, they’re advertising blenders but instead of just blending food or showing you a picture of a blender, they blend tablets, phones, toys, marbles, and a big mac, almost anything you can think of to show the power of the blender.  The campaign really took off and the guy behind it all became somewhat of a minor celebrity in America. There’s also the Got Milk? campaign, Milk has got to be the most boring product imaginable but the campaign was so successful that it has been running for over 20 years, there’s been celebrity endorsements and even merchandise, who knew an advert for milk could be so successful!

Another really good social media campaign is that of Vitamin Water, they asked people to tweet them with what’s currently boring them, then Vitamin Water would come back with a response to make it brilliant. They even went to a town In Oregon called Boring and put on loads of events and gigs, the whole thing went viral and there followers on twitter went up 100%.

There was more of online presence in our field that originally thought, so we set up our twitter account, @MelbaSwintex, designed the page around our theme from the website, followed the relevant people and waited for a miracle, but as we quickly realised, planning needed to go into running a social media platform.

We currently have three people with access to our twitter, a designer, a sales rep and me, so a wide variety of people, luckily we all have our own personal twitter accounts, so we knew the basics, we just didn’t know what to tweet about! Firstly we laid down the rules of what can and can’t be tweeted, we decided to discuss tweets before we posted them so we didn’t get any repeat tweets and so that non of the tweets were offensive, spelt wrong, or incorrect.  For us humour seemed to be the best way to go with, nobody wants to follow someone on twitter who blurts out facts about the first road cone or how to properly lay your road cone on the road. After only a couple of tweets we had a council ring us up and want to start a 2 year contract with us, just because I’d followed them on twitter, which is very encouraging.

Currently we’re tweeting about new products that we have coming soon, innovative design ideas that we are pursuing, particular tools that people can use on our website, and re-tweeting local news. We’ve currently got 31 followers, which doesn’t seem like many but to be fair it is a twitter account about cones.  According to our Google analytic’s profile, the twitter account is already generating more views to our website. Hopefully this will generate more interest in us as a company!

Thanks for reading and if you need any cones Melba Swintex is the place you need to call!

 

Melba Swintex