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Digital

The Ethics of Influence

PR, DigitalEleanor YeoComment

Many influencers do not want their social media feeds to be full of ‘ADs’ so will be aware of the fact that they need to produce some genuine sounding content too.

Cutting through the noise with crowdspeaking

DigitalRosie DenhamComment

Crowdspeaking tools can help you to cut through the noise and deliver your message more effectively. But what exactly is it? And how do you use it successfully?

Blogger….or blagger?

PR, DigitalSue McQueenieComment

Thinking about using influencers in your marketing strategy? Read our top tips on how to make sure you get the most out of this type of marketing and reach the right people. 

Top 10 tips when writing a blog

DigitalSarah ThomComment

Want to start a blog on your business website but unsure how to get started? Here are our top 10 tips for creating a successful and professional blog.

Your social media following: A value not volume game

Strategy, DigitalRob Mulholland

Do you place more value on the number of followers rather than the quality of followers you have on social media? You may be looking at it the wrong way, read more to find out why. 

Third-party email lists – beware of the pitfalls

DigitalEleanor Yeo

 

Being able to communicate directly with your customers is vital to any business. One of the ways that's become more and more popular with businesses, when keeping in touch with their customers, is email communication.

Whether it is through a monthly newsletter, or just a quick email to remind them that you are there, email marketing campaigns can be very successful in getting people to return to your company again and again.

But building up your email contact list takes time and tactics. Getting people to give you their information is getting increasingly harder, as people are more reluctant to give out information which they fear may result in a deluge of emails or letters.

For this reason, some businesses resort to buying lists from websites and other companies. The theory is that because these people have already signed and given consent for their information to be used by one company and third parties, it doesn’t matter if they haven’t given it to you directly. But things are not always what they seem... such recipients are highly likely to perceive your email as ‘spam’ and label it as such.

We recently came across an example of where a business had purchased a list of thousands of new email addresses to send their newsletter to – meaning they had more than doubled their contact database overnight. The company that they bought the list from, assured them that the respondents had genuinely signed up to receive emails from companies such as theirs, so they thought that they had nothing to lose. Sounds simple enough.

However, what they hadn’t realised is that buying email lists can have a negative effect on your business particularly if recipients have never heard of you. On this basis, such recipients are highly likely to perceive your email as ‘spam’ and label it as such.

Email marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp, are very strict when it comes to the people who use their service. If you send out a ‘spam’ email, then they can impose harsher restrictions on adding new and genuine subscribers, shut down your account or even fine you. Even if you may not have intentionally sent out a ‘spam’ email, if too many of the recipients label it as such, then providers will act against you.

Buying third-party lists can also create a negative perception of your business among the people purchased. If people see your brand associated with ‘spam’ emails, which they did not sign up to receive, then negativity will grow and potentially spread.

So, what do we recommend to increase your email contact database?

Grow your list yourself and do it organically. Increasing awareness of its existence and possibly spending money on incentivising people to sign up is far better than spending money to buy the contact details of people who are not warm to your organisation.

The Best Times To Post On Social Media

Digital, MarketingEmma Cottle

You’ve created some exciting, relevant and audience-focussed content for your social media channels. Now, the big question – when should you schedule the posts for maximum impact?

We’ve read some of the latest studies into consumer behaviour to provide you with a recommended outline below – however, the best times to post on social media will vary depending on your target audience, platform and content. Our advice to clients is always test, test and test again. Also, if you’re as addicted to social media as we are, be conscious of the times that you are using each channel and this can also give you a guide on the best times to schedule posts – particularly if you fit within your target demographic.

LinkedIn
This B2B social network channel is targeted at professionals, so the best time to catch people on this channel is during the work week, when this target audience is most likely to be browsing LinkedIn. Studies have found that the morning commute, lunchtimes and the journey home from work are good times for posts, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Evenings and weekends are largely a no-go. So, ensure that your social media activity on LinkedIn reflects this.

Twitter
Twitter is hugely popular amongst mobile users, with people using it as a welcome distraction on breaks and on their commute. The optimum time for social media activity on Twitter is during the working week from 12 – 3pm and again from 5 when the working day is over. However, as Twitter is so popular and accessible, this is changeable and will depend on your target audience – so testing and variation of times is required for this platform, to find what works best for your organisation, audience and end goals.

Facebook
Facebook is a great channel for reaching the consumer audience, and it is also becoming increasingly popular as a B2B platform, recently surprisingly outranking LinkedIn and Twitter among B2B decision-makers. Advice varies, but generally the highest rates for engagement are on weekdays from 1 – 4pm, the best days being Wednesday and Thursday. Weekends are also a great time to post content, but an ideal time is harder to pinpoint. Another case for more testing here. Facebook is perhaps the most personable platform, allowing for emotional reactions and offering higher character allowances – so keep the content fun and engaging.

Tip: Use Facebook analytics to track your data and see when your audience is online.

Instagram
Fortune 500 companies overwhelmingly post photos on Instagram during business hours, with posts spiking between 3pm – 4pm. It is recommended that posts are scheduled during the working week, from 12pm to catch users checking their phones on their lunchbreaks, and then later in the day as they wind down and commute home.

Pinterest
Pinterest users are most active in the evening during weekends, and activity spikes on Saturdays from 8 – 11pm. The worst time for Pinterest is during working hours. Also, be aware that a staggering 80% of Pinterest users are female, and 90% of all posts are created/shared by women.

Happy posting!

What content should you post on each social media channel?

Strategy, DigitalEmma Cottle

Social media acts as the voice for your brand, and is increasingly becoming the first port of call for potential customers doing their research into the product or service that you offer. After all, social media is free, instant and accessible to an engaged audience of potential customers.

You may have read our recent article on the best times to post on different social media channels. But what is the best way to communicate with these audiences? The answer is that it depends on which channel you are using. Although it may be tempting to duplicate content across all of your accounts, and upload identical posts in bulk – spending time curating your content for each platform will pay dividends – we promise.

However, there is one overriding rule – make it engaging. Think about the most engaging people you know. They are most likely 1) interesting, 2) attractive 3) the most engaged themselves. This also applies for your content.

Here are some tips for successful content on each platform:

 

Facebook

  • Your posts will perform better with photos – Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images

  • Organic Facebook engagement is highest on posts with videos (13.9%) and photos (13.7%)

  • B2C marketers place greater importance on visual content than B2B marketers – making Facebook the perfect platform for more visual content

  • Using emoticons will get your post more likes

  • Question posts have twice the engagement of non-question posts

Twitter

  • Tweets including images and hashtags can double engagement

  • Tweets with image links get 2x the engagement rate of those without

  • As with Facebook, photos are more engaging for Twitter users

  • Tweets with less than 100 characters get 17% more engagement – but tweets with links perform the best with 120-130 characters

Instagram

  • Invest the time to create interesting images to increase engagement

  • Use hashtags and don’t be afraid to use a lot! Spend some time curating a list of relevant hashtags

  • Use images that support your brand’s voice and ethos

Pinterest

  • Try adding text to images to give each product some context

  • Write keyword-rich descriptions and boards

  • Always add a link to your pin descriptions

  • Don’t just show your product – show what you can do with your product

  • Share tips and inside knowledge

  • Tell your company’s story in pictures

LinkedIn

  • Each post should focus on a specific topic that highlights your unique expertise

  • Write interesting, attention grabbing headlines, which include industry keywords

  • Add pictures, videos and presentations to your post. As with other channels, visual posts will receive more engagement
 

What you need to know about using social media for your business

Digital, MarketingEleanor Yeo

We recently came across a situation where one of our brilliant clients wanted to start up a social media strategy for the first time. They’d dipped their toe in the water of Facebook on a personal level, and had heard from another marketing agency that they absolutely had to have profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for their business too.

Which begs the question we asked them, why?

Why do you need profiles on all three social media platforms? We weren’t saying that they didn’t, but we were asking them to think about what they felt they would get out of them. When they told us that they didn’t really know, it got us thinking about what advice we can give people when they’re unused to social media.

We are the first people to recommend that clients use a variety of channels and platforms to get their message across, both to customers, to suppliers, to the media and to the wider public. But we also recommend that this is done in a targeted, planned manner, and that a schedule is written as part of a wider marketing strategy. But what should be included in this?

A few things to think about here:

 
  • Do you know the differences (in terms of consumption and demography) between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat?
  • Do you know your local press and how best to interact with their readers?

  • Are you aware of who your current followers are on each channel? Depending on your product/service, it might be that it’s your suppliers who interact with you on Twitter, whilst it’s your customers who follow you on Instagram. Make sure that you’ve looked at the analytics of each channel – do your research!

  • If you have a newsletter, who is it that reads it?

  • Do your social media posts reflect the messages of your business / brand as a whole? Do they reflect the messages that you put out on your website? In your blog? In your newsletter? Consistency is key.

  • By all means, use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule some of your social media posts. But don’t rely on this for all your social activity, we recently wrote a blog about how to keep your social media, social. You also need to be able to respond to comments, questions and opportunities as they crop up, and if you aren’t sure whether you are going to be able to manage this, it’s worth getting in some additional support to help you.

 

 

We love helping organisations interact with their customers, their suppliers, the media and their local community. We would always ensure that this is done with the support of a plan, so that messages are consistent, timely and aimed at the relevant audience.

If you need help with this or with any other marketing activity, please contact us today.

7 Top Tips to Make Your Social Media, Social Again

Strategy, DigitalSarah Thom

Social Media has become one of the main ways that businesses reach out to their customers online. But with so many different channels, it can seem like a daunting task to keep your eye on them all at the same time. To overcome this, many businesses use scheduling platforms such as Hootsuite to manage their various accounts. But whilst these tools can be very helpful when it comes to scheduling posts and managing your social channels, it is important not to rely on them completely. 

Audiences have come to expect more from businesses on social media than a few posts per day; they want to be able to reach the business and talk to them in real time. This is where some businesses fall short of expectations; they schedule all their posts beforehand and then put social media to the back of their minds, not responding to comments or questions as they happen.

This has led to a push for businesses to ‘humanise’ their social media. When customers (existing or potential) engage with you they don’t want to feel like they are being ignored, or talking to a robot, so it is important to show people that there are real people behind the account.

Here are our top tips for making your social media, social!

 

1.     Use everyday language – people don’t want to see posts filled with business jargon. Use the language that you would if you were talking to them in person.

2.     Post pictures – and not just professional ones! Share the everyday pictures with your followers. This will show your fun side and that you are real people, and not just a business.

3.     Make sure your social and your business presence is aligned – if your business is known for being quirky and fun, then make sure that this persona comes across online as well. There should be a seamless transition from the physical location of your business to your virtual accounts.

4.     Acknowledge mistakes – everybody makes mistakes, it’s life! So, if you make a faux pas then don’t just remove it and pretend it never happened, own up to it and acknowledge the mistake. Your followers will respond much more positively and forget the mistake a lot sooner.

5.     Engage with your followers – ask questions and respond to comments with personalised answers. Your customers will love you for it.

6.     Customise content on your different channels – some things that work well on one channel won’t work as well on another, and that’s ok! Don’t schedule all your posts to go out on all your social channels at the same time, it will quickly become boring for your followers if all your channels look the same. Spend time finding out what works best on each channel and personalise posts for each one so that they all have their own distinct style.

7.     Mention people – If you’ve just had a business meeting with a client then mention them in a post, or if you have got a new supplier then broadcast that out on your social media with them tagged in it. Building relationships with people is what social media is all about, so take advantage.

 

Make Evergreen Content the Backbone of Your SEO strategy

Strategy, DigitalSarah Thom

Evergreen content is an important component of any content marketing strategy, but what exactly is it?

Put simply, it is content which hasn’t got an expiration date.

Writing content for your blog helps your website rank well in search engines. But, whilst some content will only be relevant for a certain period, evergreen content stays relevant and therefore should be targeted at your top keywords. This is because, content which is evergreen has the potential to rank your website higher in search engines than content that has a ‘shelf-life' e.g content that includes information that is time-sensitive. 

Some great examples of evergreen content include:

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages

  • How-To articles

  • Industry Tips

  • Product reviews and testimonials

Some examples of content which has a ‘shelf-life’ are:

  • Content with statistics or data that is subject to change

  • Current trends

  • Pop culture references

  • News reports

  • Product releases / service updates

We often advise clients to mix up their content marketing strategy so that there is a selection of blog posts which are evergreen and ones that are time-sensitive. This will help with the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of your site, which obviously could result in more visitors to your website.  
With more people researching companies and products before they purchase, your content marketing strategy is more important than ever. And evergreen content can be the difference between your website being ranked highly in search engines or not.

How Social Media Changed Marketing

Digital, MarketingSarah Thom

The world of marketing has undergone a sea change in recent years. Gone are the days of traditional marketing efforts; as people spend more and more of their time online, the age of digital marketing is in full swing.

Social media has played a large part in the transition from traditional to digital marketing; it offers businesses and consumers alike new ways to communicate. Companies can tailor their marketing efforts to certain demographics with more accuracy and efficiency and build personal relationships with their customers through such platforms as Twitter and Facebook.

But with great power comes even greater responsibility; social media, as well as being a powerful tool for communicating with customers and building lasting relationships, can also be used as a platform for consumers to air their grievances against a company publicly, which can create a disastrous PR problem if not handled correctly.

Countless stories abound of companies who have handled grievances on social media with grace and even humour in some cases.

Take, for example, the guy who recently used Twitter to inform Sky Scanner about a mishap on their website, which suggested a 47 year layover in Bangkok. Sky Scanner’s response to the mishap has been praised as they took it all in their stride and approached it with some humour as well as getting the problem solved and sending the guy some free goodies for his trouble.  

Social media is a 24/7 platform; therefore, it is essential that all issues which arise through it are dealt with in a timely manner, the longer that comments are left unacknowledged then the worse the situation can get for the company in question.

The easiest way to ensure that comments to not fall through the net, is to set up an alert for whenever your company or brand is mentioned online, this ensures that you can deal with any impending issues directly and avoid negative PR. Mention and SumAll are great tools which allow you to do this.

The importance of social media within the marketing world is only set to increase, so make sure that you are taking advantage of all it has to offer by setting up a social media strategy for your company or brand.

If you would like to talk to us about how to implement a social media plan or your digital marketing strategy, then contact us today and we will be happy to help you with any queries that you may have.

Local Digital Marketing For Local Businesses

Digital, MarketingSarah Thom

When it comes to digital marketing there are so many different agencies that do it; but which ones are the best for local businesses?

Let’s be clear, the best marketing (whether it’s digital or traditional) comes from knowing your audience. That’s why, for clients who are focused on a local markets, we strongly believe local knowledge is essential.

We live, work and breathe our community; keeping an eye on what is going on; the good, the bad and the unusual. We see having our finger on the pulse of Exeter, Devon and the South West as a huge benefit for locally-focused clients as it means we know what’s going on and this can be used to promote their business. This has never been so important in the digital arena, where we build communities around client business.

In this way, we use our connections around the South West to add relevance and weight to your digital strategy and get brands noticed. Whether it’s SEO, social media, content development and distribution, our local knowledge and connections are applied so that your business reaches to the most relevant people.

National and even international agencies simply can’t employ this level of local understanding. Arguably without this knowledge they can’t hone in on target demographics, and know what they want or are interested in. We can hone in and ensure your digital strategy has the desired impact.

Locally focus digital marketing requires locally minded know. If you’d like to discuss how we do this, please come in and see us. 

Content Marketing Matters

Marketing, DigitalSarah Thom

Content marketing has grown to be one of the most formidable forces within marketing today.

Consumers have grown accustomed and blind to the more traditional marketing methods of print and TV commercials. Therefore we, as marketing agencies, have had to find new innovative ways to cut through and attract the attention of customers. This is where content marketing comes in.

The Content Marketing Institute, which is an online resource with leagues of information about content marketing, states that:

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action’  

The idea of content marketing is to give customers interesting information about your particular sector, and thereby gaining their belief and trust as a company which knows what they are doing. It employs indirect sales-pitching techniques, discussing things other than the products or services which the company provides, but has a proven record of generating sales as consumers return to the companies that have successfully won their trust.

There are a number of different types of content marketing, some examples are; infographics, podcasts, videos (sometimes ‘vlogs’) and blogs. Whatever the format, the key to this type of marketing is to inform the consumer, not try to sell them your products.

For example, if your organisation is a charity, then infographics can be used to concisely show viewers how you impact the need you address and where the money that you raise goes. With attention spans now lasting an average of 8 seconds, the quicker that information can be portrayed to the reader the better, and infographics are a great tool for this.

Podcasts and videos have also seen a huge increase recently, just look at YouTube. More people than ever are consuming audio/visual content and it is a great resource which can be utilised for content marketing. The amount of people who listen to podcasts has reportedly risen to 75 million from 25 million in just 5 years. One of the best things about using podcasts is if you use an application such as iTunes to upload your podcasts, then whenever you upload a new one to your website they are automatically downloaded to iTunes and then can be accessed by millions of people without them visiting your website. Podcasts have also been shown to influence listeners behaviour; a survey conducted showed that 63% of people had bought a product promoted through a podcast.

Blogs are also a useful way of incorporating content marketing into a business. Writing blogs about your sector or issues which are important to your sector on your website and promoting them can be a very effective way of increasing your standing to consumers. Being viewed as an authority on a topic or sector has positive implications for your business and how you a viewed and spoken about by the public.

With consumers becoming more savvy about spending their money and less influenced by traditional marketing channels it is more important than ever to utilise different techniques to attract new customers and convince them that your product is worth buying. Content marketing is the perfect way to do this.

People are more informed than ever before, and this thirst for knowledge about different subjects is likely to increase rather than decrease over the next few years. Businesses who employ content marketing are therefore more likely to see the benefits and have a competitive advantage over those who do not use these marketing techniques. 

Search Engine Optimisation: Simplified

DigitalSarah Thom

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the process by which a website is made more visible on search engines, like Google. The process is really important if you want your website to gain prominence online and increase the amount of customers which visit your site.

There are several layers to SEO, firstly it is important to index your site properly. This is done to essentially tell search engines that your website exists and that it needs listing in rankings (otherwise people searching online would not be able to find you). By indexing your site, you’re at least giving it a fighting chance of being found when people search for a product or service which your business provides.

Secondly, it is important to research what it is that customers search for online when they are looking for a business like yours. For example, if your business is a florist in Exeter (where we’re based), then people would probably be searching for ‘local florist’, ‘florist in Exeter’ or ‘flowers’. Research into this reveals how much given terms are searched for and where opportunities lie. It is important to know this information as you can utilise these keywords on your website to ensure that when people do search for these terms, your site ranks highly on search engines as a suggestion. It is not helpful if you use the wrong keywords on your site as this can result in people coming across your site who are not actually interested in your business.

Finally, we have content generation. This can take a number of forms, from blogs and visuals to webinars and articles. The kind of content which you use on your website is dependent on your business, for example webinars would not be suitable for every type of business. Content generation is important as it invites people to visit your website and engage with your business, which can ultimately lead to enquiries and sales. It also shows your customers that you are an authority in your field that they can trust. And trust is valuable when encouraging people to link to your site, buy from your site or even review your products/services.

As more and more business is conducted online, it really is becoming even more important to ensure that you are giving your business every chance of being found in search engine rankings.

The Digital Marketing Arms Race: How To Get Started

DigitalRob Mulholland

Years ago, when I started my career in marketing, digital was only just emerging as a promotional channel. That’s quite a generalist statement, but that’s because digital was kind of seen as one beast - although it wasn’t even referred to as digital, more like web or online.

Since those early, early days a lot has changed. Gradually, specific digital disciplines emerged - SEO, Paid, Email, Display, Social, Content all underpinned by analytics.

This expanding array of digital specialisms may seem to some businesses like too many to manage but, as we frequently point out, if you don’t utilise digital you could be disadvantaging your chances against those organisations that do.

For all intents and purposes digital marketing, like many other forms of marketing, is a sector by sector arms race.

Terrifying as this may sound it needn’t be.

Here are our top 6 suggestions for how you can begin to be more competitive in the digital arena:

 

Research: Observe which digital channels your competitors or the leading organisations of your sector are using, and how they use them.   

Objectives: Go back to your objectives; the business's overall objectives and also your overall marketing objectives - if you don’t have these (at either level) we strongly recommend getting some before embarking on any digital activity purely from a measurement point of view (see why below).

Channels: With an eye on what you want to achieve (your objectives - above), pick the digital channels you believe will enable you to do so (SEO, Paid, Email, Display, Social, Content).       

Creative: Now with an eye on both your objectives and your digital channels it’s time to decide what you want to say. As well as being creative with the message, think about how you want potential customers to respond and ensure that you have the mechanisms and resources in place to handle those responses.        

Measure: Before you start, be clear as to what key performance indicators (KPI’s) you will be measuring on your digital strategy. For example; do you want to track your search engine ranking and the impact it has on the volume of visitor sessions, or do you want to measure the source of sessions and how these people engage with your website and content? Think how these metrics contribute to your overall business and marketing objectives, and be sure that they do.

Test: After starting your digital strategy set a date for when you will review activities and judge their success. Small strategies may suit shorter lead times between reviews than bigger ones. Please note, a strategy review is completely different to campaign monitoring, which needs to be done far more frequently, depending on the digital channel.

 

There’s so much more to write on this subject so if you would like further detail or help with establishing your entry into the digital marketing arms race, please contact McQueenie Mulholland.