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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.

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.

Are Influencers a Worthwhile Marketing Strategy for Small, Local Businesses?

StrategySarah Thom

There’s a new face in the marketing world, the Influencer.

Influencers are quickly becoming the ‘go-to’ for companies to reach those consumers who are turned off by traditional marketing and advertising strategies.

But, what impact can Influencers have on small, local businesses?

If you are a local business, and trying (yet failing) to reach a certain demographic or audience, then local Influencers are a great marketing resource to turn to. In doing so, they can promote your brand to their own unique audience and raise awareness of you to the very people who trust their opinions.

The rise of the Influencer is linked to the increased use of social media; the two have risen concurrently as millennials have turned to social media to follow their favourite celebrities, and look to them for the latest trends, attitudes and products. In turn, new personalities have risen to the fore around subjects, cultures, campaigns and geographies to become Influencers in their own right (due to the size of the digital following they enjoy).

It is this position of trust which makes Influencers so powerful. They influence their followers’ decisions through subtle, and more natural endorsement of a company or product, which can be much more positively received than more obvious traditional marketing methods.

So, you’ve decided that you would like to work with an Influencer, but where do you start?

It all comes down to selecting the right influencers. In doing so, as a local business, you will need to know:

-       Who are the people you want to reach?

-       Who do they follow on social media?

The answers to these two questions are the foundation of making the right choice about the Influencer to use. If you don’t pinpoint these details before you begin then you’ll spend time and money on a campaign which has limited impact and, therefore, may not give you a reasonable return on investment. But done correctly, Influencer marketing can have a huge impact on your business.

If you’re thinking about using Influencer marketing for your business then contact McQueenie Mulholland today.

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. 

PR that's not just PR but Content

PRSue McQueenie

TALK to any marketer who knows their stuff and you’ll be sure to hear the words digital, channels, analytics and content as they discuss strategies for your business or charity. 

And it got me to thinking, in this modern, digital world of instant news and instant information, is there really still a place for good old fashioned PR? 

I have to confess to a bias here, my background is journalism and PR; Robin, the other half of McQueenie Mulholland comes from the marketing and charity world. When we set up our company we felt our skills complimented each other, but I think we have both been surprised at the resilience of PR over the last year. 

With all the client work we do we look at the message we are relaying, who it is being relayed to and how that audience consumes the message. And traditional media, whether newspapers or magazines, TV and radio, still play an important role. The majority of our clients still view the traditional media as vitally important in reaching their target audience. 

So we were pleased that one of our core products, PR, continues to be relevant. But, the thing is, we’re not calling it PR anymore. We’re calling it content (there’s that word again!). 

And this blog is about sharing what we’ve found has worked especially well for our clients, which has been using a traditional piece of PR as a core product which is then developed to be used across many different channels. 

We still approach a subject in the same way. We talk to our clients about what they want to achieve with their marketing and PR. We research and write the subject the same way PR experts have done over the years and then we use our contacts to place the piece - whether it be in the local paper or a national glossy. 

But then we what we do is we give them even better value for money. We take that story (or content!) and we develop it for the client to use on their website, we change it again for them to use on social media, we change it again for them to use in their e-newsletter...the list goes on. One piece of writing (or content) developed for each channel according to the audience we are targeting - it’s brilliant! 

And do you know the beauty of it? We can measure it. So in the dark old days before the internet you might have received a few more calls, or had a few more people visit your shop, now we can see how many people click through to your website from a newsletter or interact with you on social media. And because we can measure it we can make it work even harder for you. 

So, yes, there is a future for PR - in fact it looks pretty rosy. We just have to call it content...