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Top 5 reasons to use print marketing as a small, local business

MarketingSarah ThomComment

Print marketing can sometimes be overlooked. Here are 5 reasons why it shouldn't be, and why you should start using print marketing today. 

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.

Why use direct mail in the 21st century?

Strategy, MarketingEmma Cottle

 

There has been a seismic shift towards digital in marketing communications over the last few years, and we often find ourselves telling dubious clients that direct mail is still a very good option to promote their business. 

This recent study by Proactive Marketing found that 70% of consumers feel like they receive too many emails – which, when we think about it, is something we can probably all empathise with. InfoTrends found that 66% of direct mail is opened – and 86% of direct mail is read for a minute or more, compared to an average 11.1 seconds for email.

Here are a few more reasons why you should consider Direct Mail:

1. It stands out and cuts through the clutter

In contrast to the daily deluge of emails into people’s inboxes, a carefully-targeted piece of direct mail can capture their attention. Once you have piqued the recipient’s interest with a visually pleasing and clearly branded letter, you are more likely to get your message across.

2. It’s more reliable and more likely to get a positive result

Direct mail response rates outperform digital channels by a long shot, as found in a recent study. Direct mail achieves a 3.7% response rate, whereas digital channels see a combined response rate of just 0.62%. It is a more expensive medium, but you can’t argue with those statistics.

3. It’s more personal

Email users are in a rush – they are checking their inboxes on their commute, whilst at lunch or before dinner. They don’t have time for emotions, and are only using a little of their headspace to absorb the content. Direct mail can provide readers with both space and time to absorb material in their own time. 84% of consumers reported that personalisation made them more likely to open a direct mail piece. 

4. You can integrate it

Using direct mail doesn’t mean that you have to use this medium in isolation – far from it. Research suggests that using more than one method increases effectiveness by 24% on average over using individual methods on their own.

Have we convinced you? If you’d like help creating compelling direct mail for your campaign, let us help you communicate your message. Call us today on 01392 423060.

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!

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.

The 6 Principles of Persuasive Marketing

MarketingSarah Thom

At the core of any marketing campaign is the desire to persuade consumers to buy your product or service. However, to be able to persuade somebody to do something, you must be in a position of influence.

Getting yourself into an influential position to the consumer is no easy feat. But, these 6 persuasive techniques have been found to positively influence consumers decisions and are used in many marketing strategies.

 

 

1.     Reciprocation: When we receive something, we feel obligated to buy more from the person who gave it to us. This technique is everywhere, from free tasters of products, to freebies given to us if we purchase a product.

2.     Authority: Being an authority in your business sector is important when it comes to influence. Consumers buy from people they trust, and who do people trust more than authority figures? Think about the things that make you an authority in your field, and shout about them to your customers.

3.     Commitment: If you get someone to agree to do something, they feel more committed to other things you ask them to do. Many business websites use this principle; when people sign up to their newsletter they will ask them something else immediately afterwards. It is used in shops too; many shops will now ask customers to sign up to their loyalty scheme, or purchase an additional product when they are at the checkout.

4.     Social proofing: This takes the form of testimonies from previous customers. If you use these on your website, research suggests visitors are more likely to make a purchase. This is because your business has been socially verified by other people. Research also shows that more people are now looking at product and business reviews before committing to them. So now is a great time to get your customer testimonials on your website.

5.     Likeability: This is perhaps the most basic rule of the world of business, good customer service is essential. One key aspect of good customer service is a quick response to consumer messages. Another aspect is your persona. If you respond to comments in a positive and polite manner then consumers will have a positive impression of your business. There are loads of examples online of where customer service has gone wrong, which has had devastating consequences for the business in question.

6.     Scarcity: It’s human nature that if we believe there’s only a limited supply of a product, then we’ll want it even more. To see this in action, you need look no further than an Apple store when they release a new phone. Whether there is actually a short supply or not of a product is always questionable, what matters is perceived shortage. People don’t want to miss out on anything, which is why this principle works so well.

 

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.

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. 

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.

Our Top 5 (on a budget) Marketing Communications Tactics

MarketingEleanor Yeo

At McQueenie Mulholland we represent clients from a multitude of sectors, from charities to retailers, from B2Bs to farms.

The one thing that our clients all have in common is that they have a story to tell. And telling that story is a major part of increasing awareness, sales, and ultimately, profits. But, how do you go about it? Where do you start?

Last week, we gave a workshop at the Institute of Fundraisers regional conference. We work with a number of charities and, in particular, their fundraising and communications teams and individuals. Our talk was all about using communications as part of a data-led fundraising strategy, all on a very limited budget. We had more than 70 people at our session, suggesting to us that there is a definite need for support in this area. Here are our top tips on making the most of your communications strategy. They are designed to help everybody, regardless of size, scale and scope of business, to communicate to key audiences.

Drumroll please ... the countdown begins ...

Tactic number 5 - Your core message is vital
Do people really understand what it is that you do/make/sell? How good are you at explaining it to others?We start this process with our clients by summarising their business in a statement, and make it as long as it needs to be. Then, reduce it down to something that you could explain to somebody in about 60 seconds - we call this the elevator pitch. From that, reduce it down further to about a ten word proposition. Explaining to others what you do is a key part of promoting your business, and you must make sure that your audience fully understands what sets you apart from the others. You also need to have every single member of your staff clear on what your core message and values are.

Tactic number 4 - Map stakeholders and contacts
Who do you work with? Who do you know? Who do they work with? In what capacity are they useful to you? Get all of your contacts down on a bit of paper and plan a strategy for what they can do for you and how you can get them to reach others for you. Contacts are incredibly useful to you (as are you to them) but you need to know how they work and how they are connected and can be used in helping your business.

Tactic number 3 - Channel selection
How do you talk to your audience? Is it appropriate for everyone? Have you tested it to know how many people read, listened to or watched your piece? Who were they?Lots of businesses use the same old methods for getting their messages out without ever really knowing who has seen it and whether they’ve acted upon it. If you use digital channels you can measure your impact and use this to formulate future messaging and strategies. Ask yourself a little bit about who you’d like to see your story? How do they access their information? Where do they go to for news? Do they use social media? Do they read local newspapers? A few basic questions could really help you to define how it is that you want to get your message across.

Tactic number 2 - Timing
Have a think about seasonality. What else is going on in the news world? Is there a related story in the press that you might be able to respond to? It’s important to stay agile and keep abreast of what’s going on in your sector, in your local region and in the world at large - using gravity from other organisations or issues can give you momentum quickly. What else might your customers be interested in? Avoid working in silos so that you can share knowledge and information with others in-house, and they in turn can help you. Think about when quiet months are for news stories - you may be more likely to achieve positive coverage if there isn’t so much going on elsewhere.

Our top number 1 tactic - Always see your creative output as a content asset
Once you’ve come up with your story, be prepared to keep it alive by adapting it and using it across different channels and therefore audiences too. The days are gone where somebody would write a press release and send it out to their local newspaper and then sit and wait to see what happens. Today, you can write a press release, and send to your local newspaper but also adapt it to use in a number of different ways. Maybe re-write it so that it appears as a blog on your website (look out for a future blog from us, about blogs!!). Create a series of short messages with images to appear on your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Use that same press release but with different images and a slightly different angle for different media. Adapt it for digital. Make it into a video. Do whatever your audience wants in the way that they want it, at the time that they want it!