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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.

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.

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.

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...

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.