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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.

Building Relationships with Your Customers Through Storytelling

MarketingSarah Thom

 

Storytelling has always been an integral part of our lives; from listening to the stories your parents read to you as a child, to when you’re telling stories to your friends. It’s a powerful psychological tool, used to evoke feelings and emotions within people and build relationships – something that has not escaped the attention of companies and brands in marketing themselves.

Consumers no longer want to just buy the “best” products, but want to buy from businesses that share their beliefs and values. It’s because of this, that storytelling has become an important tool in the tactical marketing toolbox.

Marketing through storytelling is the indirect sell, it positions your business to the consumer, rather than explicitly sells the product itself. And it can be used by businesses big or small.

So how do you do it?

The cornerstone of any successful storytelling campaign is understanding your businesses own characteristics and values, and how these resolve the pain points of customers who buy from you.

By pinpointing the answers to these questions, you’re not only on your way to being a storytelling success but also understanding the strengths of your brand.

Below we give you some handy pointers on how you can build up engaging storytelling in your campaigns:

 

 

● Don’t just share statistics – people remember stories much more than they remember facts and figures.

● Use real stories, or at least ones based on real stories – you will receive a negative response if consumers perceive you to be false.

● Use your employees, they are a great resource – ask them what they like about your company and why they chose to work there. Then use these stories in your campaign.

● Use descriptive language – the aim of storytelling is to evoke feelings and emotions, so make sure that you use language which will do these things. Imagine a time when you picked up a book to read, or found a blog post, but when you started to read it you found that you felt nothing – did you carry on reading it? Or did you discard it and forget it altogether?

● Write about WHY you do what you do, not WHAT you do. Your unique story and ethos behind your company is what will draw people in and keep them interested much longer than your latest product.

 

 

Storytelling is a great way to build stronger relationships with your customers. So, why not get started on your story today?

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.

5 Social Media Marketing Myths Debunked

StrategySarah Thom

Social media has created a whole new marketing opportunity for businesses. It’s a place where businesses can build brand awareness and a potentially larger customer base without spending thousands on traditional marketing activities. But there are a few misconceptions about social media marketing that need to be debunked:

 

 

1. You need to use every single social media platform

There are lots of social media platforms out there and there can be an urge to create business profiles on every single one. This can be a mistake; instead of having a presence on every platform, focus your social media marketing on the channels that your customers or potential customers are more likely to use.

2. Social media marketing gives instantaneous Return On Investment (ROI)

The misconception about social media being an instant marketing success is one that can only lead to disappointment. Actually, a lot of time and effort needs to go into your social media marketing before you reap the benefits, to reach new customers and raise your brand awareness you will need to produce quality content consistently and post regularly.

3. Social media is free

You may not need to pay to set up a social media profile, but you will need to put in a significant amount of time and effort to maintain and grow them. If you want to significantly increase the reach of your campaign you could consider paid advertising on your platforms alongside your normal social media posts – paid advertising is significantly faster at reaching new audiences and customers than organic leads alone.

4. Social media is time-consuming

You may need to put in significant time and effort into your social media strategies but this doesn’t mean that it needs to be time consuming. There are lots of scheduling tools out there to help you manage your social media effectively. Tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite are invaluable for cutting down on the time required to maintain a great social media strategy.

5. More followers = success

Many businesses think that getting more followers is the surest way to social media success; but infinitely more important is increasing the amount of engagement you get. Social media is about building relationships with your customers and raising brand awareness.  But as before, engagement doesn’t happen straight away, you will have to work hard to build up the relationship with your followers and engage them in conversation.

 

 

The most important thing to remember about social media marketing is that nothing happens overnight; a lot of time and effort has gone into accounts which have seemingly become overnight successes. If you’re thinking about how to take the next step with your social media strategy then call us today.

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 could data analysis help your business?

Marketing, StrategySarah Thom

In a world which is as fast-paced as ours, it is easy for businesses (especially small businesses) to forget or even not understand their target customer base. This is where data analysis comes in. By analysing your customer data, you could gain valuable behavioural insights into your target demographic, ensuring that you gain maximum returns on your marketing strategies in the future.  

Whatever your sector, it is really important to know who your target audience/customer is; you could be targeting the wrong demographic for your product or service and missing out on a lot of potential sales which could be possible if you analysed who it was that was actually buying your product.  

We have had years of experience, analysing data sets from different companies and identifying insights which have helped them to increase their sales through the information retrieved from customers. Knowing who your customer base is essential in marketing your product or service; if you don’t know who this is then how do you know who to target your marketing strategy at?  

We are here to help you understand your customer base through detailed analysis of your data, and we will also give you important insights into how to maximise your marketing strategies so that you will see the biggest return on your investment.   

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.

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!