Guest Blogging – What is it and is it a good on-line marketing practice?

Guest Blogging is a bit of a hot topic at the moment, and we have had a couple of clients asking about it as a marketing tool, so I thought it would be worth a post.

First of all, what is guest blogging?

Put simply it is the practice of getting websites other than your own to accept articles written by you to include in their blog.

What’s the point from a marketing perspective

It gives you a wider audience for your message. Anyone who reads marketing matters regularly will know that we advocate that you build yourself up as “An expert in your field”. That way if and when people need help in your field, they are likely to come knocking on your door. It also allows you to reach a wider audience than simply those who visit your website or subscribe to your email. Furthermore, if done well it will generate high quality links back to your site driving traffic.

How not to undertake a guest blogging campaign.

All sounds great, but  the reason it is a hot topic is that as with everything in web marketing, it has been corrupted by people trying to manipulate the Google rankings in the name of SEO, and thus a “Guest Blogging” industry has built up with companies offering to place guest posts on your behalf onto a wide and varied range of websites with the view that this will generate loads of links back to your site from within “rich” content, and thus will help your Google rankings. If this is your Strategy, THINK AGAIN. As you will see form this video interview with Google’s head of anti spam Matt Cutts, they take a very dim view of this practice, and thus will penalise your website for using it! [youtube]OGieiNe6RL4[/youtube]

Guest blogging best practice

This said, if you follow the advice set out in the video, it can be a great tool:

  1. Only write guest articles for websites which are highly relevant to the subject you are writing about, where you are seen as an expert in your specialist field
  2. Don’t fill your posts with keyword rich links.
  3. The primary objective of a guest post should not be to boost SEO. but rather to inform the readers.
  4. Any SEO benefit gained from the post should be viewed as a secondary. Ironically, if you take this approach, it is likely that it will deliver real benefit in this area.
  5. Always make sure you are well credited as the author of the post, and include a link back to your own website. Remember you are writing as an expert, so people will want to know who you are.

If you follow this best practice rules, Guest Blogging can be a valuable part of a joined-up marketing programme.

Real thirst for growth in Tameside

Business in Tameside is on the up, and if an event held in Ashton last week is anything to go by, there is a real thirst for advice and support to help businesses grow. The ‘Planning for Growth’ event last Tuesday – 22 October, was held at the Tameside Centre for Enterprise, in Ashton’s St Petersfield business district. There was standing room only as over 50 local business people watched presentations on Planning For Growth delivered by David Wright of BSA Marketing, Growth Accelerator  delivered by Sue Warburton of Winning Pitch, and Support Services delivered by Business Growth Hub

David Wright of BSA Marketing presents 'Planning for Growth'
David Wright of BSA Marketing presents ‘Planning for Growth’
The presentations were followed by a ‘Question and Answer’ Forum where a panel of business experts answered questions from the audience. Feedback from the event was excellent with several delegates making real commitment to taking action to grow their business directly as a result of what they had heard during the presentations.

"There is no question that businesses in Tameside are keen to grow. What they are looking for is some assistance in helping them make the right decisions for their own business.  Events like this are just what we need to show people that high quality support is readily available and can be tailored to meet individual requirements." Phil Cowper, former Leader, Tameside Business Family and all-round advocate of business growth!

10 interesting Stats to Start the Week

This arrived in my in box this morning & I thought it would be worth sharing. 10 interesting digital marketing stats we’ve seen this week It comes from the e-consultancy Blog, and has a couple of stats that I think will be very relevant to our readers:

  1. Triggered email open rates are four times higher than newsletters
  2. LinkedIn responsible for 64% of visits from social media channels to corporate websites

If these stats get you thinking about your marketing & you would like to talk, feel free to give us a call.

New app to edit MS Office files on your Tablet or Smartphone

cloudonLast time we told you about a new remote desktop app from Microsoft allowing you to access your desktop PC from a Tablet or SmartPhone but what if you want to write or edit Office documents directly on your device? On iOS, it has been possible to use apps such as Numbers and Pages (incidentally these apps are now free downloads where they used to cost around £14) to open Excel and Word files and there are similar options on Android but these weren’t always the most convenient approaches. Now there is CloudOn. With CloudOn you can use MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your tablet or smartphone to create, review and edit files.

  • Create, review, edit and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
  • Display presentations; insert formulas, change formatting, and track changes.
  • Open, rename, delete and manage virtually any file type stored in your Dropbox, Box, Google Drive or Microsoft SkyDrive accounts.
  • Share files with colleagues and discuss any changes on the shared FileSpace where every edit, action & message is logged automatically.

I use it coupled to DropBox meaning all my files are available and editable everywhere. It’s great! Even better, the basic version of CloudOn is free. With this you can do most basic edits and updates. Even if you want the full functionality available from the Pro version, up until 31 December 2103 this will only cost you £1.99 per month if you just want it for a short time, or £20.99 for a full year. Download for your device:

 

New Remote Desktop app for iOS and Android

microsoft_appThis is not really about marketing, but it is about making life easier. Although I am PC through and through on the desktop, I have to say that I am an Apple convert when it comes to mobile so when yesterday, Microsoft launched a remote desktop app for iOS, I thought “that has to be worth a look”. The app is free and dead simple to set up. Just enter the IP address of the remote computer along with your username & password and you are done. Although the interface is not as fully featured as some available, it is very simple and easy to use. Add to this the fact that it is free, and it has got to be worth a look. If you are out and about a lot, and find it useful to be able to access your desktop PC, this app is definitely worth your attention. You can download the iOS version on iTunes App store, and the Android version at Google Play store

Marketing Communication – Don't forget the long term

fruitIn the SME world, marketing can be a fickle friend. With the bottom line of ‘spend now in the expectation of future benefit’, businesses are regularly focused on seeing the quick win, whereas good marketing and good business relationships take time. Often budgets/resources get stretched as a company commits more than they would like in the hope/expectation of a quick win to balance the books. Too frequently, the quick win doesn’t happen (or isn’t sustained) and anxiety can quickly grow as the financial hole gets deeper. Almost inevitably, the end result is the programme being terminated and wounds licked until the next time when it all starts again! As a result, much selling of marketing services focuses on the short term with promises of great results. If you are touting the Next Big Marketing Thing – it can be an easy sell on the back of the suggestion of rapid results – which all too often don’t deliver, certainly in the way the customer expects. All of the above may sound negative (if not a bit cynical!) but it is how, in my experience, so much SME marketing operates and the danger that companies never see past the short term.

Marketing is a process – you need to get past the short term!

Here are 3 real-world examples which demonstrate – Never say never – People will respond to your marketing when they are ready, which isn’t necessarily as quickly as you may hope! But reply they will….

    1. How often have you experienced this:
      1. A productive and encouraging initial meeting with a potential customer.
      2. You prepare your proposals
      3. You follow up
      4. NOTHING…I have a client where this happened then a call from them 2 years later led to a long and successful relationship
    2. Referral from a colleague Last year, a colleague of mine gave me the name of someone I didn’t known saying it may be worth my sending them an introductory email, which I did. The response was a big fat zero – until 10 months later when a call out of the blue (“You’ve probably forgotten but you sent me an email a while ago….”), opened up a significant opportunity.
    3. The staying power of e-newsletters We have been working with a particular client for a number of years delivering a programme of regular e-newsletters to their contacts.We have always stressed that the key objective of the programme is to ‘keep in touch’, ‘build awareness and understanding’, and make sure the that ‘our client is remembered by their contacts’. The payback is that when a contact has a need, the regular communication will help ensure our client is on an inside track to get the enquiry. The process was proven recently when our client received a direct ‘Reply-To’ from an e-newsletter sent over a year ago. The reply was an enquiry for a 5-6 figure project.

Lessons to Learn

Don’t give up at the first sign of failure

So many people look for the marketing magic wand (BTW whatever anyone says, it doesn’t exist!) Sometimes, people can start on a marketing campaign and as soon as they decide it isn’t delivering in the way they expect, they start to look for something else. Certainly marketing is speculative but remember: If you have a strong business proposition that truly adds value and delivers real benefit to your customers and you communicate your proposition to a relevant target market, they WILL buy from you. Not all of them and not all at once but you must have confidence in your offering.

Have a plan and work it

If you don’t have a marketing plan, you will find it really hard to manage and sustain consistent marketing. Even if you do,  without a plan to set out what you are doing, why you are doing it and what results you expect, you won’t be able to refer actual results to planned expectations and develop your approach accordingly

Don’t over-stretch your resources

Too much money or time being ploughed into marketing often means just digging a hole you can ill afford. Unless you are lucky and get one or two quick wins, motivation drops and there is a danger that the plug will be pulled You do need to commit resources (budget and/or time) to your marketing and business development but make sure your commitment is at a level you are comfortable to sustain, and within the framework of a clear and structured plan that allows you to manage and control your marketing

Enhance your content radar – 5 tips on where to find great content

ContentRadarAs we often say, good, sustained marketing requires, good, regular content; new things to say to demonstrate your business proposition and reinforce your position as an expert in your field. With this in mind, I regularly talk with clients about the value of developing their ‘Content Radar’. By this I mean recognising the things that arise in day to day business as having potential as high quality marketing content Here are our top 5 content sources.

  1. Listen to your customers – It is always good to get positive feedback from your customers but rather than simply thanking them and basking in the glory, perhaps you could ask them:
  2. 'May I quote you on that?'
  3. You will almost always get a positive response which can lead to a great testimonial. Don’t be afraid to offer to write the words (but do make sure you get their approval of them!) Your customer will be thankful that they don’t have yet another job to do and you can be more certain of getting your tesimonial ready for when you want to use it. Win-Win.
  4. Case Studies – An extension of the idea above, case studies demonstrate how your business has benefited your customer and added value.Case Studies always make great content. They can demonstrate how great your business is without you simply preaching!One issue can be getting sign off & permission from the client to use the case, especially when working with big corporates.  It is great to get this approval so you can associate your business with a recognised brand but, in most cases, if approval proves to be an issue the problem can be circumnavigated by anonymising the case, substituting the name for “a key player in the industry” etc.
  5. Social Media – If you are using social media, and following organisations that are active in your industry, it is highly likely that other people’s posts will throw up issues that you can comment on. A great tool in this area is Flipboard, an iOS and Android app, that allows you to turn your social media feeds into a personalised magazine, making it easy to review content at your leisure.If taking this approach, never be afraid to reference and link to the source material. Not only is this good practice, it also demonstrates that you are in touch with others in the industry, and removes the need to recreate the entire content yourself.
  6. Frequently Asked Questions – If you are getting your marketing right, customers are likely to value your opinion on matters where they see you as an expert.In situations where this does happen, often the question is something that would be of interest to others in your market, so why not publish the answer as a blog post.Only yesterday, I was asked about what I considered to be the best CRM system. This is clearly not our core business but closely related to the process of data and contact management which is central to what we do. Watch this space for a future article about how CRM can assist with a joined-up approach to marketing.
  7. Don’t forget the trade press – Although we like to think we live in a paperless, on-line age, I am sure that almost everyone still gets printed trade magazines (we must get at least 1 or 2 each week!) Like social media, trade magazines talk about issues that are of interest to your industry, and will often throw up issues that are worthy of comment. If you are using this as a source of content, don’t be afraid to reference and where possible link to the source material.

Once you have made the commitment to deliver regular content, hopefully these tips can take some of the stress out of delivering on your commitment. Got your own ideas on flexing your Content Radar? Let us know  

Social Media – Not always the answer to your marketing prayers!

social_mediaA brief, light-hearted diversion here. There are some who would have it that Social Media is THE marketing tool of the 21st Century but, like everything, and certainly all the promotional tools that have been used back to the Romans – and before, Social Media is a tool, nothing more. It is how you use it that dictates between triumph and disaster. Even the big boys with their seemingly endless creative resources and bottomless pockets don’t always get it right. This post focuses on 10 Social Media Campaigns that didn’t quite hit the spot – bet you’re glad they aren’t yours! http://onboardly.com/content-marketing/ouch-10-social-media-disasters-youre-glad-you-didnt-cause/#.Uk1o4obBN8F

Happy Birthday Google

before_the_internetLove Google or hate Google, there is no argument that the ubiquitous search engine has had a huge impact on the internet and changed the face of web marketing to the point where it is difficult to remember a time before Google. But did you know, they have only been around for 15 years. If you want to read more about the history of Google, you will find an interesting article here on the e-consultancy blog My marketing career started well before Google was even a twinkle in Larry Page’s eye so I thought it would be a good to take a look at what has changed, and more importantly, what has not changed in the world of marketing over the last 15 years.

What has Changed?

The heart marketing is communication; to inform your marketplace of your offering. One thing that has changed dramatically is the cost of communicating this message. 15 years ago you had few marketing communication options:

  • Press/Broadcast/Directory Advertising
  • PR in printed trade publications
  • Direct Mail
  • Face to Face meeting
  • Exhibitions
  • Telemarketing

I am sure there are more but this list covers the main ones, and they all have one thing in common, they are all expensive. The truth is that before the internet, consistent sustainable marketing was expensive, and thus the domain of companies with significant marketing budgets. Move on 15 years, and to the above we have added:

  • Email
  • Websites
  • Search Marketing
  • On-line PR
  • Social Media

Because these tools are much more accessible, they are also much cheaper to implement and thus it is now possible to put together a sustainable marketing programme on a much more modest budget.

What has not changed?

Clearly there have been some significant changes in the world of marketing, but marketing fundementals have not changed. To be effective marketing still needs to:

  • Be based on a planned & considered strategy
  • Have a clear message showing the value you are delivering to your market
  • Have a clear understanding of what is your target market
  • Have a clear understanding as to which communication tools are effective and relevant to your circumstances

The Result – “Marketing” in 2013

And now, I’m afraid I am going to get on my soapbox…. The broader access to communication tools and the reduction in their cost has resulted in many marketers offering to deliver marketing programmes (SEO, Facebook Marketing, etc) at costs that appear to not need too much detailed consideration. The propositions sound great and suppliers promise the earth, but because they do not encourage a joined-up approach and give little consideration to the marketing fundamentals outlined above, they risk becoming short lived & unsatisfactory, leaving clients disillusioned with the whole marketing process.

An Alternative Approach

Rather than focusing on the tools, focus on the process. Develop a joined-up approach to marketing that considers the issues outlined above and then translate this into an appropriate, cost effective marketing programme using the wide range of tools available. The great thing is that because the ongoing cost to use these tools is still relatively low, it is possible to develop a long term sustainable approach to marketing on a modest budget. If you want to learn how you can get real marketing benefit in the internet world, we would love to talk to you.