Kate Bush and the power of community

kbpicYou may have heard that 80s pop icon Kate Bush has just announced her first live concerts in 35 years; but if you haven’t bought your tickets I’m afraid you’re too late (well, almost – see footnote) According to reports, the tickets for the 22 concerts – all 77000 of them – sold within 15 minutes of being offered for sale online at the end of March. Well, not quite true. In fact many of the tickets had already been allocated even before they went on public sale – to the Kate Bush community. Tickets were offered to people who had registered on Kate’s website a full 2 days before the public sale. This meant that the real fans who followed their idol and visited her website were given the advantage of advanced notice. These people are Kate’s ‘community’ who have a particular fit/connection with her music and performance so it’s a win:win. The true fans get the best chance to see the performance and Kate Bush maximises her chance of selling the tickets by offering them to the people most likely to buy them.

Relevance to Business to Business?

But isn’t all this retail/consumer you may ask? What’s this got to do with B2B? Well, in my view, a key difference between Business to Consumer and Business to Business is the ability to identify and differentiate you market. It is much easier for a manufacturer of (say) speciality engineering components to identify whether a given company/contact is likely to have a fit/need with their products (i.e be part of their ‘community’) than it is for Kate to know whether a given person is likely to want to buy a concert ticket. However, as soon as Kate focuses on her ‘community’ of fans, this changes. She is now selling to a qualified, niche market – in the same way that many B2B businesses sell to niche markets.

The Power of Community

The power of community works for every business. If you can identify people/companies who have a particular fit/need for your products or services and build relationships with these contacts through regular, constructive communication, you can build a community of mutual respect and understanding that can be a great platform for doing business when the time is right. Build you community and engage with them. It worked for Kate Bush and it can work for you. If you need some help or just want to chat, do get in touch. Footnote: If you really want a ticket to Kate’s concerts, they are available – at a price. Within 1 hour of the tickets going on sale, they were listed on the resale websites where a ticket with a £135 face value was on offer for £1400!  The glory of capitalism!

Joined-up Marketing Series: Content Promotion

concom In a previous post in this series, I talked about developing a process to keep delivering great marketing content. Great content is all very well but it’s not going to do you or your business any good if no one sees it. You need to get your content out there and content promotion is a vital element of any joined-up marketing process.

Focus content promotion on your website

Although there are myriad online channels for marketing content, the one you have most control over is your website. As discussed in this post, your website is the place where most potential customers will go to check you out. You should be proud of your website and your website should be up to date. When you create new content, make sure it goes on your website, either in full, or at least as a link. This means that everyone visiting your site all your content including the most up to date giving the picture of your business now. Furthermore, regularly adding new, relevant content is a great support for SEO. Concentrating your content onto your website also means that all your content promotion can focus on one primary objective – driving people to your website – where they can find the information they are looking for or even, if they have some time, browsing more widely across your site

Pick your Content Promotion channels

In those far off days before the internet one of the biggest marketing barriers for SME businesses was cost. If you wanted to promote your message all of the channels were owned by someone who charged you to use their media:

  • Yellow Pages/Directories
  • Press
  • Magazines
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Royal Mail

All of these have costs to use which could end up being a significant part of any marketing budget. The internet changed all that. Now there is a whole range of online media where the communication cost is (more or less!) zero. You can focus on which are the best channels for your marketplace and contacts

E-newsletters

For most of your business contacts, email newsletters offer great opportunity. You can get communication direct to people’s in-boxes and you can say as much or as little as you like; a range of 3 or 4 articles or a specific message. You will find a lot of information on email marketing across this site. One thing to remember is that more and more people are accessing their email on tablets and smart phones. You need to make sure your email can be read on a small screen. Ideally, you can make your email responsive so it adapts automatically to the screen where it is being read – check out this post for more details

Social Media

Some people would have you think you need accounts on every single social media site, but remember, if you have an account you must use it! Facebook may claim 1 billion users but how many of them are active? I come across many business FB accounts which are just not used. Certainly Facebook can be a powerful marketing tool for some businesses but when considering any social media you must ask yourself if a particular platform fits with your target audience and their motivations – check out this post on ‘Work Hat and Home Hat’ A beauty of Social Media is the potential reach it offers. Where email and e-newsletters are great content promotion tools to people you know, social media allows you to engage with a wider audience as your contacts share content with their contacts letting the reach of your message snowball. One issue can be trying to keep on-message with an audience you don’t control. This may not be so much of an issue for retail/consumer businesses but it can be important in business to business. By tweeting or posting your content you can spread the word and encourage people to visit your website and (hopefully) contact you. You can also start discussions and integrate content from your site into these (where appropriate and relevant!)

Same content, different formats

Don’t forget that different people prefer to consume web content in different ways. You can take a message and format it as a blog post, a video and even as a PDF ‘White Paper’ for people to download (TIP: ask for their email address when they download – a great way to build a relevant contact database) Video used to be an expensive medium but not any more. Simple short videos can be produced on you phone and even if you feel you need to get the professionals in, this does not have to cost the earth. Video makes for powerful, attractive content which can score well in SEO too. Give it a go.

And finally…

Never forget that content promotion is a vital part of a joined-up marketing approach. Pick your channels, create a schedule and stick at it. In my experience – when you do stuff, stuff happens!

Marketing Matters Goes Responsive

responsiveThe idea of responsive websites has been around for a while, and their use as a solution to mobile optimisaton is increasingly becoming standard where sites receive significant levels of mobile traffic. But what about email? With more and more people opening emails on their smart phones the idea of mobile optimisation of email campaigns has to be a consideration. However, as has always been the case with email, the level of sophistication available in email design has been restricted by the patchy support for new “standards” among email clients, and the need to design for the “lowest common denominator”.

So where does “Responsive” fit into this?

In its simplest terms “responsive” design uses cascading style sheets (CSS) media queries (put simply; code that identifies the screen size and changes the design accordingly) to adapt the design for small screens (in particular smartphones). However not all email clients support media queries (you will find details of levels of support by email client here), and where they do not support it, they will simply be ignored. So when it comes to responsive design in email, the process is fairly straightforward:

  1. Using Google Analytics, identify where most of your users are accessing your emailwebsite (Mobile or Desktop)
  2. By default, design your email to cater for the majority (lets assume this is desktop)
  3. Use media queries to adapt this default design for the minority (assumed to be mobile)

Taking this approach, the email will be optimised for the majority (desktop), and for the minority where their email client does not support media queries, the email will simply display the desktop version. However where mobile email clients do support media queries they will see the mobile optimised version. As technology moves on and more clients start to support media queries, the responsive nature of the design will benefit a increasing number of your readers.

Marketing Matters goes Responsive

Starting with the 21st March Issue, Marketing Matters now uses a responsive design, and if you view the email on a mobile device that has the support, you will find it much easier to read (bigger text and buttons to make it easier to navigate on a small screen). If however you are viewing it on a desktop, tablet or non supporting mobile device the design will look unchanged from previous issues. If you would like to talk to use about whether you should consider responsive design in your emails, we would love to talk to you.  

The many ‘deaths’ of digital marketing

socmedWe are always promoting that fact that whatever digital marketing you undertake, it should always be joined-up, and considered as part of a wider marketing strategy. In contrast to this, most digital marketing tends to be considered in isolation: SEO, Email Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media etc. Over the past years all of these have at some stage been reported as “dead”. However this interesting post from e-consultancy puts these “Deaths” into perspective, suggesting that rather than being dead, the various elements of digital marketing are moving from the realms of technical specialists in each of these fields to a situation where they are part of the day to day marketing mix in the same way as advertising, PR, etc have always been. Thus the focus moves from the next “new and shiny thing” to making the relevant elements of digital media work in your business. Yes you still need experts in the various digital disciplines, but increasingly these are being managed by a digitally literate marketer who understands how they add to the overall strategy, thus making them joined-up. Having said this, although this may be the case in bigger companies with significant marketing organisations, in many SMEs, with limited marketing resources, understanding how the various digital media can be used effectively can still be a challenge. For many of our clients, that’s where we come in. We understand SME Marketing, and we are highly digitally literate, thus we are able to deliver real joined-up benefits to our clients in the digital world. But don’t take our word for it, look at what some of or clients have to say about working with BSA Marketing. If you would like to talk to us about how we may be able to help you, please give us a call.    

Content is King

content_is_kingIt was back in 1996 that Bill Gates wrote the essay ‘Content is King’ – if you are interested to read what he said this link should help His focus was on content as the ‘Product’ which generated revenue – and mainly from a B2C audience but the principle applies just as much to content as valuable Marketing collateral in a B2B environment. Let’s take a look at just how important the content of your site is in engaging your audience – not just now but into the future.

What is a Website?

In the ‘olden days’ (less than about 15 years ago!), for most businesses, the content was simply an electronic brochure, an on-line document you designed and published. Customers and prospects could view the website to read about the company, its products and services. Like a brochure it went out of date until, after 5 years or more, the MDs would decide enough was enough and a new website/brochure would be developed with updated content – but still a brochure. At the time, maybe this was OK. It was what people expected – but not any more.

Reflect Now not Then

One of the problems with brochures (and older websites) is that they quickly go out of date. Staff change, products and services develop, you may even start working in whole new markets. It is important that your website keeps up. You need to reflect how your business is now, not just how it was when the site was launched. Something as simple as a copyright symbol dated 2010 (or earlier!) is a real give-away that a site is not up to date. With the growth of Content Management it has become ever easier for at least basic changes to website content to be handled in-house. Even so, I still come across people who can’t get their site updated because they can’t get hold of the person who developed the site – the only person who has any access! Relying on external resources for any change to a website has another consequence – cost. A simple change that could easily be handled in house by even a basic content management system can cost £20, £50 or even more. It’s a catch 22 but if you want your website to work for your business, it must be up to date.

Content should be Dynamic

The development of interactivity on the internet means that a typical ‘brochure site’ just isn’t enough, even if it is up to date. To really help drive your marketing, your site needs to connect with your audience and position your company within your market. The content should be dynamic to allow your site visitors to engage with you, not just read your brochure. Here are a couple of examples:

Allow visitors to set preferences

By allowing visitors to choose which content they view your site will be more personal to them. By closely meeting their needs, they are more likely to do business with you.

Use News, blogs and social media to comment and invite response

If you regularly add new information and relevant articles, or comment on issues affecting your customers you demonstrate your expertise and connection with your markets. Even better, allow visitors to comment on what you write. When I first suggest this to clients they often feel very uncertain. We’ve all had customers where things don’t work out too well. What happens if they start leaving negative comments? First of all, the comments may be legitimate. If your service wasn’t up to your normal standard, you can reply to the comment. Be honest and acknowledge what happened but show how you have learnt and made changes to avoid the same problem in future. If the comment is malicious, you should always be able to remove it. With most comment systems there will be an option to allow you to moderate comments and check them out before they are published on your site. Don’t forget that including some slightly less complimentary comments can make your site more ‘real’ than a site that claims perfection.

Review your site

Just because your site is live and launched, don’t ignore it. Take a look at the content or, even better, get friends, family, work colleagues or clients to take a look and give you feedback. This ‘free market research’ can be immensely valuable and give real insight into how others see your business through your website. Try to take time to revisit your site at least once a quarter. If you have a blog or news section on your site, you will ideally be adding new posts or articles every week or two. Even so, don’t forget the rest of your web content. I recommend you spend a bit of time with your site every few months. You don’t necessarily need to change things if they don’t need changing. The aim is to ensure your site matches your business, and vice versa.

Don’t forget your content radar

Many people find coming up with new content a real challenge. You should always be on the lookout for new content. It can come from anywhere. Be on the lookout for:

  • Case Studies
  • Testimonials
  • News (company or industry)
  • Hints and Tips
  • White Papers or Technical Reports

Sometimes you may be inspired to write things yourself or other times don’t be afraid to refer to the work of others,just make sure you acknowledge the author and, if there is any doubt about whether you should use their work, check first. For more ideas on how to develop your content radar check out this post

Keep your WordPress site secure and effective – 4 (free) key plugins

WordPressRegular readers will know I am a great fan of WordPress. It offers so much for ‘real-world’ web development where you are looking for premiership functionality on division 2 budgets. You can do pretty much whatever you want with WordPress and a great deal of focus is put on the amazing functionality that you can build in, often at remarkably modest cost. Where people sometimes put less thought is making sure the site is really usable over time. Content management is a given, it is at the heart of the WordPress platform but there are some back-end add-ons which, in our experience, can really help make your site work for your business. Here are 4 key (and Free!) plugins we recommend for every site:

1. Simple Google Analytics

Knowing how your site is performing is vital if you are to get real marketing value and Google Analytics is the de facto standard for site stats. It’s free and powerful and with this plugin, adding it to your site is straightforward. Once installed you can track how people engage with your site and monitor the impact of your marketing activity.

2. Better WP Security

Online security is an important consideration and a high-profile system such as WordPress will always attract unwanted attention. This said, the sheer number of WP users and developers mean that there is always somebody with a solution to any vulnerabilities that may be found. It is important that you do keep your site current with the regular core updates issued from WordPress (all free!). Often installation is a single click. Better WP Security is a great plugin that enables you to add an extra layer of security that you control. We now install the plugin as standard on all new sites.

3. Yoast

We have covered Yoast in a previous post (here) but I have included it again because, despite all the media hoo-ha about SEO and Google algorithm changes, getting good search engine ranking is pretty much everybody’s goal and rather than relying on the talents of the seo industry, there are some key steps you can take yourself. Yoast is designed by SEO specialists to be used by non-specialists. It is simple and effective. If you follow the advice from the Yoast plugin, you can have a real and positive impact on your site search rankings.

4. Askimet

Askimet anti-spam is so important that it is included by default (but not activated) with every new WordPress installation. I strongly recommend you switch it on! It protects your site from annoying and pointless (but in my experience harmless) spam. You will need to register to get an activation code but it is well worth it. All of the above are plugins that we use every day and have found to be effective. In all cases there are alternatives, both paid-for and free. If you have a favourite we’ve not mentioned let me know – we are always learning!

A couple of other things to consider….

Not a plugin, but if you want to explore and keep track of the technical heart of your website, webmaster tools are a great resource. There are several service providers but Google is the biggest (again!). I’m not planning to look at webmaster tools in detail here but you can add them to your site through the Yoast plugin where there are links to lots of background info. Finally a small, but critical, point. We all want search engines to list our website but only once a site is launched. Often we want the site to be hidden while it is being developed. This is easy in WordPress. Under Settings-Reading, there is a tick box: no_index Tick this box and your site will be (virtually) hidden from search engines. Just remember to remove the tick when you publish your site! Until next time……

Authorship Tagging, what's the point?

rel=authorLast month, we wrote a post about authorship and whether you are better using a personal or brand approach. Maybe a more pertinent question is why bother with authorship tagging at all? The simple answer is that increasingly authorship (who has written something) is being used by Google to make decisions on how valuable that content is and where they should rank it in their index. So if Google think it is important then probably we should too! With this in mind, I suggest that this post on E-consultancy: The value of Google Authorship for your content strategy is probably worth reading.