social

Choosing the best social media channels for your business

How many social media platforms should you be on?

It’s the question that perplexes many a business owner: how many social media platforms should I use? The answer isn’t simple, and it depends very much on your product or service(s), has and your customer demographic.

The challenges:

  • What are the core reasons to even use social media?
  • Should you use all of them or only a few?
  • How do you know which social media platform best suits your business?

Social media can be one of your company’s most profitable marketing channels. It’s an excellent way to build brand awareness, connect with existing customers, and generate new leads to fill your funnel.

The solutions:

The main reasons for a business to embark on a social media (sm) presence or campaign include:

  • To build brand awareness.
  • To engage with current and potential customers.
  • To improve traffic to your website.
  • To increase new business leads.
  • To build your database and capture a mailing list
  • It’s better to choose a few social media platforms that your targeted audience engages with regularly than to try and spread content across all channels in a scattergun effect.
  • When to use the following SM platforms:
  • Facebook
    • If your business is customer-facing (B2C). Although B2B can work, the point of Facebook is to be interactive, and for you to provide content that will drive conversation and engagement among your customers.
  • Instagram
    • Instagram is king when it comes to quick content (short videos/images). This is great for brand awareness and shouldn’t be seen as a channel to solely drive revenue. Use it when you have a product /retail setup, or a message that you want to get across in a succinct, highly visual way.
  • LinkedIn
    • This is more about linking with other businesses and connecting with people in your industry, sharing information about your services and glean intelligence. This is primarily for B2B businesses and those who provide services.
  • Youtube
    • This is a highly engaging platform that also allows you to educate people on your services or products, in a more detailed manner.  YouTube allows content to belong, and part of the purchasing decision if you can give a guide or more information on your product/service this is the media to use.

Once you have done your research and decided on which social media channels to focus on, then work to ensure that the content you provide is engaging, and provides the image, the teasers or information that is going to resonate with your customers. Review the results of your efforts regularly, and don’t be afraid to tweak your program to get better results.

virtualevent

Is there still a place for virtual events

COVID19 lockdowns forced businesses to embrace the concept of a virtual event. Whether that was an annual awards celebration, a conference, a farewell or a largescale training session, for example, the only way to deliver was online, and many companies took up the challenge and fashioned events that were inclusive, engaging affairs.

Now that Australia is operating in COVID Normal, should the concept of a virtual event be shelved in favour of face-to-face gatherings, or can we take the lessons we learned from our period of forced online events and incorporate them into our schedules?

At a minimum, business owners should:

Investigate the pros and cons of virtual events.  It may be that a virtual event brings cost benefits and allows an event to take place that normally wouldn’t happen.

What you should be doing:

Look at the advantages:

  • Less or no travel time for participants. This is a big one because people are more prepared to commit to an event if it doesn’t entail a long commute.
  • Less expense all round. For the organiser, there’s no venue hire, no food and alcohol costs. For the attendee, there’s no ticket cost, no travel costs or parking fees
  • There’s no limit on numbers. But if you are going big – as in thousands, best ensure your technology is up to it.
  • More flexibility on timing. If you aren’t competing for venues, you can set the date and time that suits. Also, you can record the event and people who were unable to attend can watch it at a later date.
  • Access to the world’s best. The money you are saving can be used to access a higher level of guest speaker or entertainment.  It doesn’t matter where they are in the world, as they can join your virtual event at the click of a button and you don’t have to pay for their airfares and accommodation.  Win-win!

Look at the challenges:

  • It’s one dimensional. Meeting people face-to-face and being immersed in the atmosphere isn’t something that can be duplicated online.
  • Lack of networking opportunities. Large online events don’t deliver those priceless opportunities to network when you are physically present at an event.
  • No accountability. While people may log in to an online event, you have no guarantee that they are actually watching it.
  • No live audience for presenters to bounce off. A lot of guest speakers base their presentation around interaction with the audience. While lockdowns have forced them to re-think their approach – it’s often less dynamic.

What not to do

  • Don’t ignore the options that video events provide. Events are critical to team culture, networking within your industry and building relationships with clients.
  • Don’t forget to develop protocols and behaviour standards around online events – e.g., dress code, cameras on, mute on, using the chat function etc.
branding

Brand evolution or revolution

A highly recognisable brand that is instantly tied to a quality product or reliable service is the Utopia that businesses aim for. And we know it’s a long haul to get your brand well known. But those elements of the brand that comprise visual recognition – the logo, the colours, the fonts, the secondary language, do need a refresh from time to time.  And occasionally they need an overhaul.  The trick is to know when.

Marketing experts say that a brand should be invigorated every five or six years.  That may mean that logos are tweaked to better work with evolving mediums, taglines reviewed and colours examined.  Gone are the days of worrying about a stacked logo taking up too much print space.  Now we want something that will bounce out of Facebook or Instagram.

At a minimum, business owners should:

Carry out research to see how your brand is viewed in the marketplace.  Is it seen as tired, old-fashioned? Is it recognised at all?  What’s the recall on key elements of your look and message?

What you should be doing

  • Your research will tell you whether you need a total overhaul of your brand (revolution) of if you can refresh it by making some small but important changes (evolution).
  • Engage experts in this space to help you.
  • Any messaging that is attached to the brand needs to be considered to see if it still portrays what you do, what your positioning is in your marketplace and that it reflects current society values. Sometimes a small change – for instance from “The place to go…” to “Your place to go…” is all that is needed to turn your tagline into a client benefit message.
  • Colours are something that every brand needs to consider carefully. There’s colour psychology where research says that blue reflects trust and dependability, red is excitement and boldness, green is peace, health and nature and yellow is happiness and optimism. What do you want your brand to say?

What not to do

  • Brand evolution or revolution is not a job that should be done by an in-house management committee. It needs a fresh eye, and a distance from the emotion your team will have to your brand. You need experts in branding and marketing and how it’s applied. What are the pitfalls if you go down a certain path? You need to test concepts extensively before you go to the expense of making change.
chatbot

Add a chatbot to your customer service team

The COVID pandemic has driven people online at a far faster pace than was ever imagined prior to 2021.  They are researching and shopping online in ever increasing numbers and they are doing so.  at all times of the day and night.

Research shows us that over 70% of consumers want the ability to solve an issue themselves – they want the information at their fingertips.

So how do you ensure that you don’t lose a potential client, a potential sale, because your team aren’t available to answer a query at 10pm or on a Sunday?

The problems with a 24/7 marketplace:

  • Team members are not always able to respond quickly to traditional emails that are generated from your website.
  • Team members are constantly answering the same questions taking up valuable resource time.
  • There’s no customer journey that guides them into a purchasing decision.
  • Customers want answers instantly.

The chatbot solution:

Implementing a chatbot on your website can be a way to engage customers and answer those recurring questions.

There are two main types of chatbots:

  • Rule based chatbots:
    • These can be setup where there is a regularity and formula to the type of questions asked. For example, if customers frequently ask “When are you open?” The chat bot can instantly respond with the businesses operating hours.
    • If a customer asks “How much is product x?”, a chatbot can instantly pull up the price and link the purchaser to the product.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered chatbots:
    • These bots are much more complex. They still require a level of programming however they learn over time by analysing past data and making assumptions. If a customer asks a question that has no direct answer set, it can be stored for future updates by a human programmer.

People are more and more comfortable interacting with chatbots – in fact over two thirds of consumers say they interact with an intelligent assistant or chatbot at least once a month.

Chatbots aren’t a substitute for your customer service team, but they are a great tool to guide an after-hours potential purchaser to make the decision to buy.

virtualevent

Schedule your marketing success

Marketing such as radio ads, billboard artwork, television commercials are driven by deadlines that you can’t avoid. You’ve committed to a schedule and are highly motivated to have everything organised by the due date.

With social media, the deadlines are more rubbery – easier to slip, and so often important posts are delayed because of competing cut-off dates from other advertising. Similarly, with articles and PR pieces that are driven by you – they need to have firm delivery dates.

Spending the time to develop a detailed marketing schedule will help you drive a clear marketing message that hits your targets and grows your business.

The Challenges:

  • Lack of long term planning. What events are coming up that need publicising? What needs to be posted on social media and when? Is there a new product that needs a media release?
  • Scattered information. You may have a team of highly creative people, but if all their ideas and tasks are across 20 or so emails, things will drop through the cracks.
  • Last minute tasks. Unplanned opportunities to promote your brand or products pop up all the time and you need to grab them. Also, circumstances beyond your control might mean last minute changes are need for a campaign you thought you had put to bed.
  • Under resourced. You have a big campaign to run but you don’t have the people or skills to design it, book it, nurture it and report on its results.
  • You haven’t automated. Everything is taking longer than it should, gobbling up your resources.

The Solutions:

  • Develop a strong marketing calendar. Plan your key events and lock in dates when they are occurring over the next six to 12 months. You need to be regularly reaching out through your communications channels – if you don’t have enough events, schedule engaging posts – weekly is ideal. Review the calendar regularly.
  • Planning both a start date and deliverable date. Don’t rely on just having when things need to go out; build a buffer into each deadline to ensure you are giving your team the time to develop content, as well as to have the time to  assess what is working at the end of each campaign.
  • Use themes to build a cohesive message across all the different points of information that you are putting out there.
  • Utilise online systems. like social media schedulers, to post in advance – that way you can hit feeds on the day and at the time that suits you.
  • Cross-post across multiple platforms instead of one. Facebook has deep integration with Instagram that makes posting across both platforms fast and simple.

A well-planned marketing schedule,  with realistic deadlines, accountability and scope for flexibility will ensure expectations are met, while providing valuable exposure for your brand and growth for your business.

web

Key features to a website

Building a business includes many facets, one of those being a strong digital presence. Customers are online more than ever and statistics show that the average internet user consumes an average 6 hours and 30 minutes of online content a day. With such a staggering amount, how do you ensure that customers find you, engage with you and ultimately benefit from your products and services? A website is generally the first step to a consumer’s research when making a purchasing decision, and not guaranteeing a seamless user experience leads to lost sales and leads.

So, what exactly makes a website effective? Here are five tips to help you make sure your website is helping you grow your business.

Stay on brand

Having a website that uses different styling across its pages will cause a disconnect for customers. Are you using the same colours throughout your website? Are images consistent sizing? Are your fonts the same and create a standardised hierarchy between titles and articles? Without these key areas addressed, your brand is going to be forgotten. Utilising a brand styleguide is the best way to ensure your brand is memorable.

Keep your website fast

Ever landed on a website that took so long to load that you decided to close off and go to the next link? Time and time again, businesses make the mistake of not optimising their websites, that will lead to a high bounce rate (rate in which a user will immediately leave your website). Statistics show that a website should load within 2-5 seconds; for every second after, the bounce rate increases exponentially. There are many tools that can help speed up a website including:

Cacheing assets – This is a process in which a user does not have to re-download assets such as images, fonts and text. When going page to page, they will only load files that are needed rather than all new content that will increase page load times.

Don’t use too many plugins – Websites that use systems such as WordPress can give a wealth of additions through the use of plugins, but too many can cause major slowdowns across your site. Look into minimising or developing your own code for the fastest possible performance.

Optimise images – One area that many websites fail to optimise is the size of the images being loaded on the website. The larger the image, the slower the website. Using the correct compression tools and serving next-gen file formats, such as WebP, will greatly reduce load times.

Strong call to actions

As important as it is to deliver the information to your customers, every page should have a “call to action”. Call to actions need to be the focal point of each page on the website; they can either be a banner with the latest promotion, a contact button for more information, or even a highlighted section to allow customers to find more detail beyond the section they are currently viewing.

Connect with social media

Having a social media presence shows that you are actively engaged in a community, and having links to your Facebook / Instagram and LinkedIn page helps build trust with your brand. If a consumer goes to your website and sees content from years past, the immediate thought process is that the business is out of date and no longer relevant. A website should be dynamic, not static and having constantly updated content is what will drive customers to come back to your website.

 

Showcase your wins

How can you add instant credibility to your products and services? Display major client lists and use case studies. Leverage the brand power of your clients to benefit your own brand. By displaying a list of companies which you are affiliated with, you can instantly build a level of trust with a customer. Consumers already value, why wouldn’t they value yours? Case studies are also a strong way to visually represent your past work, so that customers can get a sneak preview of what they can expect when it comes to engaging your products or  services. If you’re running an e-commerce platform, use the power of customer reviews, which add credence that your product has worked for others.

Final Statement:

There are many more pieces to delivering an effective website, whether it is starting a new brand or improving on an antiquated version. A fast and effective way to know where to start would be a website audit. A website audit will break down your website into core areas that need improvement, and it will then let you prioritise what you should tackle first.

 

social

Effective social media management

Many businesses have changed how they operate, especially in the social media sphere. With more customers online than ever, a strong social media strategy for any business should be mapped and actioned throughout the year. However, many simple strategies are being missed by business owners that could help increase awareness and boost sales.

Here are the top 5 social media strategies that a business should start implementing today:

Segment your audience.

If you have a strong following on social media such as Facebook and Instagram, it’s important to look at who your demographic is, from both a new and retention point of view. Creating audiences when running your ads will keep CPC (Cost per clicks) down and deliver better efficiency in your advertising dollars. Not sure how to set this up? Facebook for Business has a helpful guide in creating on “Lookalike Audiences”

Call to actions

Using call to actions will help customers understand the journey you want to take them when leading them into a product or page. In social media posts, it’s important to have a clear call to action such as an enquiry form, a link to your website or a purchase link. By having just information or an image, a customer should not have to do the heavy lifting of finding more information. Facebook also include a “Call-to-action” ad option when promoting your products and services .

Setup chat bots

Having the touchpoint for your customers gives them instant answers when first engaging with your brand. Whether you want having those following your Facebook page being able to interact or your own website to have a direct line to your customer service, Facebook chat is a great option. Using automated responses can also save you time for frequently asked questions such as “when you are your opening times?”.

Got a WordPress site? Why not add the Facebook Chat plugin for quickly getting your chat up on your site.

Use boosted posting

By boosting your post, you can capture customers who aren’t already following you. Boosting posts will reach a larger audience, make up any decline in organic reach and with no minimum, you can start your advertising budget on a small scale and ramp up after taking a look at your analytics and reports.

Stories in your platform.

The rise of Instagram from a consumer level has increased exponentially over the years with close to 10 million users in Australia alone. However the stories option also expands to both Facebook and LinkedIn. By utilising the power of video, your brand is able to deliver more digestible content, increase consumer engagement and lead to better connections with your audience.

Final Statement:

Social media is about building a brand that resonates with your clients.  A brand that isn’t one dimensional, but has a personality.  It involves constant touch points with your potential clients, working to engage them.

network

Finding clear air for your social media messages

More and more the greater percentage of marketing budgets are being spent on digital campaigns, utilising the powerful ability to refine your message to target the right people cost effectively. It’s a brave new world for a lot of businesses, but they are finding that it’s also a cluttered world where you need to have a strategic approach to cut through all the noise.

The Challenges:

  • You’ve got great content – but it’s barely getting any reaction on social media.
  • You don’t know where your target audience is – Facebook or Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn?
  • Your content is stale – the information is repetitive with little or no new engagement and you’re out of ideas.
  • It’s a one-way conversation – no one is reacting to your posts.
  • You can’t work out what content is doing well.

The Solutions:

  • Use boosted posts and define targeted audiences to get your posts reaching outside just your followers and landing where you want them.
  • Do research into your industry and competitors. Could an Instagram story be a better platform than a Facebook page post? If you’re looking to educate your customer base, consider having a Youtube account to deliver content via video (and drive consumers there from your social media accounts.)
  • Diversify your content. Mix in some short videos, short text posts or even something quirky that could be unrelated to your brand but that will make people pause when scrolling through their feed. Making people laugh is always a winner.
  • Expecting customers to just engage with your content doesn’t always work. Social media is about being SOCIAL. It’s about having a conversation – not just telling people about your product or posting a brochure. Use relevant hash tags, add some links to more information, ask questions, run competitions.
  • Leverage the power of data. Take a look at your best performing posts of the past months. Why did certain posts work, was it because of the content, time of day or another external factor? Use this data to plan your social media campaigns in the coming months.

There’s no doubt that social media is an integral part of a business marketing plan, but online engagement takes time, care, nurturing and constant evaluation and tweaking. Social media is constantly evolving with user expectations and how the platforms present information. You can’t set and forget. To truly leverage social media to build your business, you need to treat it seriously, set a budget, plan campaigns and develop the right content.

web

Use automated tools to solve your website challenges.

The events of 2020 have proven just how critical a good website is for every business. It’s your virtual shopfront- the first point of contact for most customers. It’s no longer acceptable to just create a website and leave it unchanged.  Your website needs to be dynamic, current and constantly evolving.  The good news is there are some great tools to help you ensure that your website is delivering the best possible service to your clients, and helping convert leads into sales.

The challenges:

  1. Slow website. If your website is slow, your customers will leave in frustration.  In fact, anything above 3 seconds for a page to load will mean that 57% of your visitors will instantly leave your website.
  2. Slow response to customer queries. Ever sent an email through a website and didn’t get a response until days later?  The longer your client waits, the more your brand integrity diminishes in their mind, and the smaller your chance of converting the enquiry into a sale.
  3. Risk of data breach. It’s an unfortunate opportunistic fact of life that hackers are out there looking for weaknesses in website security.  It’s not personal, it’s opportunities and it can be highly damaging.  Apart from the cost if it’s a ransomware attack (the act where they will not release your data unless a sum of money is paid), having your business data and customer details breached is a significant headache.  Privacy breaches require reporting and restitution, creating legal issues and eroding confidence in your brand is eroded.
  4. No measurable data. If you aren’t tracking your leads as they come through, you can’t calculate your CPA (Cost per Acquisition).  Knowing your CPA allows you to confidently budget your marketing spends at the right price point, and allows you to ratchet up your spend in those areas where you are getting the best return.

The solutions

  1. Slow website. Use free tools such as Google’s Pagespeed monitor to quickly gauge the load time of web pages on both desktops and mobile devices. With this tool, you can also look at their recommendations on how to increase the speed of your website.
  2. Slow response to customer queries. Consider installing a Live Chat application on your website. You can set it up so that it connects directly to your staff allowing customers to have their queries answered quickly and knowledgeably – leading to sales conversions.
  3. Risk of data breach. A security audit of your website can highlight any major issues your site may be facing.  Following industry best practices for website security can help mitigate any further issues, when it comes to data breaches. For instance, OWASP provides the top 10 web application security risks. Investigate using plug-ins for your website that can help automatically block unwanted bots that are trying to infiltrate your website.
  4. No measurable data. Connect a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager program) to your website to automatically track your leads and build your database.  Examples of CRM’s are Hubspot, Salesforce or Zoho.  There are also a range of industry specific CRM’s tailored to maximise the value to you, in areas that are unique to your business.

Attention to these critical areas of your website, as well as ensuring that your website is visually pleasing, easy to navigate and that all your content is current and easily accessed, will help build a better business for you.

email

Automating your emails and gaining control

Emails are an incredibly effective, instant means of communicating. They are the business equivalents of texts.  But they also can overwhelm you, distract you and destroy your efficiency.  You need to control your email not let your email control you.

Let’s look at the problems with emails:

  • Emails are constantly coming in at all hours of the day and night – they never stop.
  • Emails can cause a constant loop of spending your day replying to emails and not actually having time to action anything
  • Emails can contain pertinent information on a project but spread across multiple emails. (You know, those days when you get five emails from five different people all on the same topic?)
  • Emails with multiple CC’s get lost in clutter and there is a lack of organisation when multiple people are all replying leading to missed communication
  • Searching for emails can be difficult if you just use one folder (Inbox)
  • Emails aren’t categorised, how do you know what emails relates to what business activity?
  • Junk mail constantly comes through and you are continually deleting the same emails day after day.

Now let’s look at the solutions:

  • Set a block of time to sort through and reply to your emails. A good idea is go through your emails in the morning for 30 minutes and organise the ones that should be actioned today. Those that won’t be actioned today should still be replied to, providing the sender with an anticipated date that you will action the email request.
  • Use functions such as Conversations in Gmail and Outlook to automatically group emails into threads https://www.howtogeek.com/397298/how-to-toggle-and-customise-conversation-view-in-outlook/
  • Tag people in a conversation with the @ symbol. This gives visibility that a specific person in an email chain should look at important information that is only specific to them within the body of the text
  • Create multiple folders for your email instead of just an Inbox. There are a couple of approaches to this:
    • #1
      • Inbox (anything unread)
      • To action (anything that requires attention today)
      • In progress (anything that is a continual communication chain)
      • Archived (done and completed)
    • #2
      • Inbox
      • Categorised by groupings
        • Company Name
        • Sales
        • Marketing
        • Admin
      • Use the Categorise function to catalogue and archive your emails for easy searching in the future
        • Example categories
          • Personal Development
          • Business Development
          • Meetings
          • Invoice / Finance
          • Documentation
          • Sales / Lead
          • Personal
  • Adopt a One Minute rule. When you receive an email, can you send a useful reply to the sender within one minute? Is it something that can be actioned quickly? Can you do the task and respond with a short email on its completion? Or is it something that may take time to scope or plan? Spend less than one minute to acknowledge receipt of the email and provide the sender with an anticipated date of action to keep the conversation moving forward. If you find yourself needing more than one minute to just write an email, then set aside the email and block out a period of time in your task management system to complete the task.
  • Setup filters to automatically bin emails you don’t want to receive. Stop just deleting junk mail and look at your options for a long-term fix. Filters within systems such as Microsoft 365 and Gmail let you set up to automatically delete an email before it even gets to your Inbox. This is a good option for spam emails. Using the unsubscribe function for unsolicited marketing emails ensures that you won’t be getting those annoying emails again.

Following these simple rules will help you gain control of your emails and turn them back into the useful business tool they should.  And, give you more productive time in your day.