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Posts for July 2013

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Some inspirational holiday reading

July 31, 2013 by Rachel Miller

Some inspirational holiday reading/senior man relaxing{{}}I don’t know about you but I find it increasingly hard to find time to read — you know, actual books. Of course, blogs and online articles — as well as real newspapers — help to keep me informed and inspired. But holidays are when I really get a chance to catch up with my reading.

And there’s nothing like reading a game-changing book — something like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point — to really open your mind to new ideas.

I came across The Tipping Point through classic word-of-mouth. Back in 2000, I was talking to Rory Sutherland at Ogilvy and not only did he recommend it to me, he very kindly sent me a copy via Amazon — something we take for granted today but which was then still getting established in the UK.

But there are many excellent books on marketing that will broaden your business horizons. And learning from the best is an excellent way to start.

Drayton Bird — named by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) as one of the 50 people who has shaped today’s marketing (and an expert contributor to Marketing Donut) — is a firm believer in learning from those that have already succeeded (and who themselves have learned from their failures).

In his blog on Marketing Donut — A little learning is a wonderful thing — he recommends some books that have shaped his thinking, including:

  • How To Write A Good Advertisement by Vic Schwab. A timeless guide to copywriting with a list of 100 good headlines that Drayton says he has often used as a starting point when looking for ideas.
  • Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy. Both informative and highly amusing.
  • How To Make Your Advertising Make Money by John Caples. Caples, says Drayton, “explains better than anyone what works, what doesn’t, and why, because he conducted more tests than anyone.”
  • Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. David Ogilvy, apparently, once said: "Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times.” Drayton Bird describes it as “near perfect”. Read on.

Of course, Drayton, like many of our expert contributors, has written his own seminal book on marketing. If you haven’t already read them, I’d recommend catching up with some of these over the summer:

Another fantastic book is The Jelly Effect by Andy Bounds. You can see Andy talking about the key to selling in this video on how to sell by helping your customers succeed.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve also been fortunate enough to publish regular blogs on business books by Ron Immink. Ron is the co-founder of Small Business Can and Book Buzz — the website devoted to business books.

Here are some of his recommendations:

Many of these are available on Kindle and all are well worth reading. Whatever you read — and however you read it — enjoy your summer!

Rachel Miller is the editor of Marketing Donut.

Fresh ideas for your content marketing

July 30, 2013 by Chloë Thomas

Get inspired - ideas for your content marketing/content{{}}Content marketing is a great way to get traffic to your site from the search engines and other websites. It’s worth doing because:

  •  Once you have built your content it’s very hard for a competitor to copy you.
  •  It provides you with a USP and sets you apart from other sites.
  •  Great content is an essential foundation of both your SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy and your social media strategy.
  •  It can bring you a steady stream of traffic that’s interested in your products and business.

At its simplest, content marketing is creating content that relates to your brand/products and putting it on your website. That might be a guide to buying the perfect jeans, or how to install a dishwasher, it might be an opinion on an article on the solar technology of the future, or just really great product page copy.

What makes good online content?

Every piece of content you create should do at least one of these things (and usually all of them):

  •  Be something people will read and want to pass on — either by sharing it, or linking to it.
  •  Reflect your brand well, enhancing it by supporting what you stand for and positioning you as an expert in your field.
  •  Help sell the products — removing barriers to conversion, such as a sizing guide or a catwalk video.
  •  Appeal to your target customers.

What content do you already have?

Most businesses have more content than they realise, so before you do anything else you need to work out what content you already have. To do this you need to do a brainstorm with key people in the business to see what content you could use and make a list of what could or should be created. Speak to the owner, buyers, marketing, customer services, merchandising and website team.

Ask them:

  •  What content do we already have?
  •  What content would our customers appreciate having on the website?
  •  What stories are there around our products?

One idea — lots of content

Take the answers and extrapolate them. The chances are that from the brainstorm there won’t be a vast number of stories; that’s because people are simplifying it. Each story that’s on the brainstorm can create several items of content. The mistake everyone makes it to assume one idea is one piece of content.

For most businesses, the starting point and the centre of your content strategy, is your blog. A blog can host pictures, text, audio, and video — which makes it really versatile. Plus you own it entirely, so it’s all working for you.

Now you should have a long list of story ideas, and a list of where you are going to be putting that content. So you’re ready to get creating and putting live. Don’t forget to look back after a couple of months to see what’s working and do more of that!

Chloë Thomas is author of eCommerce MasterPlan and owns and runs indiumonline, an online marketing agency.

Why website translation could be a waste of money

July 25, 2013 by Neil Payne

Why website translation could be a waste of money/languages signpost{{}}If you’re involved in websites, SEO, ecommerce or any other element of online business, without doubt you would have heard the drum of internationalisation beating louder and louder over the past few years.

New emerging markets are on the up as internet penetration increases. As a result, businesses are looking abroad for more customers, more sales and more exposure.

Website translation is, without doubt, top of the to do list when targeting a country, region or even the world online. However, many firms are being hoodwinked into believing a website translation is the goal — and yet it can be a complete waste of money.

International expansion

Having a website translated as part of an international sales or business development drive is not the end game. It is the end game for the translation company and/or website design agency. Their focus, most of the time, is on getting that website into the languages agreed upon. Full stop.

However, businesses need to understand that a website on its own is never going to ramp up sales in China, Brazil or Germany. A website, most of the time, is the first stop on a journey. It educates the reader on what you do or sell with the intention that they then go on to buy.

Some websites have the capacity to sell online but most of the time, simply having your website translated will not be enough. It usually takes a few more steps between the education and the sale. These steps can form a canyon in terms of being able to convert enquiries into sales. This is where the gap exists; and where money is wasted.

A real life cautionary tale

Take this example. “Company A” sees the potential to sell their services into Germany. Convinced by the reams of data about online buying behaviour and keyword search volumes, they invest in getting their website translated into German. The brand-spanking-new website is released, complete with an SEO budget and a PPC campaign and then … traffic comes in.

When the company receives its first email in German, it can’t respond. When a potential client from Berlin calls the office, nobody can speak with them. When a business magazine contacts them about a PR piece, they lose interest when realising the company has no German presence. When Analytics illustrates people exiting the website at a certain key pages, what do they do?

All these are real life examples of the poor planning of businesses going into a new country without a) understanding the market and b) having the ability to deal with enquiries in the language.

Money well spent

Website translation is a waste of money if it becomes the end goal. It needs to be part of a clear sales or business development strategy with a plan of action on how to support sales. It needs to take place after careful research as well as organising back office functions to be able to handle requests, place orders or close deals.

In order to ensure your new multilingual website offers ROI, make sure everything around the website is ready to support it and the business.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Outsource. Having a local partner, distributor or sales agent is a simple way of dealing with local enquiries. The responsibility and functions are externalised.  However a lack of control can put off some companies.
  • Hire in-house. If you are going for a specific country and you have the budget, hire someone in-house who can speak to customers and generally help the business. They will also be able to bring local knowledge and know-how.
  • Try it out. If you want to test out a market, look at using a multilingual virtual assistant. Acting as your representative in the country, they deal with all enquiries according to parameters you set. This allows you to save on costs but still provide a good service.
  • Localise. Don’t just get your website “translated” from English. Ask for advice on localising your site so it looks, reads, feels and works as it should for that target location. This will reduce the number of questions you may have to deal with.
  • Automate. Consider automating as much of your communication as possible through pre-translated emails, FAQ guides, videos, voice messages and the like.  Identify the main areas you need to consistently talk about. This may not deal with 100% of communication but it’s an economical, practical and functional way of overcoming the language barrier.

Through appreciating the limits of your website and understanding how to support it, the chances of success are dramatically increased. The result will be a more holistic approach to your website and the sales cycle. 

Neil Payne is the managing director of Kwintessential.

Using email to drive your content strategy

July 23, 2013 by Tink Taylor

Using email to drive your content strategy/business newsletter{{}}Content marketing can be a hard-hitting and cost-effective way of building brand awareness and generating sales leads — and there are all sorts of ways marketers can promote their content — but one of the most direct ways of getting it in front of your target audience is through email.

The ultimate aims of content marketing and email marketing are fundamentally the same. ROI is based on sales leads and customer engagement. You produce content to engage the right kind of people, and using email as part of this campaign allows you to target people more specifically and drive further engagement with people who declare an interest in your content.

Email and content: the perfect partnership

In short, email and content marketing complement each other perfectly. Content marketing provides the fodder for an effective email campaign, and your email marketing increases traffic to your website and landing pages.

The success of promoting a piece of content marketing through an email campaign is as dependent on how good your emails are as much as the collateral itself. In fact, no matter how good your content is, if your email marketing doesn’t push the right buttons, prepare to be disappointed when it comes to ROI.

Here are a few ways of ensuring your email marketing achieves the results your content marketing deserves:

  • Specify your content. Use an email service provider (ESP) with the ability to segment campaigns so you ensure you are hitting specific audiences with the content most relevant to them.
  • Make your content shareable. Incorporate social buttons in your email to allow your recipients to discuss their opinions on your findings on social networks.
  • Build your database. Monitor the interactions your content marketing produces closely and look for future opportunities to engage with those who declare an interest.
  • Analyse your entire campaign. Make sure your ESP allows you to track the success of your email marketing in driving downloads. You can use this information to give your content marketing an extra push.
  • Send more emails. As people interact with your content marketing, make sure you send more relevant emails based on their interaction with it. If they make a comment or a sales enquiry, make sure they receive personalised updates.

Tink Taylor is the managing director of dotMailer

Amateur marketing is costing small businesses thousands

July 22, 2013 by Marketing Donut contributor

Amateur marketing is costing small businesses thousands/money down the drain{{}}Two new surveys suggest that the majority of Britain’s 4.8 million business owners are confused about marketing in general and internet marketing in particular. And this confusion comes at a huge cost — the research pegs the shortfall at £25,417 per business.

Research by Wolters Kluwer has found that small business owners are prone to a “lone wolf” approach to decision-making. The vast majority are much more likely to trust their own instincts than seek qualified guidance from an expert.

The second survey, carried out in association with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), found that UK businesses are losing out on £122 billion of sales because of poor marketing.

Poor online performance

More money is wasted on marketing than in any other part of most small businesses.

You only need to have a look at a firm’s website performance to see how unprofessional they can be. A typical website for a small business might cost £1,000 to £4,000 and yet most produce few leads.

One of the myths about internet marketing is that having a better looking website will create more leads. It is simply not true.

There are two key factors affecting online success; traffic and conversion. The average conversion rate on the internet is 1% and that means that 99% of the people that come to small business websites leave without making a sale. This is costing SMEs a small fortune in lost sales and income.

Small firms need to be more prudent with their marketing and do three key things: 

  • Reduce the money and time that is wasted on marketing;
  • Improve the performance of each and every element of current marketing;
  • Build new marketing and income streams onto the business.

Where do you start?

The first step is to understand your marketing numbers. This includes numbers like the volume of people that visit your website or the number of networking events you need to attend to get a lead.

Step two is to think about improving your numbers. How can you win more business from referrals?  How can you create an on-going stream of leads from LinkedIn? How can you improve your lead conversion rate?

Step three is to start to build new streams of income in a tested, measured and consistent manner.

Top tips for prudent marketing

  1. Measure your sales and marketing.
  2. Never be satisfied with the results you are getting.
  3. Learn and embrace new technology.
  4. Use marketing without money strategies before you start to spend.
  5. Take marketing seriously. Marketing is the key to your success. Consider yourself a marketing company and as such, you need to be better at sales and marketing than your competitors.

Steve Mills is a UK marketing expert and author of the e-book, The 10 Biggest Lead Generation Mistakes Most Small Businesses Make.

Why YouTube is an essential marketing tool for small businesses - and how to take advantage of it

July 18, 2013 by Luke Clum

Why YouTube is an essential marketing tool for small businesses - and how to take advantage of it/directors' chair{{}}If you're a small business owner and you're not on YouTube, you're missing out on one of the most powerful marketing platforms out there.

Not only do YouTube videos drive traffic and produce excellent search results, but they also provide a much more accessible medium for accessing your customer base, building relationships, establishing your expertise and really branding your business’ unique personality.

Who, after all, would prefer reading a dense white paper over watching what feels like a personal conversation with a business owner?

Still, filming a shaky video on your iPhone and pushing upload won't do much to help you stand out from the (very dense) crowd. Our guide to using YouTube can give a much deeper understanding of just how YouTube can fold into your marketing campaigns and how you can really master the medium.

Use video to appeal to your niche

The biggest mistake most business owners — big and small — make when they begin with YouTube is approaching with a "make it viral" mentality. This focus is unfortunate, because YouTube really provides a unique opportunity for appealing directly to your most ardent and loyal customers.

What's more, few people have the perfect formula for virality, and the more you make this goal your soul focus, the less authentic and compelling your videos will be.

A few tips for making the most of your niche:

  • Watch a lot of YouTube videos. Take a look at similar companies within your field to see how commenters are reacting in order to get a better grasp of what they find appealing — and what they don't.
  • Make good use of the Google Keyword Tool. The Google Keyword tool is great for determining just what your target demographic is searching for, and it can provide inspiration for new content. You might, for example, type the term, "hairdressers in London" into the tool, and find a number of hairdressing questions you can then address in a video, confident that your target market is searching for your production.

Master the Medium

Video and YouTube are very specific mediums, and it's important to learn the craft behind them both. You'll want to consider:

  • Variety. Variety is key for keeping your viewers glued to your channel. But don't let that intimidate you. There's plenty you can do with the format, whether that's how-to and thought leadership videos, ads or even creative and funny videos that just make customers laugh. The Air New Zealand video below, an "Unexpected Briefing," is a perfect example of a brand getting creative, without losing relevancy to the brand. The company re-envisions those boring safety videos, establishing their personable nature and sense of humour while also communicating valuable information.

  • Consistency. That said, varying your video types shouldn't equate to a loss of consistency. Make sure your company logo is prominent throughout your videos or on your YouTube page, and that you're emphasising a similar message throughout all of your videos. is a great example for this, as you can clearly see the speaker's logo and website displayed at various points throughout the videos, as well as the company's website listed prominently in the description. This establishes branding, and also makes it easy for interested customers to find you online.

  • Quality.If your video is shaking, has very rough edits and is overstuffed with annotations, you won't wind up looking very professional. Consider hiring a production agency for the most important videos, or keep your videos simple. It's much better to film a screenshot tutorial on your computer than it is to create a complicated masterpiece that exceeds your mastery. A video production course can also be useful.

YouTube: an essential tool

Whether you're running entire video campaigns or your video will be just one part of a wider campaign, YouTube is an essential marketing tool for any business. Master the medium, provide great content have a little fun, and enjoy all that YouTube can do for you.

Luke Clum is a digital marketer with Distilled.

Posted in Online marketing | Tagged YouTube | 2 comments

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