Snapchat started life as an app for people to share photos with their friends - perfect for silly snaps of your night on the town.
Over the past few months, however, it has experienced a surge in popularity; and not just with teenagers. Businesses are starting to realise that creating off-the-cuff informal content is a fantastic way to build a more personal connection with prospective clients.
But how does Snapchat go beyond the selfie and fit into your digital marketing strategy?
If the imperfect nature of quick snaps is a concern for you, recycle the imagery you’ve already created for other platforms. This is also a good idea if you like to put a lot of effort into your snaps - the app can be pretty buggy and you don’t want to lose all that work.
Although the Snapchat app doesn’t let you upload content from your device, you can get around this by using the third-party app Snap Up. Not only can you upload graphics and video segments, but you can also play around with this app's range of custom filters and fonts.
The screenshot is Snapchat’s version of a swipe file and it remains one of the simplest ways to research potential clients as well as the others in your field.
However, Snapchat has a nasty habit of notifying the creator whenever you save a snap - not great for when you want to stay incognito.
Snapkeep is a fantastic (and free) way to save unlimited snaps without telling anyone. It will also allow you to replay a snap as many times as you like.
Create a back-up of your Snapchat stories to inspire and inform your strategy going forward.
If you sign up for My Snap Memories you’ll be sent a copy of your full Snapstory at the end of each month. Store them in Dropbox to free up some space on your smartphone.
Each snap or story you create comes with its own analytics, which can help you develop your content further.
Saving your analytics is simple. Just set an alarm for just under 24 hours from the moment you publish your snap. When your alarm sounds, log into Snapchat, view your snap and screengrab the stats.
Do you struggle to come up with compelling headlines for your blog posts or subject lines for your marketing emails? Me too.
The good news is that new online tools can help you review and improve your titles and headings so that they work much harder for you.
It all comes down to something called the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) score. A whole load of research has gone into this and now a simple test can give you an actual rating that can be used to judge how well your headline will be received by the audience reading it.
The Emotional Marketing Value is a score that looks to assess how a group of words follows these emotional harmonics, and how likely they are to elicit an emotional response from a reader. Clever stuff!
The Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer is a tool based on research that has been made freely available by the Advanced Marketing Institute. Using it can easily provide you with such a score for your blog post title or email subject line.
It's really easy to use. You can just copy and paste your marketing headline into the box and it will give you a calculated score of your headline’s EMV Score as a percentage.
The English language contains approximately 20% EMV words. Most professional copywriters’ headlines will have 30%-40% of EMV words in their headlines, while the most gifted copywriters will achieve scores of 50%-75%.
A perfect score would be 100%, but that is rare unless your headline is fewer than five words. The best I’ve scored so far is 70%. That's not too bad but there is always room for improvement!
It's not easy to get people to do what you want. And it's even harder if you aren't there to do it.
This happens when you send someone a proposal or a business plan. They'll read it at their leisure, probably skim-reading it. If they have any questions - which they will - you won't be there to answer them.
So how can you make sure your documents impress and persuade? Here are my golden rules of sales documents:
It's harder to sell in writing than it is verbally. So your best chance of convincing someone is to agree everything verbally first; and then your written document confirms what you've already agreed.
In other words, don't explore new ideas in the document. If you can write "as discussed" before every sentence you're getting it right - but don't actually do this, as it might get a tad boring.
Now include these five elements:
Build the need for what you want to sell. This will either be:
Paint the picture of the desired future state. In other words, what things will look like after you've completed the thing you're proposing. Be clear on:
Show the detail of how you will get from A to B. This will probably be a simple timeline, showing all the key deliverables, who's doing what and when. As with everything else in the proposal, you'll have already agreed this timeline verbally.
Always put the price towards the end. Why? Because it's important you build the value first, before saying how much it costs. When discussing price, always relate it back to value. In other words, show how they are investing money to get valuable outcomes. They are not paying for deliverables (which are just the mechanism by which they'll get their outcomes).
Always finish by confirming what the next steps are: "As agreed, I'll call you at 10am on Wednesday to discuss how we progress this quickly" for instance. If you don't include this, you have to wait for them to reply to your proposal. Which they might not do. This leads to the dreaded dilemma: do I chase (and pester) them; or do I wait (and feel powerless). Neither is particularly pleasant. Nor useful.
Copyright © 2016 Andy Bounds, communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips. This blog first appeared here.
Instagram is a powerful tool for connecting with your audience; by harnessing the power of visual content, you can increase engagement and get really creative with your marketing activities.
There is so much you can do with Instagram if you're willing to spend time growing your following - and that's not as challenging as you might think.
With talk of upcoming algorithm changes, here are a few simple hacks to help you expand your reach on one of the fastest growing social platforms there is.
Uploading high-quality, on-brand graphics is a must on a visual platform like Instagram but that's not the only way to curate a beautiful and engaging feed.
Share useful content from other users to build stronger connections and provide extra value for your followers. This will encourage those users to engage with you, bringing their audiences to your profile.
A really quick and easy way to start sharing external content is with the free Repost for Instagram app. To use, simply start viewing your main feed through the app and then just tap on any image you'd like to "regram". And don't forget to tag the creator.
Take advantage of any opportunities to interact with others. This is good advice for any social platform, but it can be particularly effective on Instagram, because it has a more informal, less salesy interface.
There are a number of ways to encourage engagement, such as:
You could also take part in @instagram community projects, such as #WHP (weekend hashtag project). This offers you the chance to get your graphics in front of thousands of new eyes - even more if your image gets featured.
Use your existing audience to help you build your following. The "tag a friend" strategy can be really effective if you're hosting a giveaway, launching a new product or running an event. Ask your followers to tag a friend that might be interested in your offer and before you know it you'll have a list of prospects to target.
If you have competitors and you take money for your products or services, then you are a brand.
But lots of the pub and food brands that we work with say that they are not a brand. They say "we're not big enough" or "we don't have the money for that" or "we can't afford to act like a brand".
But if a small business is your brand (or at least a brand that you look after), then you have as much right to define and promote it as the next company.
The word brand can have expensive connotations as it is usually closely followed by the word agency, communications or the c-word … consultant.
But with some time and the right structure, you can develop your brand yourself and beat your immediate competitors.
I coach and mentor pub groups on this very subject and I try to get across that the process of defining your brand and acting like one can be extremely simple. And it applies to businesses of all types and sizes. What you are searching for is your brand DNA.
Start by choosing four people from your team, ideally those from different departments, with different levels of seniority and length of service. Choose a facilitator and set aside time to have some in-depth conversations.
The questions that the group must answer are:
Describe your business as if you were describing it to your grandmother. No corporate jargon and no waffle. A pub yes, but what kind of pub?
If you could only have one type of customer for the rest of your business life, who would that be?
Think of all of the possible reasons why customers would use your product or service. List as many as possible, and have a vote on the main reasons.
Take three competitors that are keeping you awake at night. Ask members of your team to pretend that they are in charge of those companies and list all the reasons why they are better than your company – be honest, brutal and factual. You then have the chance at the end of each presentation to say why you are better than the competitor. Four or five unique selling points or competitive advantages should be clear after this exercise.
Take a range of recent magazines (travel, music, gossip, home, food, photography, sport). Pass these out to the group and ask them to find one picture each that encapsulates the personality of your company. Ask people to present their pictures, and words that describe them, to the group. Write up the main personality words and then narrow all the collated words down to four that describe your brand.
Once you have agreed on your brand personality keywords, select supporting words for the main brand personality words. For example, if brave is one of your main brand personality words, it could mean that pioneering, confident and spirited are good supporting words for your tone of voice. This is then how you sound on all communications, from your website to social media posts.
Now pull all of the answers together. Start with a positioning statement such as: "Our role in the life of our customer is …". A generic example could be: "Our role in the life of our customers is to serve a curated range of craft beers and ales, fine wines and high end seasonal dishes using fresh, local ingredients in a warm and friendly environment."
Then weave in what you do, who the customer is, their motivation and how you do it. This should be a tight paragraph that has no waffle in it. It will be packed full of everything that you have discovered over the session.
Finally, take your brand DNA statement and sum it up in two words. Think of this as a shorthand version of your longer brand DNA statement, for everyone in your business to keep in mind at all times.
I would thoroughly recommend spending £14.99 on your brand by buying Winning in Your Own Way by Robert Bean - this will talk you through the importance of brand and how to go about acting like one.
Copyright © 2016 Mark McCulloch, founder and ceo of WE ARE Spectacular.
Do we need it? Will it cost a lot of money? Do we have enough time? These are the questions swirling around the heads of marketers when it comes to marketing automation.
Everyone’s talking about it but there are a lot of things to be unsure about; and that means business owners often end up avoiding marketing automation altogether. But are putting your business at a disadvantage without it?
Marketing automation has been shown to increase sales - even for smaller businesses. It unlocks you from the tedium of managing a sales pipeline by putting a process around it and automating some of the stages. And that can quickly turn more leads into sales.
It can also help you to get more sales from existing customers. Research from Gleanster has found that those using marketing automation see 50% more sales coming from existing customers while those that don’t see only 30%.
Marketing automation also improves your customer service by enabling you to create a consistently great experience for your customers. By using segmentation, automation tools allow you to send targeted messages and give your customers personal attention based on their behaviour and interests.
Email auto-responders offer an easy way into marketing automation. Sending personalised emails to your customers on the right topic at the right time is a great way to activate (or reactivate) them - and automated emails are perfect for this.
You can start off with the simplest of auto-responders - a welcome message that's sent when somebody becomes a new customer. This is a key opportunity to briefly explain what you offer, and signal to new customers what they might like to do next.
You can add further messages as the customer continues on their journey with you. For instance, the "thank you" message after a customer has purchased your product is an obvious next step; and the "keeping in touch" email not long after they’ve first interacted with you can keep customers engaged and encourage a sale.
Marketing automation can unlock new sales opportunities and encourage loyalty from your customers. As a result, it's now an important part of the marketing toolkit for every business, especially as it can save time without costing the earth.
These are just some of the things marketing automation can do for your business. To find out if it’s right for your business and how to get started on a shoestring take a look at our downloadable guide here.
Copyright © 2016 Christina Richardson, co-founder and CMO at Openr, start-up mentor and entrepreneurship speaker and author.