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Blogging businesses benefit best

January 22, 2010 by James Ainsworth

A new report into the benefits experienced by small and medium businesses with blogs has been conducted by social media research specialists, Hubspot. Having previously released findings that demonstrate blogging businesses experience 55% more visitors to their target website than those who do not, the latest research has shown the overall reach a blogging business can expect through Twitter increases by 79%.

The most impressive statistic for small businesses with blogs is that small businesses that blog, on average have 102% more Twitter followers than those who don't. This highlights the personal relationship and down-to-earth communication a small business can take advantage of over big businesses and businesses that do not make the most of blogging opportunities. The more open and regular your conversation with existing and potential customers, the more likely they are to invest time, an online connection through a follow or subscription and ultimately, financial commitment.

The report, which looked at a dataset from 2,100 Hubspot customers, concludes,

“…businesses of different sizes and service nature can reach more potential customers via Twitter by enriching their Twitter streams with content from their blog.”

A blog alongside your business website is a great way to add that splash of personality and open up your day-to-day business experience with your customers. Everytime you publish a new blog post, tell your Twitter following all about it, you are writing for them as much as for yourself and so you should let people know and join up your online community dots.

The more you engage with your customers and link up your communications through Twitter and blogging, the greater the opportunity you have to be noticed as an expert in your business area and as a small business, you offer personality, understanding and an environment where consumers build-up trust and a relationship with you the company and the products or services you can provide. So, why wouldn’t you want to put your business in the proverbial shop window?

What do you use your blog for? How do you make your blog stand out from the other 126 million?

Is your business plugged in to 2.0?

January 19, 2010 by James Ainsworth

The difference between businesses that survive and those that struggle in 2010 depends on whether or not you are online.

A number of 2010 forecasts, including our own, have pointed towards an increasing dependence in the small firm workplace on the internet. A small business in 2010 must be all things to everyone if it wants to secure customers. Consumer behaviour is driving the need for small businesses to adapt to an increasingly online world.

If you have a physical store you will also want to replicate it as best you can with an online e-commerce solution. Your customers are also likely to want a two-way experience with your online and physical store operation too. For example, if a customer buys a product from your website, they are also going to want the option of returning it in store should the need arise. Also, are you using social media tools to amplify your marketing message and listen to what your customers want?

What Small Business 2.0 can do for your firm, as an event, is bring likeminded and eager small businesses together to share their experiences of trading online. In addition, the line-up of speakers boasts representatives from small businesses that have now graduated to market leaders, as well as our humble MD.

The event takes place in London this Saturday and will consist of a range of workshops, discussions and presentations on how to run every aspect of your online operation.

You may already know, or at least think you know, everything there is about running your website but the day will take you across the spectrum of SEO, Google AdWords and social media to give you the confidence to turn your online operation into a strong profit-making venture.

One of the key features of this event is the low cost and relaxed format that it will take, making it a truly accessible event for small businesses. The Marketing Donut will be attending the event and shall bring all the pertinent thoughts from the day through Twitter and lengthier discussion pieces on the blog.

Track your marketing campaigns with Internet telephony

January 15, 2010 by Peter Gradwell

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol offers businesses the lead when it comes to communications.  It’s a cost-effective, flexible and professional option for businesses that want to benefit from the cutting edge of communication technology.

But can VoIP (or Internet telephony) really help your company improve its marketing? Well, the short answer is yes.  Clearly, the most frequently given reason that people switch to VoIP from traditional calling plans is the amount of money that can be saved.  VoIP uses the Internet to call, which massively reduces your calling costs, especially if you call long distance or overseas.

VoIP offers many more advanced features than regular landlines could ever provide.  Nevertheless despite the technological advantage and the greatly reduced costs, it’s the marketing benefits that must not be so easily overlooked.

When VoIP is used for business, it helps to improve the relationship and communications with your clients.  The VoIP system allows you to easily track and monitor calls and offers a professional front for anyone calling you.  You can create specific numbers and attach them to particular promotions, products or services.  Your staff can answer the phone with this already in mind and offer the caller a specific greeting that’s particularly targeted to the promotion, product or service that’s associated with that particular phone number.

By choosing to use a range of phone numbers for different types of marketing (newspaper ads, emails, website or poster) you’ll be able to tell which campaign is the most successful and tailor your future marketing strategy accordingly.

Using Gradwell’s unique VoIP control panel, you can produce monthly reports showing precise call statistics : how many calls were made to your numbers, which number was used most frequently, how long the call were and more. You can also relate the data to the productivity of your employees for motivational purposes.  Reports can be exported and circulated for analysis in your marketing strategy meetings.

While each of your marketing methods may display a different number, all of the calls can be directly routed to come through to just one desk, one office or a whole call centre.  Furthermore, when someone calls one of your VoIP numbers, a short piece of text can be displayed to your staff  telling them which product, service or promotion the caller is interested in learning about, preparing them for the call.  It really is that simple to improve your marketing efficiency and reporting with VoIP.

Small businesses speak out about the impact of snow

January 08, 2010 by James Ainsworth

Traditionally, we think of the New Year as a time to approach life and work with renewed enthusiasm after a good rest at Christmas. The widespread snowfall in the UK soon put an end to that. As a result of the drop in temperatures and significant snowfall, a week of unsettled working arrangements has ensued. The Federation of Small Business estimates that lost productivity due to the snow could result in losses of at least £1.2bn to UK businesses.

The 40% level of absenteeism has been crippling to some businesses, with closures up to a week long due to an inability to access premises or as a result of the knock-on effect of closed schools and subsequent emergency childcare needs. The Forum of Private Businesses has estimated that staff absenteeism alone could cost UK SMEs £230m.

Some businesses have profited nicely from the weather. Percentage of sale increases in various stores on products such as soup, cooking salt and cat litter have risen 80%, 500% and 55% respectively. Around the corner from our own office (where it’s so cold I’m typing with fingerless gloves on) the local pub has been running an impromptu BBQ stand on the street in order to provide hot food to the public. Only when it snows in the UK can you be guaranteed that the Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker will be able to sell you a sledge.

We asked our Marketing Donut Twitter followers for their input on how this week’s weather had impacted on their small business activities. The responses were mixed and perhaps it is a pointer towards the increasing work-from-home-culture afforded by the Internet, that for some, productivity may even have increased.

  • Photoshoots cancelled or postponed all over the UK as people either can't get there or don't want snow in pix. www.twitter.com/simonapps
  • More buying for the eCommerce web site www.twitter.com/kris_card
  • Worked at home most of week and probably achieved twice as much www.twitter.com/chrish10
  • A filming job cancelled today! As yet not rescheduled... www.twitter.com/Snowlinefilms
  • None... the Internet & phone still working so service not interrupted! www.twitter.com/LucyWhittington
  • For me, a great impact. Difficult getting around for B2B sales. I'm in the downriver area of MI, so snow fall is greater. www.twitter.com/cpcllerret
  • Poor - try working with three kids under 5 at home! www.twitter.com/bwebsites
  • The snow has stopped me from getting to photoshoots this week...not happy! www.twitter.com/STYLISA
  • I had meetings for this morning cancelled, but moved them to phone/Skype and been just as productive. The net saves the day! www.twitter.com/EmilyCagle
  • I find bad weather slows website sales down as people worry about postal service On the upside @ home all day production up www.twitter.com/CharlieMoos
  • 'Impact of snow' postponed meetings & no milk in garage next door (disastrous!) - no deliveries coz of bad rds! www.Twitter.com/SaraJBrown
  • Real pain. Schools/nurseries closed in Harrow so wrkg in between looking after kids, had to stay up to 3am to catch up :( www.twitter.com/VickyVella
  • None really, being dynamic and nimble has meant that I've been able and adapt to deliver and meet clients as planned! www.twitter.com/Harrisment_UK
  • We all found working from home (offices) most productive, esp with the delights of Skype. Given us a right lift this weather. www.twitter.com/JackTheCar
  • The weather has affected us a bit this week, not all of us have been able to make it in - but can access emails at home! www.twitter.com/AztecMarketing
  • None for my small business - that's the power of socialmedia, telephone and a PC! www.twitter.com/coachclaire

Please do add your experiences from this week’s snow disruption.

The appliance of science - using data to drive marketing decisions

January 07, 2010 by Stuart Wheldon

If a business leader asks his sales manager, “Where should I invest to grow the business another 20 per cent next year?” the likely response is, “Give me 20 per cent more headcount.”  If the head of marketing is presented with the same question, a familiar response would be, “Give me 20 per cent more budget for my campaigns.”

But these aren’t necessarily the right solutions for achieving growth. This is where a new strategy comes into play: Revenue Performance Management (RPM). Decisions about how to grow the business should be made by looking at the entire sales funnel — from unknown prospects, right through to closed sale.

Successful companies do not launch new products, open new offices or make new acquisitions without rigorous testing. Yet, historically, sales and marketing have not been subject to the same scientific rigour as other areas of the business.  The fastest-growing companies, however, have a “secret.” They have created a “science of growth” by running a high-performance sales and marketing engine that uses data to drive decision-making.

Having a birds-eye view of the point at which a prospect becomes a lead all the way through to the point where the lead becomes a client allows businesses to better understand their previously least understood cost centre – marketing and sales. RPM helps companies manage interactions with buyers all the way through the purchase process to achieve more predictable, rapid, and profitable revenue growth. In other words, it offers “one view of the truth” so that the management team knows exactly where to invest in order to be successful.

For a company to engage in a successful RPM strategy, it must create seamless connections between all of the tools used to engage with prospects — from social media “listening platforms” to CRM — and create common dashboards that give real-time insights into the performance of the sales funnel.

This information must be actionable. Decision-makers must be armed with live data to know what levers to pull to dramatically change revenue performance — whether that decision is to add new sales reps, increase marketing spend or another investment entirely. The solution will vary from company to company.  But what doesn’t change is the science of success: Revenue Performance Management.

 

Stuart Wheldon is the Senior Director of Customer Success & Strategy at marketing automation specialist, Eloqua.

A curious list of search engine queries

January 06, 2010 by James Ainsworth

Since we launched our small business resource website in April many people have found the Marketing Donut through typing various queries into search engines. When we looked under the bonnet of our website, we found some more curious examples of the search terms people have entered. Either accidentally or intentionally, people found their way to the Marketing Donut by searching the terms from the following list:

  • berlino bear
  • coffin made from banana leaves
  • growing a donut
  • unusual event in a zoo
  • what is
  • "manchester airport unique selling point"
  • Mail shooting customers
  • marketing plan flavoured yoghurt
  • tweet heart
  • typical complaints from customers at the vets
  • "sir richard branson" + hoax
  • marketing drugs
  • Josef Fritzl autobiography wh smith apologizes
  • image consultant for over 35s
  • po box doesn't look professional
  • goth Warwickshire

If you would like to know more about search engine marketing and optimisation, we have some handy resources available.

 

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