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Five ways to create a brilliant blog

April 07, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Five ways to create a brilliant blog/Rubber stamp make Blog word{{}}Do you want a hard-working blog that attracts lots of readers in your sector? Read on:

1. Find your niche

Whether you’re setting out to produce an industry blog or a personal one, you need to make sure it’s on a subject you’re passionate about. It sounds obvious but if you don’t know a lot about the subject you’re blogging on then as a resource it has limited value. As I’m in the B2B PR industry I knew what my peers would find valuable and this insight informed the categories on my blog and it has helped to attract guest posts from some high profile people in the industry.

2. Don’t be afraid to be controversial

Don’t be afraid of putting your opinions forward and exploring topics that conventional industry publications would rather avoid — these topics will more often than not prove to be the most popular with your readership. One of the most popular series we’ve produced was a frank assessment of the state of the UK’s PR industry body, the PRCA. We asked whether it offered smaller agencies good value and whether it was principally a lead generation tool for bigger agencies. The blog received a lot of attention and the PRCA ended up engaging with us online and that debate certainly benefitted our readers.

3. Stay calm and carry on blogging

Launching a blog can be soul destroying. You can go for weeks with very little traffic and it can be hard to gain traction as a newbie in an already competitive industry. If you don’t get the 10,000 readers you were hoping for in your first week, keep at it! Your readership will build gradually over time if you keep producing content that appeals. If you abandon your blog at the first sign that it’s not going to be easy, then expect to fail.

4. Spend a little bit of cash

While you may think the quality of your content will attract industry peers from far and wide, they do have to find it in the first place. The beauty of social PPC campaigns is that you can use networks like Facebook and Twitter to advertise to a specific audience at a very low cost. We spent no more than a few hundred pounds promoting our blog and were able to get it in front of the right audience quickly and cheaply.

5. Develop a basic understanding of SEO

If you want to build an engaged following then you need to understand what your target audience is searching for online. Get familiar with Google’s keyword tool to make sure that the content you’re producing on a regular basis contains the right search terms. Not only does this attract a relevant industry audience but it can also work as a lead generation tool.    

Heather Baker is the managing director of TopLine Communications and editor of the B2B PR Blog.

Why all your staff should be involved in selling

April 03, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Why all your staff should be involved in selling/Teamwork and corporate profit with red statistical{{}}You may have a fabulous sales team but if you don’t encourage the rest of your people to sell and support the sales process, you’re missing a golden opportunity. It’s not just your sales people who should be selling!

Marketing

A good marketing department should directly influence your sales. They should identify new and fruitful markets for you to approach, helping you to find and convert prospective clients. Marketing can also influence product development, helping you to devise pricing strategies and prepare all creative collateral.

Customer service

By listening to customer feedback, your customer service people are in a prime position to identify customer frustrations and turn negatives into positives. What’s more, they can listen out for suggested improvements to products or services based on customer feedback. In addition to influencing sales, your customer services can encourage clients to return if they’ve had a positive customer experience.

Accounts

Indirectly, other departments in your company can also influence sales. Your accounts team can free up your salespeople’s time by chasing up invoices and purchase orders for them. They can also provide salespeople with information on customer spending patterns as well as keeping costs under control so that prices can be competitive.

IT

You may initially think that your IT team can’t boost sales, but key tasks in that department can play an important role in influencing them. Your IT people can Identify and invest in software to support your sales team, such as CRM. They’ll also be responsible for providing the hardware to support the sales team and may be involved in providing reliable remote access so sales teams can work whilst on the road.

Delivery team

Any delivery department will be able to ensure the quality of your product as well as its availability. They can provide a positive experience when liaising with customers and, like the customer service department, they can listen out for suggested improvements. What’s more, if your delivery team isn’t delivering on the sales team’s promises, then you won’t be getting any repeat sales.

So, whilst your sales department may do a fabulous job, they shouldn’t work in isolation. Make explicit the contributions made by other departments, so all your people can appreciate their involvement in the selling process. Selling is an activity that almost everyone can be involved in, and should be involved in.

In the words of Mark Cuban, American businessman and investor, “I still work hard to know my business … and I'm always selling. Always.”

Heather Foley is a consultant at ETS, a UK-based HR technology specialist.

Posted in Sales | Tagged Sales management, sales | 0 comments

No makeup selfies - a lesson in social networking

April 01, 2014 by Guest Blogger

David Berney{{}}The “no makeup selfie” viral fundraising campaign has taken the social networks by storm and raised an incredible £2 million in 48 hours for Cancer Research UK. It demonstrates the incredible power of social media as a fundraising tool.

Social networks and newsfeeds have been inundated with images of thousands of women, all bare-faced, along with the hashtag “nomakeupselfie” and a text number to donate to the charity. It all started last Tuesday when author Laura Lippman posted a picture of her makeup-free face in support of actress Kim Novak who was recently criticised for her looks.

Instant fundraising

Interestingly, the campaign wasn't started by Cancer Research. But the charity was quick and clever in its support of the campaign, which then helped generate significant amounts of awareness. After Cancer Research UK noticed the “nomakeupselfie” trending on Twitter it sent out a tweet saying: "We're loving your #cancerawareness #nomakeupselfie pics! The campaign isn't ours but every £ helps #beatcancersooner." And on its Google+ page it announced: “Thousands of you are posting #cancerawareness #nomakeupselfie pictures and many have asked if the campaign is ours. It's not but we love that people want to get involved!”

It just shows that when a campaign goes viral via social media, messages reach millions of people in minutes. Prior to social networking it wouldn't have been possible for charities to have this kind of impact, without huge advertising spends.

The Institute of Fundraising and Blackbaud reported recently that online giving and digital fundraising is growing rapidly. It accounted for 30% of the total income charities received between January 2010 and December 2012. Moreover, the average online donation increased to £64.07 in 2012, a rise of £11.20 per donation compared to 2010 (£52.87).

A powerful opportunity

Charities and not-for-profits have a huge opportunity via the internet to generate income — free of charge. Digital fundraising platforms can enable charities to diversify and expand their online fundraising capacity, reaching out to far greater number of supporters and allowing them to communicate their messages and campaigns quickly and free of charge.

Social media is fast, powerful and cost effective and when done correctly, it captures people's imagination and enables messages to be shared across a multitude of channels, to family, friends and beyond.

Although many of the bigger charities are jumping on board with online giving and using social media as a key tool, smaller charities need to follow suit. As the “no makeup selfie” shows, a little imagination and creativity can translate into millions of pounds of funding.

In many ways, the internet is made for small charities, as they can use digital fundraising platforms and social networks to reach millions of people — at virtually no cost. Let's hope this campaign provides food for thought and inspiration.

David Berney (pictured) is the CEO and founder of Wishgenie, offering free social media fundraising tools for charities, businesses and individuals.


Attention all small firms - the future of ecommerce is mobile

March 31, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Attention all small firms - the future of ecommerce is mobile/Payments over Internet and mobile devices{{}}Last December, the first Small Business Saturday event was held in the UK. The campaign was designed to encourage shoppers to head to British high streets and family-run businesses and to show support by purchasing goods locally.

Small Business Saturday was a great success but there are many more opportunities for small businesses to reach and engage with new and loyal customers using mobile commerce.

The growth of mobile commerce

Online retailing grew by 16% during 2013, according to the IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index for December. The index noted that this success has mainly been driven by the growing influence of mobile in retail in 2013, with sales via mobile devices increasing 138% from 2012.

Furthermore, a recent survey by Latitude found that more than 75% of shoppers are interested in having digital content, including product recommendations, demo videos and virtual “try on” simulations delivered to their mobile phones while shopping.

Mobile offers

Small businesses can use mobile couponing and offers to bring customer in-store. In fact, the same survey found that 60% of UK smartphone owners are spurred to shop or to make a purchase at least once a week because they’ve received a mobile alert, an email, notification or text message, from a brand or retailer. So the interest and appetite is clear.

The role of mobile in helping small businesses should not be underestimated. Mobile devices have created a huge opportunity for small businesses to engage with their customers through relevant offers, loyalty schemes, store events/updates and ease of payment in-store and online.

More and more small businesses are starting to use loyalty and couponing redemption schemes to attract and retain customers and there is a real opportunity for them to learn more about who their customers are, what their preferences are and eventually what will encourage them to visit the store, all through the use of mobile.

Introducing NFC tags

Furthermore, small businesses can use Near Field Communications (NFC) to help them in day-to-day scenarios. For instance, a small business could use NFC tags to grant employees access to buildings just by tapping their phone on the tag. This also enables small business owners to restrict access to high-value stock rooms and back offices to certain individuals. NFC tags are readily available on Amazon.com and are a good way for small businesses to experiment with mobile technology.

Pierre Combelles is mobile commerce business lead at the GSMA.

15 great tools to get the most out of Twitter

March 27, 2014 by Guest Blogger

15 great tools to get the most out of Twitter/Carpentry tools{{}}Twitter has become an increasingly powerful device for small firms, allowing them to engage with clients, reach a wider audience and spread brand awareness

However, although Twitter is useful on its own, there are a number of tools available to help you get the most from the social networking site. They range from tools allowing you to schedule and track tweets and analyse competitor profiles to apps that can help you increase your followers and manage several accounts.

Here are 15 of the best Twitter tools:

  1. Hootsuite: Ideal for those using multiple Twitter accounts, it allows you to manage a number of accounts, schedule tweets and track brand mentions. You can read our guide to Hootsuite here.
  2. TweetDeck: A Twitter management tool, TweetDeck also gives you the option of organising followers into groups, helpful when creating customised marketing communication.
  3. SocialOomph: This dashboard application allows you to manage accounts and prides itself on being efficient.
  4. Topsy: With a searchable archive of over 450 billion tweets dating back to the beginning of Twitter, this tool offers valuable insight into public opinion.
  5. TweetReach: This tool helps you keep track of how many people saw your tweet and who these people are, making it easier to manage and analyse Twitter campaigns.
  6. Tweroid: By analysing both your and your followers’ tweets this tool helps you determine what the best times to tweet are.
  7. Klout: This tool works out your account’s popularity by giving it a score out of 100; it also gives you the opportunity to view a number of stats relating to your account.
  8. Twitter Counter: Providing statistics on Twitter usage, this application helps you keep track of how your account is performing.
  9. TweetAdder: Helping you increase your follower numbers by up to 50-150 a day, this tool ensures that your tweets reach a wider audience thus increasing brand visibility.
  10. Followerwonk: Perfect for sizing up the competition, Followerwonk enables you to compare and contrast your Twitter account with those of your competitors.
  11. Twitonomy: An analytics app, it allows you to track conversions, clicks and follower growth as well as monitor tweets from other users and perform keyword research.
  12. Buffer: Buffer lets you line up content and then automatically posts it for you throughout the day. Scheduling posts is a great way to keep up your Twitter presence but without the fuss.
  13. Twitalyzer: This application allows you to deep-dive into statistics and presents data in a variety of easy to digest graphs and charts.
  14. Twtrland: This application not only helps to increase your network but it also gives you a greater understanding of other people’s impact on Twitter, useful for looking at competitors.
  15. SocialMention: Allowing you to track and measure what people are saying about a brand, product or company, this app helps give an insight into popular opinion.

Using one or more of these tools could prove extremely beneficial to your small business by giving you a greter insight into followers and competitors and making your Twitter use more efficient and effective.

Matt Russell is writing on behalf of WebHostingBuzz.co.uk.

Five ways to use social media for better customer service

March 26, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Five ways to use social media for better customer service/Social media and networking concept{{}}If you know what you’re doing, social media can be an easy and cost-effective way to improve your customer service, especially for small firms. As your company grows, you need to make sure that you are also developing a loyal customer base. The great thing about social media is that a satisfied customer will recommend your products and services to their family and friends.

If you are unsure how to approach social media, take a look at your competitors to get an idea of how other businesses do it. Then aim to do it better. Here are five tips to help you improve your social media customer service:

1. Start from the inside

The best way to ensure your customer service remains consistent throughout your company and social media platforms is by developing clear company values and social media policies. Ensure your employees are properly trained and that they have the ability to deal with issues as they arise. This way you can guarantee your online presence is consistent.

2. Engage with your customers

By maintaining active social media profiles, you will have a platform on which to connect and interact with your customers. Be a person, not a faceless brand. Your customers want to talk to real people — and this is often where small businesses have the edge over bigger competitors. By really engaging with your customers you can get a better understanding of the people who use your products. Use this to provide a personalised service that will exceed your customers' expectations.

3. Deal with it

If you receive a complaint, make sure that it is dealt with quickly and professionally. When dealing with the customer, be polite. It is important that you genuinely and openly apologise for the error. After this is done, move the conversation to a private message or email. The best way to exceed expectations is to reach a mutual resolution, but provide more than what the customer was expecting. This is your opportunity to turn a customer’s negative experience into a positive one.

4. Act on feedback

Complaints are not only a chance to showcase your customer service skills; they are also an opportunity to learn and develop your products and services. You should encourage your customers to give feedback and take on board any suggestions that they have to offer. You can use this feedback to provide your customers with a product or service that is tailored to their requirements.

5. Become a thought leader

Give advice and share your expertise and experience. Produce interesting and useful content that you can use for your company’s blog. If you do start a blog, make sure that you update it consistently and frequently. Your posts can then be promoted on your social media channels and used to kick-start meaningful conversations.

Sara Parker runs the social media for Face for Business.

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