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Six New Year’s resolutions to boost your social media productivity in 2015

January 19, 2015 by Christina Richardson

Six New Year’s resolutions to boost your social media productivity in 2015{{}}Since the New Year is all about fresh starts and resolutions, I want to focus on some social media resolutions that will help you to increase your productivity in 2015.

If you’re not careful, social media can suck up a lot of time; but there are many ways to work smarter, not harder with all things social.

Here are six social media resolutions for 2015:

1. Take the hassle out of posting with automation

By using online tools you can schedule posts for the most convenient time, without having to sit at your computer and physically press the “publish” button. Not only that, social media management tools make it easy to share content in more than one place, and they’re packed with analytics that can help you figure out what’s working for your business.

Both Buffer and Hootsuite offer an easy way to manage your social media engagement. Buffer, for example, helps you find and schedule interesting online content; Hootsuite allows you to manage all your social media accounts in one place.

2. Make a bigger impact with Openr

Sharing is simply huge. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn newsfeeds are all filled with content that people and brands are constantly sharing. But no-one is sharing for the sake of it – whether you are a small business or a global brand, sharing is intended to build credibility, engage and increase an audience.

Now a new free tool called Openr can turn your sharing into a traffic-driving tool.

Before now, if you shared an interesting article from Huffington Post, for example, it wouldn’t allow you to push your own message. At most, a share might increase your credibility by association but that’s about it.

Now tweet about that same article using an Openr link and your followers will see the article you shared, but also your own personal message and a call-to-action driving traffic back to your website.

3. Try to beat the clock

This approach might seem a little low-tech for some people, but the reason it has been around for so long is because it works. You can experiment with different timeframes, but the favoured approach of many is called the Pomodoro Technique — named after the kitchen timer that looks like a tomato.

You can either set a timer on your phone for 25 minutes, or for those who want the “authentic” experience, go out and buy a tradition kitchen timer for your desk. The aim is to get as much done in that 25-minute period as possible, followed by a 5-minute break. You can then repeat the process, or move on to a different task – depending on how successful you were.

4. Reuse old content

You spend hours writing an article or finding interesting articles to share, then you tweet about it once. The time-value equation doesn’t quite add up does it?

There is nothing wrong with sharing the same content more than once – especially on Twitter - because the feed moves on so quickly. But keep in mind that this strategy works best with “evergreen” content. This blog is an example of evergreen content because it doesn’t just have a one-time use, it can be useful over and over again for anyone who finds it.

Your reused content might not be as popular the second, third, or fourth time you share it on social media, but it will still get hits. Over time these can add to a substantial amount of new leads, conversions and paying customers.

5. Share it; outsource it

Going back to my second point, sharing content from other people is a great way to help your customers and build credibility. But sitting on the internet for hours every day trying to find said content is another time sapper. Luckily you can get it done for you. Try sites like Triberr, Swayy and Scoopit as these are all great for finding relevant content fast.

When it comes to actually writing the content, it’s good to weigh up the pros and cons of writing yourself versus having a trusted writer on hand to help. If it takes you a day to write an article, working with a writer who could do it in an hour could pay dividends. It could be someone on staff who can write well or a trusted freelancer who can deliver high-quality work when you need it most.

6. Get rid of dead weight

Some social media platforms just might not be right for your business; so don’t be afraid to turn off a channel that isn’t working for you. What works for one business might not work for yours. Ask yourself whether maintaining seven different social media accounts is the best use of your time.

There are two approaches: Go with your gut, or rely on analytics. Sometimes it’s obvious that a social media account isn’t working, because nobody likes it, nobody comments on your posts, and everything seems to be a one-way conversation. When things aren’t as clear as that, it’s time for some analytics.

So there you have it – a New Year, and a few new ways to make better use of your time when it comes to social media marketing. Of all of these, my favourite is Openr because it can save you time and increase your social media marketing ROI.

Copyright © 2015 Christina Richardson, business marketing specialist, mentor and founder of The Nurture Network. Christina is also co-founder of the Brand Gathering community, helping young businesses to grow by working together.

How to qualify leads in just ten minutes

January 12, 2015 by Shweta Jhajharia

Nearly 80% of leads never result in a sale (MarketingSherpa). So the key is to qualify each lead, quickly and efficiently, so that you can spend time on the ones that are most likely to convert.

The good news is that qualifying leads shouldn't take more than ten minutes.

How to qualify leads in just ten minutes{{}}Minute 1: Start strong, and position yourself correctly. This is a qualifying call; position yourself as the one making the decision.

Minute 2: How did they find out about you, and why are they approaching you at this stage? Context is important; it helps you understand how much they know about you.

Minute 3: Find out if they match your target niche. You want to get a top-level summary of what they do/who they are.

Minute 4: Where is your prospect right now and where do they want to be? What this does is bring to the front of their mind their ultimate goals, and puts you in position to explain the bridge that can get them there.

Minute 5: Help them clarify exactly why it is that they're unable to get there. Here you're trying to understand the issues preventing them from getting to their goal. You can then position yourself as the solution.

Minute 6: Figure out what they hope to get from you. If they're expecting something you are likely to be able to offer, that will make it very easy to pitch to them.

Minute 7: Find out the immediacy. If the problem isn't immediate they probably aren't going to buy. A qualified lead is someone who needs what you have to offer right now.

Minute 8-9: Earn their trust and respect. If you've been listening carefully you should now be able to feed back to them exactly what it is they desire, and what it is that's preventing them from getting there. If you can articulate their problems and desires better than they can, they'll immediately associate the solution with you.

Minute 10: The last minute is for you to close the conversation. By now you should know whether they are qualified or not. If they're qualified, you'll want to explain to them what the next step is in your sales funnel.

If they're not right for you, politely let them know. If you know another business that might be able to help them, refer them onwards – you'll earn a lot of goodwill from both parties.

By qualifying your prospect you have established whether your lead is likely to convert and you’ve primed them – so they are ready to be converted.

Copyright © 2015 Shweta Jhajharia is principal coach and founder of The London Coaching Group.

Why communication is like tennis; and how to do both better

January 05, 2015 by Andy Bounds

Why communication is like tennis; and how to do both better{{}}"Andy, you are rubbish at this."

So said my tennis coach, Vicky, last week.

She wanted to know what was going through my mind every time I hit the ball.

So, she had asked me to shout “good”, “bad”, or “OK” every time I hit it.

Now, I'm not very good at tennis. So, I shouted “good” if I got it over the net and “bad” if I didn't.

But she told me: "Your objective is not just to get it over the net. You’re supposed to hit it where I'm not. You aren't just trying to get it in; you’re trying to win the point."

To be honest, I was a bit embarrassed that I needed this pointing out! In fact, I've since found out that everyone else in the world knew this.

But, as soon as I changed my focus, my game improved ­– almost immediately. I now know what “good” looks like. So I'm aiming for it and often achieving it.

So how does this apply to communication?

Well, if you had to grade each of your communications as “good”, “bad” or “OK”, how would you decide which each was? Would it be whether your communication:

  • covered all the agenda items?
  • finished on time?
  • engaged the audience?
  • had 100% attendance?
  • was better than last week’s?
  • wasn't derailed by detailed discussions about irrelevant issues?

All these are useful, yes. But they aren't the true measure of good communication.

So, here’s my version of Vicky’s advice:

"Your objective is not just to communicate. You’re supposed to trigger actions as a result. You aren't just trying to say things. You’re trying to cause things."

And, once your focus changes to this, like my tennis, your communications will improve – almost immediately. You now know what “good” looks like. So you aim for it. And you will often achieve it.

If I'm being brutally honest, even though I'm focusing on the right things now, Federer could probably still beat me. Probably.

But that’s fine. I'm better than I was. And I always aim for success, not perfection. And, now that I'm focusing on the right thing, I keep improving.

What about you? Will your communications be better today than they were yesterday? Well, if you focus on the right thing – their impact, not their content – you've got a great chance.

Copyright © 2014 Andy Bounds is a 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 here.

Ten things we learned in 2014

December 17, 2014 by Rachel Miller

Ten things we learned in 2014{{}}As 2014 draws to a close, here at Donut HQ we’re getting ready to take a short break. It has certainly been a busy year. Across the five Donut websites we’ve published a wealth of blogs, news, guides and articles – all with one aim, to help small business owners, sole traders and entrepreneurs everywhere.

Our thanks go out to all our brilliant blog writers, our generous expert contributors and our valued sponsors and partners. And we’d also like to say a massive thanks to you all for stopping by on a regular basis, for your comments and feedback and for your support on social media.

We will be bringing you more small business news, views, information and advice in 2015. In the meantime, in case you missed anything, you can catch up on some of the things we have learned this year (below).

Have a great festive break – and check out our guide to work-life balance if you need help switching off! See you in 2015.

Rachel Miller

Editor, Marketing Donut

Ten of the many things we have learned in 2014

Video is king

“Consumers that watch a video of a product are 85% more likely to buy it.”

Five key retail marketing trends in 2014

Website basics are vital

“41% of shoppers abandon an online shopping cart because of hidden charges.”

What makes people buy? Understanding the psychology of the online shopping process

Timing is everything on social media

“Twitter engagement for brands is 17% higher on weekends and click-through rates are generally highest on weekends and midweek on Wednesdays.”

When's the best time to post on social media?

A badly written email can be fatal

Andy Bounds reveals the cautionary tale of a brilliant proposal that failed at the first post because of a poor covering email.

How a simple covering email can backfire

Small firms are missing a trick with mobile

“SMEs in the UK are missing out on up to £77bn in annual revenues as a result of not having mobile-optimised websites.”

Two ways to optimise your website for mobile

Social media can be dangerous

“Online libel cases have doubled in recent years due to the social media explosion, so don’t think that social media is still a grey area in the eyes of the law — it’s really not.”

Could social media get you or your business into trouble?

Customer service counts

“72% of UK customers would ditch their purchase for a competitor if they didn’t get an email reply within one day.”

How shoddy service can wreck your small business

Why “shouting” on social media doesn’t work

“You wouldn’t train your in-store staff to constantly shout out brand messages — apart from looking unprofessional, it would drive people away. So why do brands do this on social media?”

Are you having one-sided conversations on Twitter?

What Einstein can teach us about social media

“Albert Einstein said: ‘Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts’.”

Why Albert Einstein knew a thing or two about measuring social media

Why page loading times matter

“Google considers over 200 factors when ranking a website and one of those that has become more influential is website and page loading times.”

Is your website keeping pace with Google changes? 

Rachel Miller is the editor of Marketing Donut.

Further reading

Ten things you could have learned from the Law Donut in 2014

Ten things you could have learned about business start-ups in 2014

IT Donut: the best of 2014

Ten things you could have learned from the Tax Donut in 2014

Pay-per-click: a cautionary tale

December 15, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Pay-per-click: a cautionary tale{{}}Pay-per-click advertising campaigns can deliver traffic, click-throughs, conversions and ROI. But managing PPC campaigns effectively also calls for patience, expertise and diligence.

Recently, a client of ours learned just how important it is to make sure AdWords campaigns are set up properly.

For weeks on end, they couldn’t figure out why their organic traffic levels had plummeted. In fact, their organic traffic levels decreased by 45% in just two days.

Such a big and sudden drop in traffic levels is usually triggered by a technical glitch but even though we ran every possible technical audit to figure out what had made such a massive impact on website visitor numbers, we found nothing that could have caused such shockwaves.

We were still wracking our brains when our head of digital had a light bulb moment – incorrect Adwords tracking.

Paid search had been classed as organic…

All their paid search had previously been categorised incorrectly as organic traffic until we updated their PLA which fixed the problem.

There are always going to be discrepancies between data in Analytics and Adwords. Analytics is not 100% accurate whereas Adwords is – but they should be relatively on par with one another.

Now that we’ve fixed the problem, the results are accurate. However, the traffic data has been skewed for the year so the business won’t be able to analyse year-on-year stats until April 2015.

Top tips for pay-per-click campaigns

If you decide to run a pay-per-click marketing campaign, it’s well worth seeking expert help to ensure it is all set up correctly. If you are a PPC newbie, here are eight top tips for setting up your campaigns:

  • Carry out detailed keyword research
  • Include keywords in your ad copy to maximise quality score
  • Determine your PPC budget
  • Bid on brand terms
  • Test your ad copy, then test and test again
  • Make sure the landing pages are relevant
  • Get comfortable with the basics before you try advanced features
  • Make sure tracking is enabled correctly!

Copyright © 2014 Lauren Grice, content strategist at web specialists, Bespoke.

New consumer regulations for online businesses at a glance

December 11, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Consumer Regulations Guide for online businesses created by IT & IP Law Firm Waterfront Solicitors LLP who provide expert advice on Commercial Contracts.

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