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How to Fix 3 Common Online Marketing Mistakes

“We tried blogging,” my friend Pete said to me recently. “It didn’t work.”

Ann Handley

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Pete, who owns a seafood shop not far from the small town where I live, was referring to the WordPress blog he and his partners had started to provide information about specials and promotions. But, according to Pete, nobody visits the blog or comments on their posts. It drives no measurable awareness, traffic or sales.

Can you relate? Do you get zero online traffic? Or maybe you have different marketing challenges: Perhaps you have traffic but aren’t converting those leads into paying customers. And when it comes to social media, maybe you feel like there’s no point, because it seems as if you’re broadcasting into a black hole.

Take a deep breath: You’re not alone. Here are three common mistakes marketers make – and how to fix them.

Mistake No. 1: Expecting a blog to effortlessly generate traffic and awareness.

It’s true, blogs can and should do this (as well as help with search rankings). But it doesn’t happen magically; it takes more than a template, some filler text and a sprinkle of pixie dust. For a relevant, sustainable blog, your posts should address who you are and who your audience is, and they should effectively communicate these things in specific ways.

First: What are you all about? What makes you special? What’s the real value of what you offer? Your value as a business lies not in what you sell but in the bigger picture of what you are able to do for others. An artisan of hand-carved bookmarks sells, well, bookmarks. But what he really sells is the pleasure of the page – the joy of reading and discovery.

Second: Who do you want to reach? Have you created an ideal buyer in your mind’s eye and communicated this throughout your organisation? (Marketers call this “developing buyer personas.”) Do you understand your buyers’ needs and wants?

Are you creating interesting, relevant, useful content for them – teaching them things, solving their problems – rather than just talking about yourself? Keep in mind that blogging isn’t a one-and-done exercise; it’s an ongoing commitment, so invest the time to let it take root and grow.

Third: Consider how you are getting your message across. Is your blog full of big chunks of unwieldy text? Or are you writing snappy pieces with images, videos and audio to tell your story with personality, empathy and utility?

Do you see your blog as merely a task? Or do you see it for what it is: an inherently rich opportunity to connect with customers in exciting and unprecedented ways? (Hint: It should be the latter.)

Real-world application: Instead of talking up specials and promotions, my friend Pete might want to use his blog to share seasonal recipes, cookbook reviews or behind-the-scenes views of the docks where he gets his fish.

He could share his thoughts on the benefits of buying local or his perspective on sustainable fishing. He could organise a book signing and a tasting that involves a favourite cookbook author and post photos of the event online.

Any of these ideas would tell a broader story that customers can find value in – a story of community, sustainability and responsibility. He wouldn’t be talking up his brand so much as sharing what his brand stands for – and giving customers a compelling reason to patronise his shop. Local Cape Cod oysters? Get in ma belly!

Related: 5 Need-to-Know Social Media Rules

Mistake No. 2: Thinking social media is a black hole.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn can suck up a lot of time for little return. The efforts of many businesses fall scattershot, wasted and unmeasurable.

Your social media efforts should be intelligent and strategic, not haphazard.

First: Identify specific goals. Do you want to grow brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website and generate sales? Grow your e-mail list?

Next: Identify which channels will make the best use of your time based on where your customers are, as well as your own inclinations. (How do you know where your customers are? Ask them!)

Focus on connecting with certain groups of people based on their stated interests and social activity. Identify influencers within your industry and communicate with them. Use social channels to listen and engage, rather than broadcast.

(Pro tip: That listening thing is a vastly underrated use of social media for customer intelligence. Social networks are great places to mine for information about what people care about and what truly gets them excited and talking.)

Measure your efforts according to your stated goals. Pay attention to what’s working and adapt accordingly. How do you know what’s working? At a minimum, monitor your web traffic and Google Analytics.

Additionally, use automation tools that can manage how you are engaging with customers across various channels, and track their behaviour to understand the likelihood of a purchase.

Real-world application: For Pete, certain social channels might make more sense for his business than others. Perhaps he could shoot an early-morning video at the docks and post it to Facebook as a means of talking about where our food comes from.

He could even start an #uglyfish contest through Instagram and Pinterest; with his analytics and other intelligence, he might find that his Pinterest “Ugly but tasty fish” board is generating high traffic to his website. Hooray – monkfish for all!

Related: Branson on Being Social Media Savvy

Mistake No. 3: You’ve got plenty of traffic, but no customers.

Your target audience knows and loves you. People are connecting with your message. So why aren’t they buying?

The key is to create a path to conversion for people who are already on your site. Make sure each page is optimised for getting visitors more deeply involved with your content or your business by embedding relevant (and focused!) calls to action.

Don’t leave visitors hanging after a post, article or page – make it clear what you want them to do next.

Real-world application: If Pete really wants to build a database of customers, each page of his blog or site should include a call to action, such as a newsletter sign-up or an opportunity to download an e-book of recipes.

He should embed those calls in three distinct locations: immediately under the header, after a post and on the sidebar. And each should link to a specific landing page that makes it crystal clear what the value is for the customer.

Fiery fish tacos with crunchy corn salsa to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Sign me up!

Ann Handley is a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Ann is co-author of the best-selling Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (Wiley); the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs; a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine; a keynote speaker, mom, and writer.

Online Marketing

How To Create The Best Small Business Website: 5 Easy And Effective Steps

Check the steps below and get ready to create a successful small business website.

Ethan Dunwill

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It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. If you don’t have online presence, it will become difficult to obtain the results you expect. Your target audience is using the internet nowadays for almost anything. So, if you want to attract more customers and build your brand reputation, you need to build a website. This is how you will be able to expand your business in an easy and not so expensive way.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be a savvy web developer to create a basic website and let the others know about you. Web development and design software have evolved a lot and now you can use several website builders to develop a functional site. You will have plenty of templates to choose from to increase your business’ visibility.

Check the steps below and get ready to create a successful small business website.

Easy and Effective Steps to Create a Website for Your Business

1. What is the purpose of your website?

It doesn’t matter if you develop a simple or a more complex website. Before you start working on anything related to your website, you should start with saying what your company does. Your customers need to understand from the first minute they access your homepage what is your mission and vision. They don’t have too much time to invest when they enter on a website. So, you can make their journey smoother by telling them from the beginning about you. In case you are not so talented at writing, you can use writing companies like RewardedEssays or SupremeDissertations to give you a hand.

Related: 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Website For Your Business

2. Choose a domain name and a web host

Even though many think they shouldn’t focus too much on it, the domain name is an important feature of your website. You will use the URL to promote your business to existing and future clients. So, this means that your domain name should be explicit and talk about your business to anyone who wants to find more about you. A domain name should be short, clear, without acronyms or numbers. What is more, you shouldn’t forget to check if your domain name isn’t already taken by someone else.

Apart from a domain name, your website will also need a server where all your data is stored. When you own a small business, creating your own web host will represent a serious financial effort. So, it would be more cost-wise to choose an external host.

As your business grows, you can choose a different host, or you can ask several providers to work on a personalised solution.

3. Build your website’s pages

website-pages-build

You will need more than a homepage to create a good website. If you want your customers to understand that you are a professional in what you do, you will create several pages dedicated to different elements of your business. For example, you can include a catalog with your products or a blog.

Natalie Andersen, CEO of GetGoodGrade mentions that “It is obligatory that apart from the homepage, a website should have at least a page with the products’ catalog and a Contact Us page.”

Below you can find a list with the minimum number of pages a professional website should have:

  • Homepage – here you will include details about your business, making sure that you also talk about your mission and vision.
  • List of products and services – your customers need to know what are the products and services you offer. This will help them decide whether you can answer their questions and provide a solution to their problems.
  • About Us – “About Us page is the place where you talk about your story. Your target audience wants to know more about yourself. This is how you will create a connection with your customers and let them know more about you”, says James Daily, Head of content department at FlashEssay.
  • Contact Us – it should include your address, email, phone number and working hours. You can also include the links for your social media profiles.

Furthermore, if you want to achieve an international presence, you can also use the translation services offered by IsAccurate. Thus, you will be able to address your message to a wider group of people and expand your business on new markets.

Related: How To Secure Your SME Website

4. Test if your website works properly

Christopher K. Mercer, CEO of Citatior recommends that “before you launch a website, you should first test whether it works. You cannot tell your future customers about your website without knowing for sure that it will work without problems once you launch it”. Therefore, you should click on each page and check whether it has any errors. You still have time to fix something if necessary.

Once you have launched your website and something goes wrong, it will become more difficult to do any change. Plus, always remember that the first impression matters. So, you need to be perfect in the eyes of your customers.

5. Maintain your website

After you launched your website, this doesn’t mean that your work is done. You will need to keep your customers engaged and curious about your business. Therefore, updating the products’ catalog constantly or producing content for your blog will keep your audience informed about what you can offer and the latest trends in the industry. Plus, you should also check if your website is up to date with the latest add-ons. If you don’t know how to produce new content for your website or you feel that you are not talented enough, you can collaborate with HotEssayService or RatedByStudents for professional writing services.

It shouldn’t be complicated to create a website for your small business. As long as you keep a clear structure and create a story around your business, you don’t have anything to worry about. It is very important to understand that a website is very important for your business visibility. Thus, you should put all your efforts into it.

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Online Marketing

How To Choose The Right Digital Agency

The need for specialised digital marketing has inspired an increase in digital agencies and the hunt for the right digital agency is on.

Darren Mansour

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Finding a digital partner is crucial. Many business leaders find digital marketing challenging as they are spread thin when taking on their own digital marketing efforts, resulting in half-baked digital campaigns that can often do more harm than good. The need for specialised digital marketing has inspired an increase in digital agencies and the hunt for the right digital agency is on.

So, how do you choose the right agency?

1. Understand Your Needs & Budget

The better you are able to establish your digital marketing needs the better the conversation will be with potential agencies. Consider your website, SEO, advertising, social, and design needs in order to understand the costs involved.

Set and lock down your budget accordingly. It is important to remember that there is no set price, but, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. A great digital marketing specialist will be able to work with reasonable expectations and within a reasonable budget.

Related: Crisis Management In A Digital Age

2. Demand Transparency

A lack of transparency is an immediate red flag. First, take a look at the agency’s website. If location, about me and profiles, client and agency lists, and testimonials are nowhere to be seen, then move on. If it looks like something is being hidden, it more than likely is.

Be wary of big promises on delivery, at the most affordable rate, as it is not always the best option as a large amount of new clients choose agencies with little to no experience. Full transparency should be top of your list when it comes to partnering with the right digital agency.

3. The Importance of Credibility

How credible is the agency you’re looking at and what kind of experience do they have under the belt? Dig a little deeper and read through online reviews and client testimonials. Ask yourself if it all seems authentic. If there are no client references on their website and Linkedin, ask for them.

If the agency allows contact with clients where it didn’t go too well it should be perceived as positive. There is no such thing as perfection and it shows transparency while adding to credibility. Consider the agency’s website and how well it appears in search results. Look at the agency social pages to get more insight into what you can expect.

Related: Is Your Content Golden Enough?

4. Implement The Beer Test

The connection between the business and it’s creative team needs to be based on more than the marketing of a brand. Do the beer test by inviting the key players from both sides around a table for coffee, tea, a drink, or a meal, and test to see if you can work together.

It helps when the people who work together can get on with the work and each other. Choose an agency who is aligned with your brand, persona, and availability. A brilliant business partnership goes beyond the company. In business today, it is a totally acceptable concept to buy into people. Great working relationships contribute towards producing outstanding results.

Get in touch with So Interactive to set a beer test and discuss your digital needs.

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Online Marketing

Creating Power Digital Campaigns

Here are some general guidelines on how to create a digital marketing campaign that has a real impact on your bottom line.

Darren Mansour

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Innovative ideas work only if there is a plan in place. In order to grow your brand and your industry it is important your planning focuses largely online, since digital campaigns provide valuable data, feedback and results that can help you stay agile, thinking ahead, and reactive in an increasingly volatile market space. Here are some general guidelines on how to create a digital marketing campaign that has a real impact on your bottom line.

Establish Your Mission

Define your overall business and marketing objectives. Your digital marketing mission needs to fit into your grand plan and business strategy. What are the goals you want to achieve through your digital marketing efforts? This is your mission.

Analyse Your Past & Learn From Mistakes

You shouldn’t go into the planning phase with your eyes closed. Do your homework. Analyse your digital marketing strategies, your past successes, and your failures in order to focus on setting reasonable KIPs. Set a time period you would like to look at, it is often best to make it the same length of time as the campaign you are planning. Establish if you are going to analyse a 12 months period, the previous year, a quarter, or any given month in the past year. This data is all priceless.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

Know Who You Are Talking To

Determine your target market, personas, and audience. You need to put your audience at the heart of your marketing strategy and campaigns. Once you’ve identified personas, focus on their emotional needs and strive to satisfy specific desires. Develop accurate personas by considering demographics and consumer market research.

Ask yourself what the problems are that you can help your target persona solve. Establish the emotional desires, goals, likes, dislikes, and what resonates with your target persona. When you have your target persona down it is the best time to identify your influencers.

Know Your Budget

It is crucial that you define your digital marketing budget based on your strategy. Establish your paid, unpaid, and earned digital media. Allocate a reasonable portion of your budget to the specific digital channel you want to use. If needed, be prepared to make changes while your campaign is running and rolling out. Should a particular element of your paid marketing underperform, revisit your strategy and budget, then reallocate that budget to the channel or channels that are bringing you the results you need.

Establish Your Channels

Determine which of the digital marketing channels you are going to use and which are most suitable to reach your desired target audience. Clearly establish what the digital channels you choose to use are trying to achieve, and the overall benefits of using each of them. Ensure you have at least one KPI attached to each of your digital channels.

Related: Dylan Kohlstädt Of Shift One Marketing Weighs In On Digital Marketing For Start-Ups

Plan To Be Flexible

Off the bat, no plan is perfect. Not every prediction is going to be spot on. And, although you have taken all the steps in the right direction by putting together a plan that is based on measurable data, results, insights, and analytics, you won’t know exactly how consumers will react, behave, and respond to your campaigns. It is essential that you monitor progress of all your campaigns and continually measure your performance, so that you can you can be flexible enough to adapt and change your marketing plan as and when need be.

Use a Digital Marketing Calendar

Take the time to highlight the key campaigns in your strategy, see which digital elements work well together, and allocate timeframes. Google calendars and spreadsheets are a great way to create timelines, share accurate production schedules, distribute information quickly, and effectively back up documents and data. Google docs allows you to share planning and scheduling with your team and make edits if necessary.

Read The Data & Measure Results

Read past reporting, analytics, insights, data, and statistics, when strategising, changing, and planning campaigns. Keep a record and create reports during and following each campaign. Create a measurement and monitoring plan aligned with your KPIs. Add required information as you need it and make changes when it is in the best interest of the brand and bottom line. Measure the success of your individual digital marketing elements, identify what is not working and what requires change. Create clearly defined KPIs.

Your Creative is Everything

Your creative is your brand voice, and it is vital that you are always on top form. Content being king is that marketing phrase that just always rings true. What you say, how you say it, and who you say it to forms an important part of how you market your brand, it’s a vital step in the process of creating powerful digital campaigns. Quality digital content is both affordable and when managed properly it’s completely priceless.

Get The Professionals Onboard

So Interactive is a leading digital agency based in Johannesburg. Get in touch to create powerful digital campaigns that push your brand forward.

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