Read Time: 6 Minutes

 

The current pandemic and associated crisis are understandably causing considerable uncertainty and anxiety. People are struggling with feelings of helplessness and fear, as they try to adjust to the new normal way of life offered by lockdown. 

Of course, the media plays its role in spreading fear and negativity, with selective statistics on infection rates and death tolls, and promoting stories that further a narrative aligned with a Stephen King novel. This combined with the restrictions placed on everyday life and routine, means it can be hard to feel hopeful about the future.

I’d like to pose an alternative view. What if we stopped to look for the positives and opportunities rather than the negatives and fear? We, of course, need to be mindful that there are many who have lost loved ones, have suffered mental ill health or lost businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we should dwell on it. 

I propose an alternative view of tasteful-positivity. Looking for the positives whilst acknowledging the pain of others. Identifying opportunities rather than focusing on the threats. The people that embrace this spirit are the optimistic-adapters that will drive the country, economy and society forward whilst the pessimistic wet-wipes try to hold us back.

In the last two months, we have seen many people reaching out to each other to provide support and reassurance. We’ve seen industries thrive whilst others suffer, and as with any period of adversity, we’ve seen ingenuity defiantly flourish in the face of hardship. 

Of course, what you will largely see in the press is not the positive feel-good stories of community and adaptability, but the defeatist gloom that gets these fear-peddlers the clicks they so desperately want. It’s toxic, and the media could not have got the tone more wrong and misaligned in this crisis. 

Impact on Business

There isn’t one business that hasn’t been affected by coronavirus. Whether it is decreased revenue (or increased!), changes to procedure and systems or the adoption of new technologies to facilitate remote working. 

If you believe in natural selection, which I do, you will understand that as a race we have survived and thrived by our amazing ability to adapt to circumstances and our environment. There is a popular notion, spread by professional naysayers and peddlers of negativity, that we are a cancer or scourge of the Earth, here to eat away at its resources. We are in fact a product of the Earth and the greatest gift we have been given is our stalwart determination and adaptability in the face of adversity and strife.

Those businesses that are viewing the situation with tasteful-positivity and are looking to create or maximise opportunity, without profiteering or exploiting, are examples of our resilience and adaptability and will be the ones that survive and thrive this difficult period. They are the ones that will evolve and overcome. 

These are the businesses that see the current situation as an exciting problem to solve or challenge to overcome, and are getting creative to turn the current situation to their advantage by figuring out new ways to serve and benefit their customers.

I came across a real example of this today. After having a conversation with the owner of a Fish and Chip Shop (diet doesn’t count in lockdown) I was impressed at how after the initial blow of lockdown, he and his team had bounced back and embraced modern channels to reopen, and in fact, have record days in takings during this period. Having been hesitant in the past to use Facebook or provide a ‘click and collect’ service, he saw an opportunity and grabbed it by the proverbials. This is a great example of someone embracing change and using digital in the least likely of traditional industries. He’s kept his business afloat (pun intended) and provided a much-needed service to his hungry customers. It was also a bloody good meal (The Village Fish Bar, highly recommended!) 

Digital Usage

As someone who has studied an MSc in marketing and is currently studying another in psychology, I’m obviously quite interested in behaviour. Particularly consumer digital behaviour.

An expected and understandable change in behaviour in lockdown is the increase in digital usage. As people stay indoors, lack face-to-face social interaction, and try to keep abreast of current developments, they are quite expectedly going to have changed the way they engage with others, find information and entertain themselves.

Recent statistics from Virgin Media show that internet usage is up 100%, a number echoed and in some cases exceeded by other providers across the globe.

In the absence of speaking to work colleagues at lunch, saying hi to that stranger in the street (only in the North of England obviously) or going out with friends for dinner, we seek to stimulate our social and intellectual needs in the digital world, and of course, social media plays a key role in doing so.

I proposed the idea earlier that there was a group of people who adapted to change, were optimistic and operated with a view of tasteful-positivity. I also posited the idea that there were those who thrive off negativity and were doing nothing to adapt to the current climate. 

I stop for a second to ask you, without prejudice or judgement, which category you feel you fit in?

Adapting to Change

The increased usage of digital channels provides an opportunity for the optimistic-adapter, the true entrepreneur. The Jack Russell Terrier of the business world (nature’s eternal optimists).

Your customers are without a doubt online. In 2019, 91% of all adults and 99% of people aged 16 to 44 in the UK had used the internet (ONS). Those individuals are now using it more than ever, more times in a day, for longer periods. 

There has never been a better time to engage your prospective customers online. As other businesses scale down their ad spend, social presence and marketing efforts, they provide you with an opportunity to tap into a captive audience and secure the market share they were too pessimistic to keep. 

Now is the time to engage your existing customers and more crucially, sweep up those customers that your competitors and other providers have abandoned, provide them with excellent value and service, and come out of this crisis with both fists swinging and a raging hard on at how well you’ve done. Not muddle through whilst your business is chipped away at. It’s time to adapt and invest, because we just don’t know how long this will last for and when it will be back (or something similar!).

What if you can’t sell your goods right now because of the crisis? Then get online, start generating awareness, conversations and leads so you can develop relationships for when you are able to! 

There will be a goldrush (or bloodbath) when the market finally makes its return (in whatever industry you operate in) for a short time at least. People will clamber for market share and it’s going to get noisy. 

If you are waiting until then to gain or resecure market share and customers, you have already lost the race. You will be drowned out amongst all the other people who’ve sat back and waited until it was ‘safe’ to engage and invest in their customers and business. The true winners will be those who have initiated and developed relationships throughout this period, have provided value and are already giving proverbial backrubs to the customers you cared about winning 7 weeks ago. 

What if I said you could get in the living room, bedroom and even toilet of your customers on a daily basis (in lockdown too!) with a highly relevant and engaging message? Would that be an interesting or attractive idea? What if I said there had never been a better time to do it? If the audience was captive and open to your messages? Would you think that sounds like a good plan? It is and you can. 

When are you going to do it? Now or when everyone else is?

This article was a long-winded way of saying…now is the time to reach your customers online, not later. An investment in digital now, will pay in dividends…quite literally.

Jack Barron

Director

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Starting his marketing journey at age 15 promoting music events, Jack went on to plan, market and execute his own events before joining the British Army and serving two front-line tours of Helmand Province. Upon returning to ‘civvy street’ he set up Rebel Marketing to provide marketing consultancy services to the events industry. At around the same time, he undertook an Events Management Degree at the University of Central Lancashire, attaining a 1st Class (Hons) Bachelor Degree, before moving to Manchester to work as the digital marketing manager for a city centre agency specialising in financial services marketing, eventually becoming their marketing director.
Whilst there he undertook an MSc in Marketing Communications at Manchester Metropolitan Unversity before reactivating and rebranding Rebel Marketing as Invoke Media in 2015. After moving Invoke Media to his hometown of Preston in 2018 to support the development and growth of the area, he has since started further studies and is due to complete another MSc in Psychology from the University of Central Lancashire.
Jack is passionate about marketing and helping small to medium-sized businesses thrive. His experience working in the fast-moving events industry from a young age, along with a strong drive and discipline fostered by his time on the front line, all contribute to the work ethic and values of the company.

In times of uncertainty, your marketing activity may be the last thing on your mind, but maintaining an active online presence is incredibly important. Now is the time to reassure customers, share positive news and provide company announcements. 

There’s a multitude of things you can be doing to keep your brand/business/organisation front of mind, aside from selling or marketing messages. 

What is Front of Mind Awareness?

First of all, you may be wondering what Front of Mind (FoM) even is. Front of Mind Awareness (also known as Top of Mind Awareness) is defined as the first brand, product or service that comes to mind in a specific category. 

Here’s a quick exercise for you, what’s the first brand that comes to mind when asked the following?

Sofa?

Coffee?

Luxury Cars?

Marketing Agency?

Soft Drink?

I tried this with our marketing assistant Nina and this is what she said:

Sofa? DFS

Coffee? Costa

Luxury car? Ferrari 

Marketing Agency? Invoke Media 

Soft drink? Coke

Chances are many of these answers will be similar, simply because big brands have curated a large mass of relevant and cohesive content, memorable adverts and have spent top dollar on advertising. 

Now, lots of small businesses don’t have multi-million budgets but there are many ways you can stay front of mind with an SME budget and achieve big brand awareness. 

5 Steps to Keep Front of Mind

Be different

Start with what makes you different as a brand. Consider what makes your company special. Is it market niche? High service level? Clearly articulate this message to customers across social media channels and email. If you’re struggling to determine your key USP’s we’d advise on performing a competitor analysis using SWOT as a framework, to learn their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This will clearly help you define who you are as a brand and your key unique selling points. A competitor analysis helps you learn the ins and out of how your competition works, and identify what they’re doing wrong and how you can do it better. We regularly run these for our own business and for our clients, and they’re a great way of keeping on top of the market, and understanding what is working (and isn’t!) for others. 

 

Connect emotionally

This is a huge one for all businesses. By doing something small, it proves to your customers that you genuinely care about them, creates memorability and it resonates with the public. If a social media feed is full of negativity, a positive post really can hit home with many consumers. How you do that will depend on your type of business but here’s one that really struck a chord with us: 

Local Preston restaurant The Silk Route delivered free food to frontline health workers. This small gesture will stick at the forefront of many customer’s minds and they’ll likely order from there again. We know where we’ll be getting our next office takeaway from 🙂 

 Of course, it is essential that you act appropriately and any goodwill gestures are genuine, and from the heart. Your customers aren’t daft and they won’t appreciate it if they think you’re taking advantage of the situation to further your own ends. 

Check with someone and see how it looks from an objective eye. We’re more than happy to help you at no cost if you just need us to look at something and give our opinion.

 

Edgar the Dragon: John Lewis…experts at connecting with their audience emotionally.

Build an email list

Building an email list takes time and a solid strategy, but it’s well worth it to be able to market to your customers and stay front of mind, with one of the most cost-effective digital marketing channels. 

Here are some ways you can build your list: 

  • Offer value-added material on your site or social to capture email addresses (a free recipe, a discount code)
  • Launch a competition on your social media or website
  • Ask your existing contacts and customers if they’d be okay going on your list
  • Put an exit-intent popup on your site

If you’ve already got a loyal following of newsletter subscribers, you’re halfway there. By emailing your subscribers regularly with fresh and relevant content, you’ll stay front-of-mind and ultimately will keep your customers’ engaged. The inbox is one of the most direct ways to connect with audiences, as long as emails are consistent and packed with value. 

 

Use consistent branding

Use any downtime your teams may have currently to re-evaluate your branding. Look at your brand identity as a whole, your website design, the look and feel of your social media channels, the quality of images, infographics. All of these contribute to brand recall. You may have the best product or service out there but if you have branding that isn’t consistent or looks poor, your business may not be front-of-mind. 

One of the key starting points for many businesses is to consult their Style Guide/Brand Guidelines. If you haven’t got one take a look at some fantastic templates. We’ve created two versions for you to look at, see the corporate style HERE or the more modern style HERE.

The Style Guide will act as your bible for all things branding, take the time to re-evaluate your fonts and colour choices. Are there any colour contrasts? Is the header typeface legible? Something as simple as a colour can really impact your brand, according to Forbes Magazine “Color improves brand recognition by up to 80%”. Take note of some of these questions when you are looking at your branding strategy, if you do require any additional help, please contact us and we’d e happy to help.

By having a clearly defined set of brand guidelines you can ensure consistency across your marketing communications and business as a whole. This becomes all the more important when you hire new staff or outsource elements of your marketing to other businesses.

 

Create freebies

Everyone loves a freebie – either a free trial, free download, free eBook or free advice. It’s a great starting point for brands to connect with a consumer on the buyer journey. Once you have their trust there is a much higher likelihood that they will buy from you or re-engage with your services again. Please do ensure that this tactic is part of an overall marketing strategy, to effectively manage your results. 

Will you be trying any of the tips above? If so let us know, it’d be great to hear some success stories. 

As we like to practice what we preach, we will be providing a series of free guides, articles and resources in the Lancashire area, advising on how best to mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on their business. We will be happy to provide you with advice or help in any way that we can assist your business, just get in touch.

 

Kirsty Doyle

Marketing Executive

Invoke Media

01772 921 109

Not on Instagram yet? Been a while since you updated your Facebook page? You’re missing a trick! Social media marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of reaching your audience, as well as building brand loyalty. If you’re serious about providing your customers with the very best possible experience, as well as raising your visibility among your target audience, social media is a must. We’ve put together a few of the points that prove social media is an absolute essential for successful restaurant marketing.

1. Social Proof

Customer feedback and reviews create social proof, building trust in your brand. In fact, reviews are one of the key drivers for decision making when it comes to product purchasing, especially in the hospitality industry. With some sources suggesting that potential customers give online reviews the same weight as a recommendation from a friend, it makes sense to encourage as much public feedback as possible. Encouraging customers to share pictures of your dishes on their social media (especially Instagram), is also a fantastic way to let more people know just what delights are in store when they choose you for their next meal out.

2. Be Part of What’s Going On

From celebrating the seasons and national festivals with your audience to current world events or local news, social media gives you a unique opportunity to tailor what you offer to suit your audience’s needs, mood and expectations. It also provides an excellent chance to raise awareness of what you’ve got on offer and how it might benefit customers. Social media gives you the chance to connect with your audience on a deeper level than business.

3. Interaction & Connection

Few things build brand loyalty as much as interaction, which is precisely what social media marketing for restaurants encourages. From reviews through to comments, competition entries, features to share and more, social media posts provide prime content for your audience to engage with and feel connected to your business.

4. Keep Your Audience Informed

Whether it’s an emergency update to inform customers about an event that may impact on their visit (for example roadworks, refurbishment work, extreme weather or some other incident), a reminder to book early to avoid disappointment or an announcement regarding a time-limited offer, social media is a good way to quickly provide your customers with vital information.

5. Social Media is Cost-Effective

PPC, SEO and similar tactics all require a considerable amount of technical know-how, as well as a significant financial outlay. In contrast, social media is extremely easy to use (the majority of restaurant owners or proprietors will already have social media accounts – business accounts are no different) and also FREE. Although someone needs to put the work in by making regular posts, commenting appropriately and responding to customer feedback, social media for restaurants is an extremely cost-effective option.

Social media for restaurants is a proven way of attracting trade and increasing repeat business. Give it a go and see the benefits enhanced social media engagement can bring. Get in touch with us today on hello@invokemedia.co.uk

 

Jane Newby

Marketing Assistant

Read Time: 6 Minutes

 

The hotel industry is competitive. And, when you’re competing against the likes of Airbnb or major budget hotel chains, it can be hard to attract guests. 

But there are ways that you can make your hotel stand out. Investing in the right marketing strategies can make a huge impact in overcoming the challenges of the competitive market. 

So how do you go about coming up with marketing strategies that will make a difference to your business? 

Here are nine ways that you can market your hotel. 

1. Use Search Engine Optimization 

One of the best ways of attracting attention to your hotel is by making sure your website is at the top of the search engine results pages. 

This means investing in search engine optimization (SEO).  

Use the right keywords, working on your sites page loading speeds, and use local SEO techniques such as getting your hotel listed with Google My Business, amongst many others. You may want to enlist the help of a marketing agency if you aren’t particularly tech/marketing savvy.

Whilst SEO is definitely a strong tactic to pursue, it’s worth noting that it is a slow burner and there are no guarantees that you will achieve the desired ranking. That being said, with the right approach this can be one of the most cost-effective and long-lasting tactics to employ to increase your hotel bookings.

2. Paid Social Media Ads

Social media ads on sites like Facebook and Instagram will let you directly target the types of customers that you want to attract to your hotel. 

Instead of posting an ad online, that is destined to reach a set amount of random people, using targetted ads will allow you to post ads onto the news feeds of people who fit a certain demographic. 

Work out who your ideal customer is, and they target them. You’ll see a much greater return on your marketing spend by using this efficient marketing strategy. 

Paid Social is a great way to cost-effectively reach out to the masses but beware of spending money willy-nilly. Paid social advertisements can be a money pit for the less experienced, especially if they’re blinded by vanity metrics that don’t turn into paying customers! If you’re not an experienced paid social advertisement marketer then we highly suggest speaking to one before starting any campaign.

3. Remarketing 

Do you know how many customers abandon their bookings on your site? And, what makes them leave your site without booking a room? 

Sometimes it’s because the competition offered a better deal, but in other cases, they may have been distracted and forgotten to complete the booking. 

Using the digital footprint left by these customers, it is possible to re-engage them through remarketing. 

Have you ever looked at a pair of shoes online and then been presented with the same pair (or similar) across multiple digital platforms? That’s remarketing/retargeting for you. It’s a great way of sweeping up those people that didn’t convert, those that got distracted and those who just plain forgot to book! Grab them before they land on your competitor’s website.

4. Generate and Nurture Leads

There are several ways of generating hotel leads. You could use social media posts, engage with hotel reviews, post blogs, or get involved in the local community. 

One of the most effective ways we’ve secured leads for customers is through a combination of paid social advertisements and messenger marketing. Running competitions to capture data of those within the target audience or retargeting website visitors who simply forgot to press the ‘book’ button.

The idea is simple…capture their information (with consent) and then develop trust.

Once you have a lead, you need to be able to nurture and foster a level of trust between each other, until they either feel confident enough to part with their money or the time is right for them to book. This may be done by sending emails or by using specific, targeted, dynamic ads on Facebook. 

5. Incentivise Your Customers 

Everyone loves something for free. Whilst you may not be in a position to give away a free stay to everyone that you speak to (you are a business after all!) you could certainly make them feel special with a discount, room upgrade or loyalty scheme.

Give your guests a reason to book with you rather than your competitors, make them feel special and develop a long-lasting relationship.

You may want to give first-time visitors a discount of 10%, or reduced rates for booking a second night. You may want to throw in a bottle of something fizzy upon arrival, or include tickets to a local show…whatever you can think of that has value to your customers.

A caveat…if your hotel is high-end or considered premium, giving incentives might make it appear cheap or damage the brand. That doesn’t mean you can’t still do it though…give them a reason for your incentives such as celebrating your business’s birthday year, helping our specific industries such as emergency services or other key workers. Maybe you want to celebrate a national awareness day or gift newly married couples…maybe all of the above. It doesn’t really matter, the concept is simple. Remove the negative effect of incentives of your brand and shift the purpose of them from being a tool to secure their custom, to you rewarding them for something specific. It’s much more effective and provided it is done right (and tastefully!), it can really help to make your business like more caring and philanthropic.

6. Know Your Peak Booking Seasons

It is essential that you know when your busiest season for people making bookings is. This will allow you to plan your hotel marketing calendar. 

When it comes to peak booking season, you should be increasing your marketing spend to coincide with this. Start placing your ads ahead of the peak. 

Using ad schedules will help you manage your marketing calendar. 

7. Stay in the Front of Your Customers Minds With Email 

There are lots of chances for you to get in touch with your guests via email. If they’re staying with you soon, in addition to the booking confirmation emails, think about sending out emails suggesting places to visit when they’re in town, reminders of what they should pack, or even an update on what the weather forecast is set to be during their stay. 

Once they’ve been and stayed with you, email again and ask for feedback on their visit, then, email them whenever you have an offer that may interest them. 

If you’ve generated leads from marketing campaigns and they’ve never actually stayed with you, it’s great to stay front of mind with these people too!

We all live hectic lifestyles with multiple commitments, people look for quick solutions and the least path of resistance when arranging their plans. By providing them with a simple and timely option to book their hotel, delivered straight to their inbox and sorted in just a few clicks, you dramatically increase your chances against the competition.

It’s worth also noting that people aren’t always ready to make a purchase when they researcgh their options, and in fact, they will likely research multiple options when looking for a hotel (including your competition) by reminding them who you are and positioning yourself as a helpful, caring hotel, you increase the chances that you’re going to be the first people they think of when they are finally ready to book.

*Update. We’ve recently written an article on Front of Mind (FoM) awareness and the impact it can have. Read it HERE.

8. Build Connections With Partner Businesses 

By building up connections with other local businesses, you’ll be able to work together to combine your marketing efforts. 

For example, you could work with local restaurants or bars, or even connect with local tourist attractions or tour businesses. By teaming up together, you’ll be able to offer each other discounts on their services to your visitors, and they would do the same for their customers. 

Remember what we said earlier about incentives? Why not work with local providers to get those incentives for your potential customers (free or at low cost to you), and help support the local economy?

9. Improve Your Website Design 

An attractive website is something that will help bring visitors to your hotel. If visiting your website feels like an experience, this may translate into the idea that a visit to your hotel will be too. 

While you do want to grab the attention of visitors, you will need to make sure that you make sure your website is simple to use and easy to navigate. You need to make it as straightforward as possible for users to book their stay. 

It’s all about user experience…if it loads too slowly, looks unprofessional with lots of spelling mistakes and low-quality images and it isn’t clear how to move around the site…the chances are they’re going to go somewhere else within the first ten seconds.

We’re more than happy to discuss any part of the above blog in relation to your business, without obligation or charge. We believe in adding value long before any commercial conversation or transaction, it’s part of our core values. Please feel free to get in touch and we’d be happy to help you wherever we can. Just email us at: hello@invokemedia.co.uk

 

Jack Barron

Director

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Starting his marketing journey at age 15 promoting music events, Jack went on to plan, market and execute his own events before joining the British Army and serving two front-line tours of Helmand Province. Upon returning to ‘civvy street’ he set up Rebel Marketing to provide marketing consultancy services to the events industry. At around the same time, he undertook an Events Management Degree at the University of Central Lancashire, attaining a 1st Class (Hons) Bachelor Degree, before moving to Manchester to work as the digital marketing manager for a city centre agency specialising in financial services marketing, eventually becoming their marketing director.
Whilst there he undertook an MSc in Marketing Communications at Manchester Metropolitan Unversity before reactivating and rebranding Rebel Marketing as Invoke Media in 2015. After moving Invoke Media to his hometown of Preston in 2018 to support the development and growth of the area, he has since started further studies and is due to complete another MSc in Psychology from the University of Central Lancashire.
Jack is passionate about marketing and helping small to medium-sized businesses thrive. His experience working in the fast-moving events industry from a young age, along with a strong drive and discipline fostered by his time on the front line, all contribute to the work ethic and values of the company.

One of the main benefits of digital marketing in comparison with traditional marketing & media channels is readily available & accurate data on performance.

Many forms of traditional marketing rely heavily on assumptions, presumptions or sample data.

How many customers not only saw, but took action from your last newspaper or magazine advert? How many people screwed up your latest flyer and how many took notice? It’s not impossible to gauge, but it’s certainly very difficult and not very accurate.

The rise of digital mediums provided marketers and business owners alike, with rich actionable data in realtime. It’s an absolute dream for gauging success, tracking return on investment & gaining customer insight.

 

The Benefits

  • Insight into customer behaviour
  • Understand who your customers actually are
  • Track R.O.I. from different campaigns
  • Understand the value of each customer
  • Establish the cost of winning new customers
  • Make informed business decisions

 

The Problem

As digital marketing platforms evolve and become more complex, so too can the data they provide.

It’s very easy to be blinded by science, overwhelmed with insights or just not know which of the thousands of tools out there are best suited for your needs.

Even if you’re an experienced marketer, it can be hard to make sense of the data in front of you. Even more so if you’re the owner or operator of an SME with limited experience in analytics or marketing reporting. 

The Solution

Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and reporting metrics are an important first step. They help you filter out the noise of data overload and concentrate on the information that matters to your business.

Work out what matters to you, whether it’s how people people view your website each month, the number of enquiry forms you receive or calls received from your website; establish the criteria that you’re going to measure your success from.

Once you’ve established what it is you want to track, set the parameters to gauge your success and have filtered out the noise, it’s time to get to it.

Set the time frame that you want to measure your marketing performance from and start reporting! We usually find that monthly report (from the 1st day of the month to the final day of the month) is more than sufficient for most businesses we work with.

 

How To Go About It

If you’re pulling data from different sources you’re going to want to use one common means of storing it, for ease of accessing and comparison. Traditionally we used to use an Excel Spreadsheet, but we’d highly recommend you consider using Google Sheets if you’re a small business.

Not only does this allow you the ability to share an editable document with other members of the team, you’ll be able to create visually appealing charts and graphs to make the data easier to understand and translate.

Include the KPI’s and metrics you established earlier on, and get inputting that data!

 

Finally

Inputting your marketing metrics can be time consuming but it’s an important part of any marketing campaign or overall strategy.

If you don’t know how well (or badly!) you’re doing, you can’t test, adjust and pivot accordingly. How will you know if your Google Ads are worth the money you’re investing, or whether the time spent on writing your blogs is having a positive effect?

We’ve included monthly reporting as one of the key services in our marketing support packages for small businesses.

We’ll provide you with a monthly marketing report that brings together all of the data from across your marketing channels and put it into a visually appealing, easy to understand report so you can measure the R.O.I. of your financial and time investment.

For those that don’t want all of the benefits that our marketing support packages offer, we also offer the monthly reporting as a separate low-cost service for SME’s! Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

 

Jack Barron

Managing Director – Invoke Media

 

You’re sat in your office when the phone rings. On the other end, a salesperson from a marketing firm is asking you whether your small business has a SEO strategy, and, if not, would you like one? For those on the outside, SEO can be a bit of a daunting subject, filled with unknown factors. This article hopes to shed some light on the subject, meaning that when you decide on how you’re going to approach your SEO strategy, you’ll be empowered to make a much more informed decision.

 

What is SEO?

 

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. In it’s purest form, SEO is the process in which a website improves its ranking on a search engine, such as Google. If you’re searching a specific term on a search engine, the likelihood is that you’ll probably check the results in the order that they come up. Improving your ranking on a search engine means that you’re more likely to be clicked on, and hence your website gets more views.

 

How does this help me?

 

Whether you’re a small business or a large one, bringing extra traffic to your site is never a bad thing. Extra traffic means more people seeing your message, product or service which, provided that your website is up to scratch, can easily convert to more sales. This means that good SEO can actively assist in boosting your sales, so it’s definitely worth investing in. In order to gain as much traffic as you can, it’s important to keep on top of your SEO to improve your ranking.

 

What does SEO consist of?

 

Search Engine optimisation consists of multiple factors which all combine to give you a great ranking on a search engine. We’ll cover this section in more detail in a later blog, however, general guidelines to follow are to put as much time in making sure your website consists of the highest quality content and site structure and has high quality links pointing at it. If we use Google as an example, one of the ways in which it judges pages is through analysing the content on there, however, it will also judge your page by the links on it as well as its pagerank, something we’ll also discuss in a later blog.

 

Too long; didn’t read

 

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of achieving a good rank on a search engine which increases traffic. SEO is done by high quality content and site structure, as well as good link building. Over the next couple of blogs, we’ll be diving into the world of SEO and explaining some of its core principles and how it can help you, whether you’re a freelancer, small business, or big firm.

The importance of being organic (in your SEO!)

 

Whenever I’m asked about the best way for businesses to reach that coveted number 1 spot in Google, my answer is always the same: Organically. Stating that as a one word answer often receives rather confused looks, so I usually have to explain myself.

 

Organic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about building your website’s search rankings up. Major search engines do not let you pay for high rankings in the organic sections as they use complex algorithms for a better user experience. Generally, the process is longer but a lot more effective in the long run. It’s all good paying a fair amount to get your business to the first page, but if it’s not going to stay there, what’s the point?

 

As a test, I want you to think about the last time you actually made it to the second page on Google when you were looking for something. After doing some research on this myself, I can say that, if you answered somewhere in the region of “never” to “maybe once when I was desperate” then you aren’t alone. A lot of sites reckon that on average, between 80-90% of us don’t. That’s a lot of potential traffic that you aren’t getting to your site. More traffic means more potential to convert.

 

“But I’m using Adwords!” You might answer; “I’m already on the first page of Google, why do I need to build my site up organically as well?” It’s simple really. Adwords is a great tool for marketing your site, but it only goes so far. There are over 10,000,000 users of the top two ad blocking apps on the google extension store for Chrome. With this in mind, do you think that your advert, now blocked from being viewed, is being as effective as one that isn’t blocked? In short, Adwords is a great short term solution if you want to boost traffic but building your search ranking up organically will mean that your site can be viewed by all those searching for your keywords with that pesky ad blocker installed.

 

For the small business owner, Adwords is a great way to target traffic while you’re building up your site organically so please don’t think this is an article warning you against using Adwords. The best approach is a balanced strategy focusing on both Adwords and organic SEO in order to maximise the traffic that your site should be getting.

 

 

NB.

Organic SEO is important for your site in the long run but don’t underestimate Adwords as a balanced approach is the most effective strategy for your site to perform well in the long term.

If you own a big or small business that’s been around for more than 5 minutes, the likelihood is that calls about your SEO are rivalling the number you get about reclaiming your PPI. While you appreciate that optimising your site to increase your traffic is probably a good idea, you’ve heard so many horror stories about different digital marketing companies, that you’re not overly sure where to go for it. It’s dangerous to go alone, here take these questions.

 

  1. Do you guarantee results? 

    Believe it or not, the answer you really want is no. As soon as you hear the words: “We can guarantee you ___ many ranking keywords in the first 6 months.” You should give up on them immediately. SEO, by its nature, can be very unpredictable and any digital marketing company worth its salt should happily admit that.Using Google as an example, the only way to guarantee results would be to know the algorithm that they use. Seeing as only a select few senior staff at Google actually know it (and understand it!), it’s very unlikely that the digital marketing company you’re talking to, has access to that sort of information.

 

On top of this, if they are still insisting that it will be very easy to get you ranking on keywords that they’ve given you, this probably means that these are very low competition keywords that will have little or no affect on your traffic numbers.

 

Overall, a good SEO agency will have a solid short, mid, and long term strategy that can be implemented for your website. Make sure that you establish this before signing on the dotted line.

  1. What are you charging? 

    While this seems like a pretty basic question to ask, it’s actually quite important. Finding out what and how a SEO company charges actually says a lot about the company. The key aim here is to find a company that is the best value for money. In the most cases, this will be going for a company at the top or just above your budget.

Why? It all comes down to the industry itself. Being such a vast and changing industry, there will always be someone who can do it cheaper for you. In his blog, Digital marketer Andrew Doyle pointed to this Australian forum which shows what can happen to people who go for cut rate agencies. You want a company that knows what they’re doing the first time round. Usually this may mean spending a little more, but ultimately, if stops you from being sent to SEO hell when Google rolls out a new update, it’ll be money well spent.

Another part of choosing your digital marketing agency is how they charge you. Some companies do an hourly rate, some charge you monthly/yearly, some even charge by results, what you chose will depend on your financial situation and the sort of work that you want to company to be undertaking. An example of this is that, if you’re only looking for the odd thing every now and again, an hourly rate may be cheaper for you in the long run, whereas, if you’re looking for more regular maintenance on your site, a monthly/yearly payment might be more suited.

 

 

  1. How will you show me results? 

    While results are never guaranteed in the digital marketing, tracking progress is something that all reputable firms should be able to do for you. Ask them for reports on a regular basis and you should be able to see the work they are putting in and the results it is getting. It’s important to remember that results may not happen straight away and it may take a while for things to fully kick in, but, in the meantime, a digital marketing agency should be able to give you reports on at least some of the following:

 

  • Changes in your keyword rankings
  • Changes in your search visibility
  • Any improvement or otherwise on your domain rank.
  • How much you’re being charged per click
  • Your bounce rates
  • Your click through rates

 

Overall, be savvy. Do your research around the company. Don’t be afraid to ask their sales team questions, it’s their job! It’s always worth getting it right the first time rather than having a cheap company ruin your chances of not ranking. Whether you’re just after advice on PPC or a full blown SEO campaign, asking these questions will assist you in choosing the right agency for you.