Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Buying email lists? 3 critical factors

Email marketing
Discover how to avoid common pitfalls when buying email lists

In recent years, email marketing has grown, especially int he B2B sector. As a result, buying email lists has become a popular marketing strategy for start-ups and large corporations, due to its ability to equip companies with a vast network of prospective consumers to whom they can promote their products and services. If you have been considering investing in email lists to further expand your company’s email and digital marketing, read our top three tips on how to avoid the common pitfalls associated with buying email lists.

1. Do not settle for generic mailing addresses

It is crucial that you verify you are being sold legitimate email addresses which contain the full name of the email recipient and their direct mail address before you commit to purchasing an email list. If you fail to do so, you may find that you have been sold multiple email addresses which all lead back to the same person, or that you have bought multiple email addresses for family members who all live within the same household. By exercising caution and scrutinising the email lists you intend to buy, you can ensure you are equipped with viable contact information through which to secure future sales for your company.

2. Always ask for opt-in records

With the growing legislation in email and permission marketing, you should make sure you buy email lists which contain contacts who will actually want to read your company’s emails rather than simply reporting them as spam. Less reputable ocmpanies harvest names from websites. Basically they scan the web, harvest email addresses and sell them. There is no permission to contact these people. It’s why several companies add their email addresses as images, or add spaces between the name, the @ and the company domain name.

Fortunately, you can protect yourself from this common email list pitfall by securing opt-in records of the recipients within your email lists. These records will prove that the email recipients in question have provided explicit permission to be added to a mailing list; which will in turn substantially increase the likelihood of these contacts responding positively to your company’s online marketing correspondence.

NB If a company cannot provide opt-in records, go elsewhere!

3. Acquire relevant contacts

One of the major pitfalls committed when buying email lists is that companies purchase large mailing lists which contain the contact information of many recipients, most of whom will not be interested in your company’s products or services.

As a result, it is paramount to the success of your email marketing strategies that you acquire email lists which comprise of consumers whose age, gender, location and interests are within your key consumer demographic. By doing so, you can create emails which will appeal to their buying interests and present them with content which is relevant to their individual circumstances. This simple yet highly effective digital marketing strategy can substantially increase the likelihood of these mailing lists delivering profitable leads for your business!

Can you recommend a good email list provider? Please do tell us!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

How car manufacturers use social media

Car manufacturer BMW FB

Discover the 3 rules of how car manufacturers use social media.

With the latest car scandal about VW on emissions, today’s consumers view their cars as expressions of their personalities. It is unsurprising that car manufacturers use social media as an important marketing platform. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are platforms on which people express themselves and which they use to stay informed about things that are relevant to their lifestyle. By utilising social media, car manufacturers can associate their vehicles with media-users’ lifestyles, which endows their brands with an identity that seems relevant to their prospective buyers. The truth is that social media marketing is a vital part of any car manufacturer’s digital marketing strategy.

Rule # 1 Car manufacturers can garner positive attention simply by maintaining a stylish social media presence

For example, each of BMW’s Facebook posts attracts an average of 25,000 likes. They also have a fan page that has over 19 million likes. Just by giving their well-respected brand a presence on social media, BMW have been able to create positive buzz. Social media users feel that BMW’s posts connect with them because the company reflects their lifestyle choices. Ergo, the brand is able to maintain a high level of popularity.

Rule #2 Car manufacturers create interactive campaigns

However, many car manufacturers take their use of social media one step further: they create campaigns that actively encourage participation from consumers and social media users. Cars are technical, practical products. They are also expensive. As such, car manufacturers’ brands can sometimes seem a little remote. By engaging with their customers directly, car manufacturers can humanise their brands and make themselves more accessible to ordinary consumers. This makes it easier for them to elicit an emotional response from these consumers and associate their brand identities with particular lifestyles.

A brilliant example of this was Mini’s 2014 ‘NOT NORMAL’ campaign. The manufacturer asked social media users to upload videos and images to sites like Twitter and Tumblr using the hashtag ‘#MININOTNORMAL’: they then selected the best videos and images to use as part of their marketing campaign. This successfully broke down the barrier between company and customer and allowed Mini to recruit over 30,000 new followers while helping cultivate a fun, irreverent image for their brand.

car manufacturer mini not normal social media campaign

#Rule 3 Car manufacturers use social media for customer engagement

Of course, car manufacturers don’t just use social media for big, set-piece marketing campaigns, they also use it to engage with consumers on a day-to-day basis by answering questions, inviting feedback and hosting discussions. All of these small actions are vital to humanising their brands and making them relatable to ordinary consumers.

Social media is a unique marketing platform that allows automotive manufacturers to engage with their customers in creative ways on an unprecedented scale. Car manufacturers have embraced its power and recognise that social media is a vital component of any digital marketing strategy.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

7 useful Social Media Tools

IFTTT social media tool

Too busy to tweet, post and update? You need these useful social media tools.

The world of social media marketing is a complex minefield that can engulf significant amounts of time without careful planning. To manage the process there are some tools you should know about.These tools will help manage your social media effort, save you time and, in the long run, money.

1. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of the longest establish tools on social media. This is the social media tool to get first, thanks to its wide range of uses, affordable pricing structure and accessibility. Hootsuite is invaluable for measuring the success of your social media campaigns, checking brand mentions and managing your posts. You can start for free, but the Pro version starts from just £6.99 a month which allows you to add more social media networks and a team member.

2. Buffer

If you keep forgetting to send out tweets then Buffer could be the answer. Use it to schedule your social media posts at the start of the day and @Buffer will take care of the rest, spacing out your Facebook posts, tweets and more during the course of the day so they look active and also have a better chance of catching everybody’s attention, as different people are active at different times.

It also allows you to schedule evergreen content in advance, so if you know you’ll be at an exhibition or conference and without much time to update Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, you can prepare and schedule key content blocks.


It’s a strange name that stands for IF This Then That. It blends seamlessly with both Buffer and Hootsuite and links your accounts and sends out a tweet when you enter a blog post, or posts a link of Facebook when you post on LinkedIn.

It can even send you an email every time one of your favourite sources of retweets posts something new, so it takes a lot of the repetitive work and research off your hands. IFTTT is based on a series of recipes. You can create your own recipes, you can use other peoples and it’s a free tool. Here are some examples of recipes others have created:
IFTTT recipe examples

4. Tweetdeck

All the serious Twitter users have Tweetdeck on their desktop or, increasingly, their phone. Now owned by Twitter, Tweetdeck organises one or more Twitter accounts and puts all the conversations in one place, so you can engage with your followers and respond to direct messages as they come in.

5. Social Rank

Social Rank, like other online credibility tools, groups your most engaged and valuable followers together. You need to connect via Twitter and share your email address to generate the report.

Using this I discovered that UK politician @Ed_Miliband was following me :)

socialrank follower list
Knowing this means you know who to interact with, who will keep a conversation going and make your pages look active. This will help you increase the size of your community.

6. Tweriod 

When you tweet, it’s useful to know how well different content formats work. Tweriod goes beyond the basic views and tells you when engagement peaks, which will tell you when you need to post your next update.

When you register, it takes a while for the site to conduct the analysis and it sends a direct message (DM) when your report is ready. The free version allows one analysis per month. It’s fairly basic as you can see below, the aim to to encourage you to design up for a paid version. It’s a useful starting point.

7. Social mention 

Find out who is talking about you with this simple social media listening tool that will help you track any conversation that includes your brand. It’s useful for the good times, and the bad, and when you know where people are discussing your company, you can join in and win more business.

Social Mention is free and sometimes clunky, but it’s a great place to start analysing online sentiment, whether good or bad. It’s also a useful place to check out a hashtag to see if it’s been badly used, before your company adopts it!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

How to get started on Youtube

YouTube example Jaguar cars
Video content is set to grow in 2016, here’s how to get started.

With broadband speeds improving and consumer expectations increasing, video content is becoming an increasingly vital part of digital marketing. YouTube is the most well-known and widely-used hub for video content on the web, so it’s essential that your business starts utilising it. But what can you do to ensure that your new YouTube channel is successful? How can you get started on YouTube in a way that will ensure your business has a future there? We’ve compiled four tips we believe will help you to get started on YouTube.

1. Don’t just use YouTube to advertise

The main purpose of your new YouTube channel is to market your goods or services to prospective customers. However, if you only post videos that showcase your products in the same way that a traditional TV advert does, your audience will quickly lose interest. You can use your YouTube channel to build up a loyal customer base by providing interesting, engaging content.

For example, why not try uploading videos that give your customers tips on how to use your products or that talk about the history of your business? The UK luxury car company, Jaguar Cars, use their YouTube channel to include ‘instructional videos’ for Jaguar owners. It’s a clever way to save time, as well as answer the ‘how do I do that?' questions.

The most successful businesses on YouTube are the ones that mix high-quality advertisements with rapport-building videos designed to tap into consumers’ interests.  Jaguar, for example, also have a playlist of videos that celebrate their heritage without directly aiming to sell specific products. It’s not a car for everyone’s budget, but allows a niche business to talk directly to its customers.

YouTube Jaguar

2. Embed Calls to Action in YouTube content

Not every YouTube video should be an advert, but video should still ask the audience to get involved in some way.

Look for ways to incorporate calls to action into each of your videos: your more sales-oriented videos should call on customers to buy particular goods, whereas your rapport-building videos could call on prospective customers to find out more (by following a link), to get in touch with you or to offer their feedback.

Calls to action are important because they are a way of directly engaging your audience. The more you engage your audience, the more likely they are to identify strongly with your brand and therefore convert into customers.

3. Take advantage of the flexibility of video content

Video content has the power to grab viewers’ attention because it can fluidly display a huge variety of content types, including live-action footage, animations and moving graphics.

If you want your videos to stand out on YouTube, it’s worth experimenting with the medium’s different capabilities and showing viewers a variety of content types. Jaguar uses YouTube to show the driver’s perspective. A great ad and a test drive from your own home!

YouTube example of content

4. Respond to comments

YouTube’s comments section is a hotbed of discussion and enthusiasm, so keep a close eye on what viewers say about your videos and respond accordingly. By demonstrating that you are able to listen and take feedback onboard, you can improve the reputation of your business within the YouTube community and ultimately attract more prospective customers.

By engaging your viewers’ interests, getting them involved using calls to action, keeping their attention focused with interesting content-types and responding to their comments, you can turn your new YouTube channel into a digital marketing success story!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Top 5 tips for Twitter ads

Twitter ad example

Twitter ads are growing, read about our top 5 tips to maximise your return.

Facebook may be the world’s largest social network in the Western world, but Twitter is the place a business can really reach out to a global audience as part of their digital marketing strategy.

Twitter is where people go when they want to know what’s trending internationally, to share information in an instant and to spontaneously connect with users, communities and organisations all over the world. With over 300 million users each month and more than 350,000 tweets sent each minute, the potential for businesses to expand their client bases has never been greater.

Whether you’re a small-town sole trader or a large multinational company, Twitter ads training can help you connect in ways you never thought possible. Here are our top five tips for maximising your return from Twitter ads training.

1. Limit your tweets in Twitter ad campaigns

When you’re starting a new ad campaign, it’s tempting to send out lots of tweets to get your message out there. In this case, however, less is more. Take time to perfect just three to five tweets to begin with and release them at regular intervals over a few days to see how they get on. Examine the performance rate of your tweets carefully and think about removing or altering those that are being shared the least. In this way, you can ensure you always have three to five ads out there that are continually performing well and making connections with people.

2. Target Twitter ads by device

You may want potential customers to fill in a sign-up form or questionnaire, which can be tricky to do on a mobile device. By switching off the right settings before your Twitter ad is released, you can target those who can most easily respond, such as those on laptops or home computers.

3. Pictures and links can generate great returns

Tweets containing images and links are much more successful at engaging potential customers than those containing text alone. This is based on research which shows users prefer ‘vivid content’ which means images and video. Ensure you use relevant content to ensure your tweet really stands out and has the greatest potential for retweets.

The ad format is critical. You might want to read how Twitter cards  generate more success than standard Twitter ads.

4. Have confidence in the suggested bid

When you set up your campaign, Twitter will suggest a bid price (e.g. £2 per engagement) which many may think is too high to accept. In our observations, however, this is hardly ever the price you pay in the end. If your ads are strong, the price per click will amount to much less than this, enabling you to reach out to far more potential users.

5. Refresh and revisit your twitter ads, so that….

The fantastic thing about online marketing through Twitter is its immediacy: if something is not working for you, you can change it in an instant. When your campaign is launched, it is crucial to be checking your levels of engagement every few days. Note which are your best performing tweets and consider why. This can then give you an important insight into the kind of messages that people are connecting with – a valuable tool in your social media strategy armoury!

Twitter ad without refreshed date

And if you re-use an earlier ad, think about re-creating it rather than repeating it. If you repeat it, it shows the original ad date, so looks old or in the wrong place! The ad above was found in December 2015, but is dated July. It’s because they clicked on the ‘repeat this ad’ button.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Content calendars and how they work

 content calendars

Content calendars are an essential tool for 2016

What is a content calendar?

A content calendar is a plan that shows your marketing content. You could describe a content calendar as a marketing resource. It is often created as an Excel sheet or online tool, to help plan your content and social media marketing. They’re not only a way of making sure what’s being published is in line with your digital marketing strategy, but in the right place and at the right frequency.

Calendars are usually shared between members of editorial or marketing teams to ensure everyone’s aligned on the publishing schedule, but can be used even for individuals wanting to grow their personal blog.

Other useful content definitions are shown here:

Content terms

What is content marketing?

Content marketing has been around for a long time, helping to generate leads by reaching new customers, and building conversations around brands. Content can include a variety of digital formats, from editorial copy and blog posts to SlideShare presentations and social media content such as tweets and Facebook posts.

There are different types of content that you can use when planning.

  • Evergreen content includes items which could be published at any time. They are not date specific and it is useful for a company to develop a range of material in this area. 
  • Topical content is based on what’s happening. They key is to ensure that any content based on topical or breaking news, should have some connection to the business. Many organisations are involved with planned events such as exhibitions, shows, conferences and this content can be prepared in advance and built into the content calendar. 
  • User-generated content comprises reviews, parody of brand-created work as well as other feedback. 
  • Finally questions asked by many customers can be transformed into useful content shared over a period of time.

content types

Why do you need a content calendar?

With multiple channels and all those different types of content floating around, it can be overwhelming trying to work out what’s being published, where and when. A content calendar will help to show exactly how your company content will be distributed throughout the week, month, or year; it also makes it easier to plan content across key dates, such as national holidays, the seasons, or particular times of focus for your company, like a product launch.

Content calendars are also an easier way of visualising how your content is distributed across the internet, meaning you’ll be able to sync up your marketing strategy across multiple social media and editorial channels. Planning your calendar will give you a broad view of your marketing activities over a longer period of time, so you’ll have a good overview of which subjects, products or content types you’re focusing more on during any particular time period, or alternatively which areas you’re missing out on!

Whether you’re running a digital marketing blog by yourself or as part of a marketing team of 20, it’s important to create a content calendar in order to execute your content strategy and maximise your social media results.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

3 digital marketing trends for 2016

Digital marketing trends

Video, apps and VR are 3 digital marketing trends you’ll see more of in 2016.

Digital marketing is a fast moving and unruly domain which is constantly growing and developing, delivering digital marketing new ideas and with new trends emerging relentlessly. 2015 was the year of the mobile, with both Google and Bing’s mobile algorithm updates changing the way every business thinks about their SEO and forcing mobile optimisation for websites. So what is to come in 2016? Let’s take a look at three major trends that could define digital marketing in the coming year.

1. More in-video ads

In-video advertising is nothing new, and brands have been doing it on video channels like YouTube for some time. However, we’ve been reading that Google is considering introducing videos into its search engine results next year, which could radically change the significance of in-video ads and make them much more common outside of video channels.

2. The rising importance of apps

Application indexing is currently taking the world of SEO by storm, and looks set to revolutionise the way that brands and businesses market their digital content.
Essentially, application indexing is the process by which search engines like Google will index the content of mobile and tablet applications, in order to display results relating to these apps in search results. You may have already seen results for in-app content in some of your Google search results over the last few months, and now that it is being rolled out fully, expect to see more businesses designing apps in 2016, and using them to market their content to mobile and tablet users.

3. Virtual reality

Virtual reality (or VR) has been on the horizon for some time, and digital marketing experts expect it to go mainstream in 2016. Lots of the initial VR technology was designed for video games, but now headsets made for more general use are being set for release. Of these, the most commonly known is the Facebook-owned, Occulus Rift, the new version of which is due for release in 2016.

These headsets are also set for integration with social media, video channels like YouTube, and direct messaging, offering a whole range of advertising platforms for businesses and brands. Although this might not be available for everyone next year, 2016 looks set to be the year that VR really takes off, and it would make sense to get in on the ground floor whilst you still can.

If you’re on a budget, there’s always Google cardboard! A DIY version of VR glasses, which may not last as long, but it’s fun putting it together to see how it works.