Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Google Digital Garage

Digital strategy

Digital skills are still lacking in UK business.

Almost 30% of small businesses find that high training costs are preventing them from developing their skills, even though over 50% feel that digital technology will play an increasingly important role in the future success of their business. It’s a strange situation, a small investment in training in return for a growing business.

Getting businesses online

As part of the UK government’s focus to move more businesses online, Google made a commitment to train one million Europeans in digital skills by 2016, which includes 200,000 businesses in the UK. According to Eileen Naughton (the boss of Google in the UK and Ireland) “less than 30% of SMEs have an effective online presence” and described Google’s responsibility as “both a catalyst and engine for growth, to help individual businesses prosper, and the UK economy grow.”

The training is in the form of workshops that enable Google to share good practice and offer advice to companies about how they can use the internet to reach out to more potential customers.

Google Garage locations

The first Google Garage was hosted at Leeds docks in March 2015 and is now in Birmingham Library. These are two of five locations that make up an initial six month pilot. Plus, this is also taking place in Northern Ireland, in Belfast  although we couldn’t find evidence of this being available in other European countries such as Ireland. It seems the UK is being used as a pilot.
The project consists of:
  • Mentoring sessions for entrepreneurs
  • A digital “tune-up” service
  • Training local teachers
  • Workshops
  • Events
If you can’t get to one of these sessions, there is an online topic library available too.

As the number of people using digital technologies – that includes your customers – increases, it’s essential to consider your digital strategy and how your business can generate leads online.

If you attended a Google garage event, how was it? What were the benefits and would you recommend the sessions?

Thursday, 19 November 2015

4 essentials for copy writing

Copywriting critical factors

Why professional copy writing is essential to your digital marketing strategy.

When it comes to sourcing resources for a digital marketing campaign, copy writing can be an easy skill to overlook. You know you need a specialist to implement an SEO plan, design a viral-worthy infographic or run an effective PR campaign. But anyone can write, right?

However, more and more digital agencies are waking up to the fact that professional copy writing is perhaps the most important of all skills in the digital sphere. Why? Because it impacts on virtually every other aspect of your campaign. Simply put, if you get the content wrong, no matter how much time and money you invest elsewhere, you’ll be fighting a losing battle from the outset.

Here are 4 essentials needed for successful copywriting, which can play a critical role in your campaign.

1 – Create the perfect headline

Digital marketing campaigns need a strong hook to draw people in. Whether it’s a piece of industry insight, a quirky spin on something that’s happening in popular culture or a promotion, a copywriter can help you to create that all important headline that inspires your audience to find out more. 

2 – Tell a compelling story

A good headline might draw an audience in, but once you’ve grabbed your audience’s attention, it’s important you’re able to sustain it. A copywriter can work closely with you to pull out the key take-aways of your campaign and fashion them into a compelling narrative that guides your user to the desired end point – be it purchase, social sharing or sign-up. They can also help you to develop the right call-to-action to ensure your campaign gets the best possible results.

3 – Support an SEO campaign

SEO and link building is far more than just a numbers game. Search engines such as Google are more sophisticated than ever before, and their algorithms are designed to penalise pages that add no value to the user. This means that unique, shareable content is an essential component of a successful SEO campaign – hence the often repeated line that when it comes to SEO, ‘content is king’.

4 – Be authentic

Few things are more likely to dent the credibility of your business than poorly written, factually inaccurate or inconsistent copy. Focus on authenticity and ensure you shape your copy so that it reads well and conveys a sense of credibility and trust.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Twitter cards – what and how

Twitter card

Twitter cards deliver 43% more engagement than regular ads

Have you tried Twitter ads? Their new cards claim greater engagement than regular ads.

Benefits of Twitter cards

Twitter claims the specific benefits of its new ad platform include:
  • Users gain greater context
  • They are attention grabbing
  • And you only pay when they click the button – not when shared!
This allows you to advertise on Twitter (for example to gain more followers) and although there’s a web link and you can click on this, you only pay when people click on the ‘buy’ button. These buy buttons contain every possible option, as shown here:

Twitter buy buttons
Twitter buy buttons

Twitter has developed its ad offer which looks and feels similar to the one promoted by Facebook (explore my next training course Facebook advertising) and offers different promotion options for business. From promoted tweets to promoted trends, it’s the same principle every time – you pay to get an eye-catching message or link to appear in front of your target audience. With good content you may get retweets, but it’s less popular with social media adverts.

How Twitter cards work

The whole process is driven by data users give to Twitter when registering, as well as their profile information and location. Using this information allows Twitter to target your adverts at the people you want to see them. The same applies when it comes to Twitter cards, an advertising function where you can attach a ‘card’ to your tweets by adding a few lines of HTML to the webpage you’re linking to.

This ‘card’ works like a tag, either linking you to a website, app store or other product, and it looks very similar to the open graph images that are already frequently used across the platform. There are several different types of cards, and it is recommended that businesses should experiment with various types until they find which one works best for them.

For instance, you could start off with a simple summary card where the image displays a description of your business alongside a thumbnail and attribution to your account. There’s also a version which does the same thing, only with a bigger image.

Once you’ve tried that, you can move onto either an app card – with details on the mobile app it links to – or the more creatively named player card, which provides the same basic service as the others only this time by attaching video, audio or other media to the tweet.

Best practice tips for Twitter cards

To ensure you are measuring, monitoring and maximising the benefit of investing on social media adveretising, you need to consider
  • Add conversation tracking
  • Think about images used
  • Privacy policy needed with any sign-ups
  • What works well – any offers or sales items

If you’d like to know more, there is a great social media ads course I can recommend, that runs in London :)

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Black Friday – A guide for retailers

Black Friday - 2014
Christmas shopping has started, are your online and offline stores ready?

Americans start the holiday season with Thanksgiving, which is now the fourth Thursday in November.

In a pre-internet age, before Black Friday existed there were the traditional “Santa Claus Parades”, which started in December 1905 and symbolised the start of the holiday season. Thanksgiving was always celebrated on the last Thursday of November but in 1941 this was changed to the fourth Thursday instead, to guarantee another week of shopping before Christmas. The following day is often a holiday, falling between thanksgiving and the weekend.

The term “Black Friday” is hotly debated. Some say the phrase originates from retailers where their hand-written sales ledgers and accounts moved from being written in “red” (we’re making losses) to “black” (we’re making profits). Others credit the expression to the Philadelphia police who were struggling to manage crowds, in between the holiday shoppers and people exiting a major football game ‘the roads were clogged, it was like a sea of ants, cars, people, chaos! Every street was blocked, this Friday was black with traffic”. The term now indicates major sales and bargains for shoppers as this became a day to start Christmas shopping in the US and on the last few years, it’s moved to the UK.

This year Black Friday arrives on 27 November and it is every bargain hunter’s favourite day of the year, when retailers offer huge discounts on a whole variety of products to try and persuade customers to part with their cash and make a start on their Christmas shopping.

The impact is that internet retailers often struggle to keep up with demand on Black Friday and more and more businesses are extending the offers, many of which can be found online, often a day before Black Friday and up until the following Monday after Thanksgiving.

Your digital marketing strategy needs to cope with the chaos that Black Friday can bring your way and we have tried and tested methods to make sure your business survives.  This guide to Black Friday explains what happened last year and how to avoid failure.

How UK retailers adopted Black Friday in 2014

Looking back at 2014, some websites adapted for the day with special banners, usually black. John Lewis ditched the penguins in favour of an all black landing page, but the link to the homepage failed to load. They tried to mitigate the situation by inviting shoppers to telephone!
Black Friday - John Lewis 2014

Curry’s and PC World used twitter in 2014 for ‘special surprises’, one of which was an auction for an LG mobile phone that they usually retailed at £439.99, although this was available online at £194.39 in one store, but they had no stock.
Black Friday - Currys 2014 1

It was likely that many shoppers opted for the comfort of desktop, tablet and mobile shopping. Many of these shoppers were frustrated as websites failed to function; Curry’s had a challenge as so many people visited their online site, the website started a queuing system, but this also failed to work.  In some cases Curry’s asked shoppers to queue for 23 minutes before they could access their website!
As a result, we saw a trending hashtag on Twitter aimed at the retailers #FailureFriday. Ouch!
Black Friday - Currys 2014 fail

Supermarkets also jumped on the bandwagon with ‘special offers’. Tesco included an invitation to get amazing deals ‘in store’ as well as online. However, Tesco Direct pleaded with shoppers for their patience while the website tried to load.
Black Friday - Tesco 2014

Asda focused on in-store only deals. However in some places, encouraging people to shop in store created additional issues with shoppers fighting for items. Greater Manchester Police turned to twitter to ask for calm, following several arrests of over-enthusiastic shoppers.
Black Friday - Asda 2014 1

EBay encouraged its sellers to participate and offered deals for a ‘limited time only’ instead of specifying a start and finish time.
Black Friday - Ebay 2014 1
One company stood out as not participating in the Black Friday event – Marks and Spencer. Their offer focused on ‘4 magical days’ and was one of the few sites which didn’t crash.

How can you use Black Friday – tips for retailers

If you are considering Black Friday as a sales device for your online or offline store, your digital marketing strategy needs to cope with the chaos that Black Friday can bring. Here are 4 steps to take right now, to make sure you’re not part of #FailureFriday.

1. Reward loyal customers about Black Friday offers early

It’s important that your regular, repeat customers know what they can expect from your brand, so make sure you tell them about it via social media and your email newsletters. Let your customers know the details before the event. You could
  • Pre-register VIP customers for offers.
  • Organise a dedicated landing page, and even a mini offers site, outside your main website, so it’s less likely to crash.
  • Understand what you can deliver for Black Friday.
  • Look at last year and see how your business has performed in the past, to identify which products would be perfect to promote during Black Friday.
  • Make sure you have stock available.
  • And ensure you have plenty of secure delivery options in place, such as click and collect, Amazon Lockers, deliver to Argos, deliver to local post offices.

2. Prepare your systems for Black Friday

There are a variety of analytical tools out there that can help you understand the behaviour of your customers.
  • When are your peak shopping times?
  • Is more bandwidth needed?
  • Do you need more staff manning telephones for queries?
  • Can you engage more staff on social media sites keeping customers informed?
Ideally your social media networks should be adapted to reflect what’s happing. Explain the rules of engagement (we have a team of x here to answer your queries) and give customer service telephone numbers, don’t hide them.

3. Ensure your apps are updated before Black Friday

The mobile platform has become the most commonly used method of browsing and it’s likely that many of your customers will use this method to find the bargains they’re looking for. Ensure your apps reflect the desktop site and can cope with orders via mobile. This Christmas will be year of the mobile order. Are you ready?

4. Integrate online and offline retail offers

If you are encouraging people to visit a traditional store, get ready.
  • Use a ticketing system which is much fairer to allow people through the door, in an orderly way. Some of the tickets could be ‘golden tickets’ with extra benefits.
  • Recruit for a few days, all your retired staff. They know your business, they’re sensible and they can help manage the chaos. They can help with queries, provide calm and refreshment.
  • Entertain the crowds. If you’re going to get crowds, entertain them while they queue outside the door. Work with community groups, rock choirs or local organisations to mobilise Christmas cheer. A happy crowd is less aggressive and the experience is better for all.
  • Open more checkout facilities. Ensure when people have claimed their goods, the payment mechanism is easy. Why is Apple the only store to offer ‘people tills’ where members of staff walk around the store and can take payment?
  • And while they’re queuing to pay, dish out Christmas cheer! Goodies and gifts as a thank you.
  • And this year is the first time people will need to pay for plastic bags at checkout. Why not give away cotton re-usable bags to ease the pain?

What’s your experience as a customer? #FabFriday or #FailureFriday – do share @AnnmarieHanlon :)

Friday, 30 October 2015

Yik Yak and the secret web

Yik Yak

Shh it’s a secret! New social networks using traditional tools to reach new markets.

It’s not hush-hush that the social media powerhouses of Twitter and Facebook, with their algorithmically fine-tuned campaign structures, can offer a number of great, tried and tested solutions to individuals and businesses looking to promote themselves online. That said, pioneering marketers with a more experimental approach to getting a message out may find a fruitful new audience within the secret web.

So-called because of the anonymity of its users, the secret web changes the terrain where online conversations are concerned. In California, it led to the creation of alternative e-commerce hub Silk Road, an infamous website that used a veil of privacy to trade drugs, fake IDs and other counterfeit goods. Elsewhere, internet users dive into the controversial folds of the anonymous 4chan /b/ thread to vent poison about their exes and leak undesirable images of celebrities, adding fire to The Fappening. Alternatively, Whispher is the place for secrets, continuing the confessional tone the PostSecret mastered many years ago.

Meanwhile, there’s yet another new social media platform. Welcome to Yik Yak, a social media smartphone application that was launched in 2013 to allow users to share their thoughts, from “Should I get out of bed for my 9am lecture?” to “Dying with man flu”.

Yik Yak socks
Yik Yak socks – ideal Christmas present?

Targeted at students, two ‘yakkers’ from Atlanta, Georgia, recently set up their stall (in person, not a virtual experience) at the University of Derby, giving away green socks in exchange for downloading the app. The idea is that its users (mainly students) can share their inner most thoughts, fears and hopes, in this anonymous environment. As Yik Yak is promoting its wares on campus, the student leaning is clear, and is evident when I log in from Derby or Birmingham to discover individual arguments. With this new technology, we’re witnessing something of a digital transformation, as individuals engage in honest and often brutal conversations, ranking strangers on their wit, intelligence and wordplay.

Yik Yak and Whispher change the nature of social media networks. Most work because you can see each other’s connections, check out ‘friends in common’ are ask for an introduction to their conections. Does this mean more and more secret social media platforms will develop? What’s clear in the US is that these sites can be used for bad, as well as good. Bullying is rife and as a result, you can’t yak if you’re under 18. Some of the content is puerile and Yak HQ are trying to improve this via gamification ‘Earn Yakarma points – get rewarded for posting awesome Yaks.’

While largely untapped, the marketing potential here is clear. Thanks to the anonymity within its community, Yik Yak has kept a corporate vibe firmly at bay, making it fertile new territory for infiltrating real conversations, both to learn about your customers and to promote your product to them. The hyperlocal nature of the app, too, makes it a ripe tool for marketing campaigns, especially when it comes to boosting your brand’s presence at an event. The time you spend before disclosing your identity is, of course, completely up to you.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

How not to upset your followers on LinkedIn

LI invisibility cloak
Ever stopped following someone on LinkedIn because they seem to spend their day updating their profile?

Sometimes when you login to LinkedIn and check your news feed there is update after update from one of your network who has made small changes to their profile, but it clogs up your news feed. Have you ever stopped following someone on LinkedIn because they seem to spend their day updating their profile?
Here’s how to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
If you don’t wear your invisibility cloak, every detail of your profile amendment (qualification details, experience details) will keep popping up to your network which may have the effect of some of your network unfollowing you as the information is too much.

Your LinkedIn Invisibility Cloak

To wear your invisibility cloak follow these steps:

  1. Go to Account & Settings (click on your thumbnail photo, top right)
  2. Scroll to Privacy & Settings and select manage
  3. Look half-way down the page and select the Privacy Controls shown here
LinkedIn Invisbility 1
LinkedIn Privacy Controls

Look at the first three items and
  1. Turn on/off your news mention broadcasts – UNTICK THE BOX
  2. Turn on/off your activity broadcasts – UNTICK THE BOX
  3. Select who can see your activity feed – CHANGE TO ONLY YOU

Automatic LinkedIn updates that you can’t control

Do be aware that these updates are automatically published (you have no control over these):
  • Adding a new job position
  • Adding a new link to a website
  • Recommending someone
  • Following a company
  • Adding a connection
  • Adding additional skills to your profile
  • Sharing content with your network
  • Editing the title of your current position
  • Current work experience anniversaries
Any questions about LinkedIn? Please ask @AnnmarieHanlon

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

5 reasons to use Emojis

The use of emojis is growing, Whether you’re using smiley faces :-) or our favourites, little bats ^^^0^^^ the use of these text based symbols is growing.

Here are 5 reasons why should consider emojis in your next campaign.

1. Fastest growing language
Linguistics experts have recently announced Emoji as being the fastest growing language, evolving faster than even ancient languages such as Hieroglyphics. It is believed that many people find it much easier to communicate using the smiley faces and icons of the Emoji instead of actual text, with 8 out of 10 people in the UK using Emjoi’s to communicate and 72% of 18-25 year olds claiming that they find it easier to express themselves using emojis.

2. Emojis change moods
There has even been research conducted into the psychological effect emojis have on our brains when using and receiving them within messages, or seeing them used in social media posts. Scientists have found that when we see a smiley face online it provokes the same reaction within our brains as seeing a real human face, changing our mood and potentially changing our facial expressions to mimic those shown within the message.

3. Seen as emotional communication
Emoticons are processed by the brain as non-verbal communication and are read in the same way as emotional communication which is just as important as the words during an interaction. Emojis are essentially providing the same information that tone of voice or facial expressions and gestures provide during face-to-face and phone conversations.

4. Adds human interaction
When a business or brand markets itself it is essentially communicating its brand messages, products and services to its target audience in a way that is as relevant as possible. Therefore, with emojis becoming ever more popular, and taking into account the closer relation they have to human interaction is it time to start incorporating them into your digital marketing campaigns?

5. Emojis generate followersInstagram believes so and has recently reported that nearly 50% of all captions and comments now have at least one emoji incorporated within them. In fact, use of emojis within social media marketing can actually help to improve your brand social standing and status on the networks. A study found that of accounts with a large amount of followers and a good Klout score had emoji use as a common factor amongst them.

Are you using emojis? How are they working for you? Do let us know on Twitter @evonomie