Setting up social media accounts quick and easy to do and they are also free making it appealing to some business owners to sign up for lots of accounts. However, they can be a real time suck so it's important, especially for small businesses to know what type of content works well so you can do more of what works and ditch what doesn’t .
When I see websites proudly displaying that they are active on every social media known to man, I think, why do you do that? Sure they’re free to join, but for them to be effective and beneficial to your overall business objective, you need to spend time developing content, monitoring if it's connecting with your customers and then there is the time it takes to interact directly with your followers and to listen to them and your competitors. Choosing the right social media platforms to use is essential but so to is making sure that all your time and effort is hitting the mark.
Every digital platform provides great free monitoring tools that, if you know how to use them, will help you to make the most out of your social media activity. Afterall there is no point in spending time and money developing content and a content strategy if your audience don’t read, share or comment with it. So how do you know what and how to monitor what content works.
The most obvious measure of how well a business is doing is to see how many followers they have. This is out there, clear to see on the top of each page. However, this is what is known as a vanity metric because, while it's great to see your follower numbers in the hundreds or even thousands, this number doesn’t tell you a lot about how well your strategy is achieving your goals.
If you have 500 followers on Facebook but little or no comments, likes or shares, then that is telling you that the type of content you are posting is of little interest to your followers. If your posts cost you nothing to develop and take no time to post, then you might need to like at the quality of the content you are posting. But all content involves someone's time which if it isn’t working could be better spent on doing something else. When you spend time and money developing images, infographics or videos that no one watches then that becomes an issue that needs to be addressed in order to stop good money going after bad.
To understand the engagement rate for your page, you divide the number of interactions a post has achieved into the number of page followers and multiply by 100 to get it as a percentage. For example if you have 500 followers and your latest post achieved 30 interactions then the engagement rate achieved is 6%.
This number tells you the which types of posts are of interest to your followers and which are being ignored. If you track this engagement rate across the type of posts you use each month, you will have a great insight into what type of content connects and so where you should spend your social media time and budget. Afterall, if your followers find the content you produce to be interesting and relevant to them, they will continue to follow your page and they are likely to share your content with their friends and so this increases the number of people who are exposed to your business, which will see you grow your potential customer base. This is good old fashioned word of mouth marketing done social media style.
Another important metric to monitor how effective your social media strategy is working, is to pay attention to the Acquisition report in Google Analytics. This tells you how people found your site and it is broken up into referral traffic, direct, organic search and social. Here you will see the valuable social media sources that refer traffic to your website.
If you are not actively posting or engaging on Twitter and you see that the number of visitors who came to your site through Twitter is low, then you might want to look at increasing your activity on this platform and monitor the traffic achieved. If this increases in proportion with your level of activity, then it is clear that there is an opportunity to reach more potential customers using this channel and you should consider adding it to your social media strategy.
The one thing that social media and digital marketing in general provides you with is data. Each platform generates a ton of information about every interaction and its really important that you get to know and understand at least some key data that is relevant to how well your social media time and budget is being spent. You don’t need to be a statistician to make the most of the information available to you. Even if you only monitor these two metrics and use them to make informed strategic decisions about how to spend your marketing budget, then it will give you a clear insight into how your social media strategy is actual working.
I'm curious about Eircodes but find it surprising how low key the implementation of Eircodes is – giving that this development could have huge implications for Irish businesses.
I have been looking out for information about when they were actually being launched when I came across this small article in TheJournal.ie on April 27th. At last, they announced that people will start receiving their Eircodes from the last two weeks in June.
I've looked hard but I can't see any reference to this development made elsewhere. Even the Eircode website has no mentioned the end of June timeframe. It continues to make use of of a vague timeframe but they did change it from spring 2015 to summer 2015 as to when we can expect to see the implementation of the controversial address identifiers.
The controversy surrounds the decision by the Department of Communications to discard the advice they received from the National Postcodes Project Board, who recommended the adoption of a hierarchical code and instead decided to be the first in the world to design a system to assign a random code to every address in the country.
The critics claim that this approach will not identity clusters of addresses like the ‘hierarchical’ codes used in the UK or US allow. The general manager of the Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTAI), Neil McDonnell explains that "the fact that the unique identifier for each property has no geo-relationship with the property next door means that it is useless for the purpose of navigation, planning and routing."
The Eircode website makes the point that “while there is no legal obligation to use Eircodes, it is anticipated that there will be rapid take-up and quick adoption of Eircode.” This non-uniform approach to the adoption of the system along with the limited value many believe the design of the system has, could have major implications for on how effective they will be for businesses.
The Interactive Direct Marketing Association (IDMA) hosted an open discussion event on April 16th tellingly entitled “Decoding Eircodes” where the challenges and advantages of the postcode system were debated. While there are those who believe that because Eircodes is an address identifier rather than a postcode system, it will have limited value to businesses, they’re coming and very soon.
IDMA member Puca conducted a poll of fellow IDMA members to see what they think of Eircodes. They found that while members agreed that information about Eircodes is very limited, the majority will be using them for marketing or CRM.
To help Eircodes have produced this booklet advising businesses how they can prepare for the roll-out but as will all aspects of this new development – this booklet is not being heavily promoted. It does offer some useful aspects to consider in advance of the roll-out and this is just a brief overview to get you thinking of how you can get ready.
I’m sure that the low key approach that Capita Ireland, who are contracted to manage Eircodes, is deliberate and part of a wider strategy, but lack of energy and information about Eircodes does little to reassure people that Eircodes will not be another E-voting fiasco or Irish Water situation. So while I remain curious and optimist to see what benefits they will bring for Irish businesses, I’m at the moment unconvinced that the cost associated with the advised preparation will be early adopted by many.
What do you think of Eircodes and how its launch is being handled?
This article was originally published on 12/10/2014 on www.graphprint.ie
The rise of the internet and access to advanced and (relatively) affordable technology has completely altered how we all consume news and advertising. The internet has also changed how we interact and engage with each other. We know this from how much time we spend online and we see it in how much email we get compared to post through our letter boxes.
This change is not news of course. For those of us who have been in business over the past few years the rise of the internet has meant that we have had to learn a lot of new skills very quickly in order to reach our potential customers in the online world. We are also being advised to increase the portions of our marketing and advertising budgets that we spend online and on elements like SEO, social media engagement, content marketing and UX research in order to be better position to reach our customers.
You can read the rest of the article here
This article was originally published on 14/11/2014 on GraphPrint.ie
Trying to stretch an already thin marketing budget to generate sales for your business is always a challenge. Regardless of what business you run, you need to build up a suite of quality marketing items that convey to existing and potential customers that your business is the best at what you do. The trick is not to skimp on quality because if you’re marketing items look cheap and flimsy, your business does too. Read on for the must have print marketing items every small business needs to grow your business effectively and affordable.
1. Business Cards
Make sure that you and your frontline staff have up to date, clean and professional looking business cards at all times. Developing business opportunities can happen anywhere at any time and you don’t want your contact details to be the one that is hand written on the back of someone else’s card that your potential customer had in his wallet.
Even with the rise of electronic business cards, the traditional 85mmx55mm card version is still a must to have in your pocket at all time. Digital printing costs have lower the cost of small print runs so you can be sure that you and your staff have a good supply of these essential marketing items at all times. Whether you chose to use a standard format card or a quirky outside-the-box design for your business card, make sure that it fits a wallet because that is where you want your card to be.
2. Letterheads and business stationery
Even with the arrival of the paperless office, every business still needs to communicate with customers and suppliers by post from time to time. By using well designed and quality printed business stationery that coordinates your business image, you are using the opportunity to make your business stand out in a sea of emails and electronic messaging.
Letterheads with coordinated complimentary slips that reflect your business brand are really worth the investment you make. As with your business card, you’re business stationery should be professionally designed. As you won’t need to change or up-date your brand image for up to six years (or more), the cost of design when spend over of this time makes it a really good investment. And when you have your design on-file with your printer, all you need to do is re-order the quantity you need from your printer, making it really hassle free.
3. Presentation Folders
When you’re sending a business proposal, sales information or a media kit to new or existing customer don’t miss out on the opportunity to present your content in an attractive professional looking presentation folder. They are also a great leave-behind item when presenting a business pitch to a potential customers as they show that you consider the detail to be important.
As well as being a practical method of keeping paper and media items together, they also offer you the opportunity to re-enforce your business brand message to the user. They can be simply designed to fold around your content or with pockets to hold paper or media items.
4. Sales Brochures and catalogues
Well designed and high quality printed brochures and catalogues are a must have for all businesses to have in their marketing arsenal. The use of images with well thought out copy allows you to present a lot of valuable information to customers. The content should encourage potential customers to visit your website for more information where they’ll find even more information about what they’re interested in.
The message across all your marketing material should be consistent which a same branding and message about your business and the website content can complement and supplement the information presented in the brochure. When you are designing your sales brochure, think closely about what lasting impression you want to leave your customers with. If your business sells low cost environmentally friendly heating products, then your brochure should convey all the benefits of using these products, including the type of paper and finish you select. Using a recycled matt finish paper will reinforce your business message, so work with a graphic designer to make sure that you cover all aspects of your sales brochure.
5. Flyers and leaflets
Flyers and leaflets can make great and very cost effective marketing tools that can be used to promote your business in general or to inform customers about specific offers or services you offer. They should be double sided offering you a lot of space to convey your message so make sure you make the most of this to get your message out there. By using bright colours or an unusual size or shape and snappy copy, you can make your message stand out from the crowd.
If you have a ‘brick and mortar’ business you only have to position these items in your own premises to see a return on the cost to produce them. If you want to reach a wider audience you may choose to engage the services of a door-to-door delivery service or a promotional marketing team to get your flyer or leaflet into the hands of potential customers. While there will be an additional cost associated with using these services, it is possible for them to be able to target the specific audience you need to grow your business making them a really good and cost effective marketing item to use.
6. Roll-up Banners
These marketing items are one of the most effective and versatile marketing items you can use to promote a new product or special offer. They are light weight and durable display stands can be easily moved and placed wherever you need them and as they fully retract, they can be easily stored when you’re done.
They are great to use for trade shows, conferences, and in-store, to brand entry ways or where permanent signage can’t be used. Read our blog post for more information about how to effectively use roll-up banners.
So now take the time to look closely at your marketing collateral with an honest and critical eye. If your items look less than professional then remember that your business will to. Professionally designed items with a high quality finish really do stand out and they can elevate your business in the mind of your customers. So make the most of every touch point you have with your customers to reinforce that your business means quality.
What other items would you include on this list?
This article was first published on 03/12/2014 on GraphPrint.ie
These strange looking images are a really useful marketing tool that can link your print marketing with your digital marketing activity. They look complicated but they are incredibly quick, easy and free to generate. Best of all you can link your website analytics to the code so you can track how they are used which brings a whole new level of feedback to print material than has previously been available. This quick guide will show you ways that you can use QR codes as part of your next marketing campaign and you’ll see the results for yourself.
What are QR Codes?
QR Codes are Quick Response Codes are barcode that are readable by free smartphones apps. They allow you to encode over 4000 characters that can be used to display text to the user, to open a webpage or social media page, save a contact to the address book or to compose text messages.
QR Code Generators
As you can see from a quick Google search for free QR generators there are 1000's available. Just enter free online qr code generators into your search engine and pick one that you like the look of. They are all very similar. However, some of generators insert their own website name on your code on the free version and others enable you to generate codes in a range of sizes which is useful depending on where you want to place it. So check them out until you have one you like.
How to Make Your Own QR Code
Think about what you what the QR code to link to or what you want the user to get from using this. If you want to drive traffic to a special offer you are running or a new product you are launching then you copy the link to that page into the generator. To make sure you get it exactly right you are best to copy and paste this from your browser so that there are no mistakes.It takes just seconds to generate and then you just need to test it to make sure that it links to the content or page that you want it to. Once you've done that you can (or get your graphic designer to) insert it into your print material.
Using Google Analytics to Track your QR Code
You can track and monitor how many visitors are scanning the QR code to get to your site which is really valuable information to know, especially if you've placed your QR code on flyers or business cards for example. To link a QR code use Google Analytics custom URL builder tool. This lets you to create a URL that is specific for each campaign activity that you want to track. To use it, you enter the location of where you will be placing the QR code in the campaign source field, so business card for example. The campaign medium is QR Code and then name the campaign so that you will be able to identify it. It will generate an URL that looks something like this and which you enter into the QR Code generator as before.
Once you try these codes you’ll see how easy they are to use and how much additional information you can provide customers with in a printed ad or poster or flyer or business card or…….the possibilities are endless. You'll see the real value that linking them to you Google Analytics account offers your business and they could change the way you use print marketing material in the future.
Hi, I'm Siobhan Fitzharris and I love all things marketing related. This means that I spend a lot of time reading about and doing marketing and I like to share what I think readers and small business owners might like and can use to grow their small business.