You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Marketing for Small Businesses’ category.

As a copywriter, I’m much more motivated by words than video.  I’d rather read a book than watch TV.  As a result, I didn’t understand how video motivates website visitors.  What better way to find out than to ask the questions.  So, a big thank you to the 126 people who took part in our website video survey.

Click on the graph images to enlarge.

Age range of respondents

Anyone involved in marketing (and copywriting is an integral part of the marketing process) can’t afford to let personal preferences colour their judgement.  To do so would be to miss valuable opportunities. There is nothing quite so risky or damaging as taking the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ approach.  Marketers must keep up with developments and embrace change.

The survey was not a huge sample, but considerably more than I expected to achieve.  And it must be said, it generated a bigger response than some of the popular brands which advertise on TV (67% of 89 people who use this shampoo, etc.).

Please note, the survey was created to help us understand visitor behaviour. The SEO benefits of video were not disputed.

What we wanted to know:

•    Does age have a bearing on people’s attitudes?
•    Does the person’s occupation influence their perception of video?
•    Are people now more interested in video than written website content?
•    If faced with a video and words on a site, what would the visitor do first?
•    What sort of video content is the most popular?
•    What video format is most popular?

Age

From our analysis, the age of the visitor had little bearing on the results of the survey.  I will admit to being surprised by this!  Overall, the majority of respondents were aged between 31 and 59 and 10% were over the age of 60 and 12.6% under 30.

Occupation

Again, I was surprised to see the respondent’s occupation had little influence on the overall results.  The two exceptions were those in the sales and marketing sector and people involved in video production.

However, the supplementary answers suggested this was because both groups had a vested interest in their marketing strategies and watching videos helped them understand the competition.

Videos streaming automatically

Videos streaming automatically when a site opens got a big thumbs down.  71% said they would either turn the video off or leave the site.  19% stated they would watch the video, but this figure was influenced by those involved in marketing and video production.

Video streaming automatically

Reading website content vs. watching video

Wearing my copywriter’s hat, I was delighted to see 81% of respondents said they would prefer to read than watch video.  However, that same percentage said it was the quality and value of the content which would influence their decision to watch the video.

Video content

This question looked at video content.  As you will see from the chart, informative ‘how to’ videos were the run-away winners in the content stakes.  Promotional and testimonial videos fared badly, with a large percentage saying they rarely or never watched them.

 

Video format

Overall, our results suggested conversation or interview formats and podcasts with voice-overs were of more interest than presenter videos.


Video turn-offs

The length of video, not surprisingly, appears to have a bearing on the audience, as does dull and boring content and poor quality.  The message is clear: keep it short, sweet and punchy!

A useful survey?

As far as we’re concerned, the considerable time spent on this survey has been valuable.  Clearly, it is not an authoritative study.  We’ve only polled a very small non-random sample, and we admit to being inexperienced researchers.  However, it has given us a valuable insight into video as a marketing tool and we hope you’ve found the results helpful too.

Who knows, in light of our findings, perhaps our next project will be a short podcast video on our survey results – watch this space!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Advertisements

Can you help with some research?  We’re keen to find out more about people’s attitudes to promotional websites on videos and have created a short (10 question) survey.

Visit the video on websites survey here.

It will only take a couple of minutes to complete and is completely anonymous.  Why not let us have your views?

The survey is nothing to do with the SEO value of videos, which is undisputed.  We’ll publish the findings here when the survey closes.

Thanks for your help!

We’re big fans of email newsletters.  They are a potent marketing tool when managed properly.  It’s not hard to do and you don’t need a lot of technical skills to implement your own email marketing campaign.

There are a host of different email marketing applications available.  Some, like www.ymlp.com and www.mailchimp.com have free versions available.

If it’s so easy, why do so many businesses still get it wrong?  I had a speculative email yesterday from a local pub-come-restaurant.  This particular hostelry hasn’t got the best customer service reputation in town.  So no, we probably weren’t going to rush out and book a table for their Christmas party night.

So what made this email such a major blunder?

  1. It was sent from their normal email address, using the BCC (blind copy) facility.  That makes it looks amateurish at best.
  2. They didn’t use an opt-in list, so it wasn’t targeted in any way.
  3. Instead of putting the Christmas party information on their website to encourage traffic, they sent two attachments with the email.  Would you risk opening a file like that?  No, nor did I.

OK, these are common mistakes and can be forgiven.  But the biggest blunder of all … their mailbox is full!  Any email responses simply bounce back with a message saying … ‘Mailbox disk space quota exceeded, please try again later’.  They clearly didn’t come to WORD-right.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

And if you’re wondering how I know, I replied immediately asking to be removed from their mailing list.  But suppose I wanted to make a booking …

THe Cutting Edge in Banbury Hair Salon

The Cutting Edge Hair Salon Reception

If you’ve thought about using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but wondered if it’s effective, read on …

Yesterday we launched the new website for Banbury hair salon: The Cutting Edge.  The site went live just before 2pm.  The salon directors understand the importance of social media and how it can help their marketing.  They use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn extensively.

Despite it being a Sunday, a day when there tends to be less social media traffic, Kirsty Pearce (Salon Director of The Cutting Edge) started promoting the new site on their Facebook page and through Twitter.

The launch of a new website is always an excellent marketing opportunity and it’s possible to generate a significant volume of traffic using social media.  We always help our clients promote their new sites and keep a close eye on the website stats to measure the effectiveness of the launch activity.

Thanks to Facebook and Twitter,  record numbers of visitors looked at the new Cutting Edge website. In less than half a day, 858 people visited the site and a staggering 2,739 page loads were registered.  How does this compare to the hits on the average small business website?

This clearly demonstrates the benefits of social media as a marketing tool.  If you’re convinced, but don’t know where to start, you can get a free copy of our WORD-right guide to using Twitter here.

Baby cabbages

Tomorrow's lunch?

To get the best results from your marketing, as with your gardening, you have to work at it.  Growing a business is a lot like gardening … would you expect to plant some seeds today … and have cabbages for lunch tomorrow?  If only ….

The garden is your business; the plants are your customers; the flowers and fruit are your sales; and the weeds, slugs and other predators are your competitors!

Marketing your company, like gardening, takes planning, effort and imagination.  So how can you make ‘your garden grow’?

  • Prepare the ground: think about your branding & niche markets
  • Preserve the older, more mature plants:  look after your existing customers.  Making repeat sales to them is 5 times easier!
  • Condition the soil with lots of good organic material:  make sure your marketing material is well-written, ideally by a professional copywriter
  • Choose good quality seeds: invest in your marketing materials – they say everything about your business
  • Watch out for predators!  Did you know a slug has 27,000 teeth? Develop a USP (Unique Selling Point). Your competitors will!  There are a lot of slugs about!
  • Nurture your seedlings:  develop good customer service strategies
  • Water & feed regularly:  communicate with your customers.  Send them newsletters … drip feed them with information
  • Propagate your own plants: ask for referrals and work on your networking
  • Boast about your garden: think about PR, and make the most of your free opportunities
Vegetable harvest

Harvesting the fruits of your marketing?

Don’t forget your company’s marketing activities will be what your prospective customer or client will use to judge you.  While you should always present yourself in a positive light, don’t over do the ‘fertiliser’!

Marketing your business takes time.  Like your garden, you shouldn’t expect results overnight.  Your objective is to build solid, long-lasting relationships with your customers.  This way you can look forward to repeat sales, referrals, and a sound customer base.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Ever noticed how a small business owner misses out at Christmas?  It’s a bit hard to have a staff party just for one or two, and as for secret Santas … forget it!

Rye Hill Golf Club

Party time at Rye Hill

So here’s your chance to join other local businesses for a Christmas party night.  We’re organising a get-together at Rye Hill Golf Club near Banbury for one of their Buffet and Bop nights.  This is a great opportunity to network, have a great night out and enjoy a ‘work Christmas do’ with other like-minded people.

The date!

Wednesday 7th December  (other dates may be available, but please understand we can’t please all of the people all of the time!)

The cost?

Just £19.50 per person  which includes:

  • A buffet served at our table
  • Dancing to the resident DJ
  • Party games, crackers, hats and novelties
  • The bar is open until 00.30am

The party plan!

Bring along a significant other (or not), the choice is yours – we only need a party of 8 people to join in the fun.

The buffet menu

  • Turkey & cranberry wraps
  • Chipping Norton pork chipolatas wrapped in smoked bacon
  • Mackerel & horseradish tartlets
  • Oxford blue cheese & mushroom mini quiches
  • Cranberry & parmesan cheese straws
  • Filo wrapped king prawns, spicy chilli dipping sauce
  • Mini éclairs
  • Mini Xmas puddings

Dress code

Anything between smart casual to a touch of glam!

Want to join us?  

If you would like to celebrate Christmas with some local business buddies, get in touch by email.  A non-refundable £10 deposit per person (cheques payable to Rye Hill Golf Club) will be  needed to confirm your booking.

Ho ho ho!  

We received a worrying email today from a website client who manages and updates her own site.  The site, which previously performed well, had suddenly dropped down the rankings.  It was no longer found on key searches and she wanted to know if we could help.  Like everyone, the client was keen to keep her site high on the rankings and increase its performance.

One of her business acquaintances had given her some ‘SEO advice’.  Unfortunately she didn’t verify it or investigate it further before putting it into action.  Instead of improving her ranking, this bad advice had disastrous results.

The advice was to create ‘invisible copy’ on her site.  The additional new copy, which was stuffed with keywords, was presented on the site in a white font on a white background.  The text was not visible to the human visitor but was, or so she was told, an effective way to optimise the website.

This is black hatting at its worst.  Black hat SEO is the unethical attempt to manipulate the search engine rankings.  It is not only bad practice, but dangerous.  The search engines’ sophisticated technology can spot black hat SEO a mile away and will rightly penalise the site.  In the worst case scenario, the site can be disqualified from the searches.

Other unethical black hat SEO techniques include keyword stuffing and doorway pages.  There is a useful and informative post on black hat SEO on the About.com website.

If your website isn’t performing as it should, there is no substitute for professionally written SEO copy.  Keeping your site updated and fresh will ensure your ranking is preserved and improved.

So please, whatever you do, don’t be tempted to try and diddle the search engines.  They’re too smart to fall for it, and your website and your sales enquiries will suffer as a result.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

The price: what you pay a professional copywriter
The cost: the damage to your business if you don’t

As copywriters, we use an external proofreader to check all the writing we do for our clients.  This isn’t because we don’t know how to spell, or don’t understand grammar, it’s about maintaining professional standards and attention to detail.

When we run our Masterclass sessions or in our work with student writers, we stress how hard it is to proof your own writing.  You only see what you THINK you’ve written and it’s easy for mistakes to creep in.  It only takes a slip of the fingers or a misplaced apostrophe to create a mistake.

A post on the BBC website yesterday said poor spelling can have a significant impact on business, and is costing millions in lost sales.  The fact is – poor copywriting in general will cost you sales.

Unfortunately, few people realise the very tangible benefits of having professionally written copy.  There is a considerable difference between just being able to write and good copywriting.

Last year a new client was concerned about the performance of their website.  Despite paying for SEO services, it didn’t appear on any searches, even in their local area, and wasn’t bringing them any business.  We reviewed the site and it was obvious the problem was in the copy.  It was poorly written, didn’t provide a good visitor experience, and wasn’t optimised.  Less than two weeks after rewriting the copy, the site had shot to the top of Google and was generating business.  That’s the difference between being able to write and good copywriting!

While we use our wonderful proofreaderto check our clients’ copy, we don’t always send our own in-house copy to be checked.  That’s something we’re about to change.  Yesterday we found a glaring typo in the first line of our WORD-right newsletter!  No excuses – we both checked it more than once, but it still slipped through the net.  And that is, quite simply, unacceptable and it certainly won’t happen again.

We frequently see inaccurate copy which has been written by professional writers.  Because we know our copywriting service will increase your sales, we don’t take any chances.

Now we’re going to make sure we do the same for ourselves.  So it’s time to wind up this post and send it off to our proofreader!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

 

You do!  We never cease to be amazed by the number of external website developers or web masters who don’t give clients access to their website stats.  Instead sadly, they seem to begrudgingly email the odd bit of information … now and again … when they get round to it … like crumbs from the rich man’s table.

Your website is a vital part of your company’s marketing.  And, like any marketing initiative, you need to measure its effectiveness.  If you don’t have full access to this information, you can never hope to achieve a return on your website investment.  You’ll find some information about using your stats further down this post.

Which stats package?

There are countless website stats packages available.  The most well known is probably Google Analytics.  If you are selling online or tracking pay-per-click advertising (PPC), Google Analytics is very useful.  But in my opinion, Google Analytics is hard work.  Someone who isn’t used to reading website stats might find it difficult.

We recommend Statcounter (www.statcounter.com) and have been using it since 2005.  It is very visual and intuitive to use.  Statcounter provides a wealth of information at a glance, with ‘drill downs’ for more in-depth analysis.  We install Statcounter on all our websites, our clients’ websites, and on our blogs.  The free package is more than adequate for most small businesses, and paid-for upgrades are available for sites with large volumes of traffic.
You can install more than one stats package on your website.  There is nothing to stop you installing Google Analytics for in-depth PPC reporting and Statcounter for every day use.

Your website – your stats!

If you are one of the many who don’t have access to your website stats – do something about it.  Don’t ask for access.  Demand it!  It is YOUR website and YOU need to know how it’s performing.

If you are managing a client’s website, be sure to give them access to their stats and help them understand the information available.  You won’t be giving them good service if you don’t!

What will website stats tell you?

Keywords

Keywords are essential to your site’s optimisation.  Your website stats will show exactly what search terms people use to find your site.  It will show which keywords are the most effective.  This is valuable intelligence.  Rewriting some of your copy to include the most  relevant keywords can improve your site’s performance.

Entry pages

Websites are not like books.  Visitors don’t start on the home page and work their way through from start to finish.  If people are consistently entering your site on a specific page, it means it is well optimised and might contain the most relevant keywords.  You can use this information to improve the performance of other pages.

Exit pages

This information shows where people leave your site.  Of course, they have to leave somewhere, so what does this tell you?  For example: if visitors regularly leave the site quickly after visiting a specific page, it might suggest the content isn’t meeting their needs or answering their questions.  Revising the copy on that page could convert visitors into positive sales enquiries.

Visit length

The average website visit is just a matter of seconds.  You want to encourage visitors to stay longer, read the information and act on it.  The statistics will show how long people spend on your site. The longer they are there, the more likely you are to get an enquiry or a sale.  If your visitors don’t stay on your site, you will need to adjust to content to make it more desirable.

Referring sites

As well as knowing which search engines are sending traffic to your site, you can also use this information to measure the effectiveness of your other marketing activities.  If you pay to advertise on directory sites, for example, but get no traffic from them, you are wasting your money.  Sites which regularly refer visitors might be worth greater investment.

If you use social media as a marketing tool, you can measure its effectiveness by the number of referrals to your site.

Which pages are viewed most / least?

Your website stats show the most and least popular of the pages.  You can see how people travel round your site and which pages have the greatest appeal.  You can use this information to make your content more appealing to the visitor and give them the information they want.

Other marketing activity

Your website stats can help you measure your other marketing activity.  If you use email marketing, mail shots, or advertising for example, you need to know if this is increasing traffic to your website as well as your sales enquiries.

So don’t be fobbed off – if you have a website managed by a third party, be sure you have a good easy-to-understand stats package installed and you can access it whenever you want.

No business should have to depend on crumbs from the rich man’s table. 

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 18 other followers

http://twitter.com/WORDright

wordpress blog stats