Five benefits of paid social media management for small businesses

The power of social media is becoming more apparent in today’s fierce marketplace – small businesses are turning to paid social as a means to target more customers and increase website traffic. Below are five benefits of paid social media management for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

1. Brand awareness
Brand awareness might seem like a loose goal but for many startups and entrepreneurs getting their brand seen and in front of a specific target audience is key. Social media is one of the most cost effective forms of digital marketing and provides the perfect platform to increase a business’ visibility. By utilising an effective budget and creating a targeted audience of consumers brand awareness can be increased tenfold.

2. Referral traffic
Marketing your business on social media will increase traffic to your website. Aside from your usual customers’ who will no doubt search using keywords they already associate with your brand – using social media marketing will open you up to a whole new customer base. Without using this form of marketing any business will struggle to reach new customers outside of their loyal base of followers. Every social media channel you add to your marketing strategy is another great opportunity to capture new customers and impress them with your brand – by engaging them in unique content.

3. Cost effective
Unlike other forms of advertising social media marketing is one of, if not the most cost effective forms out there. It costs nothing to create an initial profile whether that’s on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. From there it’s a case of posting regular content to your followers. The easiest way to bring in new business is to create a paid for promotion – which for a relatively small amount can provide a positive and highly successful return that can be measured and adapted for future strategies later on. You won’t need to break the bank either.

4. Strategic targeting
Once you’ve established who your ideal customer is you can then take that user profile and create a target audience. Many social media platforms allow you to target through gender, age, location as well as interests and job title. Once this audience has been created and your paid promotion is running you know that only those who see your ad or post are genuinely interested in your business. This in turn will allow them to engage with you and potentially head to your website for further information and/or make a sale.

5. Measure success
How do you measure the success of your marketing campaigns? Simple, most social media channels have great tools which allow you to see how effective your ads are. You’ll be able to analyze metrics such as how often they are being clicked on, shared – and if you’ve used video how long they watched it for. This real time data is a major advantage when it comes to making sure that your adverts or posts and delivering effectively. You even have the ability to edit them during the campaign which means you don’t have to wait to see if they have been effective or not.

If you would like to get more information please visit http://www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 01482 861875
Mob: 07850 009750

Email: info@activwebdesignhull.co.uk
Website: www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/
Twitter: @activBeverley

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Low Cost Ways To Promote Your Business

Starting a business on a shoestring? or just looking for ways to stretch a small business marketing budget?

Here are some low-cost, high-impact ideas to promote your business.

Most important
Plan your attack, define who your prospects are, and then determine the best way to reach them, be as specific as possible, is the decision maker the CEO of the company or a working mom? will you find them on Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest or Facebook?.

What about networking at local business meetings? will they be searching for your type of product on Google or eBay?  do you want to start promoting your business to them at the start of their buying cycle, or when they’re about ready to make the purchase, write your answers down and most importantly read them before you start any new marketing campaign.

YOU MUST – Have a website, if you don’t have one get one plain and simple.

Set your business up in the free listings and local directories, be sure to include your website link  (you do have one don’t you?) and business description.

Then
Create a business profile page on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. make sure your business profile includes a good description of what you do, why you are different, and why customers should come to you, make sure you have the right keywords and a link to your website.

Look for groups or conversations that talk about your type of products or services and participate in the conversations, but don’t spam them with constant adverts for what you sell.

If you’re just starting out and don’t have a business card and business stationary, get them as soon as possible, your business card, letterhead and envelope tell prospective customers you are a professional who takes your business seriously.

Be sure to list your website address on your business card and, letterhead and any handouts you create.

Get your business cards into the hand of anyone who can help you in your search for new clients, call your friends and relatives and tell them you have started a business, visit them and leave a small stack of business cards to hand out to their friends.

Talk to all the suppliers who you buy products or services from, give them your business card, and ask if they can use your products or services, or if they know anyone who can. If they have bulletin boards where business cards are displayed (printers often do, and so do some supermarkets, hairdressers, etc.), ask if yours can be added to the board.

Attend meetings of professional groups,and groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, 4 Networking, BNI, or civic associations, have your business cards ready and don’t forget to ask other people about their business, not only will they appreciate your interest, they will remember you because of it.

You may need to pay for membership in those groups but if they attract your target customers it is worth it, many of these groups have a website where members can promote their business, make sure your name and website link get added as soon as possible. Once it is added double check to be sure your contact information is correct and your website link isn’t broken.

If possible become actively involved in some of these groups, this will add to your credibility and give you more opportunity to meet possible prospects. however, opportunists are quickly spotted for what they are, and get little business.

Whilst you don’t want to become involved in many groups that require a lot of your time, you are after all running a business, you can and should make a real contribution to them by offering useful ideas and helping the groups success when possible.

Look for something unusual about what you do, and publicise it, send out press releases to local newspapers, local radio stations and magazines whose audiences are likely to be interested in buying what you sell, be sure to post the press releases on your website or blog too, being sure to include links to your website in the release.

To increase your chance of having the material published, send along a photo (not the radio stations 🙂 ) with your press release, editors of printed publications are often in need of photos to fill space and break up the gray look of the page.

Write an article that demonstrates your expertise in your field.Send it to noncompeting newspapers, magazines, and websites and blogs in your field that accept submissions from experts, be sure your name, business name, phone number, and a reference to your product or service is included at the end of the article.

If the editor can use the article you get your name in print, and possibly get your contact information printed for free which helps drive traffic to your site.

Whenever you do get publicity, get permission from the publisher to reprint the article containing the publicity.

Ask for work or leads, contact nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges, and even other businesses that have customers who may need your services.

Network with others who are doing the same type of work you are, let them know you are available to handle their work overloads, but don’t try to steal their customers you will only get away with it once and it will do your reputation no good at all.

If you are confident enough, offer to be a speaker at industry conferences or local business groups they often need speakers for meetings, you will benefit from the name recognition, contacts and publicity.

If your product or service is appropriate, give demonstrations of it to any groups or individuals who might be interested.

Put videos of your product or service on YouTube and other video-sharing and slide-sharing sites, this is highly effective when it comes to SEO and your website.

Find out what local government programs are in existence to help you get started in business, most offer free counseling, and some can put you in touch with government agencies and large corporations that buy from small businesses.

Send out sales letters to everyone you think might be able to use what you sell, be sure to describe your business in terms of how it can help the prospect. Learn to drop a business card in every letter you send out, follow up periodically with mailings (email or post).

If you use a car or van for your business have your business name, contact and website information professionally painted on the sides or back of the vehicle that way your means of transportation becomes a vehicle for advertising your business, if you don’t want the business name painted on the vehicle, consider using magnetic signs or stickers.

Get on the telephone and make “cold calls.” these are calls to people who you would like to do business with, briefly describe what you do and ask for an appointment to talk to them about ways you can help them meet a need or solve a problem, but don’t forget when you make these calls that they are also trying to run a business.

Get samples of your product or your work into as many hands as possible.

Offer a free, no obligation consultation to people you think could use your services, during these consultations offer some practical suggestions or ideas.

Learn to ask for referrals ask existing customers, prospects and casual acquaintances, when you do get them follow them up.

Use other people to sell your product or service in addition to selling your products yourself, look for affiliates, re sellers or people who will generate leads for you in return for a commission on sales, be sure your pricing structure allows for the fees or commissions you will have to pay on any sales that are made.

Get together with businesses who serve the same market, but sell different products and services to you, arrange to exchange leads.

Have sales letters, flyers and other information printed and ready to go.

Trial Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising on the search engines. some offer a voucher or code worth £50 to £75 in free advertising to start, however, know how they work before you start and plan very carefully watch what you spend on a daily or more frequently until you are comfortable using PPC ads and make sure you monitor the return on your investment.

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).

What is cloud computing and what can it do for me

The term cloud is used as a metaphor for the internet. Cloud computing is a general term for anything which involves delivered hosted services over the internet.

In broad terms a cloud service has three characteristics which differentiate it from traditional hosting, these are;

  1. It is provided on demand (by the minute or hour in some cases)
  2. It is scalable (a user can have as little or as much as they want)
  3. the service is fully managed by the vendor (you typically only require a computer and internet access)

Cloud computing promises to speed application deployment and lower costs, whilst increasing business agility. It has transformed the way we design, build and deliver applications to the users. Have you used a search engine today?, have you accessed web mail if so you are already using cloud services.

There are public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds but don’t let the jargon put you off, everyone agrees that cloud computing is the key to the future of I.T but lots of these people are unsure of what it is. Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon to offer “cloud services” so it is worth understanding such terms as SaaS (software as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service) or IaaS (infrastructure as a service) to name a few if you need to evaluate a suppliers claims.

Cloud computing has some real benefits but also has risks such as loss of services if your provider has downtime or worse still goes out of business also regulatory concerns over data security so choose your vendor carefully.

I recently setup a really simple system for a plumber who lives down the street; he already had an iPhone, an Apple Mac and an iPad although in his words he wasn’t really sure what to do with them. During our conversation he mentioned that his wife mans the phone at home and jots down all of his incoming appointments then rings him at regular intervals to give him the new list, if the call is urgent she tries to call him straight away, within 10 minutes we had connected his Apple Mac, iPhone and iPad calendar applications up to iCloud (he was familiar with the calendar app anyway), now when his wife enters the call details into a time slot on the calendar app on the Mac the appointment appears on his iPhone and iPad almost instantly and any Urgent appointments are highlighted in red, he now knows exactly when and where he should be, what the problem is before he gets there, the address and customer name and contact details and it cost him nothing as he already had the technology simple, but had this come up a year or two ago it would have been a little more difficult and a lot more expensive to achieve, it’s certainly not the best solution to his problem but it works for him and cost him nothing.

The reason for the anecdote above is to show that the “Cloud” isn’t frightening or intimidating, it’s not the answer to everything but in certain cases it does exactly what it says on the tin.

To conclude, here are a few more terms you may want to research if you want to know more, it is a fascinating subject.

Utility Computing
SaaS
– Software as a service
PaaS – Platform as a service
IaaS – Infrastructure as a service
RIA – Rich internet application
Multi-tenancy
Public, Private, Hybrid Clouds
Virtualisation

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).

 

Effective Email Marketing

This is an introduction to creating an effective email marketing campaign for your business, subsequent posts will offer advice on building squeeze pages, creating a campaign and tips and tricks to help make it effective.

Even with the advent of social media, smart phones, and tablets, email marketing is still one of the most effective forms of marketing online and that isn’t expected to change anytime soon, so it would be a shame to pass-up email marketing as a possible revenue source for your business.

The mailing list is king, collect as many email addresses from customers or potential customers as you can and once you have them keep them, let’s face it, people are not going to join your mailing list without a good reason, these days people are more suspicious and reluctant to give out any personal data and that includes their email address so for them to give it to a total stranger would be going against what they think is the safe choice, if you want them to persuade them to do that then you have to offer them a worthwhile incentive.

The best way to do that is to give them something for free, we all like to get something for nothing eBooks work well, short reports also work well, even free software (make sure it’s yours to give away).

Building Your List

The first thing you need is a mailing list and, if the list is large enough, an automated bulk mailing system. There are plenty of third-party services that can do this for you, today’s services offer a lot more than just managing your email.

Most services offer a free option often limited to a certain number of subscribers or number of times in a set period you can use the service, this can range anywhere from 50 subscribers to 100 emails a month depending on their terms and conditions but you will not get all of the bells and whistles of the “paid for service”.

If you are just starting out it is worth building your list until you reach your free limit, and then upgrading to a paid plan as it could take a little while to build up your list an you could end up with a paid-for-service that you are simply not ready for, the free service will also allow you to do some early trials and gain valuable experience at no cost.

Starting Your Campaign

Now that you have your list you need a place to put your web form or squeeze page (also known as the opt-in form) so you can collect email addresses they are called squeeze pages because the only objective on the page is to get the user’s email address (my next post will tell you what is needed on a squeeze page and how to optimize it).

You have a few options for how you want to implement the squeeze page you can write a separate HTML page or you can download a template or simply use a page from within your blogging platform you may see a lot of people on the web refer to “landing” and “sales pages” as squeeze pages they are not the same thing there is a subtle difference.

Once you have setup your squeeze page wait until you have at least a month’s worth of messages in the queue ready to go out, why?, well, unless you keep in contact regularly, email addresses tend to go stale and inactive after a sustained period of no contact from you so once they join your list you ideally want them to be getting emails from you right away and on a regular basis.

Actually writing your email campaign series is considered by many to be a dark art but with a little bit of trial and error it is something that you can do quite effectively, email marketing is not new so there are plenty of articles, blogs and resources on the web I suggest you read them learn from others mistakes but be prepared for failures as well as successes.

Good luck!

If you do not feel confident tackling this on your own, lleave it to the experts!

At CodeSpinner we have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).