Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday fun - can you correct the grammar and punctuation in these statements?

1. Dont judge a book by its cover.

2. The media is waiting for a statement.

3. The children collected ____ coats and bags (insert there, their, or they’re).

4. The boys enjoyed swimming.

5. No girls allowed in the Boys Changing Room.

Leave your answers in the comments below.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Free digital download - Marketing in less than 1000 words

Do you run a small business? Are you new to marketing?

Grab your free digital download of Marketing in less than 1000 words:  

Friday, 11 July 2014

Content marketing tips #3 – keyword positioning

Careful keyword positioning helps to get your online content found by search engines.

Competing for that all important front page position on Google can seem like an impossible task. However, a few simple steps can make a huge difference to your search engine rankings.

Free Keyword position tools


Research which keyword(s) or phrase to compete for using free tools such as Google Keyword Planner:

Keyword-Position.Com offers you a free tool to check the position of keywords in major search engines Google, Yahoo & MSN:

Location, location, location

You can convince search engines that your content is dedicated to the keyword(s) or phrase chosen by including it in strategic places such as the heading,  sub-headings, and opening paragraphs.

Less is more

Make sure keywords and phrases don’t make up more than 3% of your overall content by using this free keyword density tool:

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Content marketing tips #2 - conduct competitor keyword analysis

I've been looking at this advert a lot lately, as I see it at my local train station. It's by Travel Republic and it tells me two things - they:
  1. have carried out competitor keyword analysis
  2. understand that search engine optimisation (SEO) is fundamental to their online marketing strategy.
The advert invites (potential) customers to spend time researching the key phrase 'best beach holidays for kids' and then contact Travel Republic for the 'lowest price guarantee'.

In order for this campaign to be profitable, Travel Republic must be confident about the information customers will find when searching for the key phrase suggested. They must have analysed this information in order to be able to position their offering competitively.

Competitor keyword analysis should be a key part of your online marketing strategy because you must understand the environment you are entering before formulating your plan.

There are lots of free tools available to help you identify the keywords and phrases to compete for, so no excuses folks!

Who is your keyword competition?

Online content has to compete in the global marketplace for customers' attention. Take time to identify who your top three online (industry) competitors are. Once you have identified them, take time to analyse their content
strategy to help inform your own approach. You may decide to compete directly (in terms of keyword strategy) or you may decide that a completely alternative approach would be more successful – this of course depends on your
particular market.

As well as competitors within your own industry, you also need to consider those from other industries that will also be competing for the same keywords and phrases your online content will contain. For example, a search for the
term 'model' returns results for modelling agencies, model engineering societies, and model shops. These three different industries are competing for search engine rankings using the same keywords.

You must consider, not only what search engines know about website content, but also how they wed this to the information they hold about individual users. For example, I have a Google account, so Google knows a lot about me:
which category of websites I visit regularly; where I am located; what I have searched for in the past, and so on.

If I enter a search query for fish and chip shops, the search engine results page lists restaurants in my local area – these will be different to yours. So, location marketing is an ever important consideration.

Free keyword tools

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Lessons from Marks and Spencer website changes

Marks and Spencer (M&S) announced an 8.1% drop in online sales which it has attributed to moving its website to a new platform. Users:

  • already registered on the site were forced to re-register
  • reported that the navigation was overly complicated and lacked clarity. 
So, whether you are transferring to a new content management system (CMS), hosting in a new environment, or going for a radical redesign, what lessons can be learnt from the M&S experience?

1. Let website users know that changes are coming, and the reasons for them

Nobody enjoys logging onto one of their favorite websites to find that it has a radical new redesign. It leaves them wondering what was wrong with the old site that they liked so much. Yet, a few weeks down the line we can hardly remember what the previous version looked like. Fact is, people are uncomfortable with change, especially if it is sudden and unexpected.

Chances are the changes you are planning will be based on user feedback and analysis of your site's analytics. Make sure you communicate the reason for the changes to users ahead of time, during, and after the transition. Give users a channel through which to express their opinions about the changes.

2. Prioritise the changes

If 80% of your business is conducted via 20% of your website, make sure you know which 20% that is, and ensure resources are focused on getting these sections right.

It might be that you can make the changes to your site incrementally, rather than going for a big bang approach. This will allow you to gather feedback along the way, and make adjustments if necessary, based on user feedback.

3. Have a backup skeleton site on standby

If you are making wholesale changes to the way your website operates, it is a good idea to have a very simple backup site on standby. This need be little more than a holding page with the contact details of customers services on it, for example. You probably have one of these as part of your business continuity plans anyway, that is hosted in a separate environment. All you need to do is point the DNS at this second site, but remember, DNS changes can take up to 48 hours to take effect.

4. Managing external suppliers

Make sure that any external suppliers you are working with have resource dedicated to your project throughout the change process. You will be reliant on them for some aspects of service continuity, so they need to function as an extension of your in-house team.

Research their experience in dealing with changes such as CMS transfers before you appoint them. A standard way of doing this is to contact some of their existing customers - ask what went well, and what pit-falls they experienced that you can avoid. A good supplier will let you choose which of their customers to speak to.

5. Future proof Content Management System 

We would all like a future proof CMS, and of course this is not completely possible, however, make sure your supplier has a clear road-map for product development. Upgrades and version releases should be scheduled at least a year into the future, and may or may not be included in your contract, so check this out.

Of course, nothing can mitigate against mergers and acquisitions which may result in the CMS you are using becoming obsolete or unsupported over time.

6. Buy in additional resource

Large scale changes to your website, which may be your biggest or only source of income, will be resource intensive. When planning for the changes, factor in additional (wo)manpower. This could be to help directly with the changes, or to take on some of the day to day business tasks that you won't have time for during the transition. 

7. Pilot sites

Ask yourself whether you can safely make changes to a small area of your website as a tester before site wide changes are implemented. It may be that parts of your website are hosted in different environments, and are not interdependent. If things do go belly up, you are in a better position than if you try to make all the changes at once.

8. Take time to get service level agreements (SLAs) with suppliers right

It can be tempting to sign paperwork with a supplier without making time consuming changes to the terms and conditions. However, working out the actual cost of a day's down-time will really clarify to the supplier the significance of the project to your business. Consider working financial penalties into the contract if failure to deliver the project is on the part of the supplier.

9. Test, test, test

Regardless of the changes you are making, ensure that there is a sandpit environment where changes can be previewed and tested before being sent live. Be open-minded about who can conduct the testing and consider not just user acceptance testing (UAT) but also employee feedback and consumer panel testing. Yes, this takes more time to complete, but it could mean you end up with a better product at the end of the process.

10. Reflect on lessons learnt

All large website changes will encounter problems. Manage risk, assign risk owners, and have clear processes for escalation. Take time at the end of your project to debrief with the team, reflect, and learn lessons for next time.

Personally, I can see a lots of positive changes to the M and S website that are getting lost in the current bad press around the downturn in sales. It's important for the team to remain motivated and focused which is sometimes easier said then done at such times!


- BBC - Marks and Spencer sales hot by website move 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Developing a social media policy - what to include

10 issues to cover when developing a social media policy

1.  Stress that the policy is there to protect the reputation of the individual, as well as the organisation.


2.  Be clear on who is responsible for setting up and managing social media accounts on behalf of the business.


3.  Outline the scope of the policy – does it cover work social media accounts or personal social media accounts too? Specify that the policy covers posts made during working hours as well as those made out of hours.


4.  Offer examples of how individuals might be identified as an employee of your organisation, for example, via personal details posted on a range of websites.


5.  Be clear on what individuals should do, to avoid conflicts of interest, when commenting on work related topics via their personal accounts -  for example, by being explicit that ‘all views are my own’ in posts.


6.  Outline whether it is acceptable for individuals to use their work email address to manage their personal accounts.


7.  Be clear on what individuals should do if customers or other stakeholders offer to ‘friend’ them via their personal social media accounts.


8. Tell individuals what steps they should take if they feel uncomfortable about discussions taking place on social media.


9.  Offer safety advice about opening links and attachments sent via social media that are not from trusted sources.


10.  Align the social media policy with others related to code of conduct to ensure continuity of message. Make the rules easy to understand - If you wouldn’t do it offline, don’t do it on social media.

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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Content marketing tips - #1 - The inverted pyramid

What is the inverted pyramid style of writing?

Think of a newspaper article. By reading the first paragraph you can decide whether or not to read on. It tells you the who, what, when, where, and why. Read on and you will get the more granular detail. This is known as the inverted pyramid.

Why is the inverted pyramid important in content marketing

When it comes to content marketing, that opening paragraph of text is all important.

Eye tracking studies have shown that the part of online content most likely to be read by visitors is the opening paragraph.

The opening paragraph of content appears as the description text under the link to your site in search engine results pages (SERPS). It may be the only interaction you have your potential audience, unless the copy is compelling enough for them to click.

Applying the inverted pyramid  style of writing

A good example of the inverted pyramid is an opening paragraph which effectively provides the reader with a summary or conclusion. Without reading any other information, they understand what the rest of the article is about. Here is a great example – consider this opening paragraph from The Independent:

Track runner Alysia Montano ran the 800m at the US Track and Field Championships on Thursday, even though she is due to give birth to her first child in seven weeks.”

Lets break that down and see all the information this one sentence provides us with:

Who?: “Track runner Alysia Montano”
What?: “ran the 800m”
Where?: “at the US Track and Field Championships”
When?: “on Thursday”
Why is this newsworthy?: “even though she is due to give birth to her first child in seven weeks”.

A word on keywords

Don't forget to include the carefully researched keywords or phrases that you are optimising your content for in the heading, opening paragraph, and sub-headings. 

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