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The Benefits of Outsourcing SEO and Social in your Small Business

If you’re a sole trader, small business or a start-up it can be tempting to try to do everything yourself or within your team in order to cut costs. Marketing tends to be one of the last thing any business really wants to spend money on, and it’s easy to assume that because social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are free to use, that it’s free to market your business there. In essence yes it is, if you do this in your spare time. But, if you are using your valuable work time or enlisting members of your team to run your Facebook accounts and such, then it’s costing you money.

You’ve got to speculate to accumulate

Yes, it’s right you need to spend money to make money, but be careful what is you’re spending your time or your money on. Is it really effective to be or to have a jack-of-all-trades in the office? Or would it be better to leave the professional marketing to the experts so that you and your team can concentrate on providing a service to your customers. A popular saying doing the rounds on a meme states “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you’ve hired an amateur”.

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Whilst your admin person or your partner might have a natural flair for creating witty Facebook updates, they will come a point when you need to look at the effectiveness of what they’re doing. It can often be that despite posting every day, sounding good and giving a lot of “love” to the page, you hit a wall and stay stagnant around 100 likes. Because you just don’t know how or where to find new customers via social media. Or the opposite could be the case; that the social account really takes off and needs a lot of attention and management to serve the customers. So what do you do, employ another member of staff to look after it?

Consider the costs of recruiting, training and hiring a new staff member. You’ll spend time writing the ad, filtering applications, interviewing, negotiating and settling in. And you’ll have to pay the tax on your employee’s earnings too, as well as all the other glorious paperwork that goes along with hiring someone. You’ll probably find that a full time marketing role isn’t affordable to start off with, so will you find someone with the right skills and experience that’s really willing to work part time? Consider the actual cost of this member of staff in your office. Will they be productive all the time?

Our guess is that the answer to most of the above will be no. So if you’ve previously ignored the opportunities there are for bringing skilled contractors or agencies in to the business, think again. Agencies providing affordable professional marketing services do exist. Avoid working with the cheapest – you’ll get what you pay for.

Think about how much you would pay monthly for a full time member of staff, then half it, and you should be able to find a great agency to support you with years of expertise. They’ll take care of your online marketing, won’t need space in your office, won’t cost you extra in taxes and will have software and tools that you may not be able to justify spending on for your staff. You’ll be getting a very professional service without the hassle of employment. You’ll see the effect of their work almost instantly, as you won’t need to train them and settle them in to the office before they start becoming productive.

And if you do enlist the help of an agency, for a monthly retainer you may be able to call on a whole host of services that you’d never be able to access from your team alone. Most agencies will be able to offer an hourly rate or day rate if you just want to spend a little before you commit. You may eventually choose to sign a 3, 6 or 12 month contract, but won’t need to commit like you would with staff.

What’s more, instead of worrying about the other parts of your business, your outsourced marketing will focus purely on what they’re best at, leaving your internal team to concentrate on your bottom line.

If you’d like to outsource your marketing tasks to an affordable agency, contact I Say! Digital today and we’ll review your current marketing campaigns for free.

Optimise Your Twitter Profile

First impressions count

Twitter can often be the first place where someone sees your brand online. Whether by a retweet, a hashtag or a search, if someone happens to come across your profile, you want it to be the best representation of your brand as possible. Have your logo and any other usable graphics you have associated with your brand on your Twitter profile.

Branding

It often pays off more to design yourself specific cover photo and background with your company colours, logo and any essential information you want to show off, as it were. Designing a cover photo for your profile using the specific dimensions and size guides will ensure that your image is positioned just how you want it. Remember that a profile image is 81 x 81 px, and a cover photo is 520 x 260 px. Unfortunately the Twitter background isn’t responsive, so how it is viewed will depend on the screen being looked at. Having something simple that represents your brand through a certain colour scheme or pattern will work well on all devices.

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Bio

Your bio is also a very important factor, especially when it comes down to whether or not someone decides to follow your account. If your profile appears in a list, then your bio is the main thing people will see, and will inevitably be how they judge you. Be brief, but not too vague. You only have 160 characters to describe exactly who you are, what you do and your style.

To fully take advantage of the bio, you should be aware that words you have written in there will also help you show up on the search engines. If there is a specific term, key word or phrase you want people to find you with, then your bio is a good place to include it. You can also make use of hashtags in your bio as this automatically enhances your search optimisation when someone uses the same hashtag to search with, but these aren’t essential to being found

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How do people find you on Twitter?

If someone has searched for your name on Twitter, you want to be the first one to come up.

Your account name, sometimes referred to as a ‘handle’, should be recognisable, easy to remember and relevant to your company. Seeing as you’re only allowed 15 characters, your company name might be too long to have as on your account. The best thing to do in this situation is to come up with a witty and or recognisable abbreviation of your name. Take, for instance, the account pictured below, instead of having @marchofthemermaids, @Mermaids_March is more condensed and still gets across the two main words of the organisation.

Who to Follow

Try not to follow too, too many accounts as this can come across rather desperate. Following more accounts than the amount that follow you is however, very normal and expected, especially for someone who’s just starting out on Twitter. Just keep it in moderation, (say a two to one ratio) and only follow relevant accounts to your cause. Follow people that are likely to interact with you as well, as Twitter can get rather boring if your Tweets just get lost in the over-crowded bustle of a famous account. The purpose of being on social media and creating a presence for your brand is to get seen- keep this in mind when posting and choosing who to follow.

Following local people and businesses as well as influential accounts to keep your feed useful, relevant and easy to communicate with.

Overall, whatever colours, logos and branding you do use and whatever you put in your bio – you should always have one thing at the front of your action plan and the top of your mind: your brand values and your social media objectives!

If you are aware of what you need to do to optimise your Twitter profile, you will understand that in order to manage it successfully, you need a routine. Many business owners just can’t find the time to do it themselves or can’t afford to hire an in-house marketer, which is why services such as our Social Media Management and SEO packages exist!

New Year, New Digital Marketing Strategy

Has this Christmas has made you realise the potential of your eCommerce business?

 

With cyber monday, black friday and the likes, it is clear that 2013 has very much seen a rise of online shoppers. As we know, the options are a lot more varied for shoppers these days; with more tablets, iPads, smartphones and laptops, people now have many choices as to how, where and when they choose to shop.

 

2014- the year of eCommerce?

 

Whilst 2013 has seen a definite increase in the use of online shopping, 2014 is set to be even more tech-based when it comes to sales. This will mean that the competition between the quality and how user-friendly websites are is bound to rocket. The competition is already high for eCommerce businesses due to the sheer size of the competition; you’re not just competing with other shops on the High Street anymore, but with companies located on all corners of the globe.

 

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So what are you waiting for?

 

Whether you earned a successful profit from your online sales in 2013 or are reading this to learn how you could improve yours- there are always the same basic steps to keep in mind when managing your website.

 

SEO

 

The term SEO often scares a lot of people off as they assume it’s awfully technical and complicated, and far above their internet knowledge. Which it can be if you don’t know what you’re doing, but it doesn’t have to be!

 

Google is one of the most frequently used search tools in the world. It uses a range of techniques to assess your website, and depending on how it ranks means how far down it will show in the search menu. As long as your website is “Google-friendly” and uses a few basic SEO techniques such as regular updates, is user-friendly, responsive and uses specified keywords your website will get seen.

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We offer a range of specified SEO marketing packages to help get your business to the top of the search engines. Give us a call any time to discuss what we can do help you.

 

Design

 

This is where the competition gets seriously hot. Innovative and modern web design can cost you a fortune and many would say it is worth the cost. Because there is so much choice out there, people really do have the option to pick and choose where they buy their products from. If your website doesn’t fulfil their (probably high) expectations then they can simply click the little arrow at the top of the screen and choose someone else.

To ensure they don’t, there are some things you should make sure your website does for them. If you already run an eCommerce business, then you will know the sorts things that your site needs to do. They are simple things that make a huge difference. Simply having it so the clickable links on your site highlight themselves when the mouse touches them will give your website a higher ranking.

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Another main tip from us is not to have too much or too little text. Google will pick up on all of this and judge you on it; if there is too little it is probable that there is a lack of information there, whereas nobody wants to be faced with a page full of block text. Just the right amount (300-500 words) seems to do the trick.

 

Social Media

 

The ‘power of social media’ has been big news for a few years now and things haven’t changed. There are so many platforms to share on that one can no longer guarantee the same effect as the other. Each type of business will tend to do better on one form of social media than another, purely because there are so many now. For example, one type of business might really thrive on Facebook but not get so much interaction on say, Linkedin.

 

Winning at social media can be easy if you have the time to put into it- and it is a full time job. Which is why many companies will tend to put their social media on the back-burner, although they are aware that being active on one or more social media accounts will benefit them and work in their favour. Not only will sharing on social media increase your general reach, (potentially thousands more people will see your brand via one post) it will help your SEO by giving you more backlinks to your website and regular updates as well as forming relationships and engaging with customers with ease.

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Our social media packages work with each business individually to assess the best marketing strategy for your brand.

 

Let’s make 2014 the year of successful eCommerce together!

Why Buying ‘Social Indicators’ is a Bad Idea

Some of those who are reading this may have seen a recent documentary from Channel 4’s Dispatches team. The programme investigated the purchase of social media influence from companies in the UK and abroad. Businesses and celebrities who want to build up a following, whether for reasons of appearance or in an effort to boost their search rankings, are able to source hundreds of new fans and followers from overseas with just a few pounds.

In order to show you why it’s a bad idea to purchase so-called social indicators in an effort to bolster your SEO, I’m going to show you what happened to a site of mine. This was actually a deliberate attempt to sabotage it by a competitor. That’s right – buying social indicators is so bad for your SEO that rivals will attack you by doing it!

About the Site

The target was a small, simple local business site. There were a few pages about the services, some photos, and contact information. It was ranking on the first page for its target keyword, between positions 7 and 9. I had set up a Google Plus page for the business (as we all know, Plus is great for your SEO) and things were moving forward.

Then, this happened:

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88 new +1s for the tiny local business page, all on the same day. There is no way that these were natural – in their niche, the business would not have that many customers in an entire year. No other SEO work had been done recently, so the following results were purely due to the new influx of +1s.

The business lost its first page ranking for the target keyword, disappearing completely from the results. It has also lost its good positions for secondary keywords. Luckily, it still appears in the local listings and is receiving some traffic that way, so the situation is not as bad as it could be – but can you rely on this?

The Bottom Line

Don’t buy ‘Social SEO’ packages which offer to deliver a set number of ‘real, natural’ fans and followers to your business in a short time period. It will only ever be harmful. Instead, concentrate on creating great content and networking to build a real social base. I Say! Digital can support you in this. Why not give us a call and ask what we could do for your business?

How To Do Your Own Inbound Marketing

Along with SEO, inbound marketing is one of the big buzzwords in marketing this year. As Google tightens up its algorithms to prevent manipulation and spam, more and more businesses are turning to inbound marketing to help them generate revenue and get found by the customers who are looking to spend.


In this article, we’ll look at the basics of inbound marketing and define some DIY techniques you can use to create your own campaign today.

What is Inbound?

Marketing techniques can be split into two camps: outbound and inbound. Basically, inbound marketing can be summarised as non-intrusive; unlike outbound marketing, you don’t need to display a huge banner or use a megaphone to get noticed.
Inbound marketing is becoming increasingly popular because of its links with SEO, lower costs and opportunity for creative and dynamic elements. It’s thought of as modern when compared to outbound, although both have their place.

How Do I Get Started?

Here’s a simple summary plan of your first steps in inbound marketing.

Sort Your SEO

Perhaps the most important building block for a good inbound marketing campaign is a well optimised website. It doesn’t just help with search engine positioning. It’ll also make your website contents easier to find, so it’ll complement everything else you do.

Build a Blog

Everyone knows regular content is the key to satisfying the search engines. It’ll also help you build authority in your niche. You can try publishing blogs via social media, posting guest blogs rich with unique content, or even creating videos. Whatever you do, make sure your content offers something really interesting – and publish frequently.

Market With Mail

Mailing lists have a bad reputation thanks to spammy outbound marketing techniques, but an email list is still a very valuable tool. Don’t be scared of inviting people to sign up so that you can build a valuable list of interested leads. Then, offer your email list subscribers value in the form of a discount, some unique content or valuable extras and freebies.

Improve Authority

Once you’ve established your campaign, get your brand name (or your own name) noticed. Write a book; ebooks are great providing you’re willing to give them away for free, but a print book is even better. Build a healthy Google+ profile, spend time networking on LinkedIn and snap up opportunities to get your name and face known. Even if you’re not directly promoting your business, the fact that you’re visible means people are developing a connection with you from afar.

Making the Switch to Inbound

For several years, we’ve been told that advertising is the key to marketing online. It’ll take some time for that to be reversed. The sooner you adopt inbound marketing methods and embrace them, the further ahead you’ll be when your competitors catch on.
The key to developing your inbound marketing campaign is to look for customers and help them to find you – don’t force your message in front of them. Before you know it, you’ll be generating sales leads at a fraction of the price you paid before.

Featured images:

Sam Wright is a journalist working with Brand Republic.

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