You Only Get One Chance: 5 Tips for Crafting Compelling Headlines

You Only Get One Chance: 5 Tips for Crafting Compelling Headlines

You only get one chance. Just the one. This not an alarmist diatribe. It’s the truth.

You only get one chance to make sure your audience cares about what you have to say, amidst the veritable explosion of content and message delivery channels that compete for their attention every minute of every day.

Whether you’re creating a blog post, an email blast or a landing page, your headline is what determines whether or not your audience will continue reading down your page (or if they click through to your competitors’ content instead). Research suggests that 80% of your audience will never get beyond your headline. According to the Father of Advertising, David Ogilvy, “only one out of five readers gets beyond your headline”.

Given these somewhat startling statistics, improving your headline to attract more readers, generate more leads and convert more clicks is well worth the investment. Experts tend to postulate that 50% of time spent on a blog post should be dedicated to drafting its headline. If you have a large database of blog subscribers, why not segment your database? Try out three completely different headlines (followed by the exact same content) to determine what style best suits your audience.

So, here’s our go-to guide for headlines that compel.

WIIFM.

Haven’t come across this acronym before? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the name of our favourite radio station. It stands for What’s In It For Me? And that’s what your headline (and the content that follows) has to convey to your audience immediately. Work out what your audience wants, needs, desires. Then demonstrate how your content will make their wants, needs and desires a reality. If you’re not sure how to accomplish this, simply add ‘Ways to…’ or ‘Why Your…’ or ‘How You Can…’. You get the gist.

Numbered lists work almost every time.

They work because they deliver on their very specific promise. Your audience knows, right from the get-go, what they are going to get out of your blog post, email or webpage. So, next time try a ‘10 Tips to’ or a ‘Six Secrets of’ type list.

Think about how your headline looks.

How your headline is presented can have a huge impact on readership levels. If you use all capital letters, this is equivalent to screaming at your audience. It’s not nice. It’s not polite. Avoid it at all costs. You are better off capitalising just the first letter of each word in a headline. It sets the headline apart from the content.

Be honest.

Give your audience the facts. Don’t throw in too many adjectives or superlatives. And don’t tell fibs, even if they are just little white lies. It will be obvious that your headline was a ploy designed to increase your readership. Your audience will remember next time.

Talk to your audience.

People identify blogs, emails, and web pages if you engage them. Talk directly to them. Know who your audience is and talk them like they’re an old friend. Be personal and informal. Use the word ‘You’ in your headline (just be sure to write in the second person).

Sources:
http://heidicohen.com/7-headline-tips-guaranteed-to-make-yours-stand-out/
http://moz.com/blog/5-data-insights-into-the-headlines-readers-click
http://blog.kissmetrics.com/david-ogilvy/

 

 

3 Ways To Up Online Sales In 2014

3 Ways To Up Online Sales In 2014

Australians are set to spend over $28.3 billion dollars online in 2014. That’s just over 10 per cent of Australia’s entire annual retail outlay. But what’s keeping some retailers ahead now will only be enough to keep them in the game in 2014.

Last year the focus was on ensuring a simple, intuitive checkout process, offering a variety of products and running discounted shopping events. Now it’s time to take the consumer’s personal experience of the brand to the next level.

1. Put the shop front in their hands

Every screen needs to give access to the same online storefront. One shopping experience can cross multiple devices so retailers need to make themselves accessible in this manner.

Ideally a shopper could start filling a cart from their desktop in the morning, add a few more items on their mobile app at lunch and then checkout on their tablet later on. A retailer’s multiple channels should only appear to be a single outlet to the consumer.

The weak link at the moment is a lack of mobile retailer applications. A study for UPS conducted by comScore, found that 60 per cent of Australians prefer to access their favourite retailers online on a desktop or mobile device rather than visit a physical store.

When consumers hold the storefront in their hand (in the form of an app) brands can also improve consumer loyalty. The comScore study found that 47 per cent of Australia’s shoppers are less likely to comparison shop when they are using a mobile app.

So retailers need to invest in an app that offers ecommerce as soon as possible and aim for shopping cart syncing across all channels by the end of the 2014.

2. Focus on being flexible, not fast

Somewhat surprisingly, long delivery times aren’t a major issue for Australians. The comScore research for UPS shows we’re a patient bunch in comparison with our foreign counterparts. Sixty per cent of us will only abandon a shopping cart if we discover the delivery time is more than eight days. In fact, 34 per cent of us are willing to wait eight or more days to receive our goods.

This is a bonus for retailers who can look to save money on transport, warehousing and supply chains that would normally come under scrutiny when focusing on timing and processing speed.

One opportunity highlighted by the study is the range of delivery options available. It found that even though flexible delivery options are highly important to us they are currently receiving very low levels of satisfaction. Offering in-store pick-up, couriers, express, registered or regular post may seem a hindrance to an efficient checkout but it’s what consumers want.

3. Take social seriously, make it friendly

Another piece, by comScore, shows that Australians accessing the Internet from a PC spend 10 per cent of their time online visiting social media sites. And further evidence suggests that consumers have a closer relationship with brands on Facebook than you’d expect. Forty-five per cent of us “like” a brand simply to stay up to date with a retailer. And 25 per cent of us pay a lot of attention to updates from brands “as if it were from one of my friends”.

If you’ve been invited into someone’s personal space make sure you’re having a conversation with them. And make sure it’s not always the same, repetitive, one-dimensional conversation. Social media and networks aren’t just a place to post retail adverts and discounts, you can seed brand advocates, learn from your consumers and test interest in new products.

Hmm, here’s an idea … use Facebook to tell consumers about your new mobile app and diverse delivery options!

 

 

Where Does Social Media Fit In Your Online Marketing Strategy?

Where Does Social Media Fit In Your Online Marketing Strategy?

Social media has taken the internet world by storm, and many marketers are deathly afraid of missing out when it comes to social media and anxious that all bases be covered. However, you might wonder just how useful it all is, and whether it is necessary to leverage social media in the course of your own online marketing. The reasons for its popularity have been well-documented: social media has been helpful to many businesses due to its flexibility and relatively low cost. It can also be done in-house and requires little technical know-how. Furthermore, with the prevalence of social media marketing in our everyday lives, most people pay attention to what is posted and shared. Despite these advantages, there are also many businesses that do not manage to reap the benefits of social media marketing. Here are some points to think about when considering where social media fits in your online marketing strategy.

Does social media gel with your overall marketing plan?

Social media marketing does not operate in a vacuum, and for you to successfully leverage social media, it has to be integrated into your overall marketing plan in order to be effective. You will need to think about your overall marketing goals and how you plan to achieve them, and then use social media as a tool to achieve these goals. For instance, if you want your brand to project a certain image, this will have to be taken into account when crafting content on social media platforms. In addition, various factors pertaining to your business need to be considered such as the legal, commercial and support aspects. Just because social media is perceived as more informal doesn’t mean you can afford to make mistakes or step on someone’s toes.

Are you prepared to face the implications?

Creating social media output can have huge consequences and should not be taken lightly. Reputations can be built and destroyed in just a few clicks, so you should ensure all social media marketing is tightly monitored. For instance, making a post in bad taste or responding to a customer’s query in an offensive manner can have disastrous consequences, especially if your output goes viral.

Are you using social media just because you feel like you have to?

If you genuinely have nothing valuable to say or share on social media, maintaining accounts and posting lacklustre content may be of little help. Bear in mind that it is not compulsory to be on social media platforms, and if maintaining an ineffective social media presence is taking time and resources away from other areas that could be of more benefit, by all means divert your attention to other methods of marketing instead.

Do you know what social media platforms your customers use?

There is no one size fits all approach to social media marketing, and your choice of social media platforms depends to a large degree on which ones are most frequently used by your customers. For instance, if your business is fashion-related, chances are your customers scope out new styles on Instagram. However, the same platform may not work for a law firm or doctor’s office.

Do you know what you want out of social media?

Jumping right into social media marketing without having a clear idea of what you want to get out of it leads to a lack of focus that will hamper your ability to achieve results. Do you want to provide your customers with a platform for sending feedback, showcase your latest products or create viral content? You will need to define your goals clearly in order to determine what kind of content you need to create.

Do you know how to calculate ROI?

While social media marketing is relatively inexpensive, it still incurs significant time costs. It is necessary to have a clear and definite way to calculate your return on investment so you can determine whether social media marketing is increasing or crippling your profits.

The marketing opportunities social media offers can be exciting, but it takes time and effort to master social media marketing, which has to be done correctly, consistently and regularly in order to yield results. Instead of just plunging in, floundering about and having to suffer the consequences of expensive mistakes, engage the help of professionals such as seoWorks who can enable your business to fully realise the potential of social media marketing.

Thanks for sharing your tips Bernard for including social media in an online marketing strategy.

 

 

Five Simple (and one complicated) Steps to Effective Market Research

Five Simple (and one complicated) Steps to Effective Market Research

Have you lost touch with your customer base? Unsure what motivates customers to buy your products? Or what price-point they are willing to pay for your services? Perhaps it’s time for a spot of market research.

As with any type of research, the whole point of market research is to collate as much information as possible about a specific marketing issue to inform the decision-making process. That is not to imply that market research is only implemented if there a ‘problem’ as such. You might just want to understand the market better, or get a more in-depth insight into your customer base, or use the results for product development purposes. It can prove beneficial (and obviously informative) in many, many different situations. Generally speaking, if you are thinking about embarking on an effective market research program, there are five simple steps (define, collate, analyse, report and decide) and one complicated step (design).

Step One: Define your objectives, questions, problems or alternatives

This is the all important first step. Stuff this up, and your market research project is doomed to fail before it’s even begun. The key thing to remember is not to define the research topic either too broadly or too narrowly. For example, if you are the proud owner of a coffee shop and you are thinking about opening a second coffee shop, in a new suburb, a disastrous objective would be: Find out all there is no know about the new suburb. The results would include too much extraneous information. Often, it is easier to work backwards when defining a research objective. In this instance, the first question should be: Should I open a new coffee shop? If the answer is yes, then narrow the questions further: Should I open a premium brand store? What prices should I charge? What range of products should I stock? Based on the answers to these questions, you can set specific market research topics: What types of customers are likely to respond favourably to the opening of a new coffee shop in suburb X? How many people are likely to buy my products at X, Y and Z price points?

Step Two: Design your research plan

The complicated step. You have probably already guessed what is involved in this step: work out how you are going to collate, capture or hunt down the data you need. Above all, make sure that your method is efficient and cost effective. In the case of the new coffee shop, there is no point spending $50K on market research, if your profit is only likely to be $60K. You are going to have decide on:

  • Data sources: will you go with secondary data, primary data or a combination of both? For those of you scratching your heads right about now, secondary data has already been collated and exists elsewhere (like academic essays or Ibis World reports). Primary data is the stuff that you will have to collect yourself. The most cost-effective approach would be to review the low-cost, readily available secondary data first. If the secondary data is out-of-date or inaccurate or incomplete, then you will need to source primary data.
  • Research approaches: there are four major approaches:
    • Observational: as the name suggests, observational research involves observing potential customers as unobtrusively as possible while they shop or consume products. If we go back to the coffee shop example, we might deploy researchers into neighbouring suburbs (or the new suburb) and have them observe particular aspects of coffee-drinkers habits (busiest time of day, type of coffee bought, customer demographic).
    • Focus groups: usually gatherings of around six to ten people carefully selected, based on demographic, psychographic or other features. These people will discuss your research topic at length. This can be a very insightful method, but you need to make sure you don’t generalise their views across an entire market. It is only six people after all!
    • Surveys: I think we all know what these are. You can use them to assess people’s knowledge, beliefs, spending habits, buying habits and so on. The main rule for surveys: keep them short and simple.
    • Behavioural research: this can be a tricky research approach, particularly if you are a small operator. If you are a retail giant, then you can analyse the data from customer rewards programs (like Flybuys).
  • Research instruments: there are three main research instruments to ponder over: questionnaires (sets of questions presented to respondents), qualitative measures (like word associations, visualisation, brand personification) and technological devices (galvanometers which measure emotion).
  • Sampling plan: you need to ask yourself three questions. 1. Who should be surveyed? 2. How many people should be surveyed (larger samples usually return more reliable results)? 3. How should you choose the respondents? In general, probability sampling allows marketers to calculate confidence limits for sampling errors and makes the sample more representative.
  • Contact methods: there are so many ways to get a hold of people in this day and age. Gone are the days when you had to send everything by snail mail and pray for a response. You can try via phone (the interviewer can clarify questions, although the reputation of telemarketers isn’t exactly peachy), in person (probably the most versatile method: interviewer can ask more questions and record more observations like dress and body language. But it is most expensive and it is subject to interviewer bias), or online.

Step Three: Collate the data

The most expensive and drawn-out step by far. Also the most prone to errors. Once you have answered all the questions in steps one and two, you actually have to do the research. Send out the surveys. Conduct the focus groups. Deal with the issues. Survey respondents will unavailable. You will have to contact them again and again. Some respondents will refuse to cooperate. Some will tell lies. Even researchers will be biased or dishonest. Unfortunately, you can’t do too much about it.

Step Four: Analyse the data

If you an Excel genius, this is the step for you! Here you will need to extrapolate your findings. Calculate the percentages, compute the averages and apply advanced statistical analysis.

Step Five: Present the findings

Simply translated: create some fancy graphs (another step for Excel whizz-kids)! Work out your insights and recommendations. Pretend that you have to present the results of all your research to the Board of Directors. What would you tell them? What are the main trends? What are the averages? From these, what can you deduce? Be compelling.

Step Six: Make the decision

Based on all the market research, your fancy graphs and statistical analysis, the findings and recommendations, are you actually going to open your new coffee shop?

 

Thanks to Sally Wood for sharing these insights into effective market research.

 

 

Making the Most of Your Advertising Spend: Examples of Advertising Budgets

Making the Most of Your Advertising Spend: Examples of Advertising Budgets

Before we launch into a tirade about advertising budgets (and give you examples thereof), let’s take a step back. What exactly is encapsulated by the term advertising? It differs greatly from marketing. Advertising is far narrower than marketing and should be treated as such. In fact, advertising is just one small part of marketing. If we are looking for a dictionary definition, then advertising is deemed to be the act of drawing the attention of the general public to a company, brand, service or product, by way of paid announcements in online, broadcast or print media. In other words: advertisements.

So, when we give examples of advertising budgets, these relate only to money spent on paid online, broadcast and print advertisements. They do not include other elements of the marketing mix like publicity and public relations or e-marketing and events.

Right, now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s get down to business: examples of advertising budgets. Obviously, advertising budgets need to include the cost of booking banner ads on websites, display ads in newspapers, radio spots and TV commercials. But let’s not forget about the hidden costs: graphic design, copywriting, talent fees and production. Determining how much to spend on all these costs can be difficult, particularly for a start-up business or if you’re investing in new advertising channels. That’s where an advertising budget comes in handy.

There are several ways to calculate your advertising budget. The most important thing to keep in mind is that, as your company matures and revenue increases, your advertising budget should be reviewed to foster continued growth. Here are a few examples of advertising budgets.

Competitor Matching

Carry out a really comprehensive competitor review. Work out where, and how often, your main competitors are advertising. Are they primarily opting for print ads or have they plastered every billboard between here and the moon with their logo? From this, you should be able to work out (around about) what your competitors are spending. To remain competitive in the same market, you may need to make sure that your brand is as visible as your competitors. You may need to match their advertising budget.

Percentage of Sales

Quite a lot of companies simply set a standard advertising budget, usually a proportion of their sales revenue. In general, this is around two to five per cent of all sales revenue. This can cause problems though. If you are a start-up business, without a steady revenue stream, this might not be the most sensible budgeting method.

Objective-Based

As the name suggests, set an objective for your advertising first. Maybe you want to increase online sales by 10%. Work out how much it will cost to meet this objective and then spend that much. Simple! This can work well for start-up businesses.

Total Maximum Amount

Simply decide on an amount that you want to spend on advertising, based on personal experience or intuition or management whims. Pluck a number out of the air, or a hat if you prefer. This is a fairly hit-or-miss budgeting method. It doesn’t take market factors or objectives into account and it isn’t really measurable. We wouldn’t recommend going with this method, but we know lots of companies that do.

Experimental

Try your hand a few different types of advertising. Increase spending if any one method seems to drive more sales than another. This one could be re-named the ‘suck-it-and-see’ example of advertising budgets.

As you may have worked out, none of these examples of advertising budgets really hits the mark. So, instead of making such a cut-and-dry decision, we think a better approach involves asking yourself a series of revealing questions. These questions should help you create a realistic, effective advertising budget that can deliver on your broader marketing objectives. Sounds good, hey?

First up, who exactly are you trying to reach with your advertising? Are they male? Female? Both? Are they old or young? Do they catch public transport? Do they read the newspaper online? Or do they prefer the print version? What radio station do they listen to? Are they avid social media users? It’s only once you’ve answered all these questions that you can answer the most important one of all:

  • What type of media does your target audience pay attention to?

There are so many media choices out there. You have to choose the right one. Grandma is unlikely to flick through Facebook updates and little Johnny, the 16-year-old skater dude, is just as unlikely to listen to ABC talk-back radio. The right medium is vital.

Answering the rest of the questions should be simpler:

  • What type of appeal will work best to get your target audience to buy? Emotional? Rational?
  • Will the profit generated by the advertising outweigh the cost? No point in advertising, just for the sake of advertising.
  • Is advertising really right for my brand, service or product? Is it really going to increase profit? Sometimes word of mouth or publicity or direct marketing are more appropriate.
  • How long has your brand, service or product been around? Unknown brands will usually need to spend more on advertising to create awareness first.

 

Thanks to Sally Wood for yet again another insightful article which is a very handy reference for anyone who needs examples of advertising budgets. Make sure you also check out Sally’s article on A Step-By-Step Guide to Marketing Budget Plans.

 

 

Tips For Marketing Companies On Marketing Themselves

Tips For Marketing Companies On Marketing Themselves

Anyone who works for a marketing company knows how important it is to devise ways and means to improve the exposure of and generate business for other companies. Ironically, marketing companies often focus so much on helping their clients that they neglect improving their own marketing prospects. In addition, it can be difficult to market your own company objectively, and marketers may shy away from marketing their own company due to the need for an unbiased opinion when devising strategies. Sounds familiar – but where to start? Here are some tips on marketing your marketing company!

Allocate a budget and resources for your marketing activities

When you spend all day promoting other companies, allocating resources to market your own company may be the last thing on your agenda. However, marketing companies are advised to approach their own publicity as they do their clients’, namely as an on-going project that requires a budget and resources. First to the fundamentals: a budget should be drawn up, in-house marketing activities allocated to team members and outsourcing provided where necessary.

Set targets and goals

When setting up a plan for another company, it is obvious that measurable targets and goals must be put in place. However, too many companies fail to do the same for themselves, preferring instead to take a haphazard approach towards their own marketing efforts. Identify measurable targets and goals and then put in place a concrete plan of action for your own specific needs.

Create a detailed marketing plan

Once you’ve identified your targets and goals, draw up a detailed marketing plan. I recommend that your plan follow a three-six-twelve month structure, reviewed quarterly. Ensure that you and your team members are well aware of your goals and committed to adhering to the plan.

Optimise your digital media presence

In this day and age, the need for a strong internet presence is non-negotiable. Marketing companies must ensure they have done their onsite and offsite search engine optimisation or risk losing out to the competition. In addition, social media now being a major part of a company’s marketing arsenal, it is important to know how to use the various social media networks to your company’s advantage.

Maintain a strong print media presence

While social media is getting a lot of attention these days, care should be taken not to neglect your presence in print media. Press releases and well-designed brochures are just some of the outlets you can use to market your company.

Get involved in the community

There is often no way to replicate the quality of exposure that comes from community involvement. Potential clients want to form real offline relationships with the people in your company, and often a stimulating face-to-face conversation is the most effective way to convert someone into a customer. Get involved in community events or organise your own to boost awareness of your company’s presence in the real world.

They say a plumber’s tap always drips, but it is imperative that agencies manage their own marketing activities as meticulously as they do those of their clients. Fortunately, those that do make it a priority to concentrate on marketing themselves often find that their expertise in the field helps their efforts pay off handsomely.

Thanks to Bernard again for another insightful article with some great tips for marketing companies.

 

 

Top 10 Promotional Tactics

Top 10 Promotional Tactics

Finally perfected your product and sussed out your service lines? But just not sure how to market to the masses? Then why not go with a promotion? Everyone likes a promotion. Who hasn’t tried a free food court sample? Or gone with a two-for-the-price-of-one deal at the supermarket? We’ve put together ten effective promotional tactics that you can use to boost your sales figures.

1. Cumulative Discounts

This option is a bit like a frequent flyer program. Each time a customer buys (or uses) your products (or services), they get a discount the next time. The discount really needs to be tailored to your business. For example, if you sell $500 tyres, you could offer customers $50 off their next tyre purchase and then $100 off the purchase after that. If you sell $5 loaves of bread, then 50c off their next purchase might be more appropriate.

2. Product Giveaways

As we said earlier, everyone loves a freebie. Product giveaways and samples allow potential customers to try-before-they-buy. You could go with an in-store promotion, or cut-out-and-return coupons for free samples or simply post out samples of new products to existing customers.

3. Specials via Facebook

This promotional tactic really depends upon how established your company’s social network is. If you are a start-up business with 12 Facebook fans, then this tactic really isn’t going to work. On the other hand, if you have a few thousand fans, then this could prove most lucrative. The idea would be to offer all Facebook fans a certain percentage off purchases. Alternatively, you could offer a giveaway or a discount whenever someone likes your Facebook page.

4. Free Shipping

Obviously highly applicable if you operate an online store. Not a promotional tactic as such, free shipping can often give you a competitive edge over your nearest rivals. Think about it. There are two stores that have exactly the same product in stock. One wants to charge you $15 postage and handling, the other isn’t going to charge you a cent. Who are you going to buy from?

5. Contests

Contests are used all the time to drum up brand awareness and boost sales figures. Sometimes it’s better to run contents without requiring a purchase first. The whole idea of a contest is to promote your business, rather than go down the hard-sell route. You can run a contest yourself, sponsor someone else’s contest or donate prizes for a contest. Whatever works best for your brand.

6. Industry Specials

If you own a restaurant, you could put on industry nights (on a Monday or Tuesday night when most restaurants are closed) and offer half off for anyone that works in a restaurant. If you are a florist, you could give discounts to other florists. If you own a clothing store, you could hand out specials to anyone who works in retail. Just make sure that you have ways and means to check for evidence of said profession.

7. Charity or Community Group Sponsorship

Supporting a charity or a cause can be a super effective means of helping out your local community while also increasing your brand awareness. Instead of taking out that expensive advert campaign in the local paper, why not sponsor the local footy club? Probably around the same amount of exposure (and cost), but by sponsoring the local footy club you help out your local community. It will give your customers a sense of being part of something bigger too. Customers might even be more inclined to use the services of a company with a social conscience.

8. Tiered Bonuses

You can offer any number of different bonuses. There are referral bonuses: if you are referred by an existing customer, then both you and the existing customer get a percentage off the cost of your first purchase. Or, you could offer a repeat customer bonus or even a cash-payment bonus.

9. Corporate Merchandise

Plaster your logo on all manner of items: pens, mugs, magnets, key rings, even stress balls. These types of items tend to end up on people’s desks and in fridges or in handbags. Even subconsciously, people will take notice of your logo, your brand. They can be more effective than just a simple business card.

10. e-Marketing Campaigns

Last, but not least, we have e-marketing. You can implement e-marketing campaigns to deliver any kind of promotion you like: discounts, two for one offers, tiered bonuses, giveaways, offers for samples. The sky’s the limit.

 

Thanks Sally Wood for this great Top 10 list of promotional tactics that you can consider for your next marketing promotion.

 

 

6 Big Mistakes Made By Hotel Marketers

6 Big Mistakes Made By Hotel Marketers

Marketing in a slow economy for any product or service can be a challenge. Even more challenging is marketing a hotel, which is both a product and a service. Whether a hotel is part of a recognisable chain or one-of-a-kind boutique hotel, marketing is vitally important. Many hotel marketers may find themselves trapped in a marketing rut with few measurable results.

Below are 6 common marketing mistakes often found in the hotel industry.

1. Sole focus on the traditional

An `old school’ Mad Men type advertiser may cling to traditional marketing techniques and have a harder time embracing the new age of advertising. This isn’t to say traditional marketing isn’t necessary, of course. TV, radio and print ads are still relevant with many clients interested in booking hotel space. However, you’ll need to have a strong grasp on who your clientele are and where they are coming from. While people 65 and older tend to appreciate old-school ad campaigns, people not yet retired, will be open and available to the various types of internet as well as traditional marketing.

2. Little or no budget for online marketing

Most hotel marketers recognise the need for internet marketing but fail to include the cost in their budget. Good online marketing, like good TV, radio and print marketing, doesn’t come cheap. If it was simply a matter of creating a Facebook page and writing a status now and then, anyone could do it. But there is so much more to proper and strategic digital marketing. Proper online marketing requires constant attention to the many facets and tools that make up the world wide web. Your website is your brochure and, often, only chance at capturing potential guests. Not only do you need to budget for building the actual website, but also for the various ways you will need to advertise it; From generating visibility on the search engines, to participating in all the Social platforms that are available.

3. Misusing internet marketing

Recognising the need for and allocating budget for online marketing is fantastic but it still must be used correctly. `SEO’ (Search Engine Optimization) or, better understood as, online marketing is a necessary evil for increasing your site’s visibility but it must be done right and by a company familiar with the hospitality space. Beyond that, you will need to allocate a budget for Social platform advertising, Trip Advisor listings and many other PR tactics that pertain to digital marketing. Having a budget plan for each of these tactics will prove crucial to the success of your online presence.

4. Trendy fads – when to use and when to lose

The internet, like fashion, is subject to trendy fads, especially in social media. For instance, there are between 3 and 5 popular social media sites in heavy use at any given time. Remember MySpace? Of course you don’t remember MySpace. If you do, it’s most likely a vague memory of a social website that might as well have been used in another century rather than last decade. Your Digital Marketing company, if it’s a good one, will help a great deal with the process of choosing which social sites to have a presence on and which ones to drop or ignore. Right now, August 2013, Google+ is the single most powerful social network out there. Having an understanding and respect for the current trends or fads will make a big difference in your ROI at the end of the year.

5. Forgetting your brand

Many hoteliers, in an effort to reach the masses, forget the brand. For instance, a national or international hotel may look different in St. Petersburg, Florida as it does in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. While consideration for building style and decor should be given to surroundings and local flair, certain parts of branding must remain consistent. Names and signs should be consistent and recognisable regardless of city or country the hotel is in. Service should be consistent as well whether the hotel is in Miami, Florida or Waco, Texas. Consistent good service positively reinforces the brand.

6. Skipping guest interaction

Today’s traveling consumer, like much of your marketing, is online. Again, unless over the age of 65 and retired, you can count on your guests using the internet whether it’s Tweeting, posting vacation pictures on Instagram or updating location status on Facebook. This type of consumer enjoys electronic interaction and your hotel should be set up for engaging in that interaction. Whether it’s for booking purposes, leaving a review or looking for suggestions, your website should be easy to navigate and welcoming to this type of consumer. Email confirmations give the consumer a handy way to save documentation. Emailing a guest after a stay to say thank you opens a line of communication and keeps your brand in sight. There are so many ways to interact with your guests on top of the expected good service and friendly attitude that if used correctly can exponentially widen your brand’s circle of influence in the market.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to improving your online and offline marketing strategy, which means more guests booking with your hotel.

Marketing.com.au thanks Gina for this article which has some great food for thought for all marketers, not just those in the hospitality industry.

 

 

A Step-By-Step Guide to Marketing Budget Plans

Regardless of whether you own a small business or are the managing director of a multi-million dollar corporation, marketing is vital to the growth and profitably of your business. The problem is, many businesses still don’t allocate adequate resources to marketing, or even worse, spend their marketing budget haphazardly.

Many businesses, particularly start-up business, make the mistake of limiting their marketing budget plan to costs for tangible items like print advertisements, mail outs, printing of collateral or fees for a public relations consultancy. A true marketing budget plan includes the other ‘hidden’ costs like man-hours for planning, monitoring and tracking of marketing campaigns.

We’ve come up with some step-by-step instructions on how to put together your next marketing budget plan.

Step 1: Put together a really comprehensive list of all the different components of your marketing campaign. Make sure you include all those ‘hidden’ costs like research, testing, and monitoring.

Step 2: Roughly estimate the costs of compiling market research. This might include conducting surveys, purchasing industry research and even contracting an external consultancy firm.

Step 3: Roughly estimate what costs would be for different marketing strategies. Include a few different strategies. Maybe you want to try giveaways, or maybe you want manufacture different versions of your product for different markets.

Step 4: Roughly estimate the costs associated with any communications components that might be involved. Think advertisements, direct mail, website development, contests and other promotions.

Step 5: Allocate some funds for monitoring in your marketing budget plan. These funds might go towards customer surveys or website statistics software.

Step 6: Add up all your rough estimates. If the total amount exceeds your budget, you might have to go back to the drawing board. Review each section. See what can be cut back. Maybe you don’t need TV and radio advertisements. Maybe you could try pay-per-click ads instead.

If, like me, you’re good with words, but not so crash hot on numbers, Microsoft has a couple of free, downloadable marketing budget plan templates:

Marketing Budget Plan: This template can assist in planning a marketing budget. Just fill in the expected amounts to forecast what marketing budget is needed http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/templates/marketing-budget-plan-TC001145556.aspx

Marketing Budget Plan Estimates: This template can assist in identify possible expenditures when creating a marketing budget plan. http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/templates/marketing-budget-plan-estimates-TC001150737.aspx

Make sure you also check out Marketing.com.au’s other related articles and resources on marketing budget plans:
Marketing Plans
7 Free Marketing Budget Templates
The Real Cost Of Marketing
How Are Australian Marketing Budgets Being Spent In 2013?

Hopefully these step by step instructions help get you off on the right foot! Thanks to Sally for this very helpful article on marketing budget plans.

 

 

Does Your Business Need An e-Marketing Make Over?

Does Your Business Need An e-Marketing Make Over?

Does your business need an e-Marketing make over?

There is a saying that for anything to remain successful, one must show the same enthusiasm as in the beginning. That’s never truer in business. Setting up an online business is pretty easy nowadays. But to make it successful and maintain it as such, requires specialised knowledge and hard work.

  • Has your business’ e-marketing campaign been put on hold for too long?
  • Have you recently noticed lower sales, interaction, conversions, and referrals?
  • Do you want to take your business to the next level?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, then an e-marketing make-over may just be what you need. First, we need to figure out your strategy; what is it that you’re trying to achieve, your goals.

Revise Keywords

Ranking for the right keywords is the key to a successful online business. You don’t want just any one to come and visit. The whole point of marketing is to invite “targeted” customers, the ones that will come to buy your products. So, instead of broad keyword phrases like “university courses in Sydney”, your potential could significantly be increased when you focus on the keywords, “Applied Media Arts Bachelor Program in Northern Sydney”. And when the keywords are narrowed down, competition is lower and rankings can be achieved easier as there are certainly less universities in Northern Sydney having Bachelors in Applied Media Arts than there are universities in Sydney. Remember – the more targeted the keyword, the further down into the buying process your prospect is.

Optimise Correctly

If your content is under optimised, search engines might have a difficult time assessing what is it you are selling; and even not bother too much with your site. They might not easily notice it and if they don’t, you’ll never get in those rankings. On the other hand, if you’re over optimising they could penalise you, pulling you to the bottom. If your website is an important piece of your marketing strategy, then this is scarier as more time and work will need to be done to put it back up. The correct level of optimisation is achieved when your content is original, inbound links are genuine and relevant, there are more matter than advertisements and your content is precise and helpful for the visitors.

Update Content

Nowadays, fresh and topical content is paramount to your online success. The key is to regularly offer insights on the industry you are in, not just publishing content about your own offer. There are lots of events and product releases in your area of expertise, so speak up and establish yourselves as leaders! Well-written and sincere content will help you engage your customers and establish a relationship with your clients. Remember this golden rule, no matter how good your products and services; people, being emotional creatures, buy from whom they like. So, keep writing, engaging and evolving to the customer’s needs.

Quality Backlinks

Are there authoritative websites in your niche linking back to your site? Or is it just friends commenting about your products from their blog? They are both backlinks but Google values each of them in completely different lights. Quality backlinks are considered votes: those from sites that have made a reputation in your niche are given more weight than those from ordinary sites. So, brush up those content writing skills and write some awesome guest posts that will attract links back to your website as magnets. Google will reward you for that.

Clean Up Broken Links

Broken links are links to non-existent pages, on your website or someone else’s. They’re simply like misplaced doors where there are no rooms. When visitors, i.e. potential clients, visit your website and come down a dead-end, they’ll figure your business unprofessional and might leave for other competitors with whom they can safely place their trust. Search Engines too consider broken links negatively and this can lead to a lower trust in your website’s reputation. So to improve user experience and increase your rankings, fix your 404 errors using Google Webmaster Tools through “crawl errors” option.

Technical Roadblocks

Once you get on the wagon of an online business, you will come across technical issues that are going to need expertise to resolve. Now, even if you have the time and inclination to study the issues and solve them on your own, which admittedly has its advantages, it would be wiser to hand over the work to professionals. They’re likely to finish the job ten times faster and better; while even offering suggestions and potential improvements. Your time could be much better utilised for the rest of your marketing efforts.

If you’re facing a stagnant online venture that isn’t going places with low conversions and falling sales, then you need to work on your e-marketing campaign to make those prospective clients come, click and buy. Start by following the steps given above and make your business more competitive in your industry. And if you’re unsure about any of this, your best bet is seeking the services of a professional SEO consultant.

Marketing.com.au would like to thank Bernard for sharing these great eMarketing tips with us.