The case in the defence of Twitter

A client recently remarked “let me know when you get a sale from Twitter”.  In other words, “I bet I’ll never see the day we get a sale as a result of Twitter!”

A statement said many a time I would wager.  My answer, said smiling: “No, you probably won’t if you just use Twitter on its own, but use it as part of an integrated marketing plan and yes, you probably WILL see sales as a result of it.”

A great deal of our time as a marketing consultancy is spent working with clients on their marketing planning, and crucially the implementation of those plans.  We ensure all marketing activity is tied together with a common message.  We write blogs, newsletters, press articles, tweets, website copy – all focused on key marketing messages unique to our clients.  It’s the combination of all these activities, carried out regularly, timely but regularly, which is enabling our clients to become seen as experts in each of their fields.

Crucially, the information they are imparting on their target audience is being seen in a variety of areas.  Websites are great as long as people are getting to them, LinkedIn is great for networking and discussions, and Google+ is growing and will be great.

What Twitter does is allow you to ‘speak’ to a huge number of people, at no cost, and with little time.  Just make sure you apply a bit of thought to ensure your message is ‘on plan’ and you create a call to action (eg website links) and you have an effective marketing tool.

In a recent statistic I read (I know stats are what you want them to be but…) ‘80% of business decision makers now prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.’  By using the platforms social media provides, your company information can be seen this way.  Social media writing can easily be incorporated with Facebook, Twitter and other outlets, driving valuable inbound links for SEO.

I feel privileged to be involved in providing intelligent content marketing to clients who recognise what marketing actually should be, which consistent, ongoing, valuable information to customers is.  With the right marketing planning and delivery, customers will ultimately reward with their business and loyalty.

Yes, marketing is still what it always was – creating messages, identifying prospective customers and trying to influence their behaviour.  These days, it’s just being delivered in a different, I would say smarter way, and across different platforms, even Twitter.

Contact Appletree  (debbie@appletreeuk.com) and let us know if you have or haven’t seen sales from your social media plan – and yes, that does include Twitter!

Don’t waste your time writing that newsletter!

Chantal

I’ve just spent an hour catching up on reading newsletters. I often don’t have time to read them as they arrive, so put them somewhere safe and then read them when I have time. I copied a bunch of these newsletters onto my laptop, so that I could read them, while I sat in a coffee shop, between meetings. After a while I wondered why I bothered.

There were ‘newsletters’ that were pure sales pitch, telling me how great the company was. There was one that just said ‘you might like to read this’ with a link to someone else’s website. One of them was a list of articles that the sender had written over the last few months.

If you’re going to take the time to research and write an email newsletter and build a list of interested people to send it to, the least you can do is send something of use to your readers. Don’t patronise them and don’t waste their time, or they will delete what you send the next time!

How do you integrate your online marketing, to save time and money?

Chantal

The number of ways that you can promote your business through online marketing is constantly growing. It is now accepted that you need an online presence in order to market your business. I was asked to speak about this at a recent FSB IT event in Reading, so I thought I’d share with you a summary of the session. (The full PowerPoint presentation is available from the Free Stuff page of my website, if you’d like a copy.)

So What Online Marketing Can You Do?

  1. Keyword Research – use to find phrases people are actually looking for online. Use keywords for your website, titles for your articles, newsletters, blogs and tweets. https://adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordToolExternal
  2. Website – use it to give the key messages about what you do, promote your blog, tweets and newsletter; list your articles. Put Google Analytics on all the pages; do some keyword research.
  3. Google Analytics – see how people use your website; see what keywords they use to find it and put more of those words onto the site.
  4. Newsletters – provide regular advice and comments, promote your website, blog, tweets and articles; use keywords for titles.
  5. Social Networking – keep it business. Post your articles and newsletters.
  6. Networking Groups and Forums – if you go networking, do those groups have websites you can use? Post comments and advice on forums; post your newsletters and articles. Complete your profile page to promote your website, blog and tweets.
  7. Blogs – provide regular comments and thoughts. Promote your website, newsletter and articles.
  8. Google Adwords – research keywords for your website, titles for your articles, newsletters, blogs and tweets. Create specific landing pages on your website.
  9. Twitter – daily tips and advice. Promote your website, newsletter and blog.
  10. PR – submit articles and your newsletter. Promote your website and tweets. www.EzineArticles.com

Summary

The number of online marketing tools is on the increase. If you try to do everything, you’ll end up spending all your time online – leaving no time to do your actual job; or you’ll spend all your money on online marketing with nothing left for old fashioned off line marketing.

Remember these three things – quality not quantity; integrate it and keep doing it.

How WordPress.com can help businesses in the short-term

Alice

I read blogging blogs that exalt the virtues of WordPress and what a fantastic platform it is to create a blog. But what they are mainly talking about is WordPress.org, the sophisticated version that is independently hosted, and can perform in total synchrony with your website, or even become your whole website!

But its problem is its expense, it requires a webdeveloper who understands how the platform works, and it can take time to set up. Even so, once accomplished, the results are totally professional, collaborate extremely successfully with the search engines, and are very much worthwhile the expenditure.

This is all very commendable, but what about the blogging sceptics? There are plenty out there that are uncomfortable about starting a blog, are not sure of the expense, may be on tight budgets, or would like to find out more about WordPress before making a commitment.

Enter WordPress.com, the ‘free’ version hosted by WordPress that can be set up in minutes. Its minimal expenses are to activate Akismet, the ‘spam eater’, and if you want to convert the URL WordPress gives you to one of your own.

Here is a blogging platform ideally suited to enable you to ‘practice’ blogging before embarking into this section of social media properly. By creating a WordPress.com blog, you will be able to learn how to fully use the platform, discover all the tricks there are available, excel in the intricacies of blogging and enjoy producing a fully-operational blog with the minimum of fuss.

OK, there are some restrictions: you can’t put advertising or sell from a WordPress.com blog, as the blog police will close you down. Only certain forms of HTML are accepted (RSS, YouTube videos, podcasts, etc) so it is not a medium to make money, only to education, entertain and publicise your business.

But if you want to create a blog to practice blogging or to dip your toe into the blogging world before expanding into more elaborate and profitable realms, then WordPress.com is the platform to use.

And don’t forget, it is extremely easy to transfer the contents of your WordPress.com blog over to your new WordPress.org website without losing a thing! A perfect example of continuity to maintain consistency.

Why SEO is untouchable

Alice

I was talking to someone the other day about SEO (search engine optimisation) and they asked me to send them some examples. Of course I instinctively said ‘Yes’, but then I stopped and thought about it. SEO is intangible, it is not a solid item I can ‘put in the post’, you cannot hold it in your hand like a leaflet, nor can you immediately ‘see’ it like a website.

SEO is the use and performance of keywords and keyphrases within website copy, and in the meta tags in the code. It can manifest itself in many guises: meta tags behind pictures, keywords in headlines, keyphrases woven into webcopy in such a way they are not noticeable to the reader, but stick out like sore thumbs to the internet spider. The browser title in the webpage could be carefully constructed to capture as much SEO as possible, and the (almost) invisible description tags that only materialise in search engine indexing so necessary to match up with visitor search criteria.

In fact, the best SEO should almost be invisible to the web visitor. It is not designed to be obvious, but like a cleverly constructed machine the cogs and wheels behind the system are not revealed; with the fancy exterior perfectly designed to distract the user, they grind away doing their invaluable and important work.

What he could have said was to send him something that showed SEO’s results. This would have to be done in report form, analysed from Google Analytics over a period of time, tweaked to increase performance and perfect the spider response required to increase visitor traffic and ultimately conversions into business (but that bit depends on a combination of design and psychology on the ‘shop front’, a totally different story to SEO tangibility).

How consistent is your corporate image?

Alice

Some of the things I have accomplished since working at Appletree is to create this blog and maintain its social networking activities. I was very keen to make sure the corporate identity of Appletree was consistent, and Chantal and I focused on the big blue apple posing against the green ones, which signifies a business that stands out from the rest because it uses successful marketing strategies.

This consistency is a key factor regards recognition from our clients, followers, friends and potential customers. It is something I will be continuing to maintain over the coming months with our new ventures, including the redesign of the website! Nothing drastic, just better.

So what is consistent so far with the Appletree brand? Well, so far it is shown on this blog:

which was gleaned from the website:

and I also transposed this theme onto our Twitter background:

and our CSR Report:

This may seem obvious to many business owners, but you’ll be amazed how many do have inconsistencies in their marketing branding. Statistics show that businesses who are aware of their branding get more recognition from the public and their clients, and this reflects even on the avatar you use in social media, which should be the same as in your ‘about us’ page. If you change anything, you need to change everything! And even Appletree is not immune to this either – watch out for more blue apples in the future!