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Revising your marketing plan in a time of uncertainty? 5 best practice tips for digital excellence

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 25, 2020

Before you change your plans, read our 5 best practice tips for digital marketing excellence in this time of uncertainty.

LinkedIn

The social networking behemoth is now even more important for staying in touch with customers and prospects. Take the time to audit your Company Page and personal profiles of key colleagues. Make sure they are updated with relevant messaging, polished branding, and clear signals that you’re ready to connect and interact online.

Now is definitely the time to develop a rich content strategy and a team of online influencers to reach prospects in the absence of offline activity.

PPC

If you’re looking to reallocate marketing funds, PPC is almost certainly a good investment right now. Focus on intent-based, high value keywords and best practice basics like brand ads and remarketing campaigns.

Whilst search volumes for many B2B products and services may decrease for a period of time, being found for those searches is even more critical now and you will stand out even more (and pay less) if competitors have made the ill-advised decision to turn off all PPC advertising.

Read our blog on Managing PPC in the emerging Coronavirus situation for more tips.

Google My Business

If your business has changed or reduced opening hours, make sure you update your Google My Business (GMB) listing to let customers and prospects know.

GMB has also introduced a “temporarily closed” status if you have physical shops or offices that you wish to mark closed during the lockdown.

Similarly, if your main contact numbers have changed, updating them on your listing is vitally important.

Analytics

With so many of your customers and prospects working from home, your IP tracking software probably isn’t offering you a lot of help right now.

However, the LinkedIn Insight can give you rich insights into who is interacting with your website and landing pages, and gives you an opportunity to create remarketing lists for LinkedIn campaigns. If you don’t have it already, the tag is easy to create and deploy.

Website

Including a business continuity message on your site will give customers and prospects reassurance that you are open for business—or can set their expectations on response times or any changes in the services you can provide.

Also, with traffic likely to be lower and overall activity reduced, now might be just the time to make those important changes or updates to your site. You’ll lower any risks during deployment and are likely to have more time to focus on strategic improvements, better content and increased conversion—all ready to provide a best practice customer experience when it’s business as usual again.

Need more help?

If you need any help with your digital strategy, Sharp Ahead are offering a free 30-minute consultation to qualified B2B companies. You can book one online today.

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Prepare for Summer

By Jennifer Esty  |  June 22, 2018

The special offers on Pimms and invites to school sports days can only mean one thing: summer holidays are around the corner.

Whether you’re going abroad or spending the summer watching the World Cup, make sure your digital lead generation campaigns keep working even when you’re not.

AdWords Campaigns

If you have Google AdWords campaigns running, download the Google AdWords app (not AdWords Express). This handy app gives you top-line campaign information including:

  • Stats
  • Bids and budgets
  • Real-time alerts and notifications

Also, to ensure you don’t overspend on your media budgets, use AdWords’ handy budgeting tools. You can set daily and monthly budgets and if your business is seasonal, have a look at last year’s summer stats to make sure set appropriate levels of budget so your competition doesn’t get the edge while you’re away.

Remarketing

Remarketing is a great way to stay in touch with your already engaged prospects (and stakeholders) while you’re away. Google, Facebook and LinkedIn all provide opportunities for staying in touch with B2B prospects using display remarketing.

Take the opportunity to refresh your ad copy and creative before you leave; think about directing them to some evergreen content or a post-summer event. Also, consider the frequency of your remarketing ads (no one wants to be stalked by your ads all summer).

And finally, remember that brand search ads in conjunction with remarketing make for a positive experience for prospects ready to reengage with you.

Schedule Your Content

Not all of your potential customers will be on holiday, so don’t let your content go stale while you are away. You can schedule content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. There are loads of tools you can use, including HootSuite, Sprout Social and TweetDeck.

Also, make sure you’re promoting an appropriate CTA—don’t encourage people to call you if the phone lines won’t be properly staffed or offer a free trial if your presales team are all wearing their cagoules on a beach in Cornwall.

Using Facebook

With Facebook Pages Manager you can view and respond to comments and private messages from your phone (as well as see Page Insights), and Facebook Adverts Manager allows you to edit your ads and budgets, get notifications of when ads are finishing and keep an eye on your spending.

(LinkedIn if you’re listening, we’re still waiting for an app version of the Campaign Manager!)

Still Send Emails

Now that you’ve cleaned your email lists following the Great GDPR Scare of 2018, don’t forget to keep your customers and prospects engaged over the summer.

Most email platforms will allow you to send emails scheduled for a specific time. Marketing automation platforms also allow you set up automatic email sends based on user behaviour.

Take the time to put a content plan in place that aligned with your social posts and remarketing campaigns and with a little luck no one will ever know you were away!

Think About Your Website

As with email, most content management systems (CMS) have an option to schedule content. Nothing screams ‘I’ve gone on holiday and don’t care about you right now’ like outdated seasonal content on your site.

If your website CMS doesn’t have a schedule function, consider putting your best performing content on the homepage whilst you’re away, or at least don’t leave up information about an out-of-date event during your break.

Analytics

Google has a Google Analytics app which is reasonably good for basic monitoring and will allow you to at least get a high-level view of your activity, especially useful for answering ‘quick’ questions from your MD whilst you’re away.

Again, keep in mind seasonality and remember many sensible people like you will also be on holiday so volume (though hopefully not performance) may dip.

Finally… Check with Your Sales Team

Make sure there is a plan in place to deal with inbound leads. If you have a small sales team who are also on holiday, make sure someone will be monitoring the group email address and the phone won’t go unanswered.

If unfortunate scheduling means there will be days when no one can manage calls from prospects, or customers for that matter, consider enlisting the help of a call handling agency to get you through the holiday season.

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6 simple things B2B digital marketing gets wrong

By Jennifer Esty  |  May 18, 2018

At Sharp Ahead we often get asked to do audits of our clients’ (and prospects’) digital footprints, which is a great way to start to understand how to make immediate improvements to your digital marketing.

Here are six things that come up time and time again.

1. Phone numbers: most B2B products and services are relatively complex and will ultimately require person-to-person selling. The best outcome of your digital marketing campaign is almost always inspiring a prospect enough to call you. So make phone numbers prominent on your website, ideally in the header of your landing pages and website.

A few other phone number rules:
– don’t make your prospects choose from multiple phone numbers, more often than not they’ll just choose to phone someone else. And when they do call, don’t give them 6 different options to choose from.
– don’t charge your B2B prospects for phoning you
– and most importantly, during business hours, make sure the phone is answered by a trained member of staff. Every. Single. Time.

2. Don’t hide your best content. Content marketing is not a treasure hunt. If you hide your best content, no one is going to come looking for it. Social proof like case studies, testimonials, and client logos needs to be featured prominently on key entrance and landing pages.

3. The Ronseal Principle: tell visitors to your site exactly what you do in plain language. Taglines, mission statements, and post-branding workshop catch phrases are all well and good, but don’t assume your prospects know you already or that you naturally have enough credibility to be on their short list.

4. Most prospects don’t even want to visit your website. Google has taught us to expect its search engine results pages (SERPs) to answer our questions without visiting actual websites. Make sure the SERPs for key terms, like your brand and contact information, are as carefully curated as your homepage. Google gives you lots of good tools for doing this, including free ones like Google My Business.

5. Prices: do not be afraid of talking about price. At some point, the cost of your products or services is going to be very, very relevant to your prospects. You can save a lot of everyone’s time by giving at least an indication of price during the lead generation process. The hard work of establishing your price points and your place in the market should have been done already; be confident in your decision making and honest with your prospects.

6. Landing pages. Use landing pages for your lead generation campaigns. Make sure they are optimised for conversion, which includes paying attention to every detail from page load speeds to the wording and colour of your CTA to which fields you put on the form. Do not send your hard won and paid for traffic to a page on your website.

And last but not least, if you have any questions or need help with any of the above, please get in touch.

The Digital Maturity Index: An Analysis of the Digital Footprint of 100 UK Innovation Centres
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75% of UK Innovation Centres not using digital marketing best practice

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 26, 2018

A Sharp Ahead report, released today, reveals that 75% of UK Innovation Centres are not taking full advantage of digital marketing best practice.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT >>

 

Headline Results

• 75% of Innovation Centres missing at least one basic best practice
• 65% could improve their search results page
• Only 45% have secure (https) sites
• 49% did not appear on the first page when searching for ‘office space’ in their geographic location

About the Research

• 100 UK Innovation Centres analysed in March 2018
• 14 performance indicators evaluated for each park
• Methodology mimics a prospective customer’s experience
• Results show opportunity for improvement for most organisations

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Preparing for the Summer Holidays

By Jennifer Esty  |  June 30, 2017

Despite the weather outside, summer is nearly here, and you may be looking forward to a break abroad, or even taking your chances here in the UK (with umbrellas and cagoules at the ready).  But who is looking after your digital marketing while you’re away?

If you have an agency helping you out, you might not be too worried. However, if you’re looking after it on your own, or with a small team – some of whom are also on holiday – there are a few things you can do to make sure all the hard work of the past few months isn’t compromised by a week or two away…

Using AdWords?

If you have Google AdWords campaigns running, download the Google AdWords app (not AdWords Express). This handy app gives you top-line campaign information including:

  • Stats
  • Bids and budgets
  • Real-time alerts and notifications
  • Call a Google expert
  • Act on suggestions to improve your campaigns

Schedule Your Content

Not all of your potential customers will be on holiday, so don’t let your content go stale while you are away. You can schedule content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

There are loads of tools you can use, including HootSuite, Sprout Social and TweetDeck.

Also, make sure you’re promoting an appropriate CTA—don’t offer a free trial sign up if there aren’t enough staff around to actually set up the free trials!

Using Facebook

With Facebook Pages Manager you can view and respond to comments and private messages from your phone (as well as see Page Insights), and Facebook Adverts Manager allows you to edit your ads and budgets, get notifications of when ads are finishing and keep an eye on your spending.

(I’ve yet to find a good app for managing LinkedIn advertising, please get in touch if you find one!)

Still Send Emails

Most email platforms will allow you to send emails scheduled for a specific time. Marketing automation platforms also allow you set up automatic email sends based on user behaviour. So you don’t need to stop your lead nurturing over the holiday period whilst you’re at that barbecue or lying on the beach…

Think About Your Website

As with email, most content management systems (CMS) have an option to schedule content. Nothing screams ‘I’ve gone on holiday and don’t care about you right now’ like outdated seasonal content on your site.

If your website CMS doesn’t have a schedule function, consider putting your best performing content on the homepage whilst you’re away, or at least don’t leave up information about an out-of-date event during your break.

Budgets

Use the budgeting functionality on your paid media platforms to ensure you don’t overspend while you’re away. If your business is seasonal, have a quick look at last year’s performance; and if it’s not, a quick look at last month’s, to determine your maximum exposure.

The main platforms all have daily budgets as part of standard set up, but AdWords and Bing also offer decent monthly budgeting functionality for those longer holidays.

Analytics

Google also offers a Google Analytics app which is reasonably good for basic monitoring and will allow you to at least get a high-level view of your activity, especially useful for answering ‘quick’ questions from your MD whilst you’re away.

Again, keep in mind seasonality and remember many sensible people like you will also be on holiday so volume (though hopefully not performance) may dip.

Finally… Check with Your Sales Team

Make sure there is a plan in place to deal with inbound leads. If you have a small sales team who are also on holiday, make sure someone will be monitoring the group email address and the phone won’t be going unanswered.

If unfortunate scheduling means there will be days when no one can manage calls from prospects, or customers for that matter, consider enlisting the help of a call handling agency to get you through the holiday season.