8 Trends To Keep Your Eyes On In 2018

1. Instagram Stories Drive Upcoming Instagram Trends

Instagram Stories is a big deal and they’re not going away. Daily viewers of Instagram Stories surpassed daily SnapChat viewers just one year after launch, and the growth isn’t stopping.

Instagram Stories was likely the biggest single change in the Instagram UX, and its marketing implications are huge.

A huge deal with Instagram Stories is this: accounts with over 10,000 followers can now add a link within the feature. Considering the fact that the only other place you can put a link on Instagram is just the one buried on your profile page, this is a huge deal, as it multiplies buying or inquiry opportunities by orders of magnitude.

Instagram Stories in particular will be relevant from a marketing perspective because, compared to other transitory video platforms, Instagram metrics are eminently trackable.

A final note on Instagram Stories: Their foundation is social media engagement gold. Video drastically outperforms all other forms of content on every test.

2. Influencer Marketing Makes Major Contributions to Social Media Engagement

Influencer marketing is big business — a billion dollar industry by some counts. There is an exhaustive list of micro-celebrities who earn six figure incomes. And this isn’t a fluke. Influencer marketing is uniquely keyed to exploit certain facts about a growing number of buyers.
As Millennials advance their careers, and Generation Z starts theirs, an enormous population’s purchasing power is increasing swiftly. These two groups — who, combined, literally comprise most of the world’s population — are uniquely influenced by this marketing method.

3. Generation Z to Decide Social Media Trends

We’ve mentioned Generation Z in both of the previous topics for good reason.

RetailDive had this to say about Generation Z and their associated social media trends:

“Gen Z is two- to three times more likely to be influenced by social media than by sales or discounts — the only generation to value social media over price when it comes to making purchase decisions…”

Furthermore, 81% report watching at least one hour of online video per day, or more, according to a study by Fluent, covered by AdWeek. Combine these facts and realize that droves of Generation Z will graduate college and/or start careers next year, and you start to see the powder keg.

4. Messaging Platforms Make Companies Accessible

 

What do you know about WeChat? They’re a wee little Chinese messaging company . . . errr, one that’s looking to cross 1 billion users this quarter. WeChat and WhatsApp are absolutely ubiquitous across either ocean, reaching across many different functions to dominate social media, direct messaging, and even purchasing and commerce.

Every year more and more buyers are Millennials and Gen Z, and fewer and fewer are older. In case you’re not aware of these people’s overwhelming preferences when it comes to talking to a company, we’ll illustrate in their native language:

top-social-media-trends-20185. Live Streaming Explodes

Live streaming isn’t about live streaming. At least not in the way we’re going to be talking about it. You’re going to see a lot more of it in 2018, and the people who do it well will be fully with the times and accelerating. Its prevalence will increase because it works.

But there’s something more at work here.

It’s actually about technology. We get better phones every year. Does that mean that we’re running the same apps better? Sometimes. But once the technological baseline of the average user has clearly moved up a notch, it becomes about making more robust apps that do more and fully take advantage of that new technology.

The smartphones of today are better than what we used to have by orders of magnitude. Furthermore, our data speeds are better, and are poised to make yet another insane leap in the next few years when 5G becomes the standard.

Live streaming is a medium or implementation of social technology that’s uniquely positioned to take advantage of hardware improvements for the next several years. The resolution of an image the size of a phone screen can only get so good before you have to zoom in to see a difference.

But better video processing across the board means all devices involved can handle more streaming at a better quality across more channels at the same time. This is such a huge change that it’s possibly unclear that anyone is even capable of fully understanding the ramifications.

6. Twitter is Going to Change

And they themselves might not even know how just yet.

Twitter has been slowly circling the drain, in some respects, for a long time now. 2017 pulled no punches with the social network, either. Twitter needs to make some big changes to stay relevant, as its growth is the slowest of all the major social media platforms.

7. Online Hangouts Become the Norm

Online hangouts go hand-in-hand with the live streaming trend, and with Generation Z. Consider Houseparty — an app for multiple friends to essentially FaceTime with each other in a group setting.

Houseparty made quite a wave in 2017 with rapid growth, and hit its stride well enough to inspire copycats, including perhaps an effort on the way coming from (no surprise here) Facebook.

The online hangouts trend is also going to intersect with VR. Sure, everyone promised everything this year with VR and AR, and all that ultimately came of it was two weeks of Pokemon GO.

But this year actually has the potential to be different. Many promising programs have another year of beta testing still left under their belts, but the technologies are improving in exciting ways. Once again, Facebook is at the epicentre, with Facebook Spaces.

8. Social Platforms See More Hardcore Moderation

The last year or so has forced the hand of several tech and social media titans to intervene and play a more active role in content moderation. Those manoeuvres, in retrospect, felt more like damage control than any sort of final solution.

We’re likely going to see companies revisit this in a more significant or longer-lasting way, and definitely more proactive than reactive.

As leveraging social media outlets for marketing first took flight, some were dubious of their staying power. The years since have changed sceptic’s into believers, and what’s on the forefront will clearly and easily amplify the channels’ relevance even further.

2018 is here… but were you prepared?

2018 social media trends predict that time on social media platforms will increase. This means you will need to improve your online presence in the year to come.

 

By Richard Holland – MSc Digital Marketing Student

 

Contact –

Linkedin- Richard Holland

Instagram – Ricardo J

Brand –

Instagram – Ricco London

Twitter – Ricco London

Facebook – Ricco London

Website Design: Inclusive Experiences Part 1 Visual: Colours and shapes

By Nick Heywood on the MSc Digital Marketing Management award

Why is accessibility important?

In order for the consumer to have an overall positive experience, it is strongly recommended that your project is designed to be inclusive. If the right accessibility isn’t in place, it could exclude consumers who may struggle or even be unable to interact with the project. The information that will be covered in this blog series can be applied to digital projects ranging from websites to computer games.

Visual Colours

Visual Colours

Visual: Colours and shapes

Visual aspects are crucial in any digital project, the appearance of your content is the first thing most consumers see, and influences how they will interact with it.

Using colour schemes/overlays

Using colour schemes/overlays

Colour-orientated design

This can be a tricky one, the use of colours can aid the experience for some consumers, it can however also hinder others if substitutional elements aren’t implemented.

Colour Schemes/overlays

Let’s start with how colour can aid experience, consumers with conditions such as Dyslexia and/or Irlen Syndrome can struggle to read against certain contrast and colours, due to struggles including the processing of spectral light, which influences how they process visual information; the use of coloured overlays to tint colours in front/behind the text can ease readability for them.

There is software that can help them with this online such as ColorVeil and nOverlay, although other platforms would benefit from access to alternative text colour schemes.

Alternate text colour schemes refer to the colour of the text, and the background behind it, especially in sections containing large bodies of text, or requiring quick reference during interaction. Providing options for the consumer to alter them provides an opportunity to not only tailor the experience to their needs, but also make it their own.

Colour schemes to take into consideration are shown in the image below

Text-Comparison on different colour backgrounds

Text-Comparison on different colour backgrounds

Taking font style and size into consideration can also aid this experience, Sans-Serif style fonts tend to be more comfortable to read, an extensive list of similar/other fonts to consider can be found at Dyslexic.com.

Communicating through shapes

If you rely on only colours to communicate functionality or change to consumers, it will be inaccessible to anyone who has a form of colour-blindness. Colour-blindness is a colour vision deficiency that affects how many colours a person can see in general; average colour vision is formed by three colour receptors in our retinas that process red, green, and blue, whereas a colourblind person will lack one or even all of them. The image below makes an accurate comparison of how people with various conditions perceive colours through their vision.

Colours perception for various conditions

Colours perception for various conditions

Photo Credit: Cole Seidner

This is why using various shapes can also help communicate your design, for example: how iOS Mail uses circles and Flag symbols to identify content you may wish to check, or how Twitter “fills” the Like/Love symbol to indicate you have Liked/Loved a post (see example below).

The role of colour and grey-scale options

The role of colour and grey-scale options

Viewing your content in a Greyscale colour filter is a good way of reviewing if colourblind individuals are able to visually process the information without the need of colour. Most modern smartphones have this feature under their Accessibility settings, up-to-date versions of Windows 10 (Windows+Ctrl+C) can also do this, Macs can do this via Universal Access in their System Preferences, it’s also feasible in Linux with plugins.

Following these steps in your project design will take it one step further to becoming an inclusive experience for consumers. Next time, we will be looking at how to communicate information that can’t always be seen or heard.

Nicholas Heywood

Twitter – LinkedIn – Portfolio

MSc Digital Marketing Management Student (Full Time)

Facebook, Engagement Baiting, And What Not To Do…

Asking for ‘likes’, ‘tag a friend’ or ‘share this post’ is now being marked down by Facebook. A prime example below…

Yes, we’ve all done it…

“Tag someone who might be interested”

We all do it because it works (or did work).

That post back in October ’17 on Weston Cricket Clubs Facebook Page reached over 2000 users, whilst updates without a ‘nudge’ are lucky to reach 200. This was achieved by simply asking followers to engage with the post.

However…

Last month (18th December 2017) Facebook announced a new crackdown on what it calls Engagement Baiting.

What Is Engagement Baiting And Why Doesn’t Facebook Like It?

Engagement Baiting is the process of ‘tricking’ users into engaging with a post. The practice is designed to make a post or page rank higher in Facebook user newsfeeds by achieving more engagement.

Facebook has named 5 forms of Engagement Baiting it is taking action on:

  1. Vote Bait – Using a different reaction to represent a vote on a post;
  2. React Baiting – Asking a Facebook user to express how they feel about a post;
  3. Share Baiting – Asking you to share a post or page with a friend;
  4. Tag Baiting – Asking you to tag your friends in a post;
  5. Comment Baiting – Asking users to respond with a specific phrase, word, or number to a post.
Engagement Baiting Facebook

Image Source: FACEBOOK

Why Is This Important?

Simply put, brands, influencers and companies use this technique to get more organic engagement with a post, which can help them:

  • Generate visibility;
  • Give exposure to new audiences;
  • Ensure your content is being seen;
  • Grow their audience;
  • Potentially help them make more sales.

Facebook now considers Engagement Baiting to be spam.

What Have Facebook Said?

Facebook will start demoting content which they feel are ‘spammy posts’ that actively solicit users to interact with a post in a specific way.

The purpose is to allow for more meaningful posts, pages and conversations on Facebook and improve its user experience.

If you engage in this type of activity, you can expect your page and posts to be demoted.

Oh no… GIF Source

Facebook has given page admins guidance on Facebook Newsfeeds which they encourage all to read.

Posts, where people ask for help, advice or recommendations, will not be considered as Engagement Baiting and as such, will not be impacted by the update. These include missing person reports, charity work or asking for tips on writing a blog.

How Will Facebook Do It?

According to SEJ, Facebook will collect hundreds of thousands of examples of Engagement Baiting posts and pages and train an algorithm to detect the different versions. This will happen automatically.

So…

Click here to share this post on your Facebook newsfeed.

By James Rowland, Business Development Director at William B. Rose Ltd.

How Influencer Marketing Could Benefit Your Business

Influencer marketing focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the market. Rather than marketing directly to this large group, you instead hire or pay these influencers to inspire and get the word out for you.

According to McKinsey, Influencer Marketing generates double the sales of paid advertising, as well as three times the amount of “word of mouth” messages. Furthermore, it results in recommendations – where people are up to fifty times more likely to purchase.

Influencer marketing could benefit your business in a number of ways, and you should consider using it because:

  • It’s more authentic than an advert.
  • It’s more cost effective than many other marketing channels.
  • It provides shareable content, which could amplify results exponentially.
  • You can effectively target a new audience.
  • It’s a way to create real-time engagement.
  • It’s an easy way to build trust with your customers and future customers.

Two cases come to mind where Influencer marketing benefited the business and the influencer, such as Youtube star PewDiePie teaming up with the makers of horror film ‘As Above, So Below’ – creating a number of videos in which he completed challenges and tasks set in the catacombs in which the film was set. This resonated with his then 27 Million subscribers, and received nearly double the views that the trailer for the film did.

The other, according to Neoreach, is American retail giant Walmart teaming up with former Vine star Meghan McCarthy. Meghan posted on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube, putting her stamp of approval on the promotion that she was promoting. Her posts gathered hundreds of follow up posts and tweets, an impact that no television ad campaign could make.

The Big Influencers for 2018

According to Forbes, some of the top influencers of 2017 are going to be even bigger in 2018. 

If the budget is there, then these are the kind of people that you want influencing customers to buy into your product or brand.

These include gaming maestro Markiplier, Keynote speaker and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, cooking whiz Rosanna Pansino, six-year-old Ryan ToysReview and powerful lady Lilly Singh.

Whilst all of these people have the majority of their following on YouTube, they are also influencers on the likes of Instagram and Facebook and could cost a hefty sum.

Some of these people may be out of your price range, but if you can find a local influencer to promote your product, then that may be worthwhile to your business.

.

Regan Foy (Twitter / LinkedIn)

Staffordshire University Students’ Union

MSc Digital Marketing Management Student (Full Time)

Google AdWords Basics: What Beginners Should Know

When starting out with Google AdWords, it can be very confusing. There are many aspects to consider and it is easy to waste a lot of money very quickly.

Google AdWords has much more to offer than the basics but it is very complicated to do well.

Nevertheless, having reviewed various accounts in my time, there are some basics beginners miss and MUST know about.

Keywords

Having a keyword strategy in place is imperative. Beginners go wrong by picking 100’s or even 1000’s of keywords and bidding on all of them.

Google Keyword Planner

This will bleed your budget before knowing what keywords convert and which do not. You will very likely end up with no budget left and no return on investment (ROI).

What they must do is hone in on the ones which matter.

Take a step back and think about your target audience and ask yourself:

  • What do they want?
  • What will they specifically search for?

At the start of any Google AdWords campaign, it is better to be narrow with your keywords than too broad.

Over time, you can broaden your campaign by using a more detailed keyword strategy, such as the Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAG’s) strategy.

It’s also important to check your negative keywords daily, or if you do not have the time, at least once a week as a minimum.

Conversions

A conversion is a process of showing an outcome from a click on your website.

This could be to gain a potential leads contact details, download an e-book or making a sale.

This easiest way to set this up on your website it by having a specific ‘Thank You’ page which can only be accessed when someone completes the outcome and link your conversion to that page. There are other ways, but this is the simplest. There is lots of free advice online to help you do this.

Google Conversions

Once this has been completed, you can then analyse what keywords are the best for you (and to know your campaign is working), and what keywords do not work so you can stop budget spend on what doesn’t work – and maybe funnel more budget into the keywords that do (just my logical suggestion).

Once you’ve set up conversions, you need to know your cost per conversion breakpoint.

Without knowing this, you will not know your maximum bid you can budget for to make a
‘return on ad spend’ (ROAS).

Here are 5 steps to working out your cost per conversion breakpoint.

This is vitally important as if pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are too expensive you may need to rethink your marketing strategy. Dropbox is a good example. They had an aggressive AdWords PPC campaign, but it was quickly stopped when they had a $300 customer acquisition cost. Instead, they introduced a free referral program.

Ad Copy

Oli Gardner from Unbounce suggests that 98 percent of ads are a waste of money. What you do not want when you’re first setting up your AdWords campaign is bad ad copy.

Good ad copy can boost your click through rate (CTR) and thus positively affect your quality score (QS) which will result in a cheaper cost per click and increase your potential ROI.

In order to have good ad copy, follow these 5 steps:

  • Use Statistics – Statistics in your ad copy are a great way of grabbing attention and differentiating ads from your competitors.
  • Remove Pricing – analysis of top performing ads shows just 40 percent of top-performing branded ads and 37 percent of non-branded ads included pricing.
  • Use Promotions – It’s no secret, using promotions and discounts in ads are older than time itself, and guess what, they work!
  • Punctuation! – Use exclamation marks. SEJ found a significant increase in CTR when testing ad copy with an exclamation mark, and without one.
  • Appeal to Emotion – Ads that appeal to people’s emotion can result in positive results with their CTR. You can even use a headline analyser to test your headline out.

Google AdWords Ad Copy Template

Post Click Strategy

So you’ve found the best keywords, you’ve got great ad copy with a high CTR and you’ve set up conversions, but you’re not actually getting any. This is where your post click strategy comes into play.

You need to make sure you have a landing page specifically targeting the Keyword the visitor has come to the website from. If they want to buy frozen vegetable, the landing page should be about buying frozen vegetables.

The best way to design your landing page is by firstly, creating a page within the parameters of best practice for Conversation Rate Optimisation (CRO) techniques, and then A/B testing the pages with various controlled variables.

Unbounce is a great tool for creating and then split testing pages.

Basics Covered, But What Next?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking once you’ve mastered the basics, that’s all there is to Google AdWords.

There are numerous additional elements you will need to research and add to your account as you learn, these include:

  • Ad Extensions;
  • Google Display Network;
  • Advanced Settings.

As with anything in Digital Marketing, the more you learn, the more pitfalls you’ll avoid which will result in greater success for you and your business.

Share this post on Facebook.

By James Rowland, Business Development Director at William B. Rose Ltd.

E-mail marketing or Messenger marketing?

What Email Marketers are saying

When it comes to email marketing software, marketers are spoilt for choice. But how do they feel about the emails they send?

It turns out that relevance is a huge concern for them. DMA reports that 42% of marketers say only some of the emails they send are relevant, and a whopping 10% say their emails aren’t relevant at all. That’s an issue, with consumers trashing irrelevant email.

Another issue people wonder about is the ROI of email marketing. In other words, is it really worth it? Various comparison’s of email marketing vs social media shows that email outperforms social by miles. And Chief Marketer says the ROI of email marketing is 28.5% better than for direct mail.

So what does Messenger do better?

Well, the big problem with email marketing is that you’re talking at your users and potential customers, not with them.

It’s kind of like being on the receiving end of a sales pitch, one where you have no say until the salesman is finished leaving you with only one response, yes or no.

Messenger though, creates a conversation.

It’s the only channel that solicits real time feedback from your users, the only channel where they have a say and shape the conversation which builds interest and engagement.

Check out the below example from 1800-flowers.

What Does the Future Hold?

Email is a mature channel, one which has been extensively developed and includes various advanced features to help you better market to your customers.

Messenger on the other hand is the new kid on the block.

It’s showing great promise and is getting far higher engagement in the areas where they’re going head to head, but it’s not yet at the level of sophistication email has developed.

Messenger is quickly gaining ground on email in terms of features and is already outpacing the platform in the areas where there’s overlap.

So what should a smart store owner like you do?

Well, what you shouldn’t do is abandon email marketing in favour of Messenger. Right now Messenger simply doesn’t have the advanced functionality and tracking of email.

However, if you already haven’t you should be looking at implementing Messenger on your site ASAP.

Right now, Messenger is the perfect complement to your email marketing. And if the last year is any indication, in the near future Messenger will continue to outperform email in other key marketing and communication areas for ecommerce as the platform progresses.

Right now, if I had to advise some specific campaigns your store needs to be running I’d recommend focusing on:

Messenger isn’t just a nice thing to have on your store or a new fad that will die out. The success rate of stores across the globe and the growing user base points to a new channel that might one day overtake email as the chief ROI channel.

In conclusion:

Email marketing and social media are like parallel universes that communicate with each other.

We suggest using email marketing when you’re looking more for reach, traffic and direct conversions. Social media, on the other hand, is a great tool that can help you engage your audience and assist you with making more sales.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t use both. Just be sure to allocate your resources the right way. Thank you for reading this blog and please leave your comments below.

 

By Richard Holland – MSc Digital Marketing Student

 

Contact –

Linkedin- Richard Holland

Instagram – Ricardo J

Brand –

Instagram – Ricco London

Twitter – Ricco London

Facebook – Ricco London

If You’re Marketing to Millennials, Get on Instagram

There were over 600 million Instagrammers in 2017, and 400 million of those users were active every day according to Softpedia.

Those numbers alone should be reason enough to get your business on the social media platform – but if you’re marketing to Millennials, otherwise referred to as Generation Y, or in simple terms anyone born between the early 1980s and late 1990s – then you should already be on there.

In March of 2017, over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, found directions or contacted an Instagram account or business based on an Instagram ad says Wordstream.

Not only this, but according to the Instagram Blog over 50% of users on the app follow a business and 60% say they learn about a product or service through the app.

Why not make one of those businesses yours? We’ve produced the definitive guide to getting your business set up on Instagram below.

Getting Started

The first thing you’ve got to do is establish your presence on the platform with three main tasks, adding a profile picture, writing a bio and connecting your website. For an example of doing this the correct way, take a look at fashion retailer JD’s Instagram Feed.

Your profile picture should be something memorable and representative of your business – usually your logo.

Over time, people remember your profile picture when scanning through their Instagram news feed – especially if your logo is eye catching.

Your bio gives you under 200 characters to tell the world why you’re worth following and what your service or product is. Enhancing your bio by encouraging users to share content relevant to your business or brand using a hashtag can always be worthwhile.

It’s also important that your followers follow the path to purchase or learn as much as possible – and your website is generally the avenue where this takes place.

Ensuring your website URL on Instagram directs to a mobile friendly site is incredibly important.

How can I Market Effectively?

 Once your profile has been created, you’ve got to identify what kind of content your target audience will be interested in.

Brand storytelling, or Brand Centered Content whether through photos of products or photos of the results of products effectively showcases what the business or brand has to offer.

Skate and footwear brand Vans do this quite well.

Reactive Storytelling uses timely events or unique insights to generate immediate feedback from their audience – and these tend to be based upon pop culture or memes.

This usually includes an interesting story that is on consumer’s minds, combined with a brand relevant marketing message.

With Behind the Scenes content, people are looking for an inside look at how things are built or done inside your business and brand.

Brands are now looking at how they can be more authentic as it is what consumers are looking for in the modern market.

Overclockers UK are a wonderful, British example of this.

Inspirational or Motivational posts are used to spark emotions in your customers or target audience – and it is also the most effective way to drive engagement with your brand.

The key is to recognise what will resonate with your audience.

From this point onward, you should have a basic idea of how to use Instagram as a powerful marketing tool for your Millennial target audience.

——————–

Regan Foy (Twitter / LinkedIn)

Staffordshire University Students’ Union

MSc Digital Marketing Managament Student (Full Time)

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right For Your Business?

Despite what people say, you don’t need to be on all social media platforms to promote your business. However, a lot of businesses fail to harness the power of social media, or waste time using the ‘wrong’ platform for their needs.

By picking the platforms that work for your company and utilising all of the features they have to offer you could be making a bigger difference with just one that you could be with six. Plus there are only 24 hours in a day and for a small business, it can be quite challenging managing all the platforms as well as business activities. But, how do you choose the right social media platform? Let’s get started!

 

WHAT TO CONSIDER?

When deciding which platform is worth investing your time in, there are a few things to consider – your target demographic, the style and ability of the platform and ultimately, what you want to achieve.
Below I’ve put together a list of the key purposes/demographics for the 5 most popular social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram. Take a look and see which is most suitable for your business:

 

FACEBOOK –
Facebook is one of the most popular and powerful social networks out there. It has over 1.28 billion monthly active users. Due to its large number of users, the likelihood of your target audience being online is quite high. The platform has great targeting for both paid and organic content and you can almost completely control the way you want it to look – from the cover photo and profile picture to the about options, app integrations and featured images.
Almost any business can benefit from having a Facebook page. But Facebook isn’t primarily about selling. Facebook is ideal for giving your business a personality. Content works best when you portray your business in a friendly, sociable way. It’s the perfect place to show off what your team members have been up too as well as showcasing your products. “The best ‘bang for the buck’ in Internet marketing today is Facebook advertising. The targeting options are limitless and surprisingly inexpensive for businesses of all sizes.Facebook advertising can help marketers of all kinds get insights into how different demographic groups respond—and for a fraction of the cost of other alternatives,” (Chris Treadaway, co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day).

 

TWITTER –
Twitter has become widely popular over the last decade and is known amongst businesses for being the place of conversation. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter is very ‘in the moment’.
Twitter is the platform for you if you want to reach out to people regarding news, updates, questions for your followers or just want to see what your customers are interested in, choose Twitter.

 

LINKED –
LinkedIn is a B2B social media platform. Just imagine attending your busiest networking event from the comfort of your own office/home. LinkedIn is predominantly a platform that allows you make connections in the business world and utilise them as necessary.

It’s a fantastic platform for recruiters and any professional services. LinkedIn has good targeting options and allows you the make the most of people’s skills.
Service providers are more common on LinkedIn in comparison to manufacturers or retailers, because it’s easier to talk about what your business does, and it’s not a very visual medium.

 

INSTAGRAM –
If your business is B2C and very visual, Instagram is the platform you need to be on. Shops, travel agents, estate agents, designers and more are all on Instagram because they offer a ‘strong visual’ product that people will take an interest in.
Instagram has great integration with Facebook when it comes to advertising and due to its use of hashtags, posts are easier to find and target your customers.
You can drive traffic through to your websites/product pages and also show your company’s personality.

 

YOUTUBE –
We’ve all heard of YouTube, right? It’s the go-to place for reviews, how to’s and entertainment. Almost any business type can benefit from YouTube but it requires a lot of time and skill to build a following and to create engaging videos.
As with all platforms, YouTube can work better for certain industries including retail, health and more. It’s also a fantastic platform for influencer marketing. Not to mention it is the second biggest exarch engine and is still and expanding platform, unlike twitter.

 

So which platform will you be using for your business and why, share your thoughts bellow and thank you for reading this blog post.

 

By Richard Holland – MSc Digital Marketing Student

 

Contact –

Linkedin- Richard Holland

Instagram – Vission Design

Brand –

Instagram – Ricco London

Twitter – Ricco London

Facebook – Ricco London

A new and rapid way of marketing – Digital Marketing

Aside

Whilst supporting businesses, I’m often asked “What is Digital Marketing”, and frequently people think it’s just social media marketing, for example marketing via Instagram or Twitter.  Digital Marketing encompasses much more than this, so in this article I’m going to give a brief overview of digital marketing and discuss some key points about how to make it effective for businesses.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing unlike the traditional means of marketing, encompasses marketing of products or services through the numerous available electronic media. It presents marketing of these products/services in such a way that the channels and methods utilized will enable the service provider or product manufacturer to analyse, survey and review marketing trends, and therefore know what is working effectively. This part is very important, marketers must prove, with data, that each part of their digital marketing is working and providing a Return on Investment etc.

Blog 1

If done correctly, Digital Marketing can put customers in control, drive brand loyalty, reduce the selling cycle, build your brand, and it should be measurable and cost-effective.  The key areas Digital Marketing encompasses are:

  1. Social Media Marketing (SMM) These days, most people are on some form of Social Media e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Periscope etc. Social media marketing, involves using these platforms to gain website traffic or improve brand awareness and customer service. These platforms usually have analytics and a particular target customer base, e.g. LinkedIn for business people to network and also find employment. Therefore, each of these platforms can be used in a targeted way. As with any marketing tool there are good and bad ways of using them, for example, response rates can be shown to be higher with videos and pictures rather than just text. With good content curation, readers will share your social media with their networks and in effect become advocates. Readers are more likely to look at Social Media from friends than direct marketing from organisations, so it can be one of the most cost effective forms of marketing.  If this sharing becomes widespread it’s known as Viral Marketing. An example is the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, ALS did not invent the challenge but it became widespread and included Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates taking part.
  1. Website design Website designing is the process of gathering ideas and concepts, and the implementation of these concepts for the purpose of creating content on web pages or the internet, for the benefit of end-users to utilize and get the necessary information with any web browser. However, done properly it is much more than this. The website has to be easy to use and navigate, pleasing to the eye, and work in such a way that it gets results. The website design includes the website layout, colours, font, multimedia, interactive features and compatibility e.g. being mobile compatible. An organisation I have worked with, 6 Towns Radio, in some months can have over 60% of their website visits via tablets and mobile phones (see 6townsradio.com). Websites such as blogs can be developed in such a way that they can have a high SEO ranking and be monetised to earn income e.g. via affiliate marketing.
  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is using a range of tools and techniques, so that ideally your website appears at, or near the top, of the not-paid for (organic) area of the search engine page, when people do an online search for your product or service. This is so that you can drive online traffic to your website and create awareness about your products. It involves the web-site and web-page design, words you use on your page, keywords terms, number and quality of web-sites linked to your page, how often it is updated and developed, etc, and being structured in such a way that search engines understand and rank it ideally higher than competing websites. On top of this, it has to be done without diminishing the value of what you have to offer.
  1. Pay per Click (PPC) is a way of buying visits to your sites rather than attempting to earn them through SEO. This is because PPC is a medium where marketers adverts should appear near the top and/or side of the first page of a search result and they will pay for every click made on their advert. The advantage of PPC is that if done correctly it can create instant results, the dis-advantage is that once you stop paying you stop getting results, whereas good SEO will carry on working. Creating an effective PPC campaign involves research, content curation and continually testing the results.
  1. Display advertising (banner ads) As technology advanced, advertising began to take new forms with the advent of digital advertising techniques. Essentially, it entails the use of ads that can be in form of text, video or audio for advertisement purposes on a website. With increasing sophistication of mobile apps and technology, banner advertising can be geo-demographic and person specific so that these become very targeted.
  1. Email marketing The electronic mail set the initial trend for internet advertising and even though many predictions have talked about the decline in its usage, it can still be a very cost-effective form of marketing. Email marketing can be a vibrant means of communication and helping a business to grow, by employing a very direct and cheap marketing means of sending newsletters and other types of information to a target audience. Online systems such as Email Servers and CRM systems can automate the subscription, sending, un-subscribing etc. of emails, for example auto-responders can send out targeted emails on a timed basis or automatically respond to an enquiry. Increasing concerns about receiving unwanted emails (Spamming) will soon mean that that you need to be able to demonstrate that customers have subscribed to your emails and they are not on an exclusion database, similar to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), but for emails.
  1. Content Curation I’ve put Content Curation as a separate topic as it is a key factor in all of the above topics and in today’s digital world, content rules the space. Generally, content marketing cuts across infographics, webpages, podcasts, videos, books, eBooks, apps etc. It is a technique used for the creation and distribution of invaluable content in a consistent manner to a target audience. The aim of spreading the content and feeding it to the target audience is usually so that they can take some actions e.g. buy a product, apply or subscribe to a service etc. Content curation can take a company near bankruptcy and change it into one of the worlds most powerful brands as demonstrated by Lego who have developed an  interactive customer friendly website and even have Lego based films so customers are happy to watch, what is effectively, a very long advert.

Screenshot of Lego website

As mentioned a few times above, a key point is that if you are involved in marketing you need to be able to prove, with current data, what you are doing so that you can improve upon it.

When marketing via social media, websites, etc. you need to monitor and review:

  • which platforms your customers are using,
  • when they are using them, e.g. which days and what time,
  • how are they using them, e.g. a casual look or actually interacting with your marketing and using them as part of their decision-making to purchase,
  • And how this all links together to make a purchase, in what is known as the customer funnel.

If you do not use data you could be wasting your time and money marketing in areas that do not work, for example marketing on Twitter when your customers are using Instagram and Snapchat, or, marketing to potential customers on Snapchat during the working day when they typically use it early or late in the day and weekends.

An area that I get involved in with businesses and Social Enterprises is something called Conversion Rate Optimisation where we can improve the number of customers visiting and purchasing products/services. Typically this includes :-

  • checking and mapping how you are marketing and how your customers are using the internet;
  • measuring what customers are doing with your marketing, e.g. via Google Analytics or Facebook Insights;
  • testing via split-testing to improve results (also know as A/B testing),
  • continuing to test and improve customer conversions and the size of purchase.

As we can monitor and improve online and see instant results, it has led to a form of marketing called Growth Hacking. This is where we undertake and monitor rapid experimentation across online platforms to find the most effective and efficient ways to engage and grow a business customer base. It should develop long-term sustainable growth, not just short term profit.

The above and much more is covered in MSc Digital Marketing Management and BSc Digital Marketing Management at Staffordshire University.

 

Paul Dobson BSc(Hons), DIT, DMS, MSc, MA, MBA, PGCHPE, FHEA, FCMI, MAM

Senior Lecturer in Digital and Strategic Marketing – Staffordshire University Business School

Email: P.M.Dobson@staffs.ac.uk

 

The Six S’s of Social Success

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For the third month running Staffordshire University Business School’s social media presence has dominated the rankings in EduRank, the Education sector’s digital benchmarking platform. There’s been some serious online activity going on to get us there; Undergraduate Business Course Leader, Angela Lawrence, shares our Six S’s of Social Success, to let you into the secret of how we did it:

1. Spice It Up!
They say variety is the spice of life, so we like to spice things up with lots of different types of post. Everyone knows that pictures and videos go down well on social media platforms, but daily streaming of Facebook Live or Periscope is just going to bore followers. Our posts mix business news, staff and student news, education sector news, trending videos and yes, Facebook Live and Periscope from time to time too. All with a common business thread, to attract followers who are eager to see what we’ve got to say each day

2. Seamless Scheduling
We scoff at the cry “but I don’t have time to be posting on social media!” Regular feed is made easy by scheduling your posts, whether by adopting a social media management tool such as HootSuite or by using the simple scheduling tool available on Facebook pages. Half an hour a week and you can schedule an interesting post for each day; then supplement these with emerging news and trends, as and when something newsworthy arises.

3. Share the Load
It’s only fair that everyone contributes towards our social media presence; after all it belongs to students and staff alike. So we recruit student social media “gurus” who adopt a channel, be it Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, then focus on contributing to that channel from time to time. The job of maintaining an engaging social media presence shouldn’t have to be onerous for a select few, neither should it adopt the same tone of voice; freshen it up with views from different angles!

4. Say it Again
Quite simply, repurpose the good stuff! Our Mothership, Staffordshire University social media, posts some great content; as do the Student Union, the Student Guidance team and other schools within the university. So why reinvent the wheel? If it’s relevant to our Business audience, then we repost it on our Business channels…simples!

5. Sound it Out
There’s nothing quite like keeping your ears to the ground. Follow the blogs and websites that are going to create interesting posts for your platforms. If you’re using a Social Media Management tool then you can set it up to do this for you. Klout is one of our favourites; not only does it measure our social media presence and suggest posts of interest, but it tracks how retweets, likes and shares change our Klout score, helping us to identify the posts that work well.

6. Shareability
We won’t baffle our audience with academic gobbledygook; we just say it as it is. Social media should be conversational, interesting and fun – it’s not the place to post your 10,000 word dissertation! It’s all about understanding Social Media Etiquette and maximising the shareability of your social messaging. The more shares, the higher the exposure and the higher you climb the rankings. So make it a conversation that followers want to join in on.