Facebook ads for equestrian feed stores and tack shops

 admin  05/Nov/18  no responses.

As the owner of a tack shop or feed store, you know that competition is rife (after all, who wouldn’t want to earn a living linked to the thing they love?!). With so many other retailers in this industry, you’re up against it, and paid advertising probably already consumes a significant chunk of your marketing budget.

Yet however you currently cut your advertising spend, you may want to have a rethink, and invest in Facebook instead. Here we explain why, how, and what foundations should be in place before launching your first campaign.

The case for investing in Facebook Advertising

Facebook offers THE largest audience of all social sites (with 2.2 billion monthly active users, and counting). Yet despite this mammoth audience, it is the ability to precisely target your audience where Facebook really comes into its own.

In your niche, you need to have the power to hone in on a very small, very precise audience. Facebook meets this need by allowing you to choose who sees your ads by:

  • Age, gender, relationship status, education, workplace, job titles and more
  • Location
  • Interests – such as hobbies, favourite entertainment and more
  • Purchasing behaviours
  • Device usage

You can also target those your business already ‘knows’, such as past website visitors, those who’ve already purchased, as well as those who share the same profile as your existing customers.

Put simply, no other paid advertising medium offers the level of targeting that Facebook does.

Your Facebook business page: Trot before you canter

Launching into an ad campaign without getting your Facebook page right beforehand is like taking to Epsom on a Shetland Pony – completely and totally futile. Before you even so much as look at the Facebook campaign dashboard, make sure that these three elements are right…

1. Set up shop on Facebook

Facebook advertising offers many compelling benefits. But, if we’re honest, it also has its drawbacks, one of which is the hurdle you must leap if you’re to pull your audience away from it, over to your site.

As a retailer, you can overcome this challenge by setting up a Facebook shop. Adding products is relatively straight forward, and you can choose to direct shoppers to your website, send a message about the product, or purchase right then and there – directly on Facebook.

2. Automate your customer service

Facebook now hands you the power to create common questions that your shoppers ask. By clicking on them, they receive an answer immediately. This can be an exceptional time-saver, and can also help broach last-minute purchase queries, potentially increasing your conversions in the process. Officially, it’s known as a Facebook Messenger Bot. While they’re driven by AI, these bots are known for their human-like responses, and rather than alienating consumers, stats go to show that they actually find them useful…

60 percent of survey respondents say they have used these mechanisms to interact with a business in the past 12 months, with chatbots being regarded as convenient and fast.

3. Activate the review section (and actively encourage your consumers to review your products)

84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as friends, so if your potential buyers have any last-minute doubts, positive reviews can be enough to push them to convert.

You can take proactive steps to building up your review section by simply asking for reviews in purchase confirmations and invoices.

Facebook ads for tack shops and feed stores – Here’s your ‘How To’…

Facebook adverts can promote: posts, photos and albums, videos, events, offers, links to your website and your products.

1. Setting up the basics

First, you’ll need to visit the Facebook Ads Manager to create your ad account.

With that created, visit the ‘Account Settings’ (accessible from the top menu). Here you should fill in your details (business name, address and so on).

At this point you can add another person to manage your campaign. Simply scroll down to the ‘Ad Account Roles’ section, and select ‘Add a Person’. Alongside their name and email address, you’ll need to tell Facebook what level of administrative control they should have.

2. Set up your billing

Click on the ‘Billing’ tab. Here you’ll add your payment method (you can pay by card or PayPal). At this stage, you should start thinking about your maximum spend. Facebook allows you to set either a daily budget, or a lifetime budget (which runs over the entire course of a campaign). To set or change your budget:

1. Go to Ads Manager

2. Hover over the ad set (or campaign) you want to edit

3. Click Edit

4. Change your budget

5. Click Confirm and Close

3. Targeting your audience

In order to make the most of Facebook advertising, you need to make sure that your targeting is on-point. Given that you sell very specific items, you may get the best ROI by targeting shoppers who you know purchase your products.

This can be done in one of two ways. First, you can target the fans of another tack shop or feed store Facebook page.

Second, you could retarget those who’ve already visited your website. Setting up this type of advert is more complex (and it’s officially known as re-targeting). However, as your potential buyer is ‘warm’, retargeting is known to be an effective conversion tactic. Here’s the how to…

1. Go to your Facebook Ads account

2. Click on ☰

3. Under “Assets” find “Product Catalogue” & click “Create a Catalogue”

4. Once you’ve created your catalogue, click “Ad Products” & download the .CSV template

5. Fill out the template & upload it to Facebook

6. Wait for the template to upload, then you’re all set for your first dynamic ad campaign!

You can also use the Facebooks Insights Tool for learning more about who you should be targeting based on what interests your audience have.

4. Decide on the campaign format

There are three core ways of creating your Facebook ad Campaigns. Here’s an overview of each…

Boost post on Facebook Pages: This is the quick and easy option – but it’s also not very effective (and not the best tool for e-Commerce owners).

Power Editor tool: The Power Editor was built for pro marketers. It provides endless campaign features, but can overwhelm the layman. We’d recommend staying away from this, or if you do decide to use it, make sure you undertake plenty of research!

Self-serve Ads Create tool: This is the most streamlined set up tool of all three, guiding you through the process step by step.

Click here to create an ad in the Self-serve Ads Create tool – first, you’ll choose your objective from 15 in total. You’ll want to pick either ‘Send People to Your Website’ or ‘Increase Conversions‘.

You’ll then need to walk through the process, entering details such as your website URL, selecting your audience, setting your targeting (such as additional interests), setting your budget and creating your ad schedule.

5. Design your ads and launch!

Next, you’ll be led through your options as to how your ads appear. You’ll choose whether you want a single image or video, or choose a carrousel ad (which is also known as multi-product ads). Given your business, we would recommend starting out with a multiple product ad.

 

You can create up to 6 ad variations for your campaign from 6 different images – this allows you to see what drives the best results.

You’ll complete your ad by entering the headline, main text and call-to-action buttons.

With all the information added, you’ll see a preview of your ad before launch. This allows you to see the different placements of your advert – such as in desktop feed, mobile news feed and audience network placement, which would place your ads on third party apps and websites (given your work on your Facebook page, it’s best to avoid this option).

Finally, click ‘Review Order’, click ‘Place Order’, and you’re live!

Last minute tips for Facebook Ad budget maximisation

On a tight budget? Spend it wisely, combine Facebook advertising with video, which has been found to secure a Cost Per Click of $0.18 (compared to $0.97 for non-video ads).

As for the best days to spend your budget? That would be Thursdays and Fridays – which Bit.ly found to be the days that received the best engagement (18% better than the remainder of the week, to be precise).

Finally, you need to experiment with your ad format – the text, images and whether you feature products or video. There are no golden rules as to what is most effective for any one business, and small tweaks and trials will help you understand what works with your audience. To get to grips with this type of campaign testing, read our blog: Testing, Testing: Killer Conversions Through Solid A/B Testing.

 Stock up those shelves, if you design and target your Facebook ads right, you’re going to need all the inventory you can get. And if you want a helping professional hand in making the most of Facebook Advertising for your feed shop or tack store, PressPoint Countryside & Equestrian is here to help – we understand your marketplace and know just what it takes to make that sale. Call our team on: +44 (0)1953 851513 or email us: [email protected] and we’ll be back in touch.

 

 

Crafting a marketing plan for your tack shop or feed store

 admin  01/Oct/18  no responses.

Tack shop or feed store owner, allow us to ask you a question – do you have any semblance of a plan for your marketing? Or, like almost 50% of SMEs, do you have no plan at all?

If you’re firmly in the latter group, we want to be blunt: you’re undoubtedly wasting time, resources and money on marketing that’s ineffective (and you may also be overlooking other channels that could drive a better ROI). In this article, we’re going to walk you through the making of a marketing plan – from the foundation of basic market analysis, onto deciding upon your marketing goals.

Step one: Understand your customers and the wider market

The three cornerstones of market analysis

Before we dig into the three types of market analysis, it’s worth noting that this really needn’t be an in-depth, month long task. Even the simplest and most cursory of analysis can help you better understand your customers and competitors, and in turn – your target market.

1. Review past sales and business activity

Let’s start with your internal sales data. Take a look at the past 24 months – can you tell how your customers found out about you? What did they buy and which were the most popular products? What proved to be your most profitable products? What is the typical customer – business or consumer? Either way, try to add more to the picture of the typical customer – for businesses, this could be by region or business size, and for consumers, this might be by age, gender or occupation.

Task time: up to an hour.

2. Research your competition

Now it’s time to weigh up the competition. Begin by looking at the websites of your competitors, then explore their social profiles and follow them (continually staying up to date with your competitors’ marketing is mission critical). After 30 minutes research, grab a pen and paper and answer this: what similarities do you have? What differences are there? Aim to gain an idea of strengths and weaknesses with your business, and with your competitors.

Task time: Up to an hour.

3. Poll your customers

Customers can be a rich source of guidance when it comes not just to marketing, but also to the way you do business. They could tell you about the types of feed they want, provide ideas for brands you don’t stock in your tack shop, and shed light on how customers wind up at your door or shopping on your ecommerce store.

Gaining their input needn’t be complex. Simply send out a poll via email to ask them about their experiences. Make it easy to engage, with a five minute online form to be filled out. You could also post a link on your social profiles and encourage responses by offering entry to a prize draw.

Task time: Up to an hour.

Step two: Clarifying (or creating) your USP

What’s your USP?

With a good grasp as to what other feed stores and tack shops are up to and how they’re communicating their offering, it’s time to pin down a value proposition. A well formed USP should differentiate you from the competition, and make the benefit of buying from you, rather than the next store, clear.

Some questions that may help you gain a clearer idea of your USP are:

What problem(s) do you resolve?

Tack shops – you provide the clothes and the equipment that allow people to indulge in their hobby or continue running their own equestrian business. You keep people, horses and perhaps even pets clothed and safe.

Feed stores – you don’t just ‘feed’ horses, your products provide them with a balanced diet, with the right nutrients, to keep them healthy.

How can you make your shop unique?

Your products may not be unique, but your service can be. As a retailer, this will lie somewhere within your delivery, aftercare and advice. You can highlight your business as a source of expert guidance – able to provide advice on the right products, for different problems.

What’s your tagline?

This should summarise your value proposition within 10 words or less.

Step three: Set out your marketing goals

With your market explored and your USP defined, it’s now time to focus on what you want to achieve. First and foremost, one of your marketing goals will almost certainly be driving potential shoppers to your website, where they can purchase online or at least find details as to your products. But is your offering easy to find and use? Can you be found on Google search – especially Google businesses, if you have a bricks and mortar store? If not, you should invest in SEO and PPC.

You’ll also need to ensure that you have a good online reputation before you begin marketing, as 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying. If there’s a trail of unhappy past customers to be found over on Trustpilot, all your marketing efforts go to waste for 8 out of 10 buyers.

Whatever the goals you create, you should plan for the long term, creating short, medium and long-term goals (1 month, 6 months and 12 months are good suggested timescales).

Here are the nine marketing goal categories around which you may want to build your plan:

  1. Subscribers
  2. Web traffic
  3. Social media page likes and post interactions
  4. New customers
  5. Prospects
  6. Email marketing campaign opens/clicks
  7. Collaborative partnerships
  8. Media coverage
  9. Blog comments

Step four: Choosing your tools wisely

Here’s a question we’ve been asked time and time again: which marketing channel is most effective for equine SMEs? While the exact answer will differ from business to business, we want to present a super short summary as to what your options are, and what each channel’s main benefit is. This list isn’t exhaustive however, there are plenty more marketing mediums out there to explore.

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation should be thought of as a long game – an ongoing strategy that, month by month, improves your ranking in search engines such as Google and Yahoo!

SEO should involve blogging – which can be great for educating your customers about the various products you stock that resolve their issues (such as a certain type of feed for old mares, or the best rain sheets for spring).

Get started with SEO, by reading: link building masterclass: getting started (and getting it right).

Pay Per Click

In direct contrast to SEO, PPC drives traffic to your website instantly. However you have to pay for these leads, and not all of them will convert into a sale. That said, when your PPC strategy is on-point, your targeting is right and your website converts well, it is possible to achieve £2 in return for every £1 invested.

Social

There is SO much to cover for social that we can’t possible even touch on it here. But we DO have a library of blogs that will help you on your way…

Instagram and Pinterest mastery: from zero to hero | Snapchat your way to business growth – The beginner’s guide | Facebook ads for equestrian feed stores and tack shops

Email

Despite mail having a rather terrible reputation as rather useless, email is in fact incredibly effective for ecommerce owners. As the perfect example, sending a series of three abandoned cart email reminders brings in 69% more orders than a single email. And, since GDPR came in, businesses and consumers are even more selective about who they receive news from, so when you DO get an opt in, your recipient should be even more ready to read your message.

PressPoint Pro Tip: we know that for many, the impact of GDPR hit hard. If you’re struggling to rebuild your email list, read this: email marketing in the age of GDPR).

Print

Rather than being dead in the water, print marketing can feel personal, tactile and provide the recipient with something to keep around (which can be encourage by including a coupon within it). It’s also particularly effective with prospects, with research showing that 39% of customers say they try a business for the first time because of direct mail advertising.

An effective, carefully crafted marketing plan can work wonders for the bottom line of your business. But it does take time and effort. If you’d prefer to leave the marketing to the experts, PressPoint Countryside & Equestrian can help; from developing your USP, to overhauling your branding, onto creating and executing a cast-iron marketing strategy. Call our team on: +44 (0)1953 851513 or email us: [email protected] and we’ll be back in touch.

 

 

IGTV and you – everything you need to know

 admin  15/Sep/18  no responses.

Never one to shy away from innovation, Instagram has recently announced a brand-new platform. Called IGTV, this desktop and mobile app is set to contend for YouTube’s crown as the social video platform. In this feature, we look at exactly what IGTV is, how it’ll work and tactics for grabbing attention, increasing customer loyalty and driving digital footfall into your online store, website, or product pages.

On the 20th June 2018, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom stepped excitedly onto the stage in San Francisco. Streamed live over Instagram, he had something to say, something that had been cycling through the marketing rumour mills since early June: “We’re announcing our most exciting feature to date: IGTV, a new app for watching long-form, vertical video from your favourite Instagram creators, like LaurDIY posting her newest project or King Bach sharing his latest comedy skit. While there’s a stand-alone IGTV app, you’ll also be able to watch from within the Instagram app so the entire community of one billion can use it from the very start.”

Before we dig into the details as to how IGTV will work (and how you can make the most of it for your equine brand), let’s take a step back to appreciate what Instagram does and can do for your bottom line.

Instagram – far more than Kardashian pouts and preening

Instagram was set up on a relative shoe-string budget (at least in the world of start-ups). With $500,000 of investor funding, two entrepreneurs had an idea that today, a mere seven years later, has led to a user base of 1 billion users as of June 2018.

This platform has long since shook off its reputation as a medium exclusively for models, the young and the famous. However, if you’re yet to be convinced about the value of Instagram as a business marketing channel, you may want to take a read of these stats:

– “80% of Users Follow a Business on Instagram” – Business Instagram

– “An estimated 71% of businesses use Instagram (almost double the number of businesses (48.8%) that used Instagram in 2016)” – EMarketer

– “65% of top-performing Instagram posts feature products” – Gartner L2

– “60% of users say they’ve used the platform to learn about a product or service” – Gartner L2

IGTV – The details

While going after the same broad target market as YouTube, IGTV is setting itself apart in a few core areas. First, it will be built for how people use their phone – displaying them in full, on a vertical screen. Second, as mentioned, they’ll be no one-minute time limit (as is the case with Instagram) – allowing for up to 60 minutes of video. Third, IGTV will be a simple, separate app (though it will be accessible from a button on the Instagram home screen).

They’ll be no need for users to search for content from the businesses, brands and people they follow on Instagram, as their feed will already reflect who they follow on the main Instagram app. IGTV will also present video suggestions based on what Instagram knows about each user’s interests and preferences.

Users will swipe up to explore – switching between For You, Following, Popular and Continue Watching. Users can also like, comment and send videos to friends in Direct, just like Instagram.

Finally, IGTV will also provide you with the platform to create your own channel which your audience can subscribe to – allowing for links in the description of each video to drive traffic to your website, landing pages and products.

How to get started on IGTV

Step one – Download IGTV

If you’re yet to download the app, you can do so in the App Store and Google Play.

Step two – Log in using your Instagram or Facebook account

Once downloaded, you’ll login to IGTV using either your Instagram or Facebook account. As soon as you’ve logged in, you’ll see that a video immediately begins to play, and immediately after one video finishes, another starts.

Step three – Get to know the IGTV interface

Imagine that the IGTV app is a remote control for flicking through IGTV – all in all, there are seven buttons dedicated to exploring and watching videos:

1. For You: This will present videos IGTV believes you’ll like (working in a similar way to your Instagram feed on the Instagram app)

2. Following: For watching videos of those you follow on Instagram

3. Popular: Watch videos of people you don’t follow (this is comparable to the ‘Explore’ page on Instagram)

4. Continue Watching: Just like Netflix, you’ll find that any videos you’ve not finished watching will appear in the ‘continue watching’ area.

5. The Search Bar: Accessible via the magnifying icon, search allows you to track down your favourite channels or search for content using terms such as “equine news” or “equine business”.

6. Your Profile Photo: Over on the right, you’ll see your profile picture from your main Instagram account. Tapping on it will take you to your channel.

7. The Settings: In the settings, you’ll be able to follow Instagram accounts, link your IGTV channel to your Facebook profile (you can also set your IGTV to automatically post to your Facebook page) and do other tasks, such as reporting an issue or logging out of the app.

Tips, tricks and tactics for tackling IGTV

Make best use of vertical video

First, a basic rule – you need to record with an aspect ratio of 9:16. Let’s keep this simple – recording on your smartphone vertically will handle this for you.

Now for the trickier part – creating content that naturally lends itself and capitalises upon the vertical format.

Keep it short

That’s right, despite IGTV allowing for videos of up to one hour in length, research consistently shows that videos between two and three minutes in length result in the best engagement. That said, there are some instances where long form content is the obvious choice – such as interviews, exhibition reports and in-depth industry analysis.

Make your video content useful and unique

Your videos need to serve up content that is defined by two foundations – it must be unique and it must be useful. These two factors apply whenever you make video content, whatever the platform you’re making it for.

A simple way to create a video content plan is to study your competitors’ blogs and your own blog to understand what content has proven to be the most popular. What has got people talking? What download guides, reports or whitepapers have built your email list most significantly? Look at the amount of social shares, your own website analytics and the level of engagement on social media – indicated by comments, likes and retweets.

Then, with this knowledge in hand, consider how you can transform this content into video – and (of critical importance) think about how presenting this content in video format will bring something fresh to your audience.

IGTV features an insight tool. Use it.

Any type of marketing should involve analysis, and handily enough IGTV hands you an analytics tool for reviewing the effectiveness of your videos.

In order to view your video insights, you’ll need to tap on the three-dot button on any of your videos and select ‘Insights’. Here, you’ll be able to explore key facts and stats, such as how much engagement your video generated and viewer retention rates.

Embrace your brand

You have (or at least should have) a brand – a tone of voice, a visual style and personality. These things should be evident in your video content – reflected in the words you (or someone else) speaks, any branded background behind them, and your overall message.

Ask yourself – what are you hoping to convey? Are you a voice of friendly authority? Do you want to build a community of fellow equine business owners? Answer these questions before you so much as even think about the content you’re going to create, and how it will align with your brand.

IGTV is in extreme infancy – you should continue to look at how others are harnessing this medium and using it to drive results for their business. At PressPoint, we can’t wait to watch how the story of IGTV will play out.

 

If the thought of creating 60 entire minutes of video for IGTV leaves you feeling unimaginative and (frankly) rather intimidated, PressPoint Countryside & Equestrian is here to help. We know your marketplace, and we understand your target customer. We can engage, inspire and educate your audience on IGTV – getting there before your competitors have even put together their content plan. Call our team on: +44 (0)1953 851513 or email us: [email protected]

 

 

How to tell a brand story that sells

 admin  15/Jul/18  no responses.

Authenticity, humanisation, the new art of storytelling – beyond these buzzwords and far past this marketing talk, the saying that people buy from people first still holds firmly true.

But let’s be honest – do your prospective customers see you as a faceless corporate entity, or do they feel a brand that they can connect with? If it’s the former, you may want to consider re-writing your brand story. So, if you’re sitting comfortably, then we’ll begin.

Common brand stories – finding your fable

Despite there being a limited number of brand story themes, they don’t lose their authenticity as long as they’re done well. Take the classic rags to riches story – the one of a business person who built their company from the ground up and ultimately made a success of their struggles. If this sounds similar to your backstory, let people know.

Then, there’s the hero’s tale – a story of adventure, jumping over obstacles, facing challenges and overcoming adversity. Taking centre stage in this brand story is not always who, or what, you’d expect. Whilst it could focus on the CEO, it can also be about the company or a product which has undergone significant changes to emerge as a better, bolder version of itself.

The hero’s tale is somewhat similar to branding that tells a story about overcoming a monster. In this tale, the founder, company or product begins as the underdog to some seemingly unsurmountable force. The happy ending comes when they are victorious against the baddie – think early Macintosh versus PC, or American Express’s so-called ‘Small Business Saturday’ versus Black Friday.

Other brand stories focus on the customer – on true stories as to how they’ve experienced a transformation with the product or service in question. Similarly, other brands publicise stories about the people in their team, and how the unique company culture influences them in their roles.

There are also ways of shaping a brand story around heritage (most commonly used by family brands) or sustainability (which shows how a brand is making positive moves for the environment and/or their community).

The three science-backed cornerstones of exceptional storytelling

Create empathy and you’ll be remembered

Empathy is an incredibly underused technique in marketing, yet when done well the results can be especially powerful. We can thank a small collection of brain neurons for this. Known as mirror neurons, they’re responsible for us being able to feel another person’s, or indeed company’s, pleasure or pain. The best example of empathy in action may be in the emotional Christmas adverts – think lonely man on the moon from the John Lewis; Paddington Bear from M&S or Sainsbury’s ‘Christmas is for Sharing’ campaign.

What we can learn from these is that your target market is biologically programmed to connect with emotional stories – so make it a tear-jerker or a smile-maker – make them care, and their loyalty and business could be yours for the taking.

Stimulate the release of oxytocin for co-operation

Oxytocin is a neurochemical, and in the simplest sense it signals to our body that all is safe to approach others – this biological process used to be critical for the survival of our Neanderthal ancestors.

Interestingly character-focused brand stories, when done well, result in oxytocin synthesis. In turn, this increases how prepared the viewer is to help others. Research from the Harvard Business Review has found that a brand story must capture and sustain attention and introduce some form of tension – enough for the audience to share the feelings of the character.

Find a way to drive home the pain of the problem

What problem do you solve? What pain do your customers face that your product or service removes? Fully understanding the way your customer experiences pain is key to building a story and ultimately creating a pleasure that is experienced when it’s resolution.

The beginning, middle and end of a brand story written for business growth

First things first – pin down what you stand for

Your brand story is about more than an advert or the copy on a page. It combines facts, feelings and interpretations, and should communicate the following:

– Who you are – How did your company come to be? What is your vision, mission, values and culture?

– What you provide/produce – The service or product needs to be subtly obvious wherever you tell your brand story, no matter the content type.

– Who you serve – The people you help (remembering to drive home their pain points)

– Why you do what you do – The bigger picture – going beyond your product or service to detail how you benefit your customer.

– Where you are headed – The ways in which you’re evolving to always improve your product/service.

With these elements nailed down, it’s now time to understand your (very specific) audience

Who are your audience? The entirety of your target market, or a select type of customer? Designing a story around a well understood persona is key to ensuring you craft a brand story that resonates, and that cleverly interweaves the target audience’s pain points into the fabric of the brand fable.

Grab a notepad and jot down the past, present and future of your company

Your brand story begins with your founder and the original purpose of the business. Make it detailed and follow a blow by blow account of how the business grew. Add to the mix amusing, heart-warming or tense anecdotes, stats, facts and a CEO testimony. Then weigh up how this beginning led to, and influenced, the present day, as well as the goals of the future.

Put blood, sweat and tears into a statement of existence

Now it’s time to create your brand statement – a short, snappy sentence or two as to what matters to customers and what the deeper purpose of the business is. It should answer the questions: “Why are we here?” and “How are we making the world a better place?”. Consider these examples…

– Patagonia: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

– American Express: “We work hard every day to make American Express the world’s most respected service brand.”

– Warby Parker: “To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses.”

– InvisionApp: “Question Assumptions. Think Deeply. Iterate as a Lifestyle. Details, Details. Design is Everywhere. Integrity.”

– Honest Tea: “… to create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.”

PressPoint Pro Tip

Get creative, brainstorm with your colleagues and commit to it. If you’re struggling, come back with fresh eyes, or survey others for their opinion.

Develop your story around this now very refined brand story statement

Print your long brand saga out and pin it up next to your statement. The task now is to create an A4 page to summarise your story – telling a true narrative of your brand, in a condensed format.

PressPoint Pro Tip

Perhaps the most important element of a great brand story is purpose. Remember those neuroscience tricks we were speaking of? They all revolve around emotional connections, and in order for your brand story to work, it must have an authentic purpose, if your audience is to engage.

Make sure your brand story touches every element of your company

The best brand stories are readable through every marketing material and contact with your company – from your logo, to you blog content, to the interactions with your workforce. This means keeping your branding consistent – the colours, the values held by company and workers alike, to the tone of voice that’s shared by both the about page, and CEO.

You want to motivate, engage and persuade, and a powerful brand story can achieve all three, resulting in tangible pence and pounds on the bottom line. Yet creating an effective brand story that resonates is a tough business. If you’d prefer to move onto Happily Ever After, rather than struggling with your Once Upon a Time, you know where we are. We can help pen a brand story that sells. Call our team on 01953 851513, or send a message over and we’ll be right back in touch – [email protected].

 

Getting talkative to gain business traction

 admin  01/Jun/18  no responses.

Comment marketing has got a bit of a bad reputation. At best many imagine it to be ineffective, and at worst, some think that it’s about spamming and nothing more. This bad reputation is far from new. In fact, this tarred brush dates back in the bad old days of SEO, when black hat techniques such as forum spamming and automated blog commenting were prevalent.

But here’s the interesting thing – the strength of comment marketing lies in these misunderstandings, as your fellow equine businesses are likely making these very presumptions about what can be a really powerful marketing medium. With this secret tool in your marketing arsenal, you could be making business leaps and bounds, whilst your competitors haven’t even navigated the first hurdle.

Comment marketing 101 – how it can help your business

Comment marketing involves leaving your thoughts, input and insight on other websites in (unsurprisingly) the comment section. This could be a business forum, a fellow equine trader’s blog, on social media or on a community page. Great comments on relevant posts lead to website visits, which lead to links in a future post, and can link back to more website visits.

So, that’s organic website traffic driven directly to your website. Yet there’s something of potentially far more value that can be derived from comment marketing – industry authority. By leaving insightful, helpful comments on the blogs of other equine businesses or voices in your industry, your expertise is demonstrated to other readers and, perhaps most importantly, the blog owner. When done regularly, conversations and debates can be struck up. When done right, this can then lead to connections and partnerships – others may promote your blog, mention your business to others (in person and online) and even purchase your services/products themselves.

Key question: How can I leave a comment and a link, without being rude?

The online world is defined by its very own set of rules and guidelines when it comes to etiquette. Given the epidemic that is spam, it’s then unsurprising that some blog and website owners take exception to every single comment left that includes a link. Here’s our suggestion for an email if you wish to avoid offence…

“Hi there,

I wanted to ensure that your blog accepts links in the comments, however I wanted to point to [EXPLAIN HOW YOUR COMMENT AND LINK ARE RELEVANT TO THE BLOG].

Editor – please do feel free to remove if links are not appropriate.”

Or (even better), you could post the following as a comment…

“This is super helpful, and I’ve actually been replicating something similar on our site. If you visit our blog, you can see how we’ve actioned this – the link is available via my LinkedIn profile.”

In the second instance, you also gain the opportunity of showcasing other pieces of content, information and media, as well as offering a point of contact should the website visitor wish to contact you there and then.

Where next?

Equine websites worth a look for comment marketing:

  • Horse & Hound – horseandhound.co.uk/forums or facebook.com/horseandhound/
  • BETA – facebook.com/betaequestrian/

Comment marketing for social growth

We’ve got great news, unlike many other industries, the equine world is relatively small, and creating a strong voice via social is far easier and faster a process than in industries that market to the masses.

PressPoint Pro Tip

For some businesses, going on a message drive can provide for a follower growth spurt. For many, these can be driven by leaving comments on publicly open page walls. Something as simple as the following can leave an imprint for other eager networkers to click upon…

“Hi there, we’re big fans of your Facebook page… [INSERT VALUABLE COMMENT RELATING TO RECENT CONTENT ON THE PAGE]. I’m leaving my Facebook page profile link here – we are [CATCHY, ONE LINE COMPANY INTRO].”

What makes a comment effective?

Solid quality comments (the kind that others engage with, and that drive traffic to your social profiles and website), must tick off the following six pointers if it’s to be an online asset, not a liability:

1. It’s on-topic

Leaving comments purely to talk about your business? That’s spam and goes against the grain of what comment marketing is truly about. Not only must your comment be on-topic, but it should also add something to the conversation – an original point of view, a link leading to complimentary content, or thoughts that take the debate further.

2. It is mindful of the author, as well as other commenters

Sparking a healthy debate or providing an opinion that is different to the author’s is absolutely OK. What’s not OK is going on the attack or being dismissive of the points that the author has made. Here’s what just such a comment may look like (note the opening compliment – flattery will get you everywhere, when comment marketing):

“Hi there, great post, [AUTHOR NAME]. I think you make some interesting points, but points number two and five I disagree with, here’s why. This is my experience… OR I have this data OR I conducted research.

I’d love to share this information, go check it out here – [INSERT LINK].”

3. It delivers something of unique value

Forget common knowledge. Don’t regurgitate the comments of others who’ve left their thoughts. Typically speaking, if you can’t add some totally original input, move on to another blog or forum where you can provide value.

4. It’s always, always transparent

Be honest about why you’re commenting, and what you can add to the author’s piece. A comment such as the one following puts it all up front and protects your integrity (it’s also especially important if you’re posting from a personal rather than a business account):

“Hello there, full disclosure, I work for [COMPANY NAME] and I wrote this piece, but I think it’s both relevant and helpful enough to introduce it here. So, with your permission, hopefully I’m linking to it. Editor, do please feel free to remove this link if it’s not appropriate.”

5. It follows proper English – grammar and all

This final pointer should be obvious, but we’ll include it anyway as it’s simply so important. You must proof your posts and ensure that your spelling, grammar and syntax is correct – that means taking the time to double check your comment before clicking ‘post’.

Post and hope, or comment and strategize?

It’s easy to dismiss comment marketing as ineffective or old hat, not least because of the reasons we covered at the start. Hopefully we’ve made the case clear for setting aside time for this marketing tactic. And if you are going to invest in comment marketing, it makes sense that you’ll approach it strategically. If you’re serious about making this work for you, here’s the 1-2-3 for putting together a strategy…

1. Work out what you’re trying to achieve

What are your trying to achieve? Sure, you ultimately want more business, but what will lead to this – a boost in SEO? Developing your industry authority? Growing your social follower count? Deciding on what you’re trying to achieve in the form of a measurable goal is the first step you’ll need to work out.

2. Decide on metrics that will measure your success

With a concrete goal in focus, you now need metrics – what does success look like? 100 extra website visits a month? 10 more followers per week? One invitation to guest blog every 14 days?

3. Put together a list of blogs, communities and forums to interact with

In this blog, we’ve tried to provide some generic equine websites that could be the right place to comment, but we don’t know your exact niche – you may be an equine wholesaler, or a stable owner – and as such they’ll likely be websites out there that are more tightly tied to what you do. Ideally your list should number ten in total.

4. Do your research – it’ll pay off

Get to know your top ten websites and bloggers. Get to grips with what they write about, their impassioned thoughts on certain topics, the way they interact with commenters. This basic research takes minimal time and can yield maximum results. It’ll also help you understand the type of content that their audience (who are your prospects) are engaging and interacting with – providing for the most reach for your comments.

5. Sign up to new content alerts

Fresh content is critical to your commenting – spending time posting to blogs that are years old not only means that there may only be limited traffic, it’s also possible that the author no longer watches out for comments as they previously did. Signing up for email alerts, or creating an RSS, can help you jump onto content that’s in the moment and attracting attention.

Make no mistake – comment marketing is powerful and influential, when done right. But what if you’re not feeling too talkative, when it comes to comment marketing? Or finding it tough to squeeze any sort of marketing effort into your daily, weekly or even monthly schedule? Our team always have plenty to say. Perhaps we should chat? Call our team on 01953 851513 or send a message over and we’ll be right back in touch – [email protected]

 

 

Instagram and Pinterest mastery: From zero to hero

 admin  15/Apr/18  no responses.

Need to mix up your marketing? It seems that you could do worse than considering an image-based social network…

Images are processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than text and 65% of people are visual learners (Business 2 Community). These stats go to show that humans are biologically built to be more receptive to image-based marketing, and there are plenty more stats to make a persuasive case for using Instagram and Pinterest…

– For increased sales… 87% of Pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest (Pinterest).

– For boosted average order value… Those who interact with a Promoted Pin spend 7x more than others (Pinterest).

– For business growth… Brands on Instagram with over 100K followers have grown by 163% in two years (Simply Measured Q3 2014 Instagram Study).

– For users that take action… 75% of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a website, after looking at an Instagram advertising post (Hootsuite).

Interest piqued? Then we should get to work on your fast-track Instagram and Pinterest mastery!

Instagram – From A to Z

Only 28% of marketers use Instagram. The question we’d like to ask is why? After all, this is a medium of impressive stats: with 200 million users who upload 60 million photos every single day. It’s also a platform where engagement rates are a staggering 15 times higher and a plain, unbelievable 20 times higher than Twitter.

With the case made for Instagram, let’s get to grips with adverts that capture interest, clicks and sales.

The anatomy of an effective Instagram campaign

Secret ingredient #1 – Dynamic imagery

Colourful subject matter, close up photos, tight product shots, untraditional angles and motion blurred backgrounds can add dynamism to your images.

Secret ingredient #2 – A story beautifully told

Instagram users are especially open to images that tell a story, and before you think only the likes of Kim Kardashian are suited to drama and intrigue, consider this: equine businesses, no matter the specific product or service, typically rely on custom from a close-knit collective of target markets. So why not tell the stories of your customers – those who others can relate to, and that they share similar problems with.

Secret ingredient #3 – Creating adverts in every format – image, carousel and video

Today Instagram has extended their advert options to also include video and carousel ads. So, which is most effective? In most instances campaigns benefit from using all three, as you can A/B test to see which is driving the most results (look out for our upcoming guide to A/B testing in the May issue if you plan on taking this approach). Using multiple formats can also reinforce a single campaign message.

Fast PressPoint Pro Tips for making the most of Instagram

1. Don’t forget to add your Call To Action to your bio

2. Consider using influencers rather than traditional PPC (use a tool such as SocialBlade to assess the potential reach of the influencer you may be considering)

3. Involve your audience, with user-generated content – create a shared hashtag and encourage them to share photos of your product

Instagram Ads: A how-to for the fastest way to promote your posts

If you’ve upgraded to an Instagram business account you can create app adverts on the go, for boosted profile visibility in 60 seconds flat. Here’s the step by step:

1. Select a post to promote and tap the arrow in the top right-hand corner.

2. Select an objective and action button:

Instagram has helpful in-built objectives, such as driving more profile and website visits or reaching people close to an address. This is coupled with actions and suggested text.

For example, if you want to drive people to your website, Instagram will suggest:

– Learn More

– Watch More

– Shop Now

– Book Now

– Sign Up

– Contact Us

3. Set your budget and duration:

Our top tip when it comes to budget and advert duration is to begin with a modest budget, for a trial period, over which time you’ll A/B test the life out of your ads.

4. Launch and watch your insights like a hawk:

With your budget and duration set, you’ll wait a short while for the approval of your promotion. To view these, you’ll need to select the post on your profile, and click on ‘View insights’. This will lead to the demographic breakdown, click-through data, impressions and reach, as well as insights into the number of views before the post was promoted.

Pinterest – Creating and optimising your profile

– Around 5% of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest (Shareaholic)

– The half-life of a Pinterest pin is 1,600 times longer than a Facebook post (Webpage FX)

 Pinterest offers one thing almost every other social network doesn’t – longevity. The fact that your pinned images can pop up in feeds even following 4 to 5 months means that your efforts and investments here could and should secure better ROI.

Five super easy tips for boosting business through Pinterest

1. First of all – Make sure you’re naming your images well:

Choosing keyword rich names for your images on your website and on Pinterest will help drive your images up the search engine results – a seriously underappreciated potential source of organic traffic. The worst possible alternative is to opt for device generated names, such as DSC_08364.jpg.

2. Add an eye-catching hover ‘Pin It’ button to your website and blog images:

Ensure that your blog images are being pinned by those reading your content by adding a ‘Pin It’ button that appears whenever their mouse hovers over the image.

3. Make sure you’re using a business page, rather than a personal page:

You may not be able to spot the difference between a business page and a personal page from the front end, but the back end of Pinterest is a different matter. Here you’ll find plenty of helpful analytics, metrics and data – including the number of unique users, number of re-pins, impressions, content that secures the most re-pins and site visits. All super helpful stuff when it comes to tracking whether you’re Pinterest strategy is working.

4. Be smart when separating your content into boards:

Boards should be used wisely to split your content into categories. That could mean a board for your infographics, another for your guides, a further one for ‘behind the scenes’ at your business, and so on.

5. Make the most of rich pins:

Rich pins step it up a gear in terms of the information a pin can include. Namely there are five topic-specific details –

– Place pins include an address, phone number and map

– Recipe pins include ingredients, cooking times and serving info

– Movie pins include ratings, cast members and reviews

– Article pins include the headline, author, story description and link

– Product pins include real-time pricing, availability and where to buy

6. Consider collaboration, with group boards:

Group boards allow you to invite other users to pin to your board, however you retain the ability to edit the title and description, as well as being able to remove pinners and pins should you wish to. This could be especially powerful post equine-event – say for creating a board of attendees whom you’ve connected with at BETA, for a highlights reel from the day.

7. Make your boards info-rich:

Pinterest may be an image-based social network, but people are still hungry for helpful information – no one more so than your fellow businesses. For this, you need to consider how you can deliver easy, bite-size chunks of information through your images. And for that, the infographic format is likely the most obvious choice. That said, not all businesses have the time and money to invest in creating infographics (which require both research and graphic design, although there are free infographic makers out there, such as Canva). If you’re too money and time-short, simply take the time to discover quality content from others that you can share.

8. Optimise your Pinterest presence for the search engines:

Here’s a short sharp summary of optimising for SEO, when it comes to Pinterest:

– Include links to your website

– Use your pin well – Strike the right balance between being concise and including the right keywords

– Speak in your audience’s language – Take a look at your competitors and analyse the language they use

– ‘Pinjack’ suitable search terms and images – Research your competitors and find terms and images that are securing results

– Use hashtags – This will help drive potential customers to your content

– Choose an optimised company username – This doesn’t have to match your real-world business name

– Optimize your “About” section – Ensure it’s keyword rich, engaging and 100% unique.

 

And with that, your visual marketing masterclass is complete. But if you’re feeling less pretty-as-a-picture and far more t-and-miss, it may be time to leave Instagram and Pinterest to the professionals. Call our team on 01953 851513, or send a message over and we’ll be right back in touch – [email protected].

 

 

Link building masterclass: Getting started (and getting it right)

 admin  15/Mar/18  no responses.

Some say that link building efforts are dead and buried, and that social has overtaken traditional SEO efforts. Don’t be fooled. For now at least, links remain the way the internet works – an interconnected roadmap that provides signs to Google and the like as to what your website is about, who your audience are and how valuable the quality of your content is.

 

So, the next question: just how the heck can you get started building links when you’re an expert in equine, rather than marketing? Answer? With this tick list for your link building mastery and Google domination, that’s how.

 

Just a moment – isn’t link building plain-old bad SEO practice?

 

You may have heard the much-misunderstood news – link building is bad for ranking. Depending on who you’ve listened to and what you’ve read, you may even believe that link building can lead to Google banning your website from their results altogether. So what’s the truth of the matter? Here’s the rub – links can indeed damage your search ranking, but only, only, if they’re black hat. A few shady examples include:

 

– Posting meaningless links on other blogs (ergo: spamming)

– Displaying different content to the search engines through web design trickery such as text that’s the same colour as the background on which it’s displayed

– Injecting hidden links on another website you don’t own through hacking

– Hiding keyword links on a page that only the search engine can read

 

Now onwards and into the link building tasks that you should be focusing on…

 

Five sure-fire ways to win Google-boosting links

 

1. Firm foundations: undertake keyword research

 

What words and terms are your target market using to discover your products or services? This is the very first question to be answered before anything else. For this, you need to use Google’s Keyword Planner. Simply enter a list of products or services and select “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas”- this will lead you to a long list of suggestions based on Google data. This firm foundation can then help you brainstorm content ideas based on what your target market are searching for, and what they want to read.

 

PressPoint Pro-tip: Opt for a keyword inclusive business name

 

‘Businesses that have a strong keyword in their business name rank 1.5 spots higher than if there is no keyword in the name’ – Local SEO Guide. Business name with no keywords? Don’t worry – it’s not time for a rebrand and expensive relaunch, it’s simply a bonus if your company name (and therefore your URLs) naturally feature a valuable keyword.

 

An alternative is to use a website address that’s keyword rich. Let’s look at an example:

www.smithswholesalers.co.uk could use the URL www.smithsequinewholesale.co.uk

 

2. Be found: list your equine business on local and industry directories

 

Google my Business? Check. Yelp? Done. 192? Check, check, check. Hopefully you’ve ticked these three important directories off when it comes to adding your business. Now? You should research local directories and industry specific listings – these can help boost your local traffic and help strengthen your signal to Google that you’re in the equine industry.

 

3. Carefully construct a content plan

 

Here’s the most important takeaway from this entire blog – high quality content attracts links. At the crux of this is the fact that your fellow equine businesses link to content that’s worth sharing, so each piece must make for a valuable read – sharing your insight, experience and guidance. And it’s not just blogs that you should create – a rich collection of differing content types can boost social shares, ranking in Google images, and links from a wide variety of differing websites. So considering creating:

– Videos

– Podcasts

– Infographics

– How-to guides

 

PressPoint Pro-tip: create blogs that are 1500 words+

 

A Backlinko report revealed that longer content tends to rank higher. The average first page result on Google contains 1,890 words.

 

You may have noticed that our blogs are always around the 1500-word mark, and with good reason. So-called ‘long-form’ content tends to rank better on the search engines, as proven time and again by stats and facts.

 

A word of warning however – the quality rule applies. There’s no point in creating 500 words of insightful content, with 1000 words of fluff and filler. Only write to a length that suits the topic being covered.

 

4. Be my guest: invest in guest posting

 

Waiting, and waiting, and waaaaaiting. There’s no escaping the fact that waiting for links back to your content can be frustrating. One way to overcome this is to put the feelers out for guest posts on other websites, which link directly back to your website.

 

PressPoint Pro-tip: reaching out to other website owners should involve a two-step process

 

  1. Get involved on their blog – comment and share their content on social media where appropriate. When it comes to guest posting, flattery will get you everywhere.

 

  1. With the website owner flattered and primed, send them an email pitching your guest idea. The template below provides you with a good idea as to how this should go, but you should certainly customise it as according to the receiver.

 

Subject: You should blog about [insert your guest blog post topic]

 

[insert their first name], as an avid reader of [insert their site name] I would love to read about [insert guest blog post topic], and I think your readers would as well.

 

Your content on [insert existing post from their website #1, insert existing post from their website #2, and insert existing post from their website #3] is great, but I think you can tie it all together by blogging on [insert guest blog post topic].

 

I know you are probably busy and won’t blog on it, so I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. How about I write it for you? Don’t worry, I’m a great blogger and have had my posts featured on [insert previous guest post URL #1] and [insert previous guest post URL #2].

 

Let me know if you are interested. I already know your blogging style, plus I understand what your readers love as I am one.

 

Look forward to hearing from you,

 

[insert your name]”

 

5. Make the right friends – with strategic partners

 

Forming partnerships with fellow equine businesses and local companies isn’t only good business sense when it comes to the power of networking, it’s also a way in which you can gain links and content shares from naturally complementary websites in your world.

 

6. Be sociable

 

Networking online and in-person is only ever going to take your website visitor count up – so get out there and head off to equine events and trade shows (just don’t forget your business cards, complete with social links). Then follow up by posting social updates mentioning those you’ve spoken to, with a blog event round up summarising the highlights of the event.

 

7. Reinvigorate old content

 

You may have read this with a worsening feeling of dread if you’ve created tonnes of content with no consideration paid to link building. Fear not, we’ve got good news: ‘updating and republishing old blog posts with new content and images can increase organic traffic by as much as 111%’ – Backlinko.

 

Whilst undertaking this content overhaul, you should also implement those keywords where it makes sense to.

 

At PressPoint we revel in all things PR and marketing related, but we know just how overwhelming challenges such as link building can be (not to mention time-consuming, resource-sapping and super frustrating awaiting the fruits of your labour).

 

Ready to talk? Call our team on 01953 851513, or send a message over and we’ll be right back in touch – [email protected].

 

Crystal ball predictions: marketing in 2018

 admin  15/Feb/18  no responses.

2017 – what a year it was. We received a masterclass from brands the world over as to how social conscience should be demonstrated; we saw a fresh focus on long scrolling websites; and we watched in awe as video marketing surpassed all expectations in terms of uptake and the results it can secure. For you, the average equine business owner, this rate of change was perhaps head-spinning.

 

Unfortunately, one thing’s for certain – the world of marketing waits for no man, woman or horse business. Getting ahead of the competition today demands that you get a firm grasp of upcoming digital marketing tools and techniques before they’ve become mainstream. So let’s talk about what’s going to prove hot property in the marketing world, over the coming 12 months.

 

Content is STILL king – but it‘s all about to become plenty more personal

 

For those who haven’t heard, ‘content is king’ is just about the most over used expression in the marketing sphere. In short, it describes the power of blogs, articles, videos, eBooks and so on – not only for Google ranking, but for creating trust, building a social fan base and sparking conversations.

 

In 2018, the content businesses create will become more personal to smaller groups within an audience. No longer will a single campaign feature just one blog, but it will direct different groups to different versions of a blog.

 

Known as hyper-personalisation, or smart content, this approach will be teamed with ‘native’ advertising for a smooth journey from Google search to relevant content.

 

The content race could be won by those who invest in influencers

 

Over the past few years, content marketing has become so widely employed that it’s now reaching the point of saturation. When everyone has taken the time to create valuable content, target markets can become overwhelmed with options – watering down the investment you’ve made in those oh-so carefully crafted blogs and guides.

 

The role of the influencer will be more important than ever

Influencers are those who hold authority in the equine world – individuals who people listen to and trust in. It is in teaming up with influencers that we predict the real ground will be gained in 2018 – a tactic that can ensure that you stand out, and aren’t fighting tooth and nail for attention that does your content justice.

 

Need ideas for making an equine influencer part of your approach? Here are three:

  • Interview your influencer – either at a trade show such as BETA, or at your place of business.
  • Reach out to influencers by asking to guest post on their website – this has the added bonus of boosting your organic website traffic, as well as growing your fan base (if, and only if, your content captures their audience).
  • Commission a live social Q and A – this could be with an influencer who’s a natural fit for your target market, or a source of admiration – such as stars from the equine sporting realm. Which brings us on nicely to our next point…

 

Annnnnd action! In 2018, video will go live

 

Video marketing has boomed in recent years, and little wonder why when we look to just a few of the impressive stats and facts behind this medium – stats such as 80% of consumers preferring live video over and above reading a blog. And facts such as 67% being more likely to make a purchase after watching a video demonstration.

 

But it’s time for a little honesty – are you still ignoring video marketing for your equine business? This is the year that businesses will increasingly capitalise upon the interactivity of live streaming.

 

Your options for streaming are growing, too, with the following social platforms now each offering a tool for live video, made instant and easy:

  • Facebook live
  • YouTube live
  • Instagram live
  • Twitter
  • Periscope

 

Of course, not everyone has the presentation skills of Clare Balding (notwithstanding her once terrible faux pas), so it may be that you need to turn to the professionals for live video production.

 

Companies in every industry will (or at least should) meet Generation Z

 

Not so long back we wrote about the unique traits of Millennials, and how your business should already be adapting to this up-and-coming generation. Fast forward some 12 months and we’re already talking about the next new in-take. Known as Generation Z, the iGeneration, Post-Millenials, or the Homeland Generation, these are individuals who were born in the late 1990s to mid-2000s. But don’t let their youth fool you – these individuals are far from the wet-behind-the-ear types they’d have you believe.

 

Don’t be afraid to go live – it’s what consumers want!

They are willing to hang up an answered business call after 45 seconds, they search out information online via mobile before forging ahead with a purchasing decision and are more than willing to post a product review given the right impetus – good or bad.

 

Given this laundry list of expectations you may need to consider a customer care overhaul; a mobile ready, content smart website and a new campaign innovatively pushing for reviews.

 

The social media lands will become a more baron place for those unwilling to pay up

 

Only 38% of businesses spend cold hard cash on social media marketing, but times are changing. And not through choice, either.

 

Saddle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride on social platforms this coming year. 2018 will be the year that free reach all but disappears. For some time now, as social platforms have pushed their advertising solutions, the average FB update or Tweet has reached fewer and fewer people’s feeds. Now? Organic reach is as low as 2% over on Facebook. If that weren’t depressing enough, the real kicker is that 2018 may be the year that Zuckerberg makes it a prerequisite to sponsor every, single, post. In short, you’re almost certainly going to have to take social PPC seriously if you wish to continue winning business on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

 

Websites will be bright, bold and beautiful

 

We’re entering a new era for In. 2018 will see authentic team photos becoming not just advisable, but essential (so Sally the stock photo receptionist should really be consigned to the history books). Fonts will also become blockier and layouts more minimalistic (goodbye clutter!).

 

Q and A sessions are great for growing awareness of your brand

Other web trends to tap into for your web presence should include a doubling down on your efforts to understand your audience – consider their key questions, concerns and hurdles, and create your content around it.

 

The customer has always been right. But in 2018, he’ll become the be all and end all

 

In 2018, more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations.

 

Customer experience is set for a shakeup – one that should involve asking your customers for feedback to improve, providing chatbots for instant online answers and employees who are re-trained to put the customer at the centre of all they do.

 

Big data – joining the dots of the customer journey

 

41% of marketers create content to match specific points in the buying cycle. Are you amongst them?

 

‘Big Data’ may seem a marketing buzz word reserved for corporate big boys, but in 2018, it’s really a concept to get to grips with. While you may not need vast swathes of market data, being an SME in the equine world, you should ponder how data can help inform your strategy. Customer journey mapping – understanding your customer’s buying process and the information they seek – could and should be shaped by the data you gather. At this point we’re going to blow our own trumpet, as way back in 2016 we put together a piece for Equestrian Business that walked through the process of sales funnel creation. In 2018, some two years on, it seems that it’s never been more relevant.

 

But where exactly do you get this data? Forget expensive research, privately purchased data or complex questionnaires – simply speak to your customers, find out about their journey from A (when you were unheard of) to Z (when they became a repeat purchaser). Focus on understanding the micro decisions they made along the way and the concerns that they face today.

 

The coming 12 months promise to be a whirlwind of live streaming, paid social ads and customer journey maps – offering plenty of opportunities to canter right on past the competition if your strategy is on point. If you’d prefer to be doing what you do best, it may be time we talked about how our equine marketing can help. Contact PressPoint Countryside & Equestrian – call our experts on +44 (0)1953 851513 or email: [email protected].

 

 

Shake up your social strategy – from lacklustre trot to all-out gallop

 admin  15/Jan/18  no responses.

The business world has changed – no longer are websites anywhere near enough to attract attention online. Today, social media is a non-negotiable – a crucial element of your marketing strategy. Yet the struggle is real for many SMEs – keeping pace with a world that’s forever evolving is no easy feat, and when you have a busy equestrian business to manage day in, day out, the time that social media should demand can swiftly canter away.

 

We understand your challenges, we appreciate just how busy you already are, so here’s a no-nonsense guide to social strategies that will boost your business, without demanding advanced technical skills or impossible to keep schedules.

 

1. Time’s short – Get a helping hand from automation

 

Chatbots – they’re revolutionising the way in which customers interact with businesses over social media. They’re also replacing customer service agents – saving time, saving money.

 

Platforms such as Chattypeople, MEOKAY, Facebook Messenger Platform and Smooch make this seemingly intimidating technical step relatively simple:

– There’s no coding required

– The chatbots can answer your customers’ questions

– Chatbots on Facebook Messenger can take orders

– The platforms are all also integrated with every major payment systems

 

2. Make your social strategy personal

 

Chatbots are far from the impersonal, robotic experience that you may imagine – when done right, your chatbot could deliver a truly personalised experience for your customers.

 

Try linking your adverts directly to messenger windows where your chatbot awaits, by doing this you’ll…

– Boost your sales

– Create fans

– Address any questions that may be stopping your prospect from purchasing

– Challenge the view that your prospects are there only to be sold to

 

3. Create quality content and streamline your content marketing strategy

 

Your blog posts, media and visuals must grab attention and deliver value to your audience – two mission-critical elements of quality content.

 

Look to your competitors – what content are they creating and how are they addressing your target market’s hopes, fears, pain points and concerns? Consider using tools to take your content marketing strategy from beginner DIY, to Pro, here are some of our favourites:

– ClearVoice – This versatile, complete content-marketing system streamlines your workflow and merges your branding, content creation and publisher communities.

– Outbrain – This platform is going to be super useful if you struggle with publishing and distributing your content to platforms beyond social media (such as news sites and niche networks).

– Buzzsumo – Wondering which social platform will be best to post on? Want to know which influencers or competitors are gaining the most social ground? Buzzsumo is an essential for all of this, as well as for helping you uncover topics to create content around.

 

Still struggling with what to talk about? If you’re socially shy, it can be difficult to put together any form of content strategy. Break the ice with these content and post ideas…

– Infographics

– Contests

– Recommend tools, products or services

– Start a debate

– Write an eBook

– Create a How-To Guide

– Hold a live online discussion

– Give instantly actionable tips in Pinterest style form

– Create a list of useful resources

– Share memorable quotes

 

4. Communicate your brand personality

 

People don’t buy from companies, they buy from people. This notion is especially true out there in the big wide world of social media, where many companies can seem the same if care isn’t taken to inject personality and a human voice behind the pixels.

 

Here are some ideas for ensuring your Facebook pages are more ‘vibrant community’, less dull, uninspiring constant sales pitch:

– Address your audience directly – ask them questions and engage them in informal conversations

– Share news that’s helpful and interesting to your audience, rather than just pushing your own content

– Make it a two-way relationship – like and share your fans’ comments and questions

– Organise live Q and A sessions via webinars or Facebook live – this is the best way of showing a human side to your brand

 

5. Invest in social PPC

 

Creating exceptional content is great for organic social growth, but let’s face it – social media marketing is tough, and can be incredibly time-consuming. Paid social however can deliver instant results and rapid growth of followers and fans, and it’s not as expensive, nor as complex, as you may have thought.

 

We’re BIG fans of Facebook when it comes to PPC – it’s simply the most powerful in terms of targeting an audience (and given the niche that is the equestrian business, the ability to target VERY specific people is a must).

 

6. Create brand advocates in your employees

 

Your people are your brand, and increasingly businesses are realising the power and value of their employees when they become advocates of their workplace.

 

Key to an effective employee brand advocate scheme are two fundamentals – trust and freedom – trusting in your employees to create content that reflects well on your business and providing them with only basic founding social guidelines to stick to.

 

A few examples of businesses really working this tactic are:

– Zappos – A brand which encourages their employees to share what they’re doing at work – whether a fancy dress party or Monday morning meeting. A simple idea, but one that really adds the human element.

– Starbucks – A company that has a dedicated Twitter account for employees, and that’s invested heavily in motivating store managers to go social – these steps have led to flourishing social accounts which now have 44,000 followers on Twitter, and more than 340,000 over on Facebook.

– Vodafone – This communications giant allows employees to use their personal accounts at work, as well as regularly featuring the talents of their employees on their corporate blog.

 

Further tips for creating an employee advocacy program that becomes a true marketing asset include:

  1. Using a dedicated employee hashtag for your employee advocacy (Zappos use #ZapposCulture and #Zapponians and Starbucks uses #tobeapartner).
  2. Encouraging your employees to show plenty of personality – and motivate them to jump in feet first, perhaps with an in-house competition between your workforce.
  3. Make it humorous, but make it useful – The posts your employees share should include plenty of light-hearted fun, but they should also be encouraged to share posts, links and information that your customers will find helpful too.

 

7. Sell online? Then you most certainly should be selling on social

 

“56% of consumers say that they follow brands on social media to browse products for sale, while 31% say that they are specifically on the lookout for new items to buy” – Marketing Week.

 

In short, if you sell online but not on social, then you probably have a ready, waiting and willing collection of shoppers that you’ve so far overlooked.

In the past few years, the ability to sell through social channels has got ever more advanced – Facebook has its Offers feature, as well as its integrated stores; Twitter has partnered with American Express to allow purchases with just a hashtag, as well as now introducing Product Cards, and YouTube has a ‘Shoppable’ Channel Gadget, which allows consumers to connect directly with retailers.

 

Presspoint Pro Tip: Thinking about selling through social? Then consider the power of video product demonstrations. Research shows that four times as many customers prefer to watch videos about products as compared to reading plain old textual information – Animoto blog.

 

8. And finally… Take time out to assess your progress

 

How’s it all going? Any idea? Investing time and money into social media means that you need to know whether your investment is paying off and, more to the point, what’s working well and what isn’t.

 

Once more, there are plenty of advanced, yet super easy to use, tools to step into the breach. Here’s a summary of some of the most popular (and each is totally FREE)…

– Buffer – Buffer offers a free plan, which is pretty comprehensive to say the least. For every single post that you create on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn, you’ll see a whole load of insightful stats.

– Followerwonk – This tool is a real visual treat, breaking down your follower and page activity into a series of great looking, interactive charts.

– ViralWoot – This tool is solely for Pinterest, and it provides for much, much more beyond analytics. With this platform you can schedule pins, promote pins and gain new followers. All super helpful stuff if Pinterest is amongst your social platforms.

– Quintly – Quintly is an exceptional tool for seeing in an instant how your engagement metrics are fairing – view likes, comments, shares and follower growth in a single screen.

 

Social media is a time-consuming, budget-sapping journey that you must be in for the long haul. But it’s also incredibly rewarding when done right. If you’d prefer to leave the heavy lifting to the professionals, we’ll be right here when you need us. Contact PressPoint Countryside & Equestrian – call our experts on +44 (0)1953 851513 or email: [email protected]

 

 

Create a Business-Boosting Blog Strategy – A Step-By-Step

 admin  15/Dec/17  no responses.

You may have heard the news – blogging can be great for business.

 

When done right, blogging can deliver many impressive benefits:

– Websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages – TechClient

– 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep – HubSpot

– B2B marketers that use blogs get 67% more leads than those that do not – HubSpot

 

Perhaps you’re already creating your own blogs – investing time, and likely blood, sweat and tears, to creating pieces you believe your readers will love. Maybe you’re investing cash money into the process – buying blog packages from professional content creation companies. Wherever you’re at – it’s time to step back and ask: What results are you securing? Any idea? Is it even worth your time? Worse still, is your blog a business asset or a liability?

 

Blindly blogging can be a fast track route to, at best, wasted time and/or money. And at worst? It could be harming your business image – serving only to repel, rather than appeal. Whatever your situation, this feature will help you establish a blog strategy that results in tangible pence and pounds on that profit margin of yours.

 

Time to get serious and commit to blogging

 

Goal: A regular reserved spot on your schedule

 

Just as with any form of marketing, you need to fully commit if you’re to secure the results we spoke about at the beginning of this feature. That means carving out a dedicated time to commit to blog creation, promotion and performance analysis. Don’t even think about allowing everyday tasks to interfere with this commitment – retreat into an email and phone free room if you must.

 

Why – what’s your purpose?

 

Goal: A purpose statement

 

Before we dive into the nitty gritty of content strategies, you need to establish a single statement that defines why your blog exists. The following questions should help:

  1. What is your company’s greater purpose?
  2. Who shares your passion?
  3. What backstory lies behind this purpose?

 

Who – who should be targeted and written for?

 

Goal: To identify and understand your ideal customer(s)

 

Who are you writing for? What do they care about? What concerns, desires, needs or wants do they have, that you solve? What are their pain points?

 

Business Main pain points
Livery yard /riding school Boosting their income with extra revenue, late monthly payments, operating at full capacity, securing long term business
Equestrian veterinary surgery Increasing clientele, gaining/maintaining staff, practice efficiency
Equestrian wholesalers/retailers Lines to stock/sell, increasing brands/stockists, operating logistics
Equestrian trainers Building and maintaining reputation, increasing clients

 

 

These key questions are just the start to understanding your ideal customers (and by ideal, we mean most profitable, and least costly in terms of servicing). Unlike general businesses, as a company based in the equestrian industry you have incredibly niche resources for informing your insight into your ideal customer – such as:

 

Blog comments on equestrian blogs, including Equestrian Business.

Questions and answers on equestrian forums.

Tools that can present an overview of fellow equestrian business already blogging (and their successes) – these tools include BuzzSumo and Topsy.

 

These sources of information should inform and guide your knowledge about your customer, creating a persona that includes notes on their interests, challenges, and demographic data. Ultimately you’re trying to build trust through your blog. If you can create high quality information of value for your readers, their trust in you will increase over time.

 

Taking a look at the competition

 

Goal: A top five list of your closest competitors

 

Whatever your exact line of business in the equestrian industry, there’s one thing for certain – you do not, repeat DO NOT, want your potential customers discovering purchase information, guides or blogs over on your competitor’s website. A competitor blog audit is the answer – look to your nearest competitors and get to grips with the content that they create. What do they talk about? How do they answer your target market’s pain points? What tone of voice do they use? How do they use media to keep the reader engaged?

 

Press Point Pro Tip

 

There are plenty of great tools out there for helping you quickly assess what your competitors are blogging about, and what results they’re securing – these tools include: QuickSprout, Open Site Explorer and SEMRush.

 

SEO: Not thought about it yet? Now is the time.

 

Goal: A list of external online places to feature your blog content

 

The days of writing a blog and simply expecting a ton of traffic are well and truly over. Today, gaining a respectable position in the search engines is nothing short of an art form. Known as SEO, climbing those slippery ladders of Google and the like demands that you:

 

  1. Understand what keywords and terms your audience are using to find blogs, information, products or services such as yours (for which the Google keyword tool is essential).
  2. Create a solid distribution plan – such as creating infographics to be shared on social media, turning your blog post into a SlideShare, creating images with key facts, stats and quotes for social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest or breaking down a blog into a complementary email series.

 

Getting the word out there – deciding how and when to promote

 

Goal: Write two lists

 

  1. The promotional tasks you’ll try in the first six months of your blogging campaign (there’s no perfect science here – as with many marketing areas, it’s a matter of trial and error).
  2. A list of influencers who could potentially create a loyal readership and trust in your blog with a single update or guest post.

 

As well as considering Pay Per Click, SEO and social media marketing, there’s something we want to focus in on – influencers. Influencers are those in the equestrian industry who are thought of as credible and trustworthy – those that your target market look to for advice, guidance and opinion.

 

With your list of influencers complete, you’ll need to do plenty of schmoozing. This will involve regular contact with your influencers – engaging with them via email and through their own blogs. You could create complementary opinion pieces in response to their blogs or engage them in debate on social media.

 

When – putting together a blog schedule

 

Goal: A pinned up, ready-to-role blog calendar, complete with dates, times and topics

 

How many blogs should you be posting a week or month? Whilst there’s no golden rules as to how regularly you should be posting or how many blogs you should be writing, a calendar plays one critical role – creating accountability amongst your team members. Each person should know what they’re doing, and when.

 

A final word on practicalities – who’s going to do what?

 

Goal: A rundown of who is going to take which role in your blog strategy

 

Running a successful blog takes many skillsets and a whole lot of time. Here are the roles that you’ll need to fill and hand out if you’re not to take on the impossible challenge of going it alone…

Keyword research

Facts, stats and examples research

Copywriting

Editing

Strategy and editorial calendar governance

Creative

Promotion

Repurposing

 

Measuring metrics: how did you do?

 

Goal: To decide on metrics that translate to leads, enquires, sales.

 

How will you define success? Sure, the ultimate goal is to achieve a boost in sales and a consistent supply of leads. But how do you get here? How many shares must you generally secure per sale?

 

Metrics that you could measure include:

Traffic

Likes

Plus ones

Re-tweets

Follows

Backlinks

Subscribers

 

From blogging to PPC onto social and SEO, we handle every area of digital marketing – a huge, complex arena that’s only getting bigger by the day. Yet while we’re experts, we completely appreciate just how intimidating our world is for anyone less than a pro. So if blogging and content strategies leave you cold, it could be time to consider outsourcing. Which is right about where we can step in. 

Maybe we should talk? T: 01953 851513 | E: [email protected]