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.

 

 

Email marketing in the age of GDPR

 admin  20/Aug/18  no responses.

GDPR – great news for many consumers, exceptionally bad for businesses the length and breadth of Europe. An article published by Campaign stated GDPR could render 75% of UK marketing data obsolete – so that’s three-quarters of your email list, gone!

These losses could have a very real impact on your business – and some six weeks since GDPR went live, you might already be experiencing falls in sales, enquiries and phone calls. In this feature, we want to provide an emergency GDPR email marketing plan, but first, we must start with the basics.

GDPR – a jargon-free overview

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on the 25th May 2018. Created to provide heightened protection to the privacy of individuals throughout the EU, GDPR now governs how data is collected, stored and used.

In short, GDPR was a reaction to companies abusing data, with the selling of email addresses, sharing of data to unauthorised parties and failure to protect data against hackers. And despite the legislation applying to individuals, it also applies to emails sent to other businesses.

Now, asides from the admin you’ve had to overhaul, you need to face the prospect of re-building cleansed email lists, reworking opt-ins and ensuring that your opt-out is on point. Let’s dive into these now.

The things you HAVE to know about GDPR and email marketing

Excuse us if GDPR explainers have been done to death (and we’re with you if you feel sick and tired of hearing about it). However, GDPR is still misunderstood by many, many businesses. Here are the five things you must understand about GDPR and email marketing – and we’ll try to keep it brief.

Consent means that your email recipient must opt-in (and pre-ticked boxes don’t count)

Recital 32: “Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity should not constitute consent.”

In order to be GDPR-compliant, your email recipients must actively confirm their consent. This means that they must be the ones to tick the subscribe box on a download or contact form.

Consent requests must be totally separate from other terms and conditions

Article 7 (4): “When assessing whether consent is freely given, utmost account shall be taken of whether… the performance of a contract, including the provision of a service, is conditional on consent to the processing of personal data that is not necessary for the performance of that contract.”

In the past, downloadable content has driven the growth of email marketing lists. Now however, GDPR restricts this practice. The section above translates to mean that consent is not freely given if an email is necessary to download content, and consent must be given separately. For example, you can provide a download and present the option to sign up to your email at the same time. However opting-in must be optional – allowing users to download the content without subscribing if they wish.

Make it simple and straightforward for people to withdraw consent – and explain how to do it

Article 7 (3):​ “The data subject shall have the right to withdraw his or her​ consent at any time. (…) It shall be as easy to withdraw as to give consent.​”

Every recipient of your emails must be able to easily remove themselves from your list. Best practices in this respect include:

– Not requiring anything other than their email address on the unsubscribe page

– Not requiring subscribers to log in, in order to unsubscribe

– Not asking subscribers to visit more than one page to submit their request

Keep records of consent – the who, the when, then how

Article 7 (1):​ “Where processing is based on the data subject’s consent, the controller should be able to demonstrate that the data subject has given consent to the processing operation.”

Not only does GDPR require that you gain consent in certain ways, it also requires that you record key details about how you’ve gained each individual’s consent. This means that you need to track:

– Who it was that gave their consent

– What date they gave it to you

– What other details were provided at the time of giving their consent (such as their name, address, job position or date of birth)

Review your consent processes and your existing lists for consent

Recital 171:​ “Where processing is based on consent pursuant to Directive​ 95/46/EC, it is not necessary for the data subject to give his or her consent again if the manner in which the consent has been given is in line with the conditions of this Regulation.”

It’s critical to understand that the rules of GDPR don’t just apply to email signups after the going-live date of GDPR, but also applies to emails prior to the 25th May 2018.

If you collected consent and are sure that you abided by all the GDPR rules when you did so, you won’t need to do anything else. If not however, you’re going to need to:

1. Undertake an audit on all of your email lists

Work through your email lists to identify who would have provided GDPR-compliant consent, and create a detailed record of the who, the when and the how.

2. Create a plan for gaining consent

Where your contacts haven’t provided consent (or where you’re uncertain as to whether they have), you’ll need to send out emails to specifically ask them for consent. If they don’t provide it, you must remove the subscriber in question from your mailing list.

PressPoint pro tip: It’s good practice to send out regular re-permission emails. This isn’t only for GDPR reasons, but to ensure your email lists are clean and your recipients are engaged. Those who stopped reading or needing your emails a long time ago can skew your data – leading to misleading ideas as to what email subject lines and content are working, and which aren’t.

GDPR: The emergency email marketing plan

Many consumers and businesses were overwhelmed with the sheer amount of email re-permission emails, with some becoming completely disengaged. Others will have overlooked them. Still more people would have seen them as a chance to wipe out masses of regular spam email. Whatever the case with your list, if you’re facing an exodus of email subscribers, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are simple steps that you can take to begin to rectify the situation. Here are our top tips for going into disaster recovery mode.

1. Promote, promote, promote

Where is your email sign up featured? The answer should be ‘everywhere!’. From your blog side bars, to a sign-up box on the homepage, onto your social pages, your email newsletters need maximum exposure – now more than ever before.

You also need to push the benefits of signing up. Write a short, sharp sentence as to why your emails are essential reading for your recipient (be sure to keep it brief – ideally 15 words or less). And while you can’t now demand an email in return for your downloadable goods, if your content is seen as valuable, your visitors will naturally want to hear from you more often!

2. Are you blogging yet? If not, now is the time

A blog is the ideal place to demonstrate how your content provides tips, advice and guidance that your readers find useful. Once they’re learned something here, they’re sure to want more of the same.

You can also split your blogs into two parts – one part of which is live online, and the other which is sent via email (but again, remember that they must be able to access this without being signed up to your newsletter).

3. Feeling sociable?

We hope you are, as social media can be your best friend when attempting to rebuild your email subscriber lists. What’s more, it might be that some of your likers and followers aren’t even aware of your email newsletters yet.

A tweet or status update can provide a quick boost to your newsletter list. This could simply say… “Our monthly #newsletter is heading out today – inside will be top secret equine industry news. Stay tuned!”.

4. Show them what they’re missing

Uploading a select number of your past newsletters to your website can remove the guesswork when subscribing – showing potential recipients what’s to come when they entrust their email to you.

PressPoint pro tip: Consider including exclusive offers, promotions and little-known, but important, news in your emails to create a sense of FOMO (which stands for ‘fear of missing out’).

 

If you need expert help to overcome the impact of GDPR on your email list, PressPoint Countryside & Equestrian is here to help – we understand your marketplace and know just what it takes to repair a GDPR damaged marketing strategy. 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]

 

 

Testing, testing: killer conversions through solid A/B testing

 admin  15/May/18  no responses.

Given that you’re reading this, we’re assuming that you regularly invest time in your marketing education. Along your journey, you’ve almost certainly come across the term ‘A/B testing’, yet for those of you who aren’t pro marketers this term may seem elusive.

So here we demystify A/B testing (other jargon for which is ‘split testing’ or ‘bucket testing’) – explaining the why and the how – for conversions that improve month on month.

A/B Testing – what’s the point?

Let’s face it, no matter who your target market is, business consumers are notoriously unpredictable, making marketing campaigns anything but a precise science. What may seem like a winning advert, a great video and a well-designed landing page, can fall miserably flat.

Often, this can leave you with little to go on unless you’re A/B testing. Along with providing the answers as to what may be going wrong (as well as right), A/B testing can also deliver many other benefits, including:

– Better engagement with your content

– Increased website sales or enquiries

– Reduced bounce rates on your website

– Higher conversion values – such as order values of a higher average amount

– Reduced risk of investing too heavily in the wrong marketing decisions

– Reduced cart abandonment

– Increased sales

Now that that’s out of the way, what exactly is A/B testing?

A/B testing has a simple concept – comparing two versions against one another and testing them both to see which converts better. Think of it as an experiment – one in which there are plenty of variables to fiddle with to find out what’s working, what’s not, and what’s worthy of further exploration. Given the mammoth number of objectives that A/B testing can aim for, and for the purposes of keeping this feature super clear, we’re going to take the example of a social advert and run with it. However, the same principles can be applied to many of your marketing tasks – such as your landing page, app, website home page, ecommerce store or search engine PPC.

The social ad – taking a look at many elements

We’re huge fans of Facebook, we like the sheer versatility of adverting options, not to mention the incredibly precise targeting options. So, it provides for fertile ground on which to play around with your marketing campaign.

Let’s take the average Facebook advert – you could mix, match and test the following elements:

– The type of content – such as a video, a free eBook download or a simple image advert

– The placement of the advert – such as in the feed or right-hand column

– The copy – both in the headline and in the body

– The imagery – as well as any graphics/text overlays

– Capitalised words in the copy – Free EBOOK download or FREE eBook download?

A/B testing a social ad: a visual walkthrough 

Here’s an example of a Facebook advert. We’ve outlined your potential options when it comes to elements and ad variations…

– The content: A – Advertises a free eBook guide, B – Advertises a Podcast

– The copy: A – Focuses on the customer’s pain point of cost, B – Focuses on the customer’s desire to win more equine clients

– The capitalisation of the copy: Free EBOOK download or FREE eBook download?

– Image: A – Shows a smiling female team member, B – Shows a smiling horse

PressPoint Bonus Tip

Meanwhile, over on your website, variables could include:

– The location of the call to action

– The exact text used

– The button colour or surrounding space

– The amount of whitespace

– The imagery

Five traps NOT to fall into

For the novice, A/B testing can be tough, at least at first. There’s plenty of missteps to be made, and more than a fair share of pitfalls to tumble into. Here are five of the most common we hear about…

A/B testing mistake #1 – Testing too many elements at once

While you should be aiming to test numerous elements during your testing, you won’t ever be able to draw any certain conclusions as to what’s working, and what’s not, if you test any more than a single element per round.

A/B testing mistake #2 – Creating too few variations

Even if you’re just testing the headline copy of an ad, you really need three or more differing versions to get to grips with how this critically important part of your ad is influencing your audience (or not, as the case may be).

A/B testing mistake #3 – Testing elements with the lowest impact

Unless you’re working with a huge marketing budget, you’re going to have to draw the line somewhere when it comes to what elements you test. This should always include the placement (feed versus right hand column) if you’re testing a Facebook advert, and beyond this, our top three elements would likely be: headline copy, image and content type.

A/B testing mistake #4 – Making assumptions on limited results

A/B testing is about driving results and reducing marketing costs. But the saying that you need to speculate to accumulate certainly applies here. If you spend too little on your A/B testing, your results are going to invalid. You need a healthy chunk of user data to draw on.

A/B testing mistake #5 – Not split testing external elements

So far, we’ve spoken only about the elements that appear on your advert, or where it may be placed. However, there’s really a wide-ranging collection of external variables that could and should also be tested, at least where FB ads are concerned.

In a recent study, marketing powerhouse AdEspresso found the running order of elements in terms of their influence on Return On Investment as follows:

– Countries

– Precise interests

– Facebook ad goals

– Mobile OS

– Age ranges

– Genders

– Ad designs

– Titles

– Relationship status

– Landing page

– Interested in

Notably this test was for a company with a product marketing to the masses. Chances are that your target market is far more refined. So your list could look a little more like this:

– Ad design

– Ad copy, especially the headline

– Your unique value offer

– Ad placements

– Call-to-action buttons

– Bidding methods

– Campaign objectives

A word on Facebook campaign structures

For A/B testing, Facebook hands you a helpful tool that many other platforms don’t – the ability to structure your campaign in a way that can provide the most relevant data. Here’s an overview…

Creating a single set of adverts — all your advert variations within one ad set

When you choose this approach, the good news is that your audience won’t be presented with every advert variation, which will happen when you use multiple sets. The bad news? This campaign structure will lead to Facebook auto-optimising your adverts, meaning that you won’t receive relevant results.

Multiple single-variation advert sets — each variation in a separate set

This second structure gets around the problem of Facebook optimising your adverts with only minimal data to go on. However, you may find that some of your audience are shown numerous ad variations over the course of your campaign. The other way of looking at this is that it could lead to richer results that identify what it is that gets these people clicking.

PressPoint Pro Tip

Cutting to the chase for this section, if you want valid testing results, you’ll need to set your campaign up with each variation in a single ad set.

Three final tips for effective A/B split testing

1. Test your headlines with differing superlatives

Super-do-what now? Let’s clear that term up first – superlatives are adjectives (a word that describes or clarifies a noun, such as: “an old mare”, “a young horse” or “a strong stallion”) or adverbs (a word used to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb, such as: “the colt runs quickly”, “he ran the race incredibly slowly”).

An extensive study of headlines by Outbrain discovered that headlines with negative superlatives performed a staggering 30% more effectively than headlines with positive superlatives. Rather than “always” or “best” performing well, it was words such as “never” or “worst” that created the most engagement.

2. Trial other headline strategies

Headlines that include questions, statistics or a promise of a step-by-step how-to solution, and directly addressing the audience, can all be tactics that work well for conversion, and are more than worthwhile split testing within your campaign.

3. A/B test the entire user journey

So, your split testing went well, and you now have a single, seriously effective advert when it comes to conversions. But what about the journey onwards? There’s little point in perfecting your advert if the landing page or website destination is going to be disjointed. Make sure your design, brand colours, tone of voice and imagery all fits together, and most of all ensure that you make good on any promises provided in the advert – such as resolving a problem, providing information, or offering a free eBook download.

 

A/B testing takes a lot of time, plenty of effort, and an ongoing commitment to studying stats and data. If you’d prefer to be crunching numbers that include £ signs, rather than user data, you may want to leave the marketing campaign and testing to us. 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].

 

 

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]

 

 

Email marketing: refining your campaign

 admin  15/Sep/17  no responses.

PressPoint goes in-depth with ideas that will drag your email marketing into 2017, looking into the platforms you may want to consider as you progress further as well as winning email templates that will boost your current click-through rates.

 

Email marketing is dead, they said. No one likes to receive SPAM, others say. Whilst it’s true that few relish receiving unsolicited emails of no value, email marketing is just about the most effective form of marketing going.

 

Consider these statistics:

– “Automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than ‘business as usual’ marketing messages” – Epsilon Email Institute

– “Email marketing has an ROI of 3800%” – DMA

– “The average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media” – McKinsey

 

 

2017: the up-to-date dos and don’ts

 

The dos . . .

 

1. Create eBooks for each of your long-form blogs

 

Long-form blog articles are those that run for longer than 1000 words – they’re in-depth, useful and they provide value; they may also include plenty of media, such as images and videos (this blog right here is a long-form article – and if you arrived via Google, it’s clear that this approach really works).

 

Alongside valuable free content, the most effective way to grab emails is to offer the individual something in return – such as an eBook or guide that will help make your prospect’s life easier.

 

The most powerful and still overlooked way of making the most of an eBook is to create long form content that has a very specific eBook created for it to extend the readers’ knowledge (if you’ve kept their attention for 1500 words, why wouldn’t they want to know the next steps?).

 

2. Segment your audience

 

Segmenting your audience can boost your conversion rates as the messages you send can be based around the products that the receiver purchases, as well as their interests and concerns. Putting this into an example, say that you’re an equine wholesaler – your customer base primarily covers two core customers, equine stable owners and equine trainers.

 

While you could tempt a stable owner with a guide as to how they could double their revenue (with tips including minimising empty stable time and offering add-on services) this wouldn’t be suitable for trainers, who you could instead provide a guide for finding higher paying clients.

 

3. Have a pre-defined goal in mind prior to hitting the send button

 

If you lack a clear vision as to what your latest email is trying to achieve, then don’t expect your recipients to know what they should do either. Goals can help focus your content and sharpen your approach, and could include:

– The completion of a contact form

– Contacting you for more information

– The redemption of a coupon or purchase of an offer

– Partaking in a competition

 

It’s also ok to have multiple calls-to-action and links – but they should all ultimately serve your final goal.

 

The don’ts . . .

 

1. Don’t overlook mobile

 

Emails are opened via mobile 54% of the time, so it’s essential that your email template is responsive (e.g. it fits to suit whatever device it’s displayed on – whether on the traditional PC or on your customer’s smartphone). An email platform can help here – which we cover in a little while.

 

2. Don’t break SPAM laws

 

Let us stress again – you need to collect email addresses that are voluntarily provided to you (don’t ever be tempted to send emails without permission – asides from annoying your target market and tarnishing your brand, you may also ensure that your sender address gets blacklisted).

 

This also means that you should never ever buy lists – this cheap and dirty trick is exactly that, and will serve only to impact the deliverability of your emails, mark your reputation and downgrade your domain.

 

3. Don’t send your emails without testing first

 

How do your emails appear when your recipients view them? Is the design responsive so that it appears nicely on all devices? Are there any typos? Do the links all work? What about images? Over-zealous email programmes that wipe out images can make your once beautiful email rather ugly. Moral of the story? Proof read and test your email before unleashing it to the world (which any good email platform can help with – and helpfully this is what we move on to next…)

 

What’s your email platform?

 

In our last focus on email marketing, we avoided talking about email platforms as they could really demand an entire feature of their own. However, as you invest more time and money into your email marketing (and become more advanced at it) you’ll certainly benefit from choosing and using an email platform that’s right for your needs.

 

For those with no budget at all, MailChimp makes for an obvious choice – providing plenty of features and offering the service for free up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.

 

If you have a slight budget to work with, Constant Contact may be one to consider, starting at £15 per month. It is user-friendly, provides insightful tracking and reporting, has ready-to-go social media features and offers exceptional support should you need any help. You can also try it out for free for an entire 60 days without committing financially (no credit-card required).

 

Is an investment in a marketing automation platform worthwhile?

 

The most sophisticated of email platforms extend their features to all forms of marketing (to automate things such as emails, blogging, social media and additional website actions) and build in certain CRM features; these are known as marketing automation platforms. The widely considered top five of which are: HubSpot, Eloqua, Pardot, Act-On, and Marketo, each of which are undoubtedly feature-rich, however for many the price tags that accompany them rule them outside of a marketing budget. To provide an example, HubSpot starts from £165 per month, while Act-On begins at $900 per month. Whether this is the case very much comes down to the amount of time you can save by using such a platform and how valuable the insight could be. Here’s an overview of the features to help you make up your mind.

 

Winning resources for superior email templates

 

Perfecting the key elements required for an email that converts is an absolute art form – and a challenge that can feel impossible for those who aren’t marketing experts. With this in mind, here we’ve sought out the best and most promising resources for free email templates. Many of these platforms will help you choose the right layout for your needs. You simply download the template and then upload it to whatever email platform you’re using.

 

Antwort

 

Antwort keeps things simple – providing three templates that offer lots of room for your customisations – these templates are: one single-column, one two-column, and one three-column – each of which are mobile friendly.

 

For the desktop these will work in all mainstream email clients (such as Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook, and AOL) while on mobile they’re also compatible for Mail on iOS and Email on Android.

 

Pricing: FREE

 

Litmus

 

Litmus provides a simple interface that helps you select a template as according to your goal – such as launching a product or managing accounts. All of these templates have been extensively tested to optimise them for readers who take action.

 

Pricing: FREE

 

ZURB Ink

 

ZURB Ink can be considered a platform more suited to those who are a little more advanced with their design abilities and with plenty of creative vision – as can be seen from the newsletter template above.

 

Pricing: FREE

 

99 Designs

 

This is less a template platform and more a pretty incredible resource – a collection of 45 free email templates that have been professionally designed. This collection spans newsletters, promotional messages, and personalised email responses. Each of the templates is mobile-friendly too. All you need to do to grab this collection is to leave your email.

Themeforest

 

Themeforest provides more than 500 email newsletter templates, and whilst this is the only addition to our list that costs money, it’s certainly worth considering as the difference in quality between these and freebie email templates is often very apparent.

 

Pricing: Between £5 and £25

 

 

Email marketing is capable of delivering impressive returns – however there’s no escaping the fact that it demands both time and on-going commitment. If you’d prefer to leave your email marketing to the experts, you may want to begin with our team. Contact PressPoint Countryside & Equestrian – call our experts on +44 (0)1953 851513 or email: [email protected]