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How you can create a call to action that works

Call to actionWhenever you create a new piece of content for your business you need to think about what you want it to do. I know that might feel as if I’m asking you to analyse every single little thing that you put out there (and I am) but it doesn’t have to be a pain. Your marketing has one really simple job to do. It needs to tell customers that you exist and convince them that you have something they need. I know it’s not that easy in practice but it gives you a good starting point. There are loads of ways that your content can achieve your aims. It could explain the benefits of what you offer, educate your audience or just raise awareness of your brand. Whatever you want each post to do, you need to follow it up with a good call to action. Here’s how it works.

What are your goals?

A good marketing strategy should be linked to your overall goals for your business. You can read more about that here if it’s something you struggle with. When you have a vision for where you want to get to you can work out what types of marketing will get you there. It’s often a combination of things, like increasing your brand recognition but also getting more people signed up to your mailing list. You can create a variety of different types of content for different reasons.

Clear ideas about what you want your marketing to do can also help you decide what kind of call to action you need.

Why are you posting?

At a more granular level, think about each post and why you’re creating it. This might sound overly time consuming but it’s better than the alternative. Having a plan means you know what you’re going to post when. When you don’t plan you might find yourself panicking because you haven’t posted in ages and people might think you’ve gone out of business. It’s the sort of situation that ends up with a half-hearted post that doesn’t reflect your business or win you any new customers.

Thinking about why you’re posting helps you to create a call to action. It also helps you with the next question…

What do you want people to do next?

There are loads of different ways that people could respond to your posts. They could like, share, or comment on social media or sign up to your mailing list. They might subscribe to your YouTube channel or send you a connection request on LinkedIn. You could leave it to chance. The only problem with that is that people are lazy. If you ask them to do something they might not do it. If you don’t ask they definitely won’t. That’s where your call to action comes in. If you’re trying to widen your reach ask them to like and share your post. Ask them a question to get people talking. Tell them what they’ll get out of signing up for your mailing list and give them a nice big sign up button to make it easier.

Sometimes it’s not just what you ask but how you ask it that counts. There are tools and resources that will help you craft a good call to action but they’ll only take you so far. Getting to know your audience is the key to creating a good call to action. Over time you’ll get to know what gets you a good response and what falls flat.

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Your marketing: Why you need to know about A/B testing

A/B testingI know that some of you roll your eyes when I start talking about technical stuff. Others rub their hands in glee. Whichever one of those you are, you need to know about A/B testing. This recent blog talked about getting to grips with your data by looking back and analysing what worked in the past. A/B testing allows you to do that in a much more dynamic way.  Those quarterly or half yearly reviews are still important as they let you see the bigger picture. So what is A/B testing and why should you be putting it to work in your marketing? Read on…

A/B testing – a beginner’s guide

A/B testing pretty much does what it says on the tin. It allows you to test two (or more) different things to see what works best. You can use it in lots of different ways depending on what you’re trying to achieve. For example, you might want to increase the open rate on your email marketing so you need a good subject line. You can A/B test two different options and see which one gets opened more.

You can also do this with blog titles, your website and the copy on your sales pages that convinces people to ‘buy now’.

Be precise

If you analyse your marketing data you probably have a good idea of what your audience likes. Using A/B testing means that you’ve got the figures to prove it. Your overall impression of what’s succeeding might not be accurate, whereas the numbers always will be. You can see straight away which version people responded to.

To get the best results, you need to be precise. That’s easy if you’re only A/B testing email subject lines but it can get a bit fuzzy elsewhere. There’s no point creating two completely different versions of a landing page because you won’t know what made the difference. Was it the headline, the sign up copy or a random sentence halfway down the page? You can test lots of different things but do it one at a time.

You can make better decisions

Once you’ve got your data you can use it to create better content in the future. Did you get more traffic to your blog post with a serious headline or a funny one? Did personalising the email subject line result in more people opening it? Are there particular words that your audience really respond to (or not)? Sometimes your results can hang on a single word. Your audience might think ‘bespoke’ sounds snooty but they love ‘tailor made’.

This kind of testing doesn’t have to be limited to the words themselves either. You can test things like emoji use and even the colours you use. You might find that no-one signs up for your email newsletter if the sign up button is green, but they do if it’s red.

You can use it for anything

A/B testing lets you run checks on almost everything you use in your marketing. It can be something small like a headline or different elements of your new website. More importantly, the information you get can have far reaching implications for your business.

The way you present yourself and your brand is one of the key things you need to consider when you’re planning your marketing. It includes everything from your own values, what you offer and the customers you work with. A/B testing lets you discover what message resonates with your audience. It can tell you if they care more about saving time and money, or whether it’s more important to them that you’re an eco-friendly family business. It could help you to craft a message that brings you a whole new customer base.

Further reading

Do you understand the why but want to get into the how? These blogs from Neil Patel and Hubspot are a great place to start.

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Why you need to track your marketing data

Track your marketing dataYawn. I know what you’re thinking. I’ve gone from creating mildly entertaining blogs about writing and marketing to suddenly deciding to bore you all to death. Unless you’re someone who loves numbers and digging into an analysis of the figures. If you are, thank you. I love you for understanding figures and data because that may mean you’re an accountant and people like me need people like you. However, this blog isn’t really for you. It’s for the people whose eyes glaze over when you mention analytics. If you don’t know why you need to track your marketing data, read on. I may never teach you to love analytics but hopefully you’ll see the benefits.

Numbers tell the truth

When you create content for your business you’re bound to have bits that you’re really pleased with and others that felt a bit half hearted. Some things will get planned ahead and others will be ad hoc depending on what’s happening that day. If you’ve shared something on social media and it gets lots of comments you might feel that it’s done well. However, your impression of how a piece of content has performed might not be accurate. Only the numbers will give you the real picture.

For example, a blog post that appeared to gather tumbleweed when you posted in on Facebook might have brought lots of new visitors to your website. Unless you’ve got Google Analytics set up you won’t know. It might have brought you a new customer or two but you’ve written it off as a failure.

Where do you focus your attention?

The way you analyse your data can be quite individual but there are a few common features. The easiest way to look at it is by focusing on your goals. For example, if you want to increase the number of customers you have look at where the existing ones came from. Did someone get in touch because they saw a post that dealt with a problem they’re having? Have they read your blog and followed through to sign up for your email list? If you want to build your social media profile look at where you’re getting the most likes, shares and comments.

Of course, this isn’t an exact science. People might lurk for ages without responding to your posts at all. Then before you know it you’ve got a new customer. However, looking at what your audience did respond to gives you a general idea of what’s going down well. It can also tell you when something hasn’t hit the mark. I once did a campaign aimed at travel agents. The responses I got were mostly from VAs. They were lovely people but I’d clearly got the message wrong somewhere.

Marketing data saves you time

You might still be wondering what the point of all this marketing data analysis is. The simple truth is, scattergun marketing doesn’t work. Even more importantly, you don’t have enough time to post here there and everywhere hoping that something connects.

Your marketing data will tell you if your customers are coming from Facebook, LinkedIn or somewhere else. They will tell you if your audience love quick tips but hate memes. It may even tell you that the blog post you thought was a dead duck brought masses of traffic to your website. The point is, your marketing data will tell you what to do more of to achieve the result you want so you can focus on the things that matter instead of guessing.

If you want some help looking at your data and developing a strategy that gets results, get in touch. Or if you’d just like some ideas for new things to post so that you can start tracking your numbers, just click on the image below.

Further reading

How to analyse your Facebook page post metrics

How to get an overview of your Facebook Insights

An absolute beginners guide to Google analytics from Moz

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Why you need to keep your marketing tone consistent

marketing tone consistentThis is another one of those subjects where I’ll forgive you for reading the title and saying huh? The question should really be – when you look back over the blogs and social media posts you’ve written, do they all sound like you? When you keep things consistent you’ll get better results from your marketing and your life will get easier.

Getting to know you

The phrase ‘know, like and trust’ comes out of my mouth with alarming regularity. That’s because it’s one of the key things you should focus on as a small business owner. It’s rare for people to see an advert or a post and respond immediately. Generally speaking, you need to build a relationship with your audience.

You’re probably already well aware of the importance of consistent visual branding. Using the same colours and fonts makes it easy for your customers to spot you in their news feed. It’s the same with your copy. People stop and read because they know what to expect. If your posts are generally chatty and fun a sudden run of bland and boring ones will be a real turn off.

Easy outsourcing

Do you have brand guidelines? That sounds very formal, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s basically having a strong sense of how you want to come across. I use the same colours throughout my marketing and choose images that I hope my audience will like. I also aim to write in quite a natural and friendly way. All of my guidelines are in my head but if I was working with a graphic designer it would be quite easy for me to brief them on the style I’m aiming for. They could also get a pretty good idea from looking at my social media feeds.

You might not be ready to outsource your design or writing to anyone else yet. But having a clear idea about how you want to come across will really help when you are ready. You can send a brief that says “I aim to appeal to professional women and want my copy to be chatty and friendly.” Simple, right?

Consistent shouldn’t = boring

The last thing you want is to send your customers to sleep. Just because they want to know what to expect from your posts doesn’t mean they all need to sound exactly the same. Just because you mostly talk about light hearted things it doesn’t mean you can’t throw in something serious now and again. If anything, it gives the serious stuff more impact.

You can keep things varied by telling your customers something surprising. Cover the same topic in different ways. If you find that all of your posts start with the same few words, try some different ones. As long as it still sounds like you, it’ll be fine.

Review your marketing

Are you good at keeping your tone consistent? To find out, one of the best things you can do is to review what you’ve already done. When you read your blogs or look through your social media feeds, do they all blend into one? Maybe you’ve gone in the opposite direction and everything sounds as if it was written by a completely different person. This can be a problem in bigger businesses where content is often written by lots of different people, but sometimes it can just depend on what mood you were in when you wrote it. When you’ve finished, think about how you actually want to sound. What will work for your audience?

If you’d like to get back to basics with your blogging and make it sound like you, no matter what you’re talking about, join me for my last ever blogging workshop on 4th June. All of your refreshments are provided and you’ll have time to write so you’ll go home with a finished blog and a plan for more. Along with a renewed sense of your own ability to put your personality into your marketing. Click on the image to book your place!

Further reading

If you need to do some work to help you work out who your marketing needs to talk to, start here.

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How you can use brainstorming to boost your business

BrainstormingI know, I know – brainstorming is such a corporate word you’re probably squirming already.  However, I’m afraid to say that it’s the best I have for this particular subject.  ‘Putting your heads together’ and ‘having a strategy session’ where you ‘think outside the box’ are equally bad as potential entries in buzzword bingo and ‘coming up with new ideas’ is just a bit pedestrian.  I quite like brain dumping but that means something a bit different for me.  So, what am I on about? If you aren’t already using brainstorming in your business it’s probably time to start.  Call it whatever you like, it’s the perfect way to boost your business.

Get a new perspective

It’s easy to get stuck in a bit of a bubble when you work by yourself.  You decide exactly what you spend your time on and how you approach things.  If business is good then there’s a good chance you’re taking the right approach, but you run the risk of becoming complacent and failing to anticipate change or adapt to it.  If things aren’t going so well you could struggle to work out why. You might have had comments from customers but dismissed them as unreasonable. Or perhaps another business owner made a suggestion but you rejected it as unhelpful.

That’s when brainstorming can be really helpful. When you get a group of people together they’ll all have different viewpoints.  Some will do things in a completely different way. Others will have things in common with you but may still have something new to offer.  Sometimes just having a range of opinions can be useful.

Challenge yourself

Offering yourself up for feedback can be scary.  That’s why it’s crucial that you find the right group of people to work with.  Brainstorming only really works when you’re completely open about the challenge you’re having and you can’t do that with people you don’t trust.  Equally, sometimes it’s better if they aren’t close friends.  Your friends are (hopefully) only interested in making you happy.  Someone you don’t know as well might come up with a solution that works but that you won’t necessarily like.  It’s not because they’re being malicious, they just don’t know that you don’t like ringing people up.

If you find yourself resisting what is logically a good idea, it can be an opportunity for personal growth.  Ask yourself why you feel that way. Are you rejecting an idea because you genuinely don’t have the right skills or couldn’t learn them? Or are you making the decision based on fear?

Brainstorming is magic

I’m part of a coaching group where each member gets a spotlight session. You can focus on a particular challenge you’re facing in business and the group works together to help you find ways to solve it.  A typical brainstorming session involves making suggestions for specific solutions.  The spotlight sessions are a bit different in that the other members ask questions to get you thinking about the problem in a different way.

However you do it, brainstorming can completely transform your thinking. I’ve had lightbulb moments from being asked a question that completely turned my problem on its head. I just needed to approach it with an open mind.

If you think you need a bit of brainstorming perspective in your business there are all kinds of ways to start.  If you’re a member of a networking group, ask if any of the other members want to get together.  Search for small group coaching (or just a good coach) in your area.  Even Facebook groups can be a good place to ask questions and get lots of different suggestions.  Just choose carefully!

If you’d like some time with me brainstorming your content marketing strategy, it’s yours!  Click here to find out more about my strategy sessions.

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How to develop your content strategy

content strategyYou know that you need a content strategy which aligns with your goals (and if you don’t read my last two blogs here and here). Actually coming up with one is a whole different kettle of fish.  If you haven’t got the faintest idea where to start, you’ve come to the right place.  Your content needs to take your goals and targets and flip them on their head so that you see them from your customers’ point of view.  Simple right? Here’s how you can develop your content strategy to make it work.

Start with your customer

I know, if you’re a regular reader you’ve heard this one before.  Identifying your target market should always include a bit of work to find their interests and media habits. Essentially, it allows you to put your content where it’s most likely to be seen.

It also allows you to concentrate on the types of content that your target audience will like. If they’re on Facebook you could post anything from text to images to video. You might assume video will always win, but some people find them annoying and prefer written content. Try a few different things and see what works.

Choose your focus

I talked about focusing on one service or product in my last blog and it can help you to get your content strategy organised. Having a focus helps you to decide what you’re going to post on any given day. You can break things down by looking at the different ways that your services benefit your customers.

For example, I write blogs for people for all sorts of different reasons. They might be too busy to do it themselves. Some are just better at talking than they are at writing. Others need a different perspective on their business.  Write a list of reasons why people might need to buy from you and you can write a blog post about each of them.

Diversify your content

The reason that I always recommend blogging is because it gives you a good chunk of content to be going on with.  Sometimes coming up with a content strategy is daunting because you think you need to come up with a huge variety of stuff.  You really don’t. If your content strategy includes a series of blog posts you can repurpose them.

You wouldn’t want to read out a whole blog post on video (I hope). However you could do a short video highlighting the key points or giving a demonstration. For example, if you sell skincare you might write a blog about protecting your skin in winter. Then you can do a video showcasing the moisturiser you talked about so people can see the benefits as well as reading about them. You can use quotes from your blog to share links and images on social media and even put them in your email marketing.

What do you want people to do next?

When you come up with a content strategy you’re basically encouraging people to engage with your business.  Every piece of content should have some kind of call to action.  That could be posting a link to your blog on Facebook because you want people to read it. When they click through, what then? You might include a link to let people contact you, but what if they’re not ready? Asking them to sign up to your mailing list could be a good intermediate step to let them find out more.

Whatever you create, ask yourself what you want your audience to do next.

Have you got your content strategy planned? If you need some help click here to find out more about my strategy planning sessions.