Archive for the ‘Digital Marketing’ Category

Social Reviews: Why they are Important and How to Respond

November 17th, 2021 by Isaac Nelapana

We all love when customers love our business, but what happens when a customer is unsatisfied enough to leave a negative review?

In this blog we discuss how you can leverage this opportunity to not only satisfy unhappy customers but also win the respect of potential customers.

Why responding to reviews is important?

85% of consumers now trust online reviews as much as they trust traditional recommendations. If you consider just people in the age group of 18 – 29, that number is 91%. Online reviews have become the main method of influence and social proof in 2021.

Let’s say that you’re looking to get pet insurance for your cat. You really love your cat. She’s been such an excellent buddy during the pandemic, minus the part where she interrupts the occasional Teams Meeting with your colleagues. But a blessing, nonetheless!

Since you don’t really want to spare any expense, you type “best pet insurance australia” on Google and hit search. Then, you see search ads from 3 companies – RSPCA, Kogan and Choosi.

Other attributes aside, you would probably be inclined to explore RSPCA solely based on the fact it has average rating of 4.5 across 1,384 reviews.
Humans are social creatures and generally feel that it’s important to conform to the norms of a social group – a phenomenon otherwise described as “social proofing” by leading social scientist Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

When making decisions, we often look around us to see what others are doing, before making our mind up.

If you think that reviews weren’t important, you might want to consider the following statistics:

  • A study by Northwestern Universitys Spiegel Research Centre discovered that the likelihood of someone purchasing a product with five reviews is 270% greater than a product with no reviews. Further, when reviews are shown for a lower-priced product, the conversion rate increases by 190%. This figure rises to 380% for higher-priced products.
  • Consumers read an average of 10 reviews before deciding to trust a local business. Interestingly, Facebook and Yelp are the two most-trusted review sources for local searches. Google comes in at a close third. Yelp seems to have the strictest rules and regulations, with the average review score on its platform being 3.65, much lower than Facebook (4.42) and Google (4.3).
  • Yelp may be the most reliable place to gauge reviews for customers. An extra rating star on Yelp translates into a 5% to 9% revenue growth, a statistic that only underscores the impact that a Yelp rating has on business’ bottom-line.
  • 57% of consumers will only consider a business if it has a star rating of 4 stars or more.

That’s some pretty persuasive figures when it comes to validating the importance of online reviews for your business.

But you shouldn’t stop at merely collecting reviews. 97% of consumers who read online reviews also read those businesses’ responses to their online reviews.

How a business responds to a negative review can influence the searcher as much as a positive review. Firstly, it displays a sense of authenticity to the reviews. Not all customers can be happy, and a negative review here and there can actually be a good thing for social proof as it can legitimise the other reviews in the mind of the reader.

However, it is vital that you have access to respond to negative reviews to handle the customer’s criticisms in a way that makes other potential customers comfortable that you handle conflict well.

8 Tips on how to respond to Negative Reviews

Understand your customer’s experience with your business before responding.
If someone mentions a problem with a product or service, investigate to see what may have gone wrong.

This is valuable business insight. It’s so easy to get lost in the day-to-day running of your business that you lose the customers perspective. Take the criticism with an open mind.

Be honest about mistakes made and steps you’ve taken (or will take) to remedy the situation. Further, consider that the customer might be venting their frustrations about something else.

Get a second opinion
To ensure that your response to a negative review is accurate, let an unbiased third party scrutinise it before you post it online.

Double-check your message for grammar and tone by sending the response to several colleagues to ensure that it “reads” well to a third party. Otherwise, you run the risk of your response being interpreted as overly defensive or aggressive, which would neither benefit you nor the customer.

Respond in a timely and personalised manner
Studies have shown that 87% of e-commerce sites don’t respond to the negative reviews, not even on their most popular products sold. This is not a sustainable strategy since businesses experience a 37% decline in customer advocacy simply by not responding to negative reviews.

When an airline responded to a customer’s tweet in five minutes or less, that customer was willing to pay almost $20 more for a ticket on that airline in future. According to Yelp’s Data Science team, Yelp users are 33% more likely to upgrade their review if you respond with a personalised message within a day.

Customers (especially unhappy ones) always appreciate a prompt response. Whenever you receive a negative review, make it your priority. Read the review carefully, put together a quick action plan and be sure to have replied within 24 to 48 hours. Further, document all your responses to negative reviews and construct a guidebook for your business that can serve as a reference point in the future.

Quick Tip – Add Google My Business to your phone so you can see reviews as they come in.

Acknowledge and Apologise
A negative review, either one that contains harsh language or a low-star rating, can feel like a personal attack. In these times, as difficult as it sounds, you must remember to stay professional and courteous. Accept that not every customer will be 100% satisfied. Objectively analyse the situation and avoid lashing out at the customer.

Then, proceed to thank the customer for the review. Even if negative, this customer took the time to provide feedback on your business. It is an opportunity to learn.

Aim to make the customer feel that you care deeply about your relationship with him since over 70% of buying decisions are based on how a customer feels they are being treated. It might still be the early days, but you have a realistic shot at retaining your customer by approaching them sincerely and promising to do better in the future.

“We’re sorry to hear you had an unpleasant experience with us this time, and value your feedback. But we’d love to make it up to you the next time around. Contact us at [CUSTOMER SERVICE EMAIL] to receive a special discount code for your next purchase!”

You can also opt for the following response:
“On behalf of everyone at [BUSINESS NAME], I apologise for your poor customer experience. We aim to provide the best service to all our customers, and as you can see from the other reviews, your negative experience was truly an exception. You have our word when we promise not to let this happen again. Our staff will commit to improving their delivery and give you the star service you deserve, should you choose us again. Please accept my heartfelt apologies in the meantime.”

Showing the customer your willingness to see things their way can make a huge difference in their perception of you. Such compassion and empathy for the customer acts as a great display of business ethics to potential customers, giving them a sneak peek into your business personality.

Additionally – and this is important – you have shown how you handle criticism to anyone else who might read that review. You are writing a response for that customer AND any potential future customer. You have managed to reinforce your commitment to customer satisfaction as well as outline the positives that most customers feel about your business, and this is a powerful brand message to convey.

Consider the type of reviewer
Despite every person having a unique situation, there are certain broad categories into which people fall. For instance, they may be First-time reviewers, Sharpshooters, or Serial Complainers. Understand these categories and be prepared with a tailored response for each category.

  • First-time reviewers. Assess whether the negative feedback is accurate. If it is, make internal changes to fix the problem. When applicable, explain how you will prevent this issue from occurring again in the future. Further, if you disagree with the reviewer’s statements, politely and professionally present your side of the story.
  • Sharpshooters. Sharpshooters are the ones who write brief, but often rushed or poorly worded reviews. Your response to these reviews must be concise, built on clear sentences instead of elaborate ones to reflect the reviewer’s communication style.
  • Serial Complainers. Serial complainers are seasoned reviewers with a track record of leaving lengthy negative reviews for every business, product, or service they use. They are incredibly hard to please and have unrealistically high standards of service, usually not in proportion to what they paid for. In this case, you must tread carefully given that the reviewer is experienced at making businesses like yours look bad online. Look at how other businesses have responded to serial complainers and avoid making the same mistakes they made.
  • Fake Reviewers. Fakers, or fake reviewers are the worst type of reviewers. A faker has never used your business or purchased your product. Despite this, they have a grudge and delight in leaving one-star reviews based on fictional complaints to harm your online reputation. They may be working on behalf of a competitor (or even be a competitor!). If you suspect a review is fake, check your customer records to determine if they have ever used your business. Once you’re sure that you’re dealing with a faker, proceed to flagging the review on Google Maps, or on (Google My Business). If you haven’t received an email from Google stating that they’ve received your request, head over to Twitter and send a direct message to Google My Business.

Add a Touch of Specificity
Always address the reviewer’s primary concern. Doing so shows that you’re paying attention to their review — that you hear them and care enough to tailor your response to their unique situation.

“We’re usually known for our exceptional customer service, and we regret that we didn’t live up to those expectations here.”

Keep it Short and Sweet
Even when the negative review seems a bit unfair, resist the urge to defend every point and prove your case. It may sound counterintuitive, but long-winded responses only serve to legitimise the complaint, and further upset the customer.

Besides, a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal can sound defensive. Don’t ask follow-up questions. You want to avoid saying anything that could invite the customer into writing another negative response.

Move the Situation Offline
As much you want to resolve the issue, never try to fix everything from one empathetic online reply. Instead, aim to take the conversation offline. If this is the first time you are hearing of the complaint, invite the customer to email or call so that you can try to sort out the matter with them.

“If you are open to discussing this further, please call us at (03) 9999 1234 and ask to speak with Jamie, our General Manager. We’d greatly appreciate the opportunity to make things right and work toward earning back your business.”

In conclusion, remember that when you respond to a negative review, you are not just in communication with one unhappy customer.

The truth is you are communicating with a whole bunch of prospective customers who consider your response to past negative reviews before purchasing from you. Thus, a well-written negative review response can increase sales. So, it’s crucial to get your response right every time.

After all, a carefully considered response can turn a negative into a positive for your business.

If you’re a local business that needs help with creating a Google My Business listing, or responding to negative reviews online, we can help.

At Contactpoint, we offer SEO audits, consulting, and monthly local SEO services. We optimize Google My Business listings to help you get the most from this amazing free tool, including crafting perfect responses to negative (and positive) reviews.

Contact our office today on (03) 8525 2082 or send us an email at and we’ll be happy to help.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Why Google My Business is Important for Small Businesses in 2021

October 22nd, 2021 by Isaac Nelapana

You may have seen the information box that often appears when you type in a business name into a search in Google. It will comprise the Name, Address, Phone, Website link, Google Reviews and an interactive Google map for the business.

But how do you claim this for your business so that you can keep your information correct, post updates, and respond to your reviews? The answer is via a Google My Business account.

take control of your Google My Business listing

Why Is Google My Business important?

Aside from providing details to searchers when they know the name of your business, Google My Business listings also appear prominently in the results of location-based searching.
Imagine that you run a local eatery in Melbourne’s CBD. Every day, you are competing with a dozen other similar food chains in the city. As a small business owner, you might feel that the chances of getting noticed by potential customers and increasing your store traffic are becoming less. However, there’s still a way for you to stay competitive.
Many people no longer step out of their houses (or offices) and dine at the first restaurant they see. They have become much savvier than that, due to becoming accustomed to searching for information online.

In fact, “restaurants open now near me” is a phrase that is searched for about 135,000 times per month in Australia. Another example search: “Italian food near me” had an average search volume of 368,000 per month!

If you were a local restaurant owner, Italian or otherwise, wouldn’t you want to be listed in those searches? That’s why you need to claim and maintain your Google My Business listing.
A Google My Business listing enables your business to show up at the exact moment people are searching for businesses like yours! As searchers on Google are close to making a purchase decision, an optimised Google My Business listing is a sure-fire way to capture those searchers and help convert them into paying customers.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (which used to be known as Google Local and Google Places) provides you an amazing opportunity to list your business location on Google Maps and local search results. It is a separate record about businesses which was initially collated by Google bots, and is made available to the business to claim and link to their Google account.

Google My Business is completely free to use, and doesn’t cost anything to set up a business on the platform.

Anyone can add a place into Google Maps, which would then appear as results to local searches on Google, at no cost. However, not everyone can add and edit details such as hours, offerings, and service or product categories. To gain control over a Google My Business listing, you need to claim your business.

Once you have claimed your Google My Business listing, or added a new business listing, you can then control all the information about your business, respond to reviews, and optimise it to improve the chance of your business being shown to searchers.

You can do all this yourself, but we assist our clients to get the most out of Google My Business as part of our search engine optimisation services.

One of the ways to optimise your Google My Business listing is to include posts. These provide useful information to searchers, and therefore are important signals to Google about which business to include in the search results.

Where do Google My Business Posts appear?
Text, photo, or video posts appear to viewers in three core Google My Business locations:

  1. The mobile view of “Updates” or “Overview” sections of your profile in Google Search and Maps.
  2. The “From the Owner” section of your profile in the desktop view of Google Search and Maps.
  3. Google My Business websites.

Below is an example of posts appearing in the bottom of the desktop view of a Google My Business listing:
example of google my business posts to promote your business online

Google My Business Benefits for Small Businesses

56% of local retailers haven’t claimed their free Google My Business account.

This is surprising given all the benefits of a Google My Business listing, with localisation providing relevant results for searchers. There are lots of benefits to be gained by creating a Google My Business profile, including:

Improve your local SEO

An optimised Google My Business listing can significantly bolster your business’s local SEO ranking.

Searches including ‘near me’ or ‘open now’ are more likely to show Google My Business results which makes your business more discoverable.

A Google study from 2014 found that “50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day.”

Keep your customers informed

Your Google My Business Listing includes your Name, Address and Phone Number as well as your website and business hours. With the changing government regulations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become vital to post updates when you’ve expanded services, temporarily closed, or fully reopened.

Misinformation can upset customers, lead to negative word-of-mouth and missed opportunities. Having access to your Google My Business account gives you control to keep your customers, and potential customers, informed as part of search results.

Boost customer confidence

A Google My Business listing boosts the trust and credibility in a local business. According to Google, customers are 70% more likely to visit businesses and 29% more likely to purchase something from a business with a complete Google My Business listing.

Collect Customer Reviews and respond to negative reviews

Reviews collected on a 3rd party website, such as Google Reviews, are an important way to improve customer trust and provide social peer proof.

Annual marketing research conducted in the UK shows that 79% of consumers now trust online reviews as much as much as they trust traditional recommendations from family and friends. Online reviews have become the main method of influence in 2021.

However, you can’t stop at collecting reviews. 96% of consumers who read online reviews also read those businesses’ responses to their online reviews. In fact, how a business responds to a negative review can influence the searcher as much as a positive review. It’s vital that you have access to respond to reviews to respond the customers criticisms in a way that makes other potential customers comfortable that you handle conflict with class.

Your Google My Business account becomes your online reputation management tool, while demonstrating the quality of your products or services to potential customers.

Gain Insights into Your Business

Google My Business Insights provide you with information about how customers searched for your business and where they’re coming from – valuable insights for future business improvements, expansion, or marketing activities.

The data available includes:

  • The number of views your profile, photos, and posts receive.
  • The number of photos owned by your business vs uploaded by customers.
  • The popular times and visit duration.
  • The search queries people use to find your business.
  • The number of Google My Business chats and overall engagement.
  • A profile of your audience: age groups, gender, and countries.
  • The number of website clicks, phone calls, and direction queries.

This valuable information can only be obtained by claiming your Google My Business listing.

Want help with Google My Business? Contact the SEO Experts at Contactpoint.

If you’re a local business that needs help with creating a Google My Business listing, or simply boosting your business’ online presence on Google and other search engines, we can help.

At Contactpoint, we offer SEO audits, consulting, and monthly local SEO services. We optimize Google My Business listings to help you get the most from this amazing free tool.

Contact our office today on (03) 8525 2082 or send us an email at and we’ll be pleased to help.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Google and Apple Updates Affecting Digital Marketing

April 26th, 2021 by Phil Le

Businesses – both small and large scale – have been using digital marketing channels to target and reach potential customers for a long time now, often at a much lower cost compared to traditional mediums such as TV commercials or radio advertising. However, like most technology, digital marketing channels are evolving at a rapid pace and require digital marketing tactics and strategies that keep up with the change in order to get the best results.

In this blog, we will take you through the most recent major technological changes which will have a significant impact on how you execute your digital marketing plan.

Google Ads

In February 2021, Google announced changes to keyword bidding types. Once the rollout has completed, advertisers will no longer have a choice of broad match modified (BMM) or phrase match as two alternate keyword matching strategies. Instead, BMM & phrase match will be rolled into the one “updated phrase match” bidding strategy. As the name suggests, BMM allowed advertisers to choose the words which were required for their ad to be shown to searchers, but also allows the ad to be shown where additional words were used by the searcher and some of the words were not present.

Google stated that they have removed BMM in order to save advertisers time and effort in the management of their campaigns. The diagram below from Google’s explanation of the change shows a practical example of a search for “moving services NYC to Boston” and the outcome after the change.

PPC campaign management

Google stated that the change will ensure that more relevant ads are shown, as determined by the searchers’ entered keywords, boosting both users’ experiences and advertisers’ conversion rates. The new keyword matching system is easier to use because there are less choices. However the trade-off is less control for advanced users.

If you have been using BMM and getting great results, we recommend leaving those campaigns as is, and monitoring your results – Google will apply the changes to your existing setup. On average, we are expecting a slight decline in ad impressions, clicks and costs. It will be important to keep a close eye on the outcome, and continually review your keywords because the order of words within the phrases you are bidding for will now be more important.

If you have already been using phrase match, we expect you will experience a significant boost in ad impressions, clicks, costs and perhaps conversions (people taking the desired action after clicking on your ad), because the keywords are now more flexible and reach traffic which they could not in the past. However, you should monitor your budget closely because the costs could increase substantially, reducing your expected ROI.

We are still monitoring the impact of this rollout; whilst Google’s stated intentions are simplification and improved results, ultimately they make significant revenue from their ad platform and any change is also likely aimed at strengthening their share of ad spend and revenue.

Apple iOS 14.5 update

From 26th April 2021, Apple officially released iOS 14.5 for iPhone and iPad. The operating system version prompts users to opt out of pixel tracking within apps they install on their device. Prior to this change, the user had to be aware of this possibility, and manually find the setting to stop their behaviour and data being tracked and collected by 3rd parties such as Facebook. This is the sort of tracking is very powerful and has lead to situations like Target knowing that a teenage girl was pregnant before her father was told.

It has already been noted that the vast majority of iPhone and iPad users are opting out of the tracking of their behaviour and collection of their data after updating to iOS 14.5. Facebook is very concerned about the impact on their ad platform, and have started an advertising campaign to encourage small business to push back, stating that their tests have shown that a significant number of people have opted out of tracking.

We expect that as more people opt-out of tracking on iOS devices and become aware of their privacy options, performance reporting for your ad campaigns will become negatively impacted for both app and web conversion events.

With less tracking and behaviour data being applied to your advertising campaign, it will take longer for your ad campaign to build an audience or optimise for conversion, and therefore you will likely achieve a lower return on investment particularly in the initial phase of your campaign. In addition, the size of your target audience may be reduced as more people opt out of being tracked (and therefore won’t be served your targeted ads).

For Facebook advertising, even if iPhone and iPad users do opt in, event data is being limited to a maximum of nine campaigns (and five ad sets per campaign) for every Facebook account.

As an alternative to relying on the Facebook pixel, it is possible to implement the Facebook Conversion API to track user behaviour on the app server or web server (server-side) but implementation costs will be much higher and will likely deter small businesses wanting to test the usefulness of Facebook ads via a relatively low cost campaign.

According to Facebook, Apple are keen for you to invest in their ad platform instead, however their platform obviously limits your campaigns to Apple users.

Google Algorithm update – Search Engine Optimisation

If implemented well, Search Engine Optimisation (‘SEO‘) is one of the most cost-effective digital marketing tactics you can implement, yet it is the most complicated tactic to comprehend and execute successfully.

The main reason for this is Google (by far the most popular search engine, at least in Western nations) does not make known the finer details of their search algorithm. It requires trial and error to determine how to best setup your website to rank well for popular search terms, and the methods change all the time.

Google does not divulge the details about their algorithm, because they are trying to serve the needs of the searcher, and don’t want to empower businesses to outsmart their algorithm, and rank higher than another more deserving website. Instead, they give pointers and guidelines that are aimed at providing the best user experience for consumers of web information, and they are also constantly adjusting the algorithm to achieve better outcomes. Some people suggest that Google is also motivated to make SEO difficult because they would like to push more website owners over to using their Google Ads platform to deliver additional traffic, thus generating additional income for Google.

One of the factors in ranking well in Google’s search results is web page experience, which encompasses many factors including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, etc. Six months ago, Google announced that from May 2021, Core Web Vital Metrics (a range of metrics covering page load speed, interactivity and visual stability) would become more significant factors in the ranking of websites. If your website is poorly designed or taking too long to load, your website’s ranks will be adversely impacted.

The purpose of Google’s major algorithm update is to provide to searchers the most relevant websites with the best design and user experience. If your website is not ranking well in Google, even when you are providing valuable content to potential visitors, it is likely that core web vitals or user experience issues are causing your website to score poorly against Google’s algorithm.

Over the last 6 months our digital marketing team has been focusing on core web vitals for our clients websites for whom we provide SEO services. However, we will be carefully assessing the impact of the change which is still being rolled out by Google.

If you have concerns about any of the changes described above, please don’t hesitate to reach out and have a chat. We’d be delighted to assist with all your digital marketing requirements.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Why Businesses Need to Keep Up with Search Engine Optimisation During COVID-19.

April 6th, 2020 by Vidhi Doshy

Just like Rome can’t be built in a day, the same goes for high performing search engine optimisation (‘SEO‘).

Search Engine Optimisation isn’t a short-term tactic. Consequently, this is one area of your digital marketing where a long-term plan is required.

Businesses have been greatly impacted, either directly due to restrictions on the services they can supply, or indirectly due to overall dampening of the economy as a result of COVID-19. In such a time, it is understandable that businesses are looking for ways to reduce expenses. However, we feel that it is important to give a word of caution before you cut your spending on SEO.

Search engine ranks are grown, or are damaged, over time.

There are a large number of factors that Google’s algorithms take into consideration when determining whether or not to show your website as the best result for a search. These factors include:

  • The freshness of your content. That’s why blogs are so important. They are usually dated, and a way of providing the latest information to searchers. Google can tell if your content has been updated or not, including behind-the-page optimisation and adjustments. If you pause your SEO, it’s likely that your site will start to look less fresh and be given a lower rank.

    Now might be a great time for you to write the white papers that you have been gathering data for, over time, or to create the additional help documentation, or resources your clients need to better understand what you do for them.
  • Natural Growth. Growing your content in a natural way (slowly over time) is likely to look more like valuable, authoritative content compared to a sudden burst of new content.
  • Authority conferred by shares. If your new content is shared over social media, and the destination of backlinks, then your content is also deemed as more valuable for search results by Google. If you aren’t adding content, you are missing this opportunity to build your ranks and website authority.

Aside from the above factors, if you pause your search engine optimisation during the COVID-19 pandemic, you are unlikely to be aware of your competitor’s ranks are overtaking your website ranks. Perhaps they are adding new content or services, or are using new strategies to rank on the terms you are competing for ranks on. The sooner you are aware of the change in your competitive landscape, the more quickly you can take action.

One area Contactpoint addresses as part of search engine optimisation activities for our clients is their Google My Business account. Google My Business has recently offered various features in terms of post, revised opening hours for business, events and COVID 19 Business updates that you can add to your Google My Business account.

At a time when we’re all searching for more comfort, these features allow your organisation to provide your customers with additional help. Using Events and Offers could be beneficial to your business to promote your virtual event, consultation or a training course that you may be offering.

We have also seen that posting articles via Google My Business has increased traffic and visibility for our client’s businesses. Articles can only be 2-3 paragraphs in length, and so will likely point to the full article on your website. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like some help with utilising Google My Business to promote your organisation.

Another approach to help your local SEO during this time is to tap on the power of positive reviews. Online reputation management is very important during difficult times. Going out of your way to provide virtual consultation or virtual assistance to potential or existing customers when they need it most during this COVID-19 pandemic will likely reward your business with an encouraging review.

Undertaking monthly maintenance of your website to organically improve its ranks is like exercising to lose weight. You cannot experience the advantages of exercising in the short term however if you keep at it diligently over time you see and experience the advantages. If you quit exercising you may not notice a lot of contrast in a couple of days or even a few weeks. But, to get back to being fit, after an extensive stretch of idleness is a lot harder than keeping up wellness over a similar timeframe. SEO is in many ways similar to this analogy of exercise.

If your competitors stop their SEO activities during this downturn, and you do not, it will be your competitors who are playing catch up in a few months’ time and you will be well prepared to keep your business growing.

“Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”.
– Warren Buffet

If you are interested to learn more about how SEO strategies can help your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

PPC Campaigns – how we have adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic

March 25th, 2020 by Vidhi Doshy

With the spread of COVID-19, the digital advertising landscape has changed; the first thing we noticed was people trying to exploit fear to attract more customers. But that’s not all we noticed.

We look after many of our client’s pay-per-click (‘PPC’) advertising campaigns which use one or more of the following platforms to promote their products and services: Google Ads, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. PPC campaigns can be very costly, the tools are constantly changing, and can be complex. It is important to ensure that you are advertising to the right target market, at the right time of the day, and that you point your ads to a web page or other destination that provides the best return on your click investment.

Whilst adjusting our client’s ad campaigns during this unprecedented time, we have noticed four important tactics to help you manage your paid search campaigns during the pandemic.

1. Geo-targeting

Geo-targeting may require adjustment, depending on the effects of the pandemic on your services. It is crucial to decide the area you want to target this could be states, cities, ZIP codes, or by radius. The smaller the geographic area, the smaller the estimated clicks on your ad. However, that will help to balance the relevance of the audience you intend to capture while making the most of your budget.

Bonus Tip – Consider adding negative locations. Location exclusion can allow you to prevent your ad from showing in certain parts of your targeted locations. This will help for example, if your business offers a special promotion that isn’t eligible for people in a few regions of a targeted area.

2. Review Search Behaviour & Ad Copies

While people are social distancing, they will still be researching, browsing, and planning what they can do and buy when the restrictions are lifted. They will also be potentially looking for different products and services, for right now.

We have been assisting our clients by reviewing any change in interaction levels with their ad campaigns, as well as altering their PPC campaign strategy to communicate about services that can be delivered virtually.

After carrying out extensive research using multiple keyword research solutions, we determined that the search behaviour of users has not altered drastically. People are still searching for individual products and services, on the assumption that businesses have adapted to deliver these services virtually.

We observe many advertisers adding COVID 19 in the headlines of their ads. This is unnecessary, as people are not searching for individual services along with COVID 19 related terms – people know and expect companies to adjust to the restrictions of the pandemic. Therefore, we recommend not to make any changes in the headlines, but revise the text in the ad copy description or ad extensions to communicate benefits like free delivery, online consultations, webinars, online training, zoom events instead.

3. Ad Scheduling

Ad scheduling assists with controlling spending on ads by just running advertisements on specific days and at specific times. If your business is open during definite hours, it may be wise to set advertisements to run just while you are open. However, if you sell on the web, you are constantly open and can make use of the ‘Overview’ tab to decide whether there are any times when there is a negative ROI and capitalize on specific times to increase clicks or conversions.

Given many people are working from home, the time that they are likely to be searching for your products and services may have adjusted, requiring your ad scheduling to change accordingly.

Ad Scheduling is a beneficial tool that your business can leverage to make data-driven decisions of displaying your ads during peak search times, increasing your likelihood to achieve more clicks and conversions. Use this tool to select specific days and time to derive the maximum value from your PPC budget.

4. Negative Keywords

Depending on your industry, the pandemic may have caused minor (or majors) moves in search inquiries, which could be causing your ads to appear for the wrong types of searches. To counter this situation requires a dual approach – the first is analysing historical data and the second is forecasting searches that could incorrectly trigger your ads in order to create a negative list.

We have found the following are beneficial to determine the search terms to add to a negative keyword list:

  1. Search Term Report – reviewing search terms and display campaign placements in real-time for COVID-19. If a search term isn’t relevant enough to the products or services that you offer, add it as a negative keyword. This will help keep your ad from showing to people who are looking for something that you don’t sell and help you make the most of your limited budget. For example, if you sell spectacles and you see that the search term ‘wine glasses’ is triggering your ads, you might want to add ‘wine’ as a negative keyword.
  2. Google Trends – A great resource with the latest information on search behaviour is Google Trends: Coronavirus Search Trends.

If you require any assistance to ensure that you are getting the most out of your PPC campaign spend, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re ready to help.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Custom Intent Audiences – a powerful new way to target your audience with Pay-Per-Click ads

February 24th, 2020 by Vidhi Doshy

Launched by Google around mid-2019, and now available once you have upgraded to Google’s new Adwords Dashboard, the Custom Intent Audiences feature makes it possible for you to show your Google display ad to people who have indicated that they are interested in your product/service (rather than displaying to the whole world).

Paid Google Search Ads have always had one big advantage over Google Display Ads: intent. People only see paid search ads when they are actively searching online for a solution to a problem or an answer to a question. If your product or service answers their question or solves their problem (and you have set up your keywords right), they will hopefully see your ads, click and take action (aka ‘convert’).

Display Ads, on the other hand, are primarily used for brand awareness. That’s because, with display ads which are delivered on websites all around the ‘net (as opposed to just on the Google search engine results pages), your target audience isn’t looking for a solution to a problem they are reading someone else’s website. You’re hoping that they’ll notice your ad, realise that they have a need you can help them with, click and convert. To compensate, Display Ads can be configured in many different formats, including images of various sizes, a collection of images and videos. This is all aimed at getting the internet user’s attention.

Custom intent audiences, however, are Google’s attempt to make display ads much more relevant to the searcher. Google has previously attempted this via the use of Google Ad Re-marketing which causes your display ad to “follow you” around – this is possible by Google keeping track of which site you have been to, and presenting the ads related to that site in amongst other websites that allow Google to insert their display ads within their website. You mostly see display ads on websites such as news sites (e.g., and marketplaces (e.g.,, but you will also see display ads in amongst YouTube videos and mobile apps such as online games.

Instead of throwing ads up in a variety of places and hoping that with enough reach, a few people will respond, custom intent audiences help you put your ads in front of people who are actually looking to buy what you are selling.

Will Custom Intent Audiences Work for Your Organisation?
Ask yourself, what kind of websites will people primarily visit when they are actively looking to buy what I’m selling? While there are a lot of potential answers to that question – including forums, review websites, and other research sites? an obvious place where people go when they are interested in your product is your competitors’ websites.
We expect targeting using Custom Intent Audience is a winning strategy because it allows you to target visitors who have visited your competitors’ website.

Since most people who are interested in buying what you’re selling are probably checking out the competition too, targeting your competitors’ website addresses is a great way to build a highly targeted custom intent audience. With custom intent audiences, you can create your own audiences based on keywords and URLs related to products and services similar to what you offer. In many ways, this is beneficial for small and large businesses, but especially if you are in a small niche where neither you nor the competition has a lot of website traffic.

We are now using this for our clients and getting great results – greater numbers of ad impressions, delivering more website visitors, and increasing the click-through rate.

A word of caution – custom intent audiences won’t work for everyone. If your offer is significantly worse than your competitor’s, for example. Or if the lead time for your product or service is very short e.g. emergency/instant services required.

If you would like to brainstorm how it can be used for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Reducing Customer Friction, Building Customer Relationships

December 16th, 2019 by Dave O'Dwyer

When it comes to online interactions, reducing customer friction – making it easier for people to buy from you, or do business with you – will make for a quicker sale and less frustration, improving your relationship from the outset, and most important, lowering visitor drop-off and abandoned carts.

PayPal recently announced deeper integration provided through Facebook and Messenger, making it that bit easier for Facebook users to purchase. Removing steps and barriers to completion is vital for ecommerce and other transactional business platforms. This is an example of small (from the end-user perspective) adjustments in the user experience, which can have a big impact on the number of completed sales through Facebook using PayPal.

Next time you’re considering a new feature for your website, ask yourself “could this be easier? Clearer? Are there any frustration points that would make a user give up before completing the transaction?” If there are, then consider how to eliminate them – feel free to call us to discuss. This is a discipline of digital marketing called “Conversion Rate Optimisation” or CRO. Amazon rationalised their checkout down to a “One Click Checkout” by removing as many barriers as possible, which has been pivotal to their success.

However, just making a quick sale doesn’t build a relationship. So for most businesses your efforts to make it easy need to have a counterpoint of working out ways to relate to your customers, provide further value, and ensure you deliver more than just a transaction. Let’s look at an example.

Case Study: Kool Kidz Childcare – Safe Kidz Program

We have recently assisted Kool Kidz Childcare to run their Safe Kidz program designed to provide free community service – ensuring that child seats are fitted correctly into their vehicle – whilst at the same time having the opportunity to give potential customers a guided tour of their unique childcare centres.

Contactpoint designed and built the landing page for this service, including writing the copy to engage with the audience in a way that was open and honest about the opportunity. Rather than spend the marketing budget on gimmicks and discounts, Kool Kidz is providing a free service in order to get the word out about their centres. In doing so, they build their reputation in the community and provide a point of difference from their competition. We built-in functionality to make it very easy for parents to register and book into available car seat fitting appointment times.

Contactpoint also designed and implemented a pay-per-click campaign through Google Ads and Facebook to present geographically and demographically targeted ads to potential customers. The ads point to the landing page, the content of which is beautiful on both desktop and mobile, and keeps very much to the point of the interaction – understand why the service is being run, how you can take up the offer, and book in. Of course, there’s a little bit about why Kool Kidz Childcare is great for your children as well, to start to educate the potential customer. Customers don’t mind marketing when receiving a product or service for free.

Google are masters of providing useful services in return for access to all your online data, which they programmatically sell to the highest bidder. You don’t mind as you are getting free email and search functionality (amongst other services) that is useful to you. Even the ads you are shown are customised as to be as relevant to your specific data as possible, making you more likely to want to click on them.

We designed the Safekidz sign up process to both reduce barriers to conversion and build relationships through the initiative. Together with all the finer details of the process – confirmation messaging, email follow-ups, delivery of the experience – the process was seamless and gently promotes the Kool Kidz brand and values at each touchpoint. Ensuring the process is quick, logical and avoids user frustration was crucial to the success of the project.

The Safe Kidz initiative was piloted in Brighton, and based on initial success, we were able to quickly scale the platform to other locations of the childcare franchise with customised appointments, and appointment follow-ups, per location. The program is delivering a great flow of engaged new parents to the participating childcare centres.

Need Help?

Our Contactpoint Digital Marketing team is at the ready to help you reduce customer friction, but not at the expense of your customer relationship. We look forward to hearing from you when you are considering a new digital marketing campaign, new website functionality, or even a brand new website.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

An Update on Search Engine Marketing (Pay Per Click)

July 22nd, 2019 by Heather Maloney

It’s been nearly a year since we blogged about pay-per-click advertising in the search engines (‘PPC’ e.g. Google Ads / Bing Ads). A lot has changed over that short time including a new name and a completely new user interface for Google Ads; this blog is intended as an update for business owners and marketing managers to help you keep abreast of what is possible, and the best way to approach search engine marketing.

search engine marketing changes in 2019

Most of the change is around the use of AI applied to the smart delivery of targeted ads, making the customisation of ads for mobile phones much easier to encourage more advertisers to display their ads on mobile, and additional control by Google to ensure a positive customer experience.

Quality Scores
I’ve been involved in search engine optimisation (‘SEO’ – the art of achieving high ranks in the search engines for relevant, popular keyword searches) since the mid-1990s and organic traffic (people finding you through searchable content) has always been the #1 priority, and PPC ads the more costly way to get immediate website traffic while your SEO efforts grow your ranks over time. Naturally, the search engines, who only make money from paid ads, don’t see it that way.

Google changes the appearance of ads on a regular basis and gives preference to the display of ads, all in the attempt to make money at the same time as delivering valid results for searchers. It is in Google’s best interest to ensure that not only are organic search results highly relevant to the searcher but also the ads. Google wants people to be just as willing to click on an ad as they are willing to click on a ‘normal’ search result. To that end, even if you want to pay over the odds to Google for your ad in relation to particular search terms, you may find that your ad isn’t being displayed. That’s because the destination of the ad – the landing page, or web page where the searcher ends up when they click – is now also assessed by Google in determining who to show your ad to. This is referred to as the ‘quality score’. If your ad is about treating back pain and takes you to a web page that talks about exercise without reference to back pain, for example, Google is likely to give your ad a low-quality score and be less inclined to present the ad to searchers, and when your ad is presented the click cost will be higher (ouch).

What this means is that you must have high-quality landing pages/ad destination pages which richly develop the intent of the ad, and the ads must include appropriate keywords that are reflecting in the landing pages, which brings us to dynamic ads.

Landing pages that are congruent with your ads have been important for a long time and has driven the trend of having your landing pages not only disconnected from your main website navigation but also omitting your site navigation in order to focus the attention of the visitor only on the action you want them to take. This latest evolution is driving the use of 3rd party platforms which make it easier for digital marketers to set up dynamic landing pages, including sophisticated analytics around visitor behaviour.

Responsive Ads [and dynamic landing pages]
The latest overhaul of the Google Ad’s platform provides seriously sophisticated functionality for creating responsive ads – that is, ads whose content programmatically incorporates the search term entered by the searcher, from a set of search terms which you specify, and configures itself to the available space. A combination of 15 alternate headlines and 4 descriptions is possible. Using our back pain example, the responsive ad functionality allows you to create an ad that might have a headline of ‘Suffering from back pain’ or ‘Suffering from a sore back’ or ‘Suffering from a back injury’ all with the one ad i.e. you don’t need to create 3 ads to achieve this. Then, if the searcher types in ‘help with back pain’ your ad will appear as “Suffering from back pain”, or if they type in ‘recovering from a back injury’, your ad will appear as “Suffering from a back injury”. The descriptions in the content of the ads can similarly be filled on the fly to match the searcher’s intent as determined by AI.

To take this one step further, specialised landing pages can be configured to receive the search terms entered by the searcher, and then display those words in the appropriate place. Obviously, you need to be careful when doing this to ensure that the dynamic content makes sense in all cases, particularly if you decide to add more keywords a few month’s later. But the end result is a much more relevant landing page, a higher quality score, and additional traffic to your site at a lower cost.

The ability to create responsive ads and content takes a bit of effort to set up but means that you can create a lot more ads for less effort over the longer term, and achieve greater ad impressions, therefore more clicks, at a lower cost. It doesn’t however take away the need for greater copywriters, creative ideas and overall campaign strategy.

Ad Format
The available ad formats continue to evolve, and now includes:

  • Basic text-only ads.
  • Responsive ads – can insert text from a set of specified options matching the searcher’s search term, transform into text or image ads and automatically adjust size, appearance and format to fit space.
  • Image ads – static or interactive graphics, animated ads.
  • Image carousel ads.
  • Instream video ads – including vertical format ads specifically for people on mobile (you may need two versions), standalone video ads or inserted in streaming video content.
  • Product shopping ads – product photo, title, price, store name+ more details.
  • Showcase shopping ads – image and description that expands when clicked to show several related products and store information.
  • App Promotion Ads – drive app downloads and engagement with app promotion ads.

The ad formats available depends on your campaign type (search network, display network, search + display networks) and campaign sub-type (e.g. standard or all features).

How we ensure ads are seen by the right people is continuing to evolve. In the Google Display Network (where websites show Google Ads, rather than ads as a result of customer searching) the placement of ads is much more a result of prior browsing activity and demographics (by users signed into Google) and less about their search terms.

Google’s “Exact Match” setting is no longer really exact … instead, it works out intent using AI (read more about the dismantling of exact match over the years). This is a little annoying as taking that control away means that we are relying on the accuracy of the AI and ultimately Google wants you to spend more. It also means that the thorough use of negative keywords (preventing your ads from displaying when particular search terms are used) is even more important. We constantly review the search terms used to display ads and extend the negative keywords list to prevent waste of our client’s ad budgets.

With Google’s significant improvement in targeting by audiences – whereby you load your known audience (customer database) up into Google and it then targets exactly those people with your ads or builds matching audiences of similar people – due to it’s use of artificial intelligence, using this feature to target the right customers for your ads has become more useful. You can make the best use of this feature when you have a larger customer database, and when you know where each person or segment is in their buying journey, allowing you to present appropriate ads for each person. New demographics have been appearing in the audience settings including marital status, homeownership and the like, so we expect this area to continue to expand. Although the recent $5Bn fine against Facebook could slow things down in this area?

Many businesses use Google Ads primarily for top-of-funnel (prospects at the very start of a customer purchase journey) and then use other means to communicate with the new prospect such as email nurture programs. Not surprisingly, Google wants businesses to use Google ads all the way through the process. The use of Google re-marketing – presenting a similar ad to a person who has previously clicked on your ads and visited your website – is another cost-effective way to re-enforce your message with prospects, as these ads have a significantly cheaper cost per click.

Bing has launched their own audience building feature this year, which is also AI-powered across data collected from Bing searches, Skype, MSN and LinkedIn usage, and is not to be ignored for highly targeted campaigns.

Setting up ad campaigns for mobile searches (more than half of all searches are carried out on a mobile phone) was previously cumbersome, requiring advertisers to create another set of ads just for mobiles. That’s changed with the new ad platform allowing the one ad, including ad extensions, to be customised within the one place for desktop and mobile.

Goal-based campaigns allow the choice of the results you want to achieve – such as increased leads, greater brand awareness or higher conversions – and then Google will provide recommendations for campaign types that will perform best for you and your budget, and provides numerous automatic bid and placement optimisations. Again this is a result of their deepening use of artificial intelligence.

Whilst Google is giving us far more recommendations to use as we configure and optimise ads, sometimes these recommendations conflict; we don’t just follow these without careful consideration to ensure that they fit with your objectives.

Ad Extensions allow extra information to be shown as part of your ads. New ad extensions include Promotion Extension – the ability to include a price or special offer – thus enticing a visitor to click your ad instead of another.

Google is much more active in the assessment and banning of ads for all manner of legal and ethical reasons. We create ads with the best intentions in mind, include images, and then may need edit after Google has reviewed.

If you are using Click to Call style ads, the business name in your ads must now really be your business name, and mentioned in your IVR or by the person answering (sounds obvious, right … you would be surprised at how less-than-honest marketers have exploited this in the past). Interestingly, with the increase use of mobiles for search, Google removed the extra charge it originally levied on advertisers using click to call ads to provide metrics and reporting such as length of call (now a customisable setting to attribute as a conversion which previously not been tracked).

Due to the complexity of the ad platforms, increasing competition for organic search ranks, priority of the search companies to drive revenue through search, and the importance of the configuration on the cost of your pay-per-click ad campaigns, it is really important to keep a close eye on your pay-per-click ad campaigns. We work with our clients with pay-per-click campaigns in a variety of models, from strategic advice all the way through to full responsibility for the creation and execution of ads. We can pick up your existing campaigns from where they currently are and improve them over time, or work with you to create your first ever pay-per-click ads.

We look forward to having a conversation.

But Wait! There’s More
We haven’t touched on YouTube ads in this article (also owned by Google). With the viewing of YouTube video continuing to grow, presenting video ads within YouTube is an option more organisations need to utilise.

Google does not stand still – it tends to roll out a major update to its ad platform every 6 months. Google has already announced the many new features coming to their ad platform which will likely be rolled out during the rest of this year. Many of these relate to search on mobile phones. Here’s a shortlist:

  1. A new type of ad – Discovery Ads – to appear in the new Google Discovery Feed app that mobile users are likely using on their phones. Discovery Ads, because they are interrupting people in a similar way to ads inside your Facebook Feed, will have strict quality constraints around them e.g. the requirement for unique (not stock) high quality images.
  2. Images inside search ads, but only on mobile, and only in the first place – this will be called a Gallery Ad.
  3. AI will be used to create interesting 6 second videos from original, up to 90 seconds in length.
  4. Deep links from ads to inside apps.
  5. Advanced bid strategies will allow you to exclude data considered by artificial intelligence when determining when to place ads e.g. particular spikes due to out-of-the-ordinary activities.
  6. Location based ads will start appearing in Google Maps search suggestions and while a user is use getting directions.

We look forward to exploring the use of these changes and more in the Google ads platform.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Why Write a Blog?

July 10th, 2019 by Dave O'Dwyer

Everyone says you have to blog … but why? No one reads them anyway, right?

Sorry, but that’s just totally wrong. For many of our clients, their blog posts are the best ranking, and most visited, content of their website. If you don’t have an active blog, it is likely to be a significant missed opportunity.

why write a blog post

Why blog?
Here are the reasons why blogging is very important:

  1. Signals new content to Google.
    Google values fresh content because it wants to provide the latest and greatest content to people searching for solutions. Google can tell that a blog post is part of a blog (as opposed to a landing page or other regular page of your website) and more often than not will give your blog content priority over other types of content, because blogs are intended to educate, engage in conversation with visitors, and address a very specific topic or news event.
  2. Builds authority.
    Blogs help to build both domain authority (Google ranking your website as a source of valuable information on a topic), as well as credibility in the mind of the visitor. Being willing to publish on a topic means that you know enough about it to put forward your views. Customers are much more likely to invest in your product or service if they believe you know what you are selling, very well.
  3. Backlinks.
    Informative articles will be linked to by other websites, again signalling to Google that your content is of good quality and worthy of ranking highly in the search engines.
  4. You Own the Content.
    While pay-per-click ads and social media posts, both drive traffic to your website, their impact either requires ongoing payment, or disappears after a short period of time. The blog posts you write if picked up by Google, will be found and therefore deliver traffic to your site for many years to come, and can help you to “own the space” for particular search terms.

The most important aspect of a blog post is that it gives you the freedom to publish super targeted content, addressing the concerns, desires or needs of a very specific segment of your potential audience. Your blog can easily incorporate what is referred to by digital marketers as long tail keywords – phrases that are frequently used people trying to solve a particular problem. For example, if you are the parent of a young child you might search on “how to help my child give up their dummy?” A blog post that addresses this question can easily incorporate this phrase, and related phrases within the content of the article.

Blog posts also allow you to focus in on the intent of the person reading the blog, and help them move forward down the decision path or buyer journey, by taking the time to explain the problem, empathise with the reader, educate, and give alternative solutions.

If you tried to achieve such a detailed response to a specific question through the main pages of your website – particularly if you have a wide variety of solutions to many customer needs – your website would very quickly become cluttered.

Some examples of blogs we have developed for our clients include:

  • Handyman: a blog post on how to change bathroom taps can include more keywords and information than a general handyman services page.
  • Graffiti removal service: removing graffiti from wood vs removing graffiti from glass target different keywords and searches compared to general ‘graffiti removal’.
  • Surf Shop: a blog about how to care for your board, providing value to potential customers, who then become aware of the brand.

How to approach writing a blog
When writing blogs for our clients in order to generate additional, targeted website traffic, we perform the following tasks:

  1. Identify search terms being used by potential customers to solve a particular, relevant problem.
  2. Consider the demographics and other characteristics of the potential customer.
  3. Clarify how our client’s product/service can solve the problem, especially how they differentiate from competitors.
  4. Write a blog post, rich in the phrase/s commonly used by the prospects, empathising and educating at the same time. We are also careful to use an appropriate style of writing and tone of voice to match our client’s brand, and which will engage the target market.
  5. Include at least one call to action within the blog content. The same call to action is likely to be linked to more than once, to ensure that the reader doesn’t miss it, and has it close by when they are ready to act. Depending on what you are promoting and the likely length of the buyer journey, the call to action could be requesting more information, subscribing to receive future updates, requesting a sample, buying immediately, following you in social media
  6. Incorporate design elements (images, video, headlines etc) into the blog post to keep the reader’s interest and make it more memorable.
  7. Receive client feedback.
  8. Finalise and post the blog.
  9. Share the blog post in social media and through email newsletters.

It’s important not to forget the final step of promoting the new blog post in social media. Sharing the post in your social channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, make it easy for others to share on your content, which in turn will achieve greater reach. Google My Business now also allows you to post articles, again extending the reach of your message.

Writing a teaser to your blog post, and including that in the regular emails to your clients, ensures that your existing clients don’t miss your valuable content. Blog content is easily shared by readers due to the social sharing links that are normally included within each blog post (see below … hint hint!).

Don’t have time?
SME businesses are often fully occupied running their business and don’t have the resources on a regular basis to write their own blogs. In this situation, we are very happy to help. A good place to start is making a list of the problems that you regularly solve and questions you commonly hear from prospects and new customers, then provide us with bullet points of your solution – we can take it from there!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Not Everyone Loves Networking But LinkedIn is a Gold Mine for B2B

June 25th, 2019 by Dean Troth

Not every business owner loves networking. Nor are they all on LinkedIn. However, in this blog post, I argue that LinkedIn is a gold mine of opportunities particularly for B2B.

In B2B relationships are vital. The business owner getting out into the business community and meeting people is how we bring in leads and opportunities. Some see LinkedIn not as a networking opportunity but a waste of time, full of picture-perfect professionals with hyped up qualifications and over embellished achievements, trying to fast-forward their careers, rather than serious business people. Others feel that the only time they hear from anyone on LinkedIn is when they are being sold to. However, for business owners and those in business development, LinkedIn is full of new business opportunities, more than any other platform or forum, online or off.

Although there are obviously employees using LinkedIn as a tool to advance their careers, and sales people who don’t take the time to know you or add value, we have found it to be a very useful tool for business owners in building credibility as an expert, and generating genuine conversations that lead to meaningful relationships with people who want to do business i.e. your ideal client or customer.

People are built for relationships. People do business with people they know, like and trust. Sure, business is business, but business is never impersonal. If you look at your business revenue using a pie graph, chances are that a large proportion of your business has come from clients with whom you or someone in your team has a solid trusting relationship.

Networking is nothing new. In the past, networking happened mostly through ‘word of mouth’, conferences and at ‘real world’ industry networking events. You attended these events when you could. But how comfortable were you?

LinkedIn Outreach for growing your business

If you are like me, some events were fantastic business opportunities. You had lots of positive conversations, met a load of interesting people and collected a handful of business cards. You followed up three or four for a meeting over coffee, that led to new business opportunities. But these events were rare. At other events you didn’t meet anyone. You were late or tired, so stayed back, in the corner, and spoke to the three or four people you already knew well. You got home late. There was no real benefit to you or your business in being there. And thinking back you, realise that whether you made five new contacts that led to profitable business deals or none, it was pretty close to random.

LinkedIn removes the random
With over half a billion business people on the platform, and growing rapidly particularly in the last few years, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network by far. This means that most people you would like to do business with are spending time on LinkedIn.

We have seen that LinkedIn helps business owners have meaningful conversations, with people they haven’t met yet, like never before. Instead of walking up to a complete stranger and hoping there is some way you can connect and hoping there may be mutual benefit in knowing one another, in LinkedIn you can make sure you are approaching the right people, and know how you can add value to them, up front.

Should I accept a connection request?
I’ve had business owners ask me whether they should accept invitations from people they have ‘never met’. I like to think about the answer to the question this way: “If you were at a business networking event and someone you hadn’t met before tried to strike up a conversation with you and then offered you a business card, would you ignore them and walk away or would you engage in a conversation, accept their card, and spend a little bit of time to find out who they are and what they do?”

Of course, if you approach people via LinkedIn in a way that isn’t attempting to have a real conversation, then you will likely not get very far … just like at a physical networking event.

Imagine LinkedIn as your own, ongoing private networking event

Regardless of dates or times, or busy calendars and pre-commitments, 99% of people are always available to make it to your LinkedIn event! Depending on your personality type, you can choose the size of your event: to have 125, 25, 5 or 2 people in the room at once. The biggest difference is that you get to choose who is in the room and which companies are represented. They all receive a personal invitation from you. But it doesn’t take months to organize. It only takes minutes on each. You choose the time and date that’s convenient for you to engage, and the people you contact can respond when they are free as well.

Even better, you get to choose the topic of conversation and you get to research the people you’re speaking with and take your time to develop your ‘pitch’ or ‘spiel’ before they even say ‘Hello’ or swap business cards.

All the pressure is removed. You’re totally in control.

So where to start?
We recommend you start by having a company page and that you and everyone in your business is associated with, which has a professionally written LinkedIn profile. Your profile needs to contain far more than a basic outline of your CV. You should put more effort into crafting your headline, summary piece and seeking recommendations than you would ordinarily put into your resume.

Write for Your Ideal Client Persona
Like every good website, your LinkedIn profile should not be written from your standpoint. It should be written from the perspective of your ideal client or customer. But that raises an interesting question – who precisely is your ideal client or customer? In fact, if you sell a variety of products / services, there are possibly different ideal clients for each one. In such a case, pick the most important persona and focus on that for your profile (posts can be written for the other personas – more about that in a moment).

For starters, you need to have a clear picture in mind of the attributes of this person. What industry and location are they are in? What companies do they work for? What interests and level of experience do they have? We call this a client or customer ‘persona’. It’s a word picture (and often stock photo) that describes their personality type, their external influences and needs and also their motivators and emotional state.

Personas help you to be more targeted in everything you write or produce – not just your LinkedIn profile or articles and videos you share but also on your website, your email newsletters, or even your proposals and marketing materials. The digital marketing team at Contactpoint can certainly help your company define your target personas and compelling content to address their needs.

Next you need to identify what specifically you and your company can do for the persona, that sets you apart from your competitors. This type of language will also hopefully position you as unique and a thought leader against the many other individuals and companies in your field or sector.

Prepare to Connect
Armed with a clear picture of your target market, you should identify how you can add value to the prospect, before they have engaged your services; often that will be by providing useful information. You likely will already have information assets available to share with people you contact via LinkedIn, if not, we can assist you to brainstorm ideas and prepare such content.

We recommend that you think from your ideal client’s viewpoint. How they would like to be approached? What they might need in order to understand your organisation? What would help them in their day to day role? How you could collaborate together for mutual benefit?

Think about how a conversation may transpire; offline and online won’t be that different.

Now that you are prepared, LinkedIn provides tools to make it easy to find relevant people that fit within the persona you have described.

  1. Connect with each person, including a tailored note to ensure that the conversation gets off on the right foot.
  2. Continue the conversation using the information and value you had previously prepared.
  3. Be on the ready to arrange a meeting by phone or in person to discuss how you can work together.

LinkedIn Outreach: A New Business Case Study
At Contactpoint, we’ve recently been helping a client to develop his network and grow his digital transformation business. He has deep expertise and decades of experience in digital transformation, particularly in the big data and analytics space. We started by helping him to improve his professional profile on LinkedIn, including a professional headshot, and a headline that positions him as a thought leader.

Next, we worked with our client to identify his ideal individual lead with his ideal client account and the problems they may be looking to solve. His ideal leads were senior IT executives, usually the CIO or CTO, within mid-cap companies (annual revenues of $100M to $1B) across three different sectors in Australia looking to move their data and application servers to the cloud on their road to big data analytics and the use of AI. Then we began to target and build lists to outreach to, whereby we used many of the sophisticated targeting tools available on LinkedIn Premium, to identify and then reach out to appropriate individuals.

Finally, we assisted in the creation of thought leadership papers that could be shared via LinkedIn messages or email to start to generate some high-level conversations. Like many business owners and professionals, our client started the journey feeling somewhat uncomfortable reaching out to people they had never spoken to in real life. After all, what would you talk about? How would you get them to engage?

We took the time to tease out ideas and carefully craft several statements to use in personalised outreach. Our approach is always ‘softly softly’, one-on-one, personalised and professional. We always seek to add value up-front. For this client we’ve been using the ‘research approach’, whereby each conversation contributes to a higher purpose or understanding (the last thing you want to appear is too ‘salesy’).

Regardless of where you’re starting from, Contactpoint can help you build or refine your profile. We also have the skills, experience and expertise in-house to write (or edit) articles that position you as a thought leader in your sector or field. We can assist you to reach out and connect with dozens, if not hundreds, of decision makers working for your ideal clients or customers.

Most people don’t like doing business with strangers. LinkedIn means those on your ideal client or customer list don’t have to be strangers any longer. You can start a private conversation, share people you know or things you have in common, then add value to them or help in their role. Hopefully this means you’re not strangers when you speak over the phone or meet up for coffee.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Subscribe to our monthly

Contactpoint Email News

Our enews is sent out approximately monthly, and contains information on latest digital technologies, and how these can be used to help your organisation grow.

To subscribe, simply fill in your details below: