Archive for the ‘Online Technologies’ Category

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.

Connect
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

Our move to the cloud for operational tools

June 2nd, 2019 by Heather Maloney

We have at last completed our move to cloud technologies to support our operations. It’s a no-brainer that if you were setting up a new business today you would start out with cloud based tools for your core functions: financials, employee management, sales and marketing, and operations. However, when your business has been running for more than a few years (13 years in our case), moving to the cloud can be a very time consuming exercise and cause lots of disruption. So in the first place you have to actually decide to move to the cloud, and then you need to choose which set of tools from the myriad available. Finally, a careful plan of each technology change will be vital to ensuring the least amount of negative impact.

It is important to remember that “cloud” is not the same as “located on the internet”. For more about this, check out our previous blog post: Cloud does not equal the Internet.

Whilst Contactpoint doesn’t provide migration services for moving to the cloud (there are service providers dedicated to this task across the various functions listed above), we like to do these things for ourselves, and we are often asked for recommendations on which tools to choose. So this blog post will describe our technology choices, the reasons for those, and the benefits we expect to achieve now that we have moved.

Financials
In the early days of Contactpoint, there was no such thing as a cloud based financial package. Initially we were using MYOB, but after finding that expensive to add anything useful to, we moved to Xero. At the time, Xero was the most obvious choice – it had been created from the ground up for the cloud. This definitely makes a difference; it means you never have to put up with a piece of functionality or a way to do things that has to cater for both offline users and online.

We’ve been on Xero for over 8 years, and I am very happy with it. There are some things we can’t do inside Xero, and we needed to change a couple of processes, but on the whole is suits us very well. Mostly they have brought functions that we needed to use an external plugin to achieve – like payroll – into the Xero platform over this period of time. The one exception that affects us is the recent removal of employee expenses management, which is a tad annoying and will hopefully be reversed.

Businesses which have a heavy reliance on purchasing (inbound goods) will usually have a separate commercial / purchasing function. Contactpoint doesn’t, so I can’t comment on whether the purchasing function of Xero is extensive enough.

We benefit from having financials in the cloud because:

  1. Our accountant can access it online, and provide advice without us needing to send a data file around (which is of course immediately out of date).
  2. Updates are provided on a regular basis to ensure our compliance is easy. For example the enforcement of single touch payroll by the ATO, which took all of about 1/2 an hour to introduce into our processes, because Xero had already done the hard work for us.
  3. Integration with 3rd party systems, such as banks for automatic loading of bank statements, is easy due to the APIs that are available.

Employee Management
As mentioned above, we use the Xero payroll for the financial and compliance. Over the years, we have experimented with online tools for managing the growth of our employees, but we now tend to do this using our back office tools instead.

We benefit from payroll in the cloud because:

  • Employees have ready access to the details of their payslips, leave calendar, superannuation contributions, via a web browser.
  • Security around these systems is provided, as core to the platform.
  • Compliance functions, such as creating and sending our end of year payment summaries, and pay slips, take next to no time.

Sales and Marketing
Many of the technologies used by the sales and marketing functions of businesses are facilitated by the back-office operational systems. Cloud sales and marketing tools, which manage prospects, lead nurturing, and quoting, include tools such as Salesforce, Hubspot and Pipedrive.

Because of the use of our in-house built client management solution (see below) we currently use that to support our sales and marketing functions.

Of course, we also use many other tools for sales and marketing, including Enudge for email marketing, SEMrush for digital marketing analytics, and our marketing website.

Operations
For operations, from a technology point of view, it’s useful to separate that into back-office (documents, spreadsheets, email, calendar, communications – chat and phone for example) and core operations (whatever that is for your business whether manufacturing, distribution, or service delivery).

Because our back-office functions are closely tied into our core operations (managing digital projects for our clients), and our core operations have for the past 13 years been facilitated by an in-house built, online solution, this made our transition to the cloud more complex. I spent over a month analysing more than 50 available tools to replace our project management system, and needed to also weigh up the impact of each solution on our back-office solution. The outcome was a decision to keep our current project management solution because it contains far broader functionality than the tools appropriate to our business i.e. we could purchase a very expensive tool and get 95% of the features we currently have and perhaps a few additional useful features, but the costs are not justified. Importing our existing data from 13 years was also problematic, with most solutions saying whilst you *can* do this, it is not recommended.

Back-office
For back-office functions, we selected Microsoft Office 365. This was the final step in our move to the cloud, and which we have moved to over a period of 6 months. The choice of back-office solution was really a toss up between Office 365 and GSuite (Google’s alternative). In the end, Office 365 provided the most extensive set of features for all our needs, even though some areas aren’t quite as good as GSuite. The costs were very similar between the two solutions.

Our back-office functions were previously delivered by:
– iiNet for Hosted Exchange Email.
– local installs of Microsoft Office for Excel, Word, Powerpoint and Outlook.
– DropBox for cloud-based file storage. We moved away from having a physical internal file server about 2 years ago to give us greater storage capacity, flexibility and reduce risk.
– Slack for internal chat communications (a more recent addition which helped to reduce email volumes and increase collaboration).
– 3CX for VoIP function (cloud based telephone system) which also included a mobile app so that internal calls could be picked up remotely on mobile.

Office 365 replaces all of the above via the following components:
– Outlook Email
– Office 365 versions of Excel, Word, Powerpoint and Outlook – we also install these locally, and of course they are updated free of any additional charge.
– Microsoft Sharepoint provides cloud-based file storage. We were paying for ~1.2Tb of data storage through DropBox. After moving all our files (and a wee bit of cleanup on the way), our file storage is now around 250Mb. A significant part of that space reduction was due to the way that DropBox counts storage usage i.e. we never had anywhere near 1.2Tb of our own files.
– Microsoft Teams for chat.
– Microsoft Skype for Business for VoIP function (cloud based telephone system). Whilst this is more expensive than the 3CX system, the quality of the voice is better than the fully cloud 3CX system we had moved to when we moved office and went 100% wireless. Previously we had an internal PC for our VoIP system.

We benefit from back-office in the cloud because:

  • No cost to purchase upgrades to office software.
  • Cost reduction – DropBox alone was costing us >$300 per month, and was not providing the collaborative tools that are afforded by Office 365. iiNet was costing ~$100 per month to support all the email accounts required by our team. Add to that the cost of Slack and 3CX (annual maintenance + monthly costs), and the outcome was a ~20% net reduction of monthly costs.
  • Security around these systems is provided as core to the platform and managed through one tool. Reducing the number of environments makes it easier to control security.
  • Quicker to scale up as we grow employee numbers.
  • Better collaboration functionality. Whilst DropBox facilitates collaboration through DropBox Paper, this is separate to the file storage area, so it wasn’t really practical to use. Now multiple team members can work real time on editing documents, presentations and spreadsheets – way better than email these items around to the team and then one person collating the outcome. Using Skype for Business provides access to video calls with our clients without needing to invest in a separate tool.
  • Improved voice quality with our phone system.
  • Telephone System Management. Having the phone system integrated with our back-office system (Skype users are also Microsoft Teams users) makes management of communications that much easier.

Core Operations

As mentioned above, our core operational system remains our in-house built online client area. This facilitates a broad range of tasks across our organisation, including standard processes, project management, ad-hoc client requests (tickets), work prioritisation, prospect management and much more. Office 365 provides some of these tools through Microsoft Teams, so it could be tempting to move some functions into that environment, however having as many of the components of our current operational system in the one location is more important. Microsoft Teams is also a little immature with regard to its project team functionality, although it appears they are committed to enhancing it significantly in the short – medium term.

Our core operational system is regularly enhanced to meet our ongoing needs and to better support the services we provide our clients. Moving to Office 365 meant that we had to remove pre-existing integrations with Slack and DropBox, so we will be investigating re-introducing these functions through integrations with Office 365.

We also use numerous other cloud systems in the course of our operations including Figma – cloud based design tool, SEMrush and Google Analytics – cloud based digital marketing analytics tools, BitBucket – cloud based version control for software, TimeDoctor – cloud based time tracking solution, KeeperSecurity – another Microsoft solution for managing client credentials, and more. It is unlikely that all of the operational tools our business requires will ever be provided within the one system, so having a solution like ours which can be easily integrated with other online tools via APIs is very important.

Now that we have completed the move of our back-office systems to the cloud, we will be exploring additional integrations between the various cloud solutions mentioned above and Office 365. We expect these opportunities will also increase over time.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Accessibility is key to removing barriers for website visitors with disability

March 12th, 2019 by Erina Hoque

Exploring a website is effortless for many of us (unless you are looking at a very old, or poorly constructed website), but that is not the reality for those with a disability. My recent Accessibility Assessment of a client’s website brought me face to face with this stark reality.

It is important to be aware of the challenges faced by those with a disability, in order to ensure your website is inclusive and accessible to all. Knowledge and understanding of the available assistive technologies also provides helpful insights.

The challenges for people with a disability can be broadly categorized into:

  1. Vision impairments including blindness, low vision, colour blindness. A Screen Reader is a technology that is widely used by the vision impaired. It reads aloud the contents on a computer screen. NVDA is a free and open-source screen reader software. The commercially available JAWS for Windows is another example of a screen reader.
  2. Hearing impairments such as deafness or low hearing. Tools which auto-generate transcripts and captions are useful for those experiencing deafness and low hearing. IBM’s Watson Speech to Text technology is one such tool which converts audio and voice into written text for quick understanding of content.
  3. Mobility impairments e.g. weakness or difficulty in controlling limbs. Speech recognition softwares help users create text and navigate online by speaking into a microphone. One example of speech recognition tools is Dragon Speech Recognition Software which allows users to use voice commands to type and navigate the internet.
  4. Cognitive impairments e.g. learning difficulties, difficulties in comprehension.

Some of the areas of accessibility can be achieved relatively easily for your website via your content management system (CMS). Other issues need a developer to implement the code of your website differently. Still other accessibility issues require consideration during the visual design process.

Below are examples of some easy ways that you can make your website more accessible via your CMS:

  • Non-text content such as images should be accompanied by text alternatives/descriptions to make them accessible to those with vision impairment. These text alternatives are captured and communicated to the user by a screen reader.
  • Including a link to a transcript of any audio content, so that those with hearing impairments are still able to access the content.

Other areas of accessibility can be more difficult to combat via a CMS, for example:

  • Mandatory form fields should be clearly labelled as such, and when users fail to provide input for any mandatory item, information should be provided as text to enable the visitor to identify which fields were omitted. Such error message text should be placed so that screen readers can quickly access that, and read it to the visitor. All visitors will benefit from this functionality, but especially those with cognitive impairments.
  • Ensuring that the content of pop-ups be accessed via screen readers and via the keyboard.
  • Ensuring that identical links are not repeated successively; this causes an issue for a person using your website solely using their keyboard. This can occur unintentionally due to the way a website is designed and then built for mobile responsiveness and with multiple menus. For users of assistive technologies, it can be confusing to encounter successive identical links.
  • Ensuring that there is sufficient contrast between all elements on screen, to help those who are visually impaired to see all information. One example of this which we see on a regular basis due to the cleanness of the design, is placeholder text inside form fields in a light grey (the only guide to a visitor regarding what should be entered into each form field), whilst the information they enter is shown in a darker colour. The lighter text looks nice but is hard for people with vision impairment to see.
  • Video content should be accompanied by captions to assist those with hearing impairment. This is a job for the creator of your video assets.

The above is just a subset of the ways in which a website can be made more accessible for visitors with disabilities – there are many more!

The World Wide Web Consortiums (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has developed standards and extensive support materials to help understand and implement accessibility. More information is available via:

  • W3C Web Accessibility Initiative website: https://www.w3.org/WAI/
  • W3C Accessibility Guidelines: https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/

The Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 requires equal access for people with disabilities. The Australian Government mandated that all government websites must be constructed to comply with WCAG 2.0 by 2014.

Contactpoint would be pleased to assist you with an assessment of your website accessibility issues, or to implement changes to the code underlying your website to ensure that it is accessible.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Swiss Army Knife of Digital Marketing – Google Display Ads

January 5th, 2019 by Cameron Collins

You may have noticed that Google has recently changed the name of their advertising platform from Google AdWords to Google Ads. Name changes can be risky, but in this case we think it makes perfect sense.

Google first offered text ads at the top of their search result pages in October 2000. These ads are still popular today. For our clients, they offer those in competitive industries to opportunity to achieve exposure and traffic in relevant but hotly contested searches.

While visibility in relevant search results is highly valuable, gained by search engine optimisation, this often won’t guarantee a sufficient level of online leads or sales generated from your website. For example what if:

  • There are very few relevant Google searches for your product or service.
  • You wish to encourage your website visitors to return to your site (especially if you have a lengthy sales process).
  • You have a new and unique offering and wish to gain brand awareness.
  • Your product is visually stunning – you know your target audience will be interested if only they could see it.

Google gradually expanded their ad network offerings, with search ads being joined by display, shopping, video and universal app ads.

What are Google Display Ads?

Display ads appear throughout approximately 2 million websites and apps which are part of the Google Display Network. News websites with ads in the right side column are an example of this. Other options include ads underneath YouTube videos and at the bottom of the screen in apps.

Display ads have taken off in recent years, and for good reason. These can be used to reach your target audience at all stages of the sales funnel.

They’re highly cost effective, with the average cost-per-click at $0.63 (compared to $2.69 for search ads).

What really makes these ads stand out from other advertising channels is the unique audience targeting options which are available. You have the ability to request that Google displays these ads to:

  • Previous visitors of a particular page or pages of your website (these are the ads that “follow you” across the internet).
  • People who have recently conducted a Google search for search terms which are relevant to your product/service.
  • People who have recently visited websites similar to yours (i.e. your competitors).

This makes Display ads highly versatile. They can be used to encourage visitors back to your website, particularly when they have demonstrated a level of interest, even added a product to cart but not completed the transaction. Products which are more complex or have a higher price tag are often not purchased spontaneously and involve a longer decision making process. These ads ensure your brand isn’t forgotten about during the decision making process.

Display ads also attract visitors who are interested in your product/services but have been visiting your competitors and not your website. Again for purchases which are not made spontaneously (e.g. a new car), or product/services which are not purchased as a once off (e.g. a chiropractor appointment), this is a great way to reach your audience, alongside organic and paid search results.

If you have a new brand or product that is visually stunning, display ads provide a great way to increase brand awareness at a low price, and draw visitors to your website, when they would otherwise be searching for more established brands (e.g. a stylish new brand of watch).

Misconceptions about Display Ads

A common misconception regarding display ads is that ad blockers will eventually render this format to be useless. As of 2018, the display network has been able to reach approximately 90% of global internet users. While Google makes their money from advertising, they understand that harassing internet users with obnoxious ads doesn’t benefit anyone. Google have begun to enforce standards from the Coalition for Better Ads. These standards aim to eradicate ad formats which annoy internet users the most – such as pop up ads which block the main page content, auto-playing ads with sound, countdown ads which delay the loading of main content.

Display Ad Case Study: Select Kitchens

We were recently approached to review the effectiveness of a Google display ad campaign for Select Kitchens. Select Kitchens offer prestige, high end kitchen renovations in inner-east Melbourne localities such as Toorak and Camberwell. Their display ad campaign was failing to attract leads for their sales team. At closer inspection we found that the ads were not being clicked on. After being displayed 61,258 times (impressions) their ads had only been clicked on once.

And as you can see in the cost column, that one click costed $17.33! These ads operate on a pay-per-click format, where you pay Google each time someone clicks on your ads. Without regular PPC management, you may find that Google makes more money from these ads than you do.

After reviewing the display ads in use, we found that they failed to describe the high-end products which their target audience seek. The ads appeared dated, cheap and more representative of a low-cost renovator.

In December we paused the existing ads and implemented a new style of ad. To gauge the effectiveness of the new ad design without influence of other factors, we didn’t change the campaign targeting and displayed the ad to the same audience. The only other change we made was to reduce the allowed maximum cost-per-click from a staggering $40 to a more reasonable $3.00.

The new ad comprises a slow-scrolling animation of a modern kitchen, displaying simple key messages and ending in a call-to-action. It’s simple, elegant and stands out to those who have been searching for high-end modern and contemporary kitchen renovation companies.

The ad looks like a video, but really it’s an image which is being slowly displayed from left to right. Its design tactics like this which make ads stand out without resorting to obnoxious and tasteless behaviour.

As you can see, the new ad has resonated with the target audience. It received 188 clicks at an average cost of $2.02 per click. Select Kitchens received their first ever conversion from display ads, and with some adjusting to the audience targeting, we look forward to seeing many more quality leads.

If you would like to find out how Google Display ads can help your business, send us a message and we would love to have a friendly chat with you. Contactpoint has 14 years’ experience in providing lead generation and e-commerce solutions for Melbourne businesses through a range of digital marketing channels.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is Business as Usual

November 27th, 2018 by Heather Maloney

the fourth industrial revolution

I work in the industry that has been pronouncing or driving dramatic societal changes for the past 3 decades:

  1. The internet … I remember that catch phrase in the 90s of “if you aren’t on the internet within 12 months your business will be dead”.
  2. The year 2000 bug … stock your pantries, the world is about to end when equipment stops because of the general lack of support for a 4 digit year.
  3. Closely followed by the dot.com crash of the early 2000s caused by speculative, and outlandishly overvalued investments in technology companies.
  4. The internet of things was discussed around 2010 which predicted that within a short period of time all manner of things will be interconnected, utilising the internet, to provide a dramatically different way of living. That more “things” would be connected to the internet than people.

All of the above became kind of true (and the internet of things is still playing out / expanding), but not reaching the zenith proposed by the vendors of the theories; yes, vendors – many of the voices behind these ideas stand to gain by promoting the concepts.

So, it is no surprise that as we approach the end of this decade, my colleagues and others have started talking about the next big dramatic change – the 4th Industrial Revolution (‘4IR’). 4IR is fuelled by technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud technologies, and 5G. Many of those discussing 4IR predict the destruction of humanity as robots take over, leading to mass unemployment.

“The fourth industrial revolution is growing out of the third [the digital revolution] but is considered a new era rather than a continuation because of the explosiveness of its development and the disruptiveness of its technologies. According to Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum and author of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the new age is differentiated by the speed of technological breakthroughs, the pervasiveness of scope and the tremendous impact of new systems.”(1) Those talking about 4IR want us to embrace the new technologies and allow humanity to explore them to their fullest extent in order to achieve great improvements in the lives of everyone. Greater sharing of knowledge and resources than ever seen before is key, which in turn requires a new economic model to ensure that every person in the world has their needs met in a fair and equitable way. End environmental degradation, poverty, homelessness, hunger, and provide equitable access to education, nutritious food and significantly advanced medical care.

I listen to talk about 4IR with what I view is a healthy dose of skepticism. I agree that technology will continue to promote and support change at an exponential rate. But when it is all said and done, we are still humans, living our human lives. We naturally more easily understand, and therefore trust, people who are similar to ourselves – whether that’s the language we speak, where we went to school, where we have grown up, the details of our upbringing, our worldview. It is my expectation that moving to a new economic sharing model is the zenith that will never be anywhere near achieved, despite how attractive it may sound. We will not succumb to, or comply with, a small number of organisations controlling all the data and resources, and their distribution. Different groups of people will continue to evolve technologies to solve common problems, in different ways. We are already seeing push back – Google have recently been successfully fined a record 5 billion dollars in Europe for anti-trust. Also in Europe the GDPR legislation is pushing back against the will of corporations such as Google and Facebook to use data at their own discretion, just because they provided a free service when they were gathering that data.

It is my view that we will continue to explore the benefits of new technologies; some will make vast sums of money from new inventions and innovations, some will lose their jobs and need to retrain to do something else, but the vast majority of humans will keep living their lives with a few extra conveniences that modify what used to be the norm, and hopefully improved medical outcomes and a cleaner environment. On the whole we will become more knowledgeable; whether we become wiser remains to be seen.

I also believe that every type of industry will be affected by rapid technological developments. That includes technology companies! We are constantly under pressure to offshore, change technologies to the latest thing, provide services and solutions for very low cost or free. I am careful to not just jump onto the latest bandwagon for ourselves or our clients, but to make sober decisions which appropriately weigh up risks and benefits, and also reflect my personal values.

Change affecting business is nothing new. That’s part of running a business – recognising, adapting to, or taking advantage of the change going on around you is a fundamental skill of a business owner, those responsible for business strategies, and the corporate board.

(1) https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/fourth-industrial-revolution

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Cloud does not equal the Internet

November 13th, 2018 by Heather Maloney

Cloud does not equal the internet
People frequently use the term “cloud” or “in the cloud” to simply mean located on the internet or their private intranet. I’ve done it myself, for the sake of expedience. However, they aren’t the same thing, and it’s important to understand why so that you can wisely choose the internet services you are accessing for your business or in your personal life. For example, cloud hosting is not the same as shared web hosting, for the hosting of your organisation’s website.

The internet is the connection of computers around the globe using TCP/IP protocol to manage the connections, and participating in the sharing of information using the HTTP protocol (the worldwide web).

The term “Cloud” or “Cloud Computing” refers to technology services, usually delivered over the internet, which are characterised by:

  • Distribution of a system (program and its data) across many servers and locations, to provide for greater performance, but still providing up to date and correct data.
  • Automatic provisioning (addition of greater capacity via more CPUs, memory and disk space) to meet minute-by-minute requirements.

Applications embodying cloud computing are often further labelled as SaaS (software as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), IaaS (infrastructure as a service), and other ‘…aaS’ names. These labels draw attention to which part of the abstraction of the technology is controlled by the buyer compared to the service provider. However, not all applications given these labels actually provide the two main characteristics that I am asserting differentiates cloud computing ? distribution across many servers, and automatic provisioning. Instead, software delivered as a service via logging into a web application may in fact be stored on one server, in one location, with one database, and require the service provider to manually procure and set up new servers when usage demands the additional resources.

The characteristics of cloud technology provide advantages and disadvantages which I will discuss in a moment, but let’s first consider the technological challenge cloud technology is trying to solve.

As you can imagine, there’s an awful lot of information contained within Facebook. Millions of users each adding several posts, and making hundreds of comments, on a daily basis, adds up very, very quickly. Not only is there a lot of data being stored and accessed by users of Facebook, people are posting and reading comments from all around the globe; some on their phones while riding on a train, others are sitting at their desktop computer in the back of beyond, and everything in between. No one will use Facebook if it takes more than a few seconds for the content to appear on their screen, and Facebook is used by people all around the globe. Facebook is just one example of an application which handles vast amounts of data and serves vast numbers of people.

To make Facebook possible, as well as other applications like it, the underlying technology has to be distributed across multiple servers and locations – a distributed system. There are numerous technical models used to achieve a distributed system. Below are brief descriptions of just a few of the techniques to give you a feel for the complexities involved.

Techniques

Sharding. A term allowing a single database to be stored across multiple servers by allocating logical portions of the data onto different servers. A very rudimentary example would be determining which server to store the data based on a range of identifiers such as in the case of user accounts the decision could be made to store all data with a user ID between 1 and 100,000 on server 1, between 100,001 and 200,000 on server 2, and so on. The application retrieving the data would send the query to the application server, and then the database server would work out which server to get the data from based on the user ID, get that data and return it back to the user. There are many options for the way that a database may be divided; the right way for a particular application will need to consider the way current data is spread across it’s attributes as well as how future data may grow.

NOSQL. The example given above for sharding described separation of data contained within a relational database; the most common database architecture up until very recently, which as the name suggests relates tables of information to one another by linking IDs. A person’s record in a database may contain an ID to another table storing the details of the school they attend (name, address, phone number etc) – hence being called a relational database. NOSQL or Document Databases have become more popular recently as they can be spread more easily across multiple servers because all the data associated with the person in the sharding example would be stored in one document rather than spread amongst related tables. Document databases often come with functionality built into them to manage distributing documents in the collection across multiple servers.

Caching. Storing data located near to users, providing faster access particularly for commonly used information is referred to as caching. Facebook makes heavy use of memcache to store recently accessed Facebook information in memory, which is much faster to read than from the Facebook MySQL database which is housed on hundreds of thousands of servers. Content Delivery Networks (‘CDN’) are an example of caching of web content to ensure it is closer to your website visitor.

Other concepts such as virtualization, utility computing, and grid computing are also key in the implementation of cloud computing particularly with regard to auto-provisioning of additional computing resources.

Advantages

We have touched on some of the advantages of cloud computing in relation to the problems it is trying to solve. The advantages can be summarised as:

  • Security. A cloud solution must be focused on security in order to have success over the long term, and they usually have significant resources at the ready to keep security up to date, and respond quickly when a new threat arises. Look for:
    • End-to-end encryption which ensures the encryption of all data in-transit across the Internet and stored at-rest in the cloud, with the encryption keys held by you and used to encrypt the data before it leaves your computer.
    • Sophisticated access controls allowing you to set role-based authentication to control what exact data each user can and cannot view, edit or share.
  • Performance. Because there is likely a server nearby to the user, rather than the user’s request needing to travel half way around the world and back, you can expect the speed of cloud systems to be significantly better. Performance is a key factor for organisations with a workforce distributed around the globe.
  • Scale. The ability to distribute an application and/or its data across multiple servers and locations removes or significantly reduces the constraints on how large an application can grow or how many customers it can efficiently serve.
  • Cost. Another key benefit of cloud is that usually someone else is responsible for concerns such as installation of software and purchase of licenses, management of software patches, backups, hardware upgrades and repairs, anti-virus and protecting against malicious attacks, all handled by the provider of cloud computing rather than the organisation requiring the technology. When comparing the cost of cloud and non-cloud you must take into consideration the total cost of ownership of the alternatives. Auto-scaling (also referred to as elastic computing) is a factor in both cost and performance, as it allows systems to scale up (additional costs) when demand increases, and scale back (reduce costs) when demand is low, allowing the owner of the system to only pay for resources when they are required.

Disadvantages

It is important to also be aware of the potentially significant disadvantages of cloud computing:

  • Data ownership / sovereignty. Where is your data really? Who has access to it? Have you read the terms and conditions with respect to the ownership of the data? Can you remove your data permanently, or will it still be accessible by the cloud provider even after your account is closed? Often the owner of the data you place into a cloud computing solution is actually the cloud provider, not you. To help mitigate this issue, some cloud providers are implementing servers in additional countries including Australia, to help organisations to use cloud services without moving their data overseas, but you need to check where your data is stored; often such storage choice will increase the cost of the solution. NB: even if your data starts out being stored in Australia, if the data is owned by a US company, they may be forced to move the data back to the US for scrutiny by American law enforcement agencies – this has already happened in the case of Google in February 2017.
  • Privacy. Facebook has been criticised at the highest levels of American government, and by governments around the world, for the way in which the data it gathers (albeit via their free service) has been used and sold on to 3rd parties. The situation with Facebook and other cloud solutions has been a factor in leading to the new European privacy legislation (GDPR). When you utilise cloud platforms, are you comfortable with manner in which they use the data that you are storing within it (read their terms and conditions)? Can you trust the organisation to abide by their promises?
  • Control. Can you create the functionality you need to support your particular processes, or are you now constrained by the services provided by the cloud platform? Using a cloud service to remove the need to create that service constrains you to the functionality the service offers. The more you depend on a 3rd party service, the less likely you are to be able to innovate in that area of your business on application, which may well slow your organisation down and remove your opportunity to create competitive advantage.
  • Cost. Whilst being able to pay per second for your application using cloud technologies may sound like it is going to reduce your cost, if your application isn’t built to take advantage of cloud technologies, the opposite may occur and your costs can be significantly more than using simpler internet technologies. Cost can also be significantly greater if you use the wrong technology on the wrong cloud provider. For example, whilst the major suppliers of cloud technology usually allow you to run any type of application on their cloud servers, the cost of running those different types may be very different. Running a MS SQL database on Google Cloud is extremely expensive, for example, compared to running it in the Microsoft Azure platform. You need to choose your technology wisely.
  • Skills. Not everyone developing applications is experienced in working on large scale applications, and the implementation of applications using cloud technologies is relatively new, so finding personnel with the required skills can be very challenging.

Whilst I have primarily been discussing cloud computing from the point of view of building an application such as Facebook, cloud computing underpins solutions such as Office365, DropBox and GSuite. These applications allow users all over the world, sometimes the one person in different parts of the world in one day, to access their data – emails and files for example – and programs such as GSuite and Word Online, with great performance, and without the data being [noticeably] out of date, most of the time. Such applications are also increasingly providing users with the capability to collaborate on files e.g. contributing to an online document simultaneously, again while located in different cities and countries.

For such commodity type applications, where easy access from anywhere, across multiple devices, makes business much easier, the decision to sign up for cloud computing may feel like a no-brainer. But you still need to consider the disadvantages discussed above.

In summary, not all internet applications are using cloud computing technologies. Cloud computing is a complex area, utilising multiple strategies aimed at providing up to date information, to mass users all around the world, with great speed. It is important that you way up the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing for both your commodity technology needs (email, file sharing, file storage, and other operational systems) as well as when developing your own applications.

If you would like to read more:
https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2017/1/three-things-companies-must-know-about-data-sovereignty-when-moving-cloud
Use of Memcache by Facebook: https://www.usenix.org/system/files/conference/nsdi13/nsdi13-final170_update.pdf

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Evolution of the Tech Behind Digital Marketing

October 2nd, 2018 by Dave O'Dwyer

Google recently celebrated its 20th birthday. Over it’s short lifetime it has become an indispensable tool that millions of people rely on everyday. Can you imagine life without Google?

Digital marketing has also developed in capability over the past 20 years. Once it was enough to simply have website, and perhaps a well-placed banner ad. However technology and consumer expectation has evolved, and there are a multitude of new ways to reach consumers.

Targeting.
You might think of Google as a search engine, but at its core, Google is the world’s most effective advertising platform.

Have you ever wondered how Google (or Facebook etc) manage to show you ads that are startlingly relevant to your needs? They use thousands of data points on every single one of us to help target the best audience for advertisements. Just like your Facebook stream is personalised to you, so are the ads you are shown on Google, based on your search and browsing history.

For advertisers it can be quite cost effective to advertise on these platforms, as your ad is only being shown to the audience you’ve selected, and that the platform calculates is most likely to respond to your ad. With Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) you only pay when a user responds to your ad, minimising wasted budget on uninterested people.

People use Google when they are hunting for a solution to a need. They are often ready to act, so ensuring your product or service is displayed is critical to marketing your business these days. Underneath the paid ads are the organic search results – the best ranked matches for a search. This is why Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is crucial for most businesses online. You need to be there when the consumer is ready to act, and SEO is the craft of optimising a website to rank as top answers to valuable consumer questions.

Personalisation.
Do you have a mailing list signup on your website? Perhaps you send an email every month or so, keeping your customers up to date with your business.

No longer is it enough to send out a general email newsletter to all your subscribers. Consumers expect advertising and messaging to be relevant to their needs and interests. Have you ever bought clothes online? You’ve no doubt received follow up email campaigns that showcase other items you may like to purchase, based on what you have browsed and purchased before.

Their digital marketing platform tracks not only what you purchase, but also what you’ve looked at and added to your cart, and uses that data to build a profile on you in order to send an individual email – just for you. This is dynamic personalisation and email marketing automation, and it’s a core part of modern digital marketing.

However it doesn’t end there. You may go back to the website, and the homepage banner is also relevant for you, and other users who are part of your segment.

A segment is a collection of people that fall under a certain category – gender, age, time since last purchase – there are endless ways we can use data to make offers and messaging more relevant. In fact, segmenting your data is the best way to help keep a positive return on investment for a digital marketing campaign. Your aim is to send the right offer, to the right person, at the right time, at the right price.

Retargeting.
Perhaps you’ve looked at a product in a website but didn’t purchase. Sometimes, ads for that product seem to follow you around the internet – on other websites and social media, or you might receive an email reminding you to complete your purchase. This is called retargeting.

Retargeting is a very effective way to help persuade consumers who have shown interest, but haven’t yet purchased, or taken action. Because the re-targeting is only advertising to visitors that have already shown some interest, it keeps the costs down and the conversion rate up, leading to excellent return on investment for these campaigns.

The always on generation.
That phone in your pocket is more than just a device for phone calls. It’s your 24 hour portal to the internet. As this has become the standard, consumers also expect businesses to cater for them at all times of the day.

So how do you handle this expectation? A recent trend has been the introduction of helper chat popups on websites that can answer consumer questions at any time of the day. These popups can provide customer service using pre-populated answers, or alert you if a potential customer has a query. They are cost effective and can help convert visitors to customers by enabling excellent, on demand customer service.

As technology advances, so does the way we do business online. Above are just a few of the recent trends in Digital Marketing. If it’s been a few years since you have had your site built, or tried a digital marketing campaign, call us today on 03 8525 2082 to arrange a free consultation in order to assess your business needs, and determine cost effective digital marketing strategies that can make your business stand out online.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Digital marketing … for those who started business more than 5 years ago

September 29th, 2018 by Heather Maloney

If you started your business more than 5 years ago, you could be forgiven to believing that online marketing was something to try out if you had a bit of spare marketing budget. Times have changed. Over the last few years, the reality of digital marketing for small business has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have for most businesses. Consumers are more connected than ever before, and their default behaviour when looking for anything ? products, services or information ? is to grab their mobile phone and search online. Even word of mouth has gone digital; recommendations happen across social media, and online reviews can have a significant impact on your business.

Bottom line: digital marketing is more important now for small business than ever before.

We have many clients for whom we have carried out digital marketing across a wide range of platforms and strategies, many of which achieved significant increases in new business enquiries or sales. Some of our clients now receive the majority of all their incoming work through digital marketing channels.

That’s not to say that word of mouth is unimportant; it’s simply that digital marketing provides you with immediate results and a wider reach at a lower cost.

However, it is very possible to implement digital marketing poorly, and therefore not achieve the results you are seeking. That’s often why we are engaged by our clients to design, write, execute and manage digital marketing for them.

Digital marketing can have a bit of a bad reputation. Unfortunately, there are many less scrupulous service providers who use digital marketing tactics to grow their own business and then fail to deliver tangible results for their clients. Even worse, they use tactics to “game” online platforms like Google for short term gains but ultimately end up with the client being penalised.

At Contactpoint, we take an end-to-end approach to digital solutions for our clients, and digital marketing is just one part of it. It’s our holistic approach that helps us deliver real results for clients, as we take the time to discuss our client’s business needs and only then recommend an approach for digital marketing that can deliver results. We never recommend the latest digital marketing technology just because it’s flavour of the month, nor will we cheat the system to get the quick results.

Just one example of our success in delivering digital marketing results for our clients is Nortan; providers of air conditioning and heating service and installation. Via a range of activities including a great mobile responsive website, pay per click advertising and SEO, Nortan are kept very busy all year round with new incoming leads, and have grown their business significantly over the time we have been providing digital marketing services. In fact, from time-to-time Nortan ask us to pause their digital marketing campaigns, because they are too busy with new work! What a good problem to have!

Nortan heating and cooling services

We work very closely with our clients to ensure that the level of business digital marketing campaigns produce are manageable.

If you would like to revisit your use of digital marketing to grow your business, please feel free to call Heather Maloney for a chat.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The What and Why of Inbound Marketing

June 26th, 2018 by Heather Maloney

Inbound marketing (aka ‘permission marketing’) refers to the strategy of attracting leads for your business via company-created digital content. That content addresses the needs which your products or services fulfil or problems which they solve, resulting in the right people (those trying to solve that problem or fulfil the identified desire) approaching your organization, and working their way through your material in order to self-select or qualify themselves as a potential customer.

So, inbound marketing is a strategy. You need to assess whether it is a strategy that is suitable for your particular business and marketplace.

Inbound Marketing Strategy

Why Inbound Marketing?

Because everyone hates being sold to … it’s that simple!

When was the last time you were on the end of a cold call, and you thought “oh yes, why not spend the next 15 minutes listening to this offer about why I should switch electricity companies?” And even if you have engaged in such a phone call lately – perhaps to the person from a very worthy charity, rather than the electricity provider – did you end up buying / donating or just wishing them a nice day?

If you are in sales, and you only have to talk to people who are already in the market for your products / services, your job is so much easier.

Inbound marketing the focus is on providing help or value, rather than making a sale. The sale will come as a natural result of providing value and solutions.

Inbound marketing also addresses the new buyer behaviour that we have seen evolve over the last decade; customers carrying out personal research and practically making the decision with regard to what they want to buy, before they ever talk to a vendor. Also, with the proliferation of paid TV, many more free to air channels, internet radio, and free video content, ensuring that a more traditional advertisement is seen or heard is a lot more difficult. This article provides many statistics showing how effective inbound marketing can be compared to outbound marketing.

Please note, I am not saying that traditional marketing no longer works … I heard a presentation from a career telemarketer just last week, explaining the benefits of lead generation via cold sales calls. You need to ensure that your choice of marketing strategy is right for your market and your ideal customers.

Fleshing out your Inbound Marketing Strategy

If you decide that an inbound marketing strategy is right for your organisation, then you need to:

  1. Plan the content you are going to create in order to solve your prospects questions and engage them in their journey of discovery, building trust in your organisation, and desire for your products and services.
  2. Determine which tools or platforms you will use to make your content accessible to prospects.
  3. Create the content!
  4. Disseminate the content and make it easy for people to find, and/or pay for traffic.
  5. Measure and analyse the results, improving the content over time.

Clearly implementing an inbound marketing strategy requires effort and co-ordination of a variety of activities. Utilising a team of resources will help you implement more quickly. Tools such as a content calendar will help you to plan out the creation and distribution of your content in a logical manner.

Which Tools should I use?

Inbound marketing = making your marketing material extremely accessible so that your prospects can easily find the answers to their questions or solve their problems (i.e. find your products or services), when they are actively looking. Your content must add value, and guide prospects for whom your products and services are a good fit, towards the point of purchase. Some people will be in a hurry and will purchase immediately that they find a solution, so being able to buy from any piece of your digital content is important. Other prospects will take their time, evaluate multiple options, test you out, and then finally purchase days, weeks or months down the track. For such buyers, your content needs to educate and build trust.

The following tools are useful in implementing an inbound marketing strategy:

  • Search engine optimisation (‘SEO’) – this activity is very important for ensuring that your digital content ranks above other organisations competing in the same space. Over time you want to “own the topic”, that is, be on the first page of results for every search on relevant words or phrases. SEO obviously needs content in order for search engines to point somewhere. The following types of content will deliver high ranks in the search engines the mostly quickly:
    • Blogs – either a blog on your own website, or blogs published on other popular websites, pointing back to your website.
    • Videos – most commonly distributed via YouTube, giving you access to people searching through this video search engine.
    • Reviews – usually in 3rd party platforms such as Google Reviews. However, they can also take the form of testimonials in your own website, including video reviews.
    • Website content – including online courses, guides, survey results, reports and research, white papers, diagnostic tools.
    • Press releases – often distributed via dedicated PR sites.
  • Pay-per-click advertisements (‘PPC’) – whilst this might sound like traditional outbound marketing, because you can configure your ads to only appear in response to searches for specific keywords or phrases by people located in a particular region, PPC ads can be very useful for bringing visitors to your website who are trying to solve a particular problem. PPC is very useful for bringing in immediate readers of your content while you are waiting for your organic ranks (SEO) to improve. Google Adwords and Bing are the main two platforms for PPC ads, because they are the most used tools for searching for answers to problems. PPC ads must be supported by dedicated content on your website, also called ‘landing pages’. People who click on your ad will arrive on your landing page. To get the best return on your investment in that click (you are paying per click), it is important that the content delivers on the ad, and then takes the visitor along their journey of [hopefully] deciding to buy from you.
  • Social media – people talk about topics on social media, as well as talking about their lives. Find where topics related to your products and services are being discussed, and then get involved in the conversation. Posting your own content in your social media accounts will also help people to find your content when they search for it in the social media platforms ? most social media platforms use hashtags (#) for helping people find content on a particular topic.
  • Social media advertisements – this is PPC within social media platforms. The difference is that for some of the social media platforms, you can configure your ads to only show for people who match very specific demographics.
  • Email and SMS marketing – once people have identified themselves as actively seeking to solve a problem or fulfil a desire, hopefully for your product, they may subscribe to receive future email and SMS messages from you. To inspire visitor opt-in for email / SMS there must be compelling value contained in your digital content. Often your blog content and other website content will be pushed to subscribers in a logical manner.
  • Marketing automation – tools which automatically send a choreographed series of content to subscribe to learn more about your products and services. The more sophisticated of these automation tools will start and stop the delivery of your content, based on the manner in which your prospect is interacting with your content.

One of the great advantages of digital marketing tools is that they enable you to measure the interactions of people with your content, and identify where visitors are dropping off. This can help you to improve your content and marketing process over time, and therefore increase the rate of conversion of visitors to paying customers.

As part of our digital marketing services we would be delighted to help you determine whether an inbound marketing strategy is right for your organization, define and plan your strategy, create the required content, implement, and analyse the results.

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: