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Welcome to Igneous Marketing the resource for SME's around the country. We will provide workable advice and tips on how to improve the marketing of your business

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Sick App!

Its a worrying time for employers when someone invents an app designed to fool bosses into thinking a member of staff is genuinely ill. British business loses millions of days through "illness" every year and it hits small business the hardest  - the ones who need "all hands on deck!"

The new service, Skiver, allows users to come up with the ‘perfect cover story’ and even suggests activities to fill a ‘sickie day’.

The developer says it’s all just tongue-in-cheek, but these are serious times, and even playing with the concept of increased absenteeism in an era when productivity is paramount to our country’s development can be a dangerous thing; after all, absence in the workplace already costs the economy reportedly around £17 billion a year.

At the end of the day (or should I say, the start) it seems certain employees will always be looking for ways to stay at home from time to time, which is frustrating for many. As Charlie Mullins, managing director of Pimlico Plumbers says, ‘You would have thought that the severe after-effects of the recession and the current economic pressure we are all under would have helped people realise how lucky they are to have a job compared to the 2.5 million on the dole; yet some will still come up with some pretty mad reasons to avoid a day of hard work.’

It seems other technology companies are taking the problem more seriously – but to equally useless effect. The other day, someone sent me a press release enthusing about a piece of software which ‘helps employers work out whether staff are genuinely sick or just pulling the wool’. It works by ‘spotting patterns in people's absence - so people who only ring in sick on Mondays or Fridays, for example’. In other words, totally eradicating the five minute requirement for your HR staff to embark, Columbo-like, on the same investigation, and subsequently about as practical as a carpeted waterpark.

There’s obviously no cut and dried solution to absenteeism, but as an employer, simply not coming across as a pushover would be a favourable start. And if that ‘cover story’ looks too good to be true, maybe it is.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Building a Community

Building a community to build a brand

Community building is not a difficult task if you have the trust of your readers or customers. One of the ways to build a community is to start one on your own. There are various places online to do that.

Your own group or forum is a community where you have complete control. It is more difficult to promote and to grow unless you offer freebies, information, or other things in return.

A Facebook group or fan page is another type of community. It is easier to promote as it is open to a very large group of people (members of Facebook) and can be shared by other members. You don’t have complete control as you must follow the rules of Facebook.

LinkedIn groups are similar to Facebook except the audience is smaller.

Fans may start their own groups which is a huge compliment and honor. There may be groups begun that are started to knock you or your company. Sometimes these can create notoriety for you. Some companies, blogs, etc. like both positive and negative reactions.

Community building is an important step to grow your business or blog and even your own website

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Improving Your Email Opens

We get asked a lot of questions about email marketing and, while we always try and give clear answers, sometimes the only true response is “it depends”.
One of the questions that certainly falls into this category is: what is a good open rate? For example, when it comes to open rates, these are all determining factors:
·         What type of campaign was it?
·         Who were you emailing?
·         How is the design put together?
·         What is the objective?
·         How old was the data
·         Was this an aquistion or retention campaign?
When you think about open rates in these terms, it makes industry averages something of an irrelevance.
To be honest, the best benchmark is to look at the last campaign you sent. Any improvement should immediately show you’re going in the right direction.
But even then, it’s not always that simple…
Do open rates actually have any real bearing on the real success of your campaign?
Open rates are calculated by counting the number of recipients that download images for your campaign and/or that interacted with it in some way.
What this doesn’t tell you is anything about the result or action they took. Opening an email is all very well, but if their action is simply to then ‘delete’, the ‘open’ is useless.
So which metrics might provide a more accurate option?
Enter the humble ‘link click’! Not only does this confirm that the user has engaged with the email, they’ve also clearly found it relevant and interesting enough to investigate further.
Most clicks are direct calls to action; whether to enquire further about products or services, to contact your organisation directly or simply out of pure curiosity – all of these actions indicate a degree of conversion.
Not only this, but every time a recipient clicks on a link in your email, you learn something about what they are interested in. This is where it gets clever. If someone clicked on a certain product in your email, then maybe you could consider sending a future email related to it?
Take it a step further
Ultimately, any email marketer should be aiming to track user activity when they’ve actually clicked through to the website and then use this to determine an ROI. For example, which of your customers purchased after they clicked through or which downloaded a whitepaper?
What could be better than using a metric which lets you continue to track your recipients all the way through to the ultimate conversion? This will really tell you whether your emails are doing the business!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Small Business: Getting Paid on Time!

Of all the roles small business owners perform, the one that's most hated is that of bill collector. The reasons are many: the time it takes to follow up with late paying customers, the fear of alienating a big customer, and, maybe a deep-rooted feeling that it's just not "nice" to ask for money.

No matter how much you dislike playing bill collector, it's a job that has to be done. You can make the task less odious and minimize future collections problems by implementing some or all of these procedures.

1. Establish a payment policy and put it in writing

Collecting from customers is much easier when you have a policy in place. If you expect your customers to pay on time, you need to define what "on time" is. If you don't put your payment policy in your contracts and include the due date on invoices, you may expect to be paid within five days and the customer may figure they can wait a month or two to pay.

2. Run a credit check on customers, when appropriate

Depending on the size of your average order, it may not be practical to run a credit check on every customer who asks to be invoiced. But if the dollar amount of a particular order is substantial, do the credit check.

3. Find out in advance when big corporations will be paying you

Bigger companies sometimes have their own accounts payables procedures in place. They pay in the time frame their internal policies dictate, not yours. That time frame could be 45 or 60 days or more.

4. Find out exactly how each customer should be invoiced

Who should get the invoice? (The person who placed the order may not be the right person.) Should it be sent in e-mail or through the postal service? What is the correct address or e-mail address? What information should be on the invoice? Do you need a purchase order number, contract number or anything else to be paid? The bigger your customer, the more likely it is that some small bit of missing information could delay payment.

5. Have someone other than you or your sales people make the collections calls

It's much easier for a person to make collection calls when that's one of their duties, and they don't have to interact with the client in any other way.

6. Pick up the phone and call

If your initial friendly reminder of a payment being due doesn't produce results, call the customer. Ask if they got your invoice and if everything was satisfactory with the product or service. If the answers to both questions are yes, then ask when payment will be mailed. Record their answer along with a new date to follow up if payment hasn't been received.

7. Invoice your customers promptly

Don't wait until the end of the month (or until "next week when I have more time") to invoice your customers. The sooner you mail the invoices the sooner you'll get paid.

8. Stop worrying about losing the customer

Many small business owners worry that they'll annoy customers and lose them if they inquire too soon or too often about unpaid invoices. As long as you have delivered what you promised to your customer and make your initial collection inquiries polite, the majority of your customers won't mind.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Does Telemarketing work in the 21st Century?

Is Telemarketing still Relevant?

In the world of integrated marketing plans and performance driven marketing, is the practice of telemarketing making a comeback? More importantly is it making a greater contribution than eMarketing or direct marketing?

In the B2C environment the use of predictive dialling devices and recorded messages have given call centres and telemarketing companies a bad reputation. This has helped the growth of the telephone preference service www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/ which is free and is the official central opt out register on which individuals can record their preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls.

Meanwhile in the B2B world, telemarketing is making a resurgence as an essential tool in the modern marketing mix. Telemarketing as one essential element in an integrated marketing campaign can really help drive up the return on investment for selected activities. Targeted messaging, lead generation, appointment setting and even event registrations are all tasks that can be accomplished via a well planned and executed telemarketing campaign.
So the Igneous Marketing ‘Top 8 Tips’ for planning and running a successful telemarketing campaign are…
1.       Database – Ensure your data is accurate, the licence is up to date and the target market is a match for the message 
2.       Data Protection – Be sure you know that you actually own the data or where the data was originally sourced. Check local data laws to ensure you comply, or pay the price
3.       Briefing – Every marketing campaign should start with a brief that then creates the overall plan. As the agents are conveying your message, make sure they are fully briefed on every aspect of the campaign and the history of the business
4.       Training – The more information the agent has the better they will perform, especially if the programme relates to a product promotion or offer
5.       References – Provide Cheat Sheets, Emails, Case Studies or even real life examples to help the agent deal with any situation that may arise during a conversation
6.       Conversation – This leads nicely on to: don’t use a script. Encourage your agents to have a conversation. They will be more successful and receive less resistance if it does not feel like a sales call
7.       Closed Loop Reporting – Success can only be judged if the leads go through this sales led process, this is where most campaigns fall over and the reputation for telemarketing not delivering is created and communicated by a weak link in the overall company chain
8.       Testing – Before launching the campaign, test every backend processes and response mechanism, because once the campaign is live there is no going back and you may lose all your responses and dent your company’s reputation

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Some top PR tips for Small Business

For many traditional public relations has gone slightly out of fashion. With the immediacy of social media and the boom in self publishing the time and effort to get your story published in the local paper or picked up by radio and TV can seem a bit of waste.

But despite the huge number of people on Facebook and Twitter there is still a sizeable chunk of the population who don’t know their fans from their followers. These are not cave people unable to keep up with modern life. They just prefer to do things a little differently. One day they may join the online throng but until then it’s not wise to ignore them.

Traditional press coverage is a great way of getting your messages out and building the profile of your business. Here are the Igneous Marketing top 4 tips to getting free publicity

1. Make sure your story is news! Journalists aren’t interested in your latest 50% off sale or buy one get one free promotion. Be the first, the newest, the oldest, the biggest, the smallest, just don’t be average. If you story has a photo even better.

2. Don’t have any news? Then make some!
Look at Richard Branson the master of self promotion. No you don’t need to try and cross the Atlantic in a hot air balloon. Do something interesting for charity, hold an event, win an award, become an expert in your field.  The possibilities are endless it just needs a bit of imagination.

3. Write a good press release.
99% of press releases end up in the rubbish so make sure you have a strong eye catching headline. Make sure all the key details of the story are covered in the main paragraphs.  Don’t witter on for pages, maximum 2 pages including all your contact details.  Include a boilerplate, this is a paragraph about you and your business that you can include on every release you produce.

4. Follow up. If you don’t hear anything back follow up with a telephone call.  Journalists get hundreds of releases and can often miss yours it doesn’t mean they won’t feature it, a polite nudge may just do the trick.

With a bit of effort you will soon be filling the papers, radio and TVDon’t be discouraged if your releases don’t get featured every time.  Keep going, build up the relationships with the local media and don’t forget to publish online too!

If you need some more help, please contact us (Here) and don't forget PR is part of our awesome pay monthly marketing bundles!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

10 FREE digital marketing tools you need to look at!

A Little Present From Igneous Marketing

Which tools do experienced digital marketers rely on to develop their marketing strategies, plans, and programs?  There are many valuable resources to provide insight into target audience behaviour, competitive activity, social media mentions, search keyword volume, current marketing trends, and a host of other useful information.  But did you know that many of the very best are available online to everyone, for free?

Before building your next digital plan, be sure to check out these terrific free tools for input, support and guidance in 10 important areas.

1)    Competitive site traffic: Compete.com estimates the number of U. S. visitors to practically all the top web sites, enabling users to enter up to five website names and receive Traffic Volume for each, along with additional site analytics.  Quantcast.com provides U. S. audience composition stats, including gender, income, age group, visit frequency, and other sites visited.  Alexa.com ranks sites comparatively based on traffic  by millions of its toolbar users.

2)    Search volume: Google Trends lets you enter up to five topics and see how often they've been searched on Google over time.  It calculates how many searches occurred for the entered term(s), compared to total Google searches, and graphs the results. The Hot Searches feature displays the 40 fastest-increasing searches in the U. S., and is updated hourly.  Google Insights enables narrower analysis to compare search volume patterns across specific geographic regions, subject categories, time frames and other Google properties.  Google Traffic Estimator shows predicted search volume, average cost-per-click, and ad positions for specified keywords.

3)    SEO Evaluation: WebsiteGrader.com, a free SEO evaluation tool, grades any site on its SEO effectiveness, based on factors including title, meta description, keywords, headings, images, Google Page Rank, inbound links, Google indexed pages, directory inclusion, and Delicious bookmarks.  Entering your own url or a competitor's delivers a quick SEO assessment.

4)    Competitive search activity: SpyFu.com reports the keywords a website buys on Google Adwords and the keywords causing a site to rank in search results. It also provides cost per click, search volume, and estimated search advertising spend. Other available information includes keywords used, organic search rank, top competitors, sites purchasing specific terms, and sites ranking organically for a given query.

5)    Social media dialogue: SocialMention.com tracks the most current conversations about a company, product, or any other topic across the social media landscape, encompassing blogs, forums, bookmarks, comments, events, news, etc., by monitoring over 100 social media properties like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and YouTube. Technorati.com is the leading blog search engine, indexing over a million blogs, tracking the authority and influence of blogs, while providing an index of what is currently most popular in the Blogosphere.

6)    Twitter monitoring: TweetMeme.com aggregates all the popular links on Twitter to determine which are popular, organizing these into Categories, Subcategories and Channels, so it's easy to filter and find what you are most interested in.  Klout.com measures influence on Twitter (and Facebook), on a scale from 0 to 100, using variables like the number of retweets, the Twitter audience size, and influence of followers, while also providing influence monitoring tools.

7)    Social media case studies:  To keep abreast of social media marketing activity by industry leaders or competitors, visit these wikis/sites, which provide a wide range of case studies.  For Social Media Cases across all industries, check out A Wiki of Social Media Marketing Examples. If you're focused on the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, read the cases at the Dose of Digital Social Media Wiki.

8)    Sample Size Calculator: If you aren't a statistician, but require a simple, quick way to quantify the validity of your results, or establish the correct quantities for an in-market test, either of these two tools will do the trick: http://www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm or http://www.raosoft.com/samplesize.html.

9)    Online Advertising Impact: Both DoubleClick Research and Atlas Institute Insights regularly publish valuable white papers with insightful analyses of online media performance impact, benchmarks and trends.

10) Marketing Stats and Presentations: Slideshare.com lets you share presentations, or view documents written by others, across a whole range of topics and industries. PewInternet.org is an ongoing research project providing a rich resource of trends and statistics about consumer usage of digital channels.

These are among the most powerful, free tools that equip digital marketers to plan and analyze more effectively, but if you have other personal favourites, please share them by posting or emailing.