Author Archives: Sarah Hickman

Twitter for business – what do I say and how?

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Twitter for business

So you're a business owner and you've heard that Twitter is a great marketing tool. You've set up an account and are faced with Twitter's text box asking “What's happening?”

What should you say?

Before you start typing away about your latest offers, take a step back and consider your social media strategy. This needn't be a long and drawn out process. We've written a blog post with some tips to point you in the right direction.

Now you know why you're doing it and who you're talking to, it's time to get tweeting.

1. Use a catchy headline, clear English, and interesting content
Don't forget that Twitter is fast-paced. People usually skim-read the thousands of tweets that pop up in their news feeds every day. Try to make yours stand out.

2. Rewrite and repeat your best tweets
If you worked hard on a blog post or are proud of your new product or service, don’t be afraid to tweet about it a few times. When you repeat your tweet, make it different - don’t tweet the exact same words every time.

3. Tweet breaking news
If you tweet breaking news there is a good chance others will share the news as well, and your tweet might just spread. Make sure you use a hashtag...

4. Use #hashtags
Using a hashtag is as simple as adding the ‘#’ sign before a single word or phrase without spaces. If you tweet with a hashtag, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your tweet. Remember: don’t over-tag a single tweet and use hashtags only on tweets relevant to the topic.

5. Tweet about trending topics
By tweeting about a trending topic you give your tweet greater exposure than it typically will receive. Getting retweeted is an excellent way of extending your influence on Twitter. Retweets can lead to more followers, more traffic to your website, and more publicity for your business.

6. Use pictures
Twitter's own research has proven that including an image with your tweet increases engagement (i.e. more people will see, click on and retweet your tweet).

7. Use links
This isn't essential, but if you include a link to your own website (especially a relevant page) this can drive more traffic to your site. Use a URL shortener like to save space – you've only got 140 characters. If you use a scheduling tool like Buffer, the system will automatically shorten any URLs for you.

8. Tweet often
It sounds obvious, but with over 300 million users worldwide (and growing), there is plenty of other noise on Twitter so you need to be persistent to make an impact.

9. Say thanks
Out of common courtesy it's worth taking the time to say thanks if people mention or retweet you. Also they will be more likely to retweet you in the future.

10. Help others
Help others get their message out and they will be much more likely to do the same for you.

11. Include @mentions
If you include the Twitter user name of others in your blog post, they'll be notified that you mentioned them. There's a good chance they will retweet your post when they find out they are in the post you are sharing. This often works for big brands too – but only if you say something nice about them!

12. Time your tweets
We use Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule our social media posts at the optimum times for ourselves and our clients. Scheduling your tweets in this way can help your content get maximum exposure.

13. Avoid too many self-references
If you focus too much on “me” and “my business”, tweets can resemble pushy sales pitches. Of course you need to talk about yourself, but remember that Twitter is a social platform so people will lose interest if it's only ever about you.

14. Run a Twitter competition / freebie
The better the prize you are willing to give away, the more likely people are to retweet your link. And if you offer a free online course, eBook, or digital content, you are more likely to get engagement.

15. Install Twitter buttons on your website
Installing a Twitter button onto every page or blog post on your website makes it easy for people to share your content. You can get one from Twitter and you'll probably be able to do this without your web developer's help.

16. Analyse your results
Use Twitter Analytics to find out what you're doing right (and wrong). You can drill down into the data to find out what's working best for you.

As well as managing our own social media accounts, we do it for other businesses. Contact us to find out how we can save you time and help get your business found online.

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25 quick and dirty marketing tips for startups... and established businesses

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Marketing tips for startups

Started a new business but not sure where to start with your marketing? This super-quick list should help you on your way.

1. Create customer ‘personas’ – small summaries of who your ideal customers are, and target your marketing efforts to them.

2. Listen to your customers.

3. Have a professional-looking logo and website (essential!).

4. Make sure your website is kept up to date, images are good quality and spelling is correct.

5. Write a blog and use it to share helpful information.

6. Write a guest blog post and/or submit posts to large websites.

7. Keep an ongoing list of marketing ideas.

8. Create the most appropriate social media account(s) for your business, and use them.

9. Keep a database of email addresses. This can be as simple as a list in Excel.

10. Segment your database into customer types.

11. Send email newsletters.

12. If necessary, change the content of the newsletter depending on the customer type.

13. Give a discount or special offer, and promote it on your website, social media and email.

14. Ask customers for testimonials and referrals.

15. Sponsor a local event.

16. Get interviewed for a blog, magazine, newspaper etc.

17. Use SEO to drive traffic to your website (ask your web developer for help).

18. Make sure you’re listed on Google My Business.

19. Attend networking events – and remember they’re not all about selling your services.

20. Use business cards (yes, people still use them!).

21. Advertise using Google AdWords.

22. Advertise on social media.

23. Host an online workshop, webinar or deliver a free training session.

24. Write a press release – but it must contain an interesting story, NOT be a sales pitch.

25. Check out the competition to see what they’re doing right (and wrong).

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New year, new marketing plan: 10 ways to revamp your marketing for 2018

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New year new marketing plan

It’s a new year, so now's the time to reflect on the successes or challenges you faced in 2017, and think about what you want your business to accomplish in 2018.

Like many areas of your business, it's a good time to take a look at your marketing. To help you revamp your marketing strategy in 2018, we've put together 10 helpful tips to get you started:

1. Establish a budget
When creating your marketing budget, you need to be focused on your customers. Where are they, and how do you find them? Start by looking back on last year’s marketing costs and create a realistic budget. Methods of marketing are rapidly evolving, so your budget should have some room for changes you might need to make in the new year.

2. Consider your target market
You may have plenty of customers coming through your door or visiting your website every day, but are these the customers you really want to reach? Do you know who your target market really is? You can’t focus on revamping your marketing plan until you know who you really want to target. Have a look at the value of your current customers – should you be sticking with them or looking elsewhere?

3. Consider your strengths
Say you run a restaurant. Do you serve the best pasta in town? Offer the friendliest service? Run a great mid-week offer? These are the things you should to focus on in your advertising. When you know your strengths, you can use them in your marketing materials.

4. Create a realistic schedule
One of the key parts of staying on track with marketing is establishing a realistic schedule that works. Just like any new year's resolution, it's better to make it achievable. Planning your upcoming year will help you stay focused on your goals.

5. Update your logo
Your logo is one of the first things potential customers see. Does it communicate your brand well? If you think your logo still fits, there’s no need to change it – but if the font or graphics seem at odds with the personality of your business, consider getting a new one. And do it properly: hire a professional designer!

6. Review your website
Is your current site easy to navigate? Has it been updated in the past few years? Does it feature an accurate menu and easy-to-find contact info? Has it been optimised for mobile devices? If the answer to any of these questions is no, consider revamping your site.

7. Create valuable website content
People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed – and it's also great for SEO. When a website is updated regularly, Google sees it as an active site and therefore ranks it more highly in search results pages. Have a look at what you say on your website, and make sure it's regularly updated and reflects your brand well.

8. Be mobile-friendly
Mobile internet use is growing and growing (something we wrote about way back in July 2013). This year, it’s important to make sure you're producing content that’s web-friendly, and ensure your website is optimised for mobile (if you haven’t already). This will help you reach more of your audience and let customers know that you take your digital marketing seriously.

9. Review your advertising tactics
Look at the channels you use for your advertising. Do you use Google AdWords, email marketing, press adverts, social media advertising, or something else? Are these methods bringing in the customers you want? Think about where your ideal customer is and what channels they'll actually see - and be most receptive to.

10. Have a fresh look at your social media presence
Social media is no longer an option…it’s a necessity. It's also one of the most direct and effective ways you can promote your business. Even if you’re already actively using social media, evaluate your activity and see if you’re doing all that you can. Are you using your Facebook page effectively? Are you responding quickly to customers on Twitter? This is also a good time to think about whether you need to be active on so many platforms. For example, if your customers don't use Twitter, stick to Facebook. Your time will be better spent and you'll have more time to engage. A content calendar is a fantastic way of scheduling in your activity.

So in summary...
Marketing is basically about listening to your audience, and telling them why they would benefit from using your product or service. Making a few tweaks to your plan can help refine and target your marketing, and put you on the right track for a successful 2018.

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Email campaigns: how to avoid sending spam

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So you've read our blog post about using email in your marketing, and have decided to go for it. But before you grab a long list of email addresses and start hitting send, you need to consider spam.

What is it?

We've all had it. Spam is basically electronic junk mail. It's defined as an unsolicited email, i.e. one that the recipient did not ask to receive.

Make sure your recipients have actually opted in to receiving mail from you, because the last thing you want to do is antagonise your potential customers. More to the point, sending unsolicited emails is illegal - although we're not sure how many cases actually make it to court...

How can I avoid sending it?

  1. Make sure your list of email addresses is clean and up to date. If you get a high bounce-back rate you might be marked as a spam sender.
  2. Don't use 'blitz' or 'spray and pray' approach. Segment your recipients and make sure your messages are targeted correctly, i.e. what you are sending is actually of interest to that segment.
  3. Add an Unsubscribe link. This is a legal requirement.
  4. Don't bombard your contacts, or they'll get bored of you and unsubscribe.
  5. People's spam filters check for html code. Opt for plain text emails, high quality html templates, or professionally coded emails
  6. Avoid multiple exclamation marks, coloured fonts, all capitals and 'spam trigger words'. Check out our list below.
    • Free
    • Visit our website
    • Opportunity
    • 50% Off
    • Click here
    • Call now
    • Subscribe
    • Bonus
    • Discount
    • Save up to
    • Winner
    • Prizes
    • Information you requested
    • Important information regarding
    • Guarantee, Guaranteed
    • Special Promotion
    • Great Offer/Deal
    • All New
    • One Time
    • Order Now

Obviously some of these words are common business phrases so it's hard to avoid them. We suggest that if you must use one of these phrases, just use it once per email otherwise it could be blocked. Try to use synonyms like 'complimentary' instead of 'free', or change the wording slightly so you don't get picked up by spam filters.

A good way to deal with these issues is to use a a web-based email marketing service like MailChimp or Mailigen. These services are free up to a certain level, so are great for small businesses who want to give email marketing a try.

If email marketing sounds a bit too daunting, drop us a line and we'll see if we can help.

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What's a social media strategy and how do I get one?

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For all businesses, and particularly SMEs with restricted budgets, social media can be a valuable and very cost-effective method of marketing communications. That's if you know how to use it.

It's about involvement and brand-building, getting your name out there rather than using it as a direct sales tool. Compare it to being at a party. The person who stands there all evening talking about ME! ME! ME! will end up alone as everyone will slowly get bored and wander off. The person who asks questions, responds, gets involved and has interesting things to say will attract the bigger crowd. That's not to say you can't shout about how great you are now and again of course!

To make the most of this valuable marketing tool, make sure you've worked out your social media strategy. This isn't as difficult as it sounds. All you need to do is ask yourself some questions:

1. Why am I using social media?
Is it for website traffic? Conversions? Brand awareness? Creating a brand identity? Creating positive brand association? Communication and interaction with key audiences? Maybe it's a few of these.

2. Whose attention am I trying to get?
Okay, so you want to market that new line of products, for example. You still need to know your target audience for that product.

3. Which sites do I want to use?
If you have enough staffing power to handle multiple social networking sites, that's great. If not, it's important to focus on one or two, or you could spread yourself too thin and end up going days or even weeks without activity.

4. Who's going to manage my page?
Would your social networking activity fall under a current employee's responsibilities, or do you need to bring in new talent? Will you do it yourself? Outsource to a professional? If you ever find yourself without the staffing resources to manage your page, don't stick your head in the sand, find the time to do it yourself or pay someone else to do it.

5. What's going to be the personality of my page?
Keep an eye on the 'voice' of your social networking site. People buy from other people, not from other companies so it may be useful to pick a person (yourself?) to represent your business.


Take some time to answer the questions above and you should have a clearer idea of where you want to go.



If you're an SME or sole trader, you might only have a small amount of time each week to devote to your social media. That's fine. You can use tool like Buffer or HootSuite to schedule your posts.

You should also try to draw up a schedule – otherwise you'll either (1) never use your social media accounts, or (2) find yourself wasting time clicking endlessly from one link to the next...

There are a multitude of social media platforms out there. Don't think that you should be using them all. Stick to one or two that you think will be most suitable for your product or service, and devote your time to making sure they are kept up to date. Better to have one useful, well-maintained account than five half-used or dormant ones - it could reflect badly on your business.

Contact usto find out how we could help define your strategy or manage your accounts.

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Everything you need to know about website content

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So, your website's been built. What next? You need to think about your website content.

The golden rule is to MAINTAIN YOUR WEBSITE. Don’t just get it built and then forget it – you'll be ignoring a valuable marketing channel and potential for growing your business.

There are many ways you can increase traffic to your website:
• Optimise your site with search engine optimisation techniques
• Google Adwords pay per click campaign
• Promoting your site through advertising on popular industry websites
• Newsletter marketing
• Promotion through social media
• Promotion through traditional marketing such as press adverts and flyering campaigns

Another way of driving traffic to your website is to continually update the site with fresh and valuable content, which we'll talk about here.

So, do you do it yourself or outsource? This depends on your own time and your skill. If English isn't your best subject, this may damage your business' image. If you don’t have the time or skills to maintain your website, use the skills of a professional.

What is website content?

Basically, it's words, pictures and video.

Your web developer might enter the initial content to get you going (make sure you know if this is included in the quote).

People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed – and it's also great for SEO. When a website is updated regularly, Google sees it as an active site and therefore ranks it more highly in search results pages.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is taking your website content one step further.

Many customers nowadays shut themselves off from the traditional world of marketing. They own a Sky Plus box to skip TV advertising, put themselves on the TPS to avoid cold calls on the telephone, often ignore magazine advertising, and skim-read online information without looking at banners or buttons.

Content marketing aims to reach these people in a different way. It's a technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving customer action.

Content marketing is being used by some of the biggest companies in the world, including P&G and Microsoft. It’s also carried out by small businesses and one-person shops around the globe. Why? Because it works.

It can include, blogging, social media posts, e-newsletters, videos, articles on other websites, infographics....the list goes on.


If you're going to write your own words, here are some tips:

  • Try to be clear, direct, and sincere
  • Remember ‘KISS’ - ‘Keep it Short and Simple’
  • Avoid long sentences - split them into two where possible
  • Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem. Get someone to double check what you've written
  • Avoid “wishy washy” words like: may, maybe, hope, wish, try, but, could, perhaps and strive. Instead, use words like will and can to describe what your business will or can do for your reader
  • Avoid the passive voice where possible, e.g. use “We created ten new designs” instead of “Ten new designs were created"
  • Consider why your customers should buy your product or service
  • Know your target audience and use a writing style that suits them
  • Break text into small easily read chunks separated with headings and images for easier scanning – most people skim-read website text
  • Create a call to action as often as possible (without becoming repetitive) – more on this next

Calls to Action

Call to action help your website to work hard for you. Calls to action are also very valuable in email campaigns, as one of the purposes of an email campaign is to get your potential customers to take an action.

Calls to action are a marketing necessity. Get them right and you have the means to drive your customers to just the conclusion you want, for example:

  • Driving up leads and revenue
  • Purchasing goods or services
  • Downloading your latest white papers, etc.

Get your calls to action wrong and you are potentially damaging your digital marketing efforts.


Some people have a blog separate to their website, and sometime it's incorporated into the actual site. It's best for SEO to have everything in one place, but if you've got a separate blog, just make sure that you've got obvious links back to your main site.

Your goal with a blog is to:

  • Show yourself as an expert in your field
  • Showcase your products and services – within a good story
  • Make it interesting so that it's shared, thus increasing your brand awareness
  • Having obvious 'sharing' buttons on your website will help get your content shared

Some tips for writing good blogs:

  • Identify and understand your target audience
  • Be original
  • Don’t be afraid to make it a long, magazine-style post. If it's interesting, people will read to the end
  • Make it positive – positive blog posts are shared more often than negative ones
  • Use current trends and recent news events as inspiration when you are creating content
  • Use pictures
  • Make is useful – maybe it will help people to solve a problem
  • Make it easy to read, using the copywriting tips above
  • Think of a headline that demands attention. For example:

- Include a promise in your title: “Everything You Need to Know About Web Design” (sound familiar?!)

- Numbers let your reader know what to expect: “10 Ways To Build a Great Website”

- Ask questions to stimulate curiosity: “What's Your Favourite Ever Website?”

- Write a “How To” article: “How to Become a Web Design Expert”

Have a look at some of the most-visited blogs to get tips and inspiration, such as Mashable, Lifehacker and E-Consultancy's Digital Marketing blog.

To summarise on content marketing – you need to keep doing it!

Content schedule

With so many options for content marketing out there, the biggest challenge SMEs face is – how do I find the time? You might be a sole trader struggling to fit everything in. Or an SME with a small number of staff covering a multitude of different roles.

Large organisations and corporates will either outsource their content marketing, or have staff whose sole role is to work on the content. SMEs don't have that luxury.

We can't create time, but what we can do is draw up a content schedule to fit what can do within the limited time we have to do it.

And as always in marketing, think about who your target audience are.


If you need any help or advice on getting your website content written, drop us a line.

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What to include in a website brief

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Website brief Leamington Spa

The website brief - thinking about getting a website built but not sure what to ask for?

Let's turn the question on its head. When people come to us for a cost estimate for a new website, we ask them to answer the questions below. These questions will help both us and the client understand exactly what they want from their new site.

What products do you sell or services do you provide?

How big is your business?

Do you trade within the UK only?

Describe the company using five or ten words (e.g. young, vibrant, technology based, etc.)

Why is it no longer suitable?

What do you like and dislike about it?

Do you know what levels of traffic is it currently receiving, including from mobile devices?

Who are your target audience for this website?

What's the purpose of the website? (e.g. sell products, provide information, educate, etc)

What actions do you want visitors to take? (e.g. contact you via email or phone, fill out an online form, follow you on social media, make a purchase, etc)

Please list the names of two or more of your competitors.

Please list the names of two websites that you like and two that you dislike. What do you like and dislike about them?

How will your target audience be accessing your site – via their phones, tablets or desktops?

Have you already got a logo/branding?

Do you have any ideas for the look and feel of your website?

Do you have existing logo/branding/business cards or other printed materials, or should branding be part of our quote?

We will link to your social media so please provide the links.

Do you need to purchase a domain name or do you already own it?

Do you need to purchase hosting?

Do you have an idea of budget and a deadline date in mind?

Please place an 'X' to identify any pages or features you envisage as part of your site:
 Home
 Products / services
 FAQs
 Directions
 About Us
 Contact Us
 News / blog
 Upcoming events

Special Features
 Home page slideshow
 Video
 Image gallery
 Map
 Search facility
 Newsletter / email list sign-up
 Information / request forms
 Contact form

 Registration / customer login
 Store / shopping cart
 Online payment
 Forum
 Reviews
 Customer surveys/polls

Please list any additional or custom pages you would like.

How often will you need to update the website content?

How many content pages do you expect to update on your site each month?

Who will be responsible for updates – your website developer or yourselves?

Who will be responsible for generating content – text and images?


As with any purchase you make, you should send exactly the same brief to a number of web companies, so when you get the price back you are comparing like with like. Some people like to use "supplier finding" websites.

Ready for the next steps? Check out our blog post about the stages involved in getting a website built.

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How to get a website built

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How to get a website built

What are the steps involved in getting a website built for your business?

Firstly, some facts.

1&1 Internet recently carried out some research showing that:

  • 46% of users have walked away from a small business because of a poor website
  • 7% have opted to spend less with the business as a direct result
  • 45% say that a bad website makes a worse impact than a business having no website at all

If you're a small or medium-sized business, it's unlikely you'll have big budgets, teams of people, or lots of time to invest in a complex online strategy, but there are some simple steps you can take to start reaping the rewards of visible online.

Advantages of having a website

  • The internet is a fact of business life now - if you have no web presence, no-one will find you
  • You'll appear outdated if you don't have one
  • It's a way of both summarising your offer, giving more detail and showing testimonials
  • It's cheap compared to many other types of marketing communications
  • Easily accessible – with mobile technology you can be found on any device
  • Acts as a shop window for your business
  • It's open 24/7
  • It's international – available (almost) anywhere in the world
  • You can be in control of it

Do it properly

So we've had a look at how important it is to have a web presence, but you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot by spending time and money getting a website up and running, if all it actually does is show your company in a bad light.

You don't need to have a huge budget to get something good – you can start small, and add to it later as your business grows.

The most important thing to do is to put yourself in the user's shoes.



1. Check out the competition

Create a list of URLs of your competitors, and determine the strengths and weaknesses of their websites.

What are your favourite websites – and why do you like them? Pick out a few sites that look the way you’d like yours to look, considering things like design, colour scheme, and layout.


2. What is your market?

Create a clear understanding of your website’s users. A good way of doing this is with "personas" - they are a great way to pinpoint who your users are.

The goal is to describe the target customer as a real person:

  • Give them a name and image
  • Age, gender, interests
  • Situation – when do they buy / use this product?
  • Key information needs – what do they need to find out?
  • Decision making factors – what influences them?
  • Increase the personal description for B2C situations, e.g. cosmetics, clothing
  • Understand the decision-making role for B2B situations, e.g. user, purchaser

You can create a few personas to help clarify your different market segments.

e.g. Florist in Leamington Spa

Persona 1

Woman who comes in every week and buys a different display for her living room

Persona 2

Man who wants to buy his partner a bouquet on special occasions

This helps you to understand what you need to put into your website from a user's point of view.


3. Set your goals

Make sure your users' needs are met. For example, do they need to reach you urgently or are you persuading them of your expertise?

What do you want your website to do?

  • Get new customers
  • Launch a new product or service
  • Reassure potential customers
  • Reassure existing customers
  • Remind existing customers
  • Inform
  • Increase product awareness
  • Generate more sales
  • Offer e-commerce
  • Create a community

...or a mixcture of the above.


4. Decide what type of website you need

  • eCommerce site or 'brochure' site - will your site be an online store or simply a 'brochure' type site that tells people about your business?
  • CMS – what is it? Why will it be cheaper for you? CMS stands for Content Management System. Many customers prefer to use a CMS as they have control over their own content, and it works out cheaper for them. WordPress is a type of CMS. It started as a blogging platform but is so easy to use, it's now a very popular platform for developing all types of websites.
  • Bespoke or theme – what's the difference? Have a look at some of the themes available from businesses like ThemeForest and Template Monster. You can't just download a theme and start adding content – you'll still need to get a web developer to configure and customise it for your brand. Buying a theme saves your web developer time and therefore saves you money. BUT there are drawbacks – a theme can drastically limit your choice of website design and functionality. Also, if you decide to make big changes to your theme, you are adding web development time which costs you money.
  • Responsive or not? - our website MUST be responsive, i.e. configured to display properly on mobile devices. Over 50% of John Lewis online sales are now made on mobile devices, and this figure will only increase. It makes sense to get responsive design built into your site upfront so it's future-proof.


5. Choose a domain name

We see URLs all day every day. A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is basically a web address.

www: Worldwide web

publicagency: Domain name Top level domain

You can select and buy your domain through a website that sells domains e.g.,,, or through your hosting company (more about hosting below).

You may have to compromise on the exact name, as your first choice may be gone.

There are now a large amount of TLDs available e.g. .photos .clothing .kitchen. It might be worth buying a few TLDs e.g., .net, .co, .org to save competitors snapping them up.

You're renting the domain name, and the rental lasts 1-2 years. Make sure you renew it, or it's gone.

Expect to pay between £3 - £30 + per year, depending on the popularity of your name.


  • It should be easy to spell
  • Try to avoid using dashes – it makes the URL easier to remember without them
  • Remember – it's not case sensitive
  • Make sure there are no howlers!

e.g. Choose Spain = choosespain

e.g. Lawyers Exchange = lawyersexchange

e.g. Speed of Art = speedofart


6. Arrange hosting

Like domain registrations, there are many companies that offer website hosting with varying pricing.

Web hosting companies own huge servers with lots of space for websites to 'live', and they basically rent out space on these servers. Web hosting is generally charged to you on a monthly or annual fee.

You can ask your web developer to arrange this for you, for you can arrange it yourself. If your web developer does it for you, make sure have a copy of the information you need to access all your files, in case you ever want to change developer. You will need the username and password to the place on the server where your site is hosted.

Larger hosting companies will offer cheap deals but as with any cheap service, you may not get the best customer service.

The amount you pay depends on the size of your website. A large eCommerce website, for example, will cost more than a small site with five pages of content. This is because you're taking up more space on the hosting company's server. For a very basic website, expect to pay from £8 per month.

Examples of hosting companies are 1and1, Fast Hosts, GoDaddy, United Hosting.


7. Get your website designed and built

The big one!

Do you 'do it yourself' or pay a professional web developer to do it? Play to your strengths – if you have some design or coding experience then give it a try. If not, we suggest you get it done properly! Consider your needs, your technical abilities, and your budget when making a decision about how your site will be created.

You only get a few seconds to convince a web visitor that they’ve come to the right place so it’s important that your website reflects professionalism.

An "amateur" website isn’t likely to give you the results you’re hoping for. Investment in your own website will improve your bottom line in the long run.


7.a. Get a brief together

The more you can tell your web developer about what you want, the better – you'll get a more accurate quote and will end up with the website you want.

What should you put in it? See our client questionnaire which was the subject of a previous blog post.


7.b. The quote

As with any purchase you make, you should send exactly the same brief to a number of web companies, so when you get the price back you are comparing like with like.

Check to see if you've been given a quote for the entire job or at an hourly rate. If it's for the entire job, see what's included.

We recently met a small business owner who had asked web developer to design and build a new website. The business owner was shocked that the web developer wouldn't be designing the logo, writing the words, and arranging the photography. They thought all this work was included in the quote – which led to both him and the web developer parting on bad terms. So check what's included and what isn't.


7.c. What the web developer will need from you

Most web development companies will assume that you will be providing the following:

  • logo
  • pictures
  • text
  • links to your social media accounts

Good web development companies will check to see what you will be providing, and if you have any gaps they will supply a quote for the missing elements.

Consider deadlines. It's always worth giving yourself and your web developer a deadline, otherwise jobs can drag on.


7.d. What the web developer will do next

Between you, you'll agree the 'architecture' of the website.

Different web design companies will use different processes at this stage. For a bespoke website, good practise is for them to supply you with a wireframe so you are both agreed before they even start coding.

If you've gone for the 'theme' option, the web developer will purchase the theme at this stage.

Your web developer should design your page layout (especially the home page) with a hierarchy in mind.

They should consider the F-shaped reading pattern:

  • the viewer first notices the logo top left;
  • then moves onto the slideshow/main image which is the most important element on the home page;
  • as the reader moves lower on the page they notice the information about the business.

There should be plenty of space to make it easy for users to scan through and find the relevant information. Resist the temptation to cram everything in, and think about what the users are actually looking for.


7.e. Other things your web developer should consider

  • Create a call to action on every page.
  • Include an “about” page and testimonials to identify yourself and appear more human.
  • Make your contact information very easy to find.


7.f. Images

Again, find out up front if you or your web developer are responsible for supplying the images for your website. If you are supplying your own, try to find compelling images that match your branding and company image – consistency is key.

A good quality image can make a website look instantly professional (and of course, the reverse is also true). All image files should be low resolution (72dpi) and saved for web. As a rule of thumb use GIF format for computer-generated graphics such as simple logos, buttons or animations, and JPEG format for photographs or scanned material.

Try websites like iStockphoto or Shutterstock for cost-effective stock imagery. Images usually start from a few pounds each.

  • Avoid poor quality images of any kind – it's better to not show anything than to show something pixelated, badly resized or low resolution.
  • If possible, use photos that have a single main subject.
  • Photos of people are good – people relate to seeing other people.
  • Even though photos of people are good, try to avoid clichéd “business people shaking hands” photos!


7.g. Text

You can have the best looking website in the world, but if you’ve got spelling and grammar errors, nobody will take you seriously. Proofread everything, then get a colleague to go over it again.

  • Break the text down into separate sections to minimise individual pages.
  • Use short, precise words in your navigation links (e.g. About Us, Services).
  • Important navigation links should remain constant on every page and organised in order of importance.


7.h. Fonts

Of course you want to be memorable, but don’t be fooled into thinking a fancy font is the way to do it!

  • Stick to reliable fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Georgia or Verdana, or web-safe ones like Google Fonts.
  • For text and heading styles, stick to one or two typefaces and two or three type sizes and colours.
  • For ease of use, keep link colours in line with the page colours.
  • Don’t use all-caps text for anything other than a heading.


7.i. Important things your web developer should be checking

  • The loading time of your pages. Loading speed is key to getting repeat visitors (and in our experience, anything over 15 seconds is too slow). This is one of the reasons you need 72dpi images saved for web. Huge images will make the page loading time too slow.
  • Check the 'depth' of your pages – how many clicks does it take to reach any page? The fewer the clicks, the better.
  • Check your browser compatibility (does everything still work on IE, Chrome, Safari, Firefox etc.)?
  • Check for broken links.
  • Optimise your footer area with links, copyright, terms and conditions, privacy policy, disclaimers, contact info (as well as being either legally required or just good practice, this helps your SEO).


8. What happens after it's built?

Once the site is up, what’s next? Regardless of whether you build it, hire someone, or a combination of the two, traffic won't just arrive on its own. You'll need to use marketing tools and tactics to promote it.

To find out more, drop us a line at


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Marketing Calls to Action: What are they and how can I use them?

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Marketing calls to action

A call to action (CTA) is an image or line of text that prompts your customers - and potential customers - to take action.

This action could be anything: download an eBook, sign up for a webinar, get a coupon, attend an event, get in touch for a quote, etc. A CTA can be placed anywhere in your marketing - on your website, in your social media posts, in an email, or even at the end of a blog post.

CTAs are especially important on websites. Every site should have a ‘goal’ it wants users to complete.

So, how do you do it and what do you say?

1. Focus on the value your CTA provides
You need to communicate the benefits of responding. What will the user get out of completing the CTA? A special offer? Useful information? Early notification of an event or deal?

2. Address the user’s questions about the CTA
The user needs to trust you. They may have to make a payment or supply personal details. This means they often have questions which will need to be answered before they take action.
For example, make sure you tell people signing up for a newsletter how often you will email them. They will also want reassurance that you will not sell their details to a third party, and can unsubscribe at any time.

3. Don’t use too many
It’s important to focus your actions. If you use too many CTAs the user may become overwhelmed. Try to guide the user step by step. If you have more than one CTA, make sure they are distinct. If they are too similar users may not tell them apart.

4. Think about how you position your CTA
On a website, you should place it high on the page and in the central column. On other marketing materials, make sure it’s clear and easy to read.

5. Use blank space around your CTA
The more space you place around a CTA, the more attention you will draw to it. If you clutter your CTA with surrounding content it may get lost.

6. Consider using an alternative colour on your CTA
Colour is an effective way of drawing attention to your CTA. This is especially true if the rest of the website or marketing material has a muted colour scheme.

7. The bigger the better…within reason
The bigger your CTA, the more chance users will notice it. A large CTA also allows you to add more text. But don’t forget that size isn’t everything! As mentioned above, position, colour and surrounding space are also important.

8. Use urgency or scarcity to encourage action
Creating a sense of urgency by limiting supply will encourage people to act. You could use tactics such as:
- Offering limited time discounts
- Limiting supply
- Highlighting how quickly you are selling out
Some airlines and hotel booking websites show you how many other people are viewing that flight or hotel right now. This spurs people into action as they fear they might lose out.

9. Don't be annoying
You’ve probably experienced it yourself – people can be put off by the hard sell or an intrusive approach. For example, on websites try not to use too many pop-ups as users will simply click away from your site.

10. Follow through on your CTA
Consider what happens AFTER a user responds to your CTA. There might be a signup process or email confirmation. This process should be streamlined to ensure that users follow through to the end.

So here is our call to us to find out more about how we can help you create a website or marketing materials that work hard for you!

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What are your marketing messages?

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Marketing messages

The first step in putting together a marketing communications plan for your business is to know who your customers are. That answers our first question:

1. Who should receive your marketing messages?

The next two questions are:

2. What should the messages say?
3. What image of my business do I want to project?

A message should reflect your company's mission statement (if you have one). It should reflect what your organisation does and believes, or talk about a particular product or service you offer.

A message or set of messages are the building blocks for all of your communications, e.g. adverts, press releases, website content, brochures, social media content, etc.

Some tips:
- Think about your audiences and carefully consider what you want them to think about you. Will your message make them take action?
- Make sure the messages are clear and concise – keep it simple and memorable.
- Don't forget the ‘why’, i.e. answer why your organisation does what it does.

You can then move on to the next few questions:

4. What's your budget?
5. How will the messages be delivered?
6. What actions do you want people to take after they've received the messages?
7. What 'control' methods will you use – i.e. how will you make sure that the messages don't get disrupted?
8. How will you summarise what was achieved, e.g. find out what return on investment was achieved?

After this you'll be in a great position to start making decisions about what types of marketing communications tools (website, paid advertising, social media etc) you need for your business.

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