Author Archives: Sarah Hickman

Who are my customers? Using market segmentation can help you find out

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Marketing-Leamington-Spa

OK, so this may sound like a dry, academic topic. But using market segmentation needn't be difficult, and can help any business – large or small – define who their customers are. Once you know who your customers are, you can then take steps to shape your offering to meet their needs.

A segment of the market is basically a group of people that share similar characteristics.

You can follow four rules for creating useful segments. Your segments should be:

1. Measurable
We should know where it is, how big it is, and exactly how it differs from the market at large and other segments in particular.

2. Accessible
You need to be able to access the segment with your marketing communications.

3. Substantial
It has to be big enough to be worth your while.

4. Homogeneous
The members of the segment must act in the same way, and respond in the same way to marketing messages they receive.

So the next question is – what criteria should you use for segmentation?

This depends on your business, but here are some suggestions:


1. Geographical markets

By country
By region
By county
By town
By postcode
Or even by street

2. Demographic factors
By age
By gender
By family life stage (e.g. whether they have children)
By income
By occupation
By education

3. Social factors
By social class (although this is becoming less useful)
By lifestyle
By personality

4. Benefits sought
For example, if you are a toothpaste manufacturer, why are your customers buying your product? Is it for dental health, social reasons (fresh breath), or appearance (tooth whitening)?

 

The list above is based on a business-to-consumer business. A B2B organisation could use slightly different criteria, such as type of customer, end uses, common buying factors, and buyer size and geography.

Segmentation isn't necessarily a precise exercise, but it should be able to help you target your marketing efforts more effectively. It can help define the focus of your company, increase your competitiveness, retain your customers, improve your communication… and ultimately increase your profitability.

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10 tips to get your marketing calls to action working for you

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Calls To Action marketing Leamington Spa

How many times have you seen instructions like "Subscribe Now" - "Sign Up Today" - "Contact Us To Find Out More" - "Buy Now" online? Do you have any on your own website? If not, we strongly advise that you get some!

Calls To Action (CTAs) help your website to work hard for you. They are also very valuable in email campaigns, because one of the purposes of an email campaign is to get your potential customers to take an action.

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

  • purchasing goods or services
  • signing up for a newsletter
  • downloading your latest white papers, etc.

Get your CTAs wrong and you are potentially damaging your digital marketing efforts.

So how can I make them work for me?

They should be:

1. DIRECT
Make it clear what the customer will achieve by clicking on your CTA. Use concise language. If you want your customer to ‘Download full report’ then say so. Not ‘Click here to be amazed by our survey’s results’.

But at the same time...
2. UNAMBIGUOUS
Avoid open-ended invitations such as ‘Click here’ or ‘Submit’. Instead, state a clear outcome, such as 'Buy now’, or ‘Download your free trial’.

3. PROMINENT
Whether presented as a button, advert, text or image, your CTA needs to stand out from the rest of the page in terms of colour, design and position. Don’t hide it away where it won't be found.

4. WELL PLACED
Its position on your web page is vital. Generally, lead generation or eCommerce CTAs should be displayed prominently near the top of the page, whilst more complex pages might warrant a CTA below the 'fold'.

5. CONSIDERED FOR MOBILE DEVICES
If you’re aiming at a mobile audience (and most people are), don’t bury your CTA at the bottom of your page - users will be required to scroll endlessly to reach it. Also, don't use tiny buttons that will go unnoticed on a small screen.

6. PERSONALISED
People like the personal touch. Think about the language you use. Amazingly, a case study from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 showed a 90% increase in sign-ups by altering one word in a CTA, from ‘Start your free 30 day trial’ to ‘Start my free 30 day trial’.

7. TESTED
Testing will allow you to maximise the impact of your CTA and understand the preferences of your audience. It's worth trying different wording, and placing your CTA in different areas to see what works best.

8. REALISTIC
Make sure your CTA does what it says. If you've promised a free report, make sure the CTA leads straight there, not to your homepage or to a series of complex sign-up procedures. Potential customers may get frustrated and leave the page.

9. OPTIMISED
If your CTA is embedded as an image, make sure you alt tag it with strong keywords. You may need to ask your web developer for help! Alt tags ensure your content is correctly indexed with search engines, and will help to maximise traffic and improve your SEO.

10. FEW
Don’t confuse your visitors with too many CTAs or buttons per page. Where more than one CTA is necessary, create a hierarchy to prioritise. The most important ones should be bigger and placed in a prominent position to maximise clicks.

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Content marketing – what's the point?

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Content marketing

What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience - and ultimately to drive profitable customer action.” (Content Marketing Institute)

In other words, it is creating or finding relevant information and high-quality content, and sharing it on a mixture of digital channels, such as your website blog and social media.

The ideal content is entertaining, informative and helpful to potential customers. Good content directs those customers to your website (or makes them linger there), where you can potentially capture leads and sell products. Successful content marketing creates positive associations to your brand.

Why is it so popular?
In today’s digital world, people are inundated with adverts. As a result, businesses struggle to get their messages noticed. In 2011, a study conducted by the Custom Content Council showed that more than 70% of people preferred to get their information from articles rather than from advertisements. This helps to explain the growth in popularity of content marketing.

Why do businesses do it?
Large, successful brands like Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble and Toshiba (to name a few) use content marketing – so it must be worth doing. Large brands are interested in content marketing for two reasons:
1. It's an effective way to reach audiences
2. It provides more “immediacy” to learn from and interact with these audiences than traditional bought media, like press and TV advertising

In other words, it's a great way of carrying out your own market research, and building your brand. Through content marketing, you are communicating messages to your customers all the time, and hopefully building a relationship.

SMEs obviously don't have the huge marketing budgets of these organisations, but can learn from them.

Is it worth the investment/time?
Content marketing is a lot like going to the gym. You’re not going to see results in a week, but if you commit to doing it regularly over time, you’ll see results. The bottom line is that there is tremendous ROI in consistently developing great content for your audience. And, unlike other forms of marketing, content marketing pays dividends far into the future.

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Features vs Benefits: How to think like your customers

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think-like-your-customers

Why do people buy a product or a service? They do it for the benefit it offers them.

As the seller, your mission is to answer the question, “What's in it for them?”

Approach your marketing efforts from your customer's perspective. Next time you write content for your website, send an email campaign or update your social media accounts, stop and think – why should customers buy from me? What benefits am I offering them?

There's a difference between the features of what you're selling, and the benefits.

Feature = what the product is, or what it has;
Benefit = what the product does for the customer.

Here are some examples of features vs benefits:

1st generation Apple iPod
Feature = 5GB hard drive storage
Benefit = 1,000 songs in your pocket

Rachel's Organic Greek Yoghurt
Feature = nutritious and tasty
Benefit = makes you feel healthier and more satisfied

Kleenex Balsam Tissues
Feature = thick and soft
Benefit = soothes your nose and helps you through a cold

Nurofen Plus Tablets
Feature = contains active ingredients Ibuprofen and Codeine Phosphate
Benefit = one dose relieves your headache and gets you through the day

Both features and benefits are equally important when you're writing your marketing copy and campaigns, but it will be the benefits that give you the best advantages for converting customers.

Try making a list of your product’s features and write benefits for each. Do this again for different potential customers, even ones you may not have considered before. You may find a new way of looking at your product that helps you better connect with people.

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Is your website still fit for purpose?

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Website Design Leamington Spa

Ask yourself these questions about your current website:

  1. Is it immediately obvious what it's for? If you can't tell in the first five seconds what the website is selling or telling, then it isn't doing its job effectively. Amazingly, this is the amount of time viewers will spend deciding if they want to stay or leave. If they can't tell what you do in that time – they'll be off.
  2. Is it optimised for mobile devices? Have a look at your website on a smartphone or iPad. It should be simple to navigate and text should be easy to read.
  3. Is it too cluttered? If you've had the same website for a few years, it may have been tempting to 'bolt on' more information, perhaps as your business has grown. To gain a competitive advantage, you need a crisp, clean design that's easy to navigate.
  4. Is it flexible and adaptable? What if your business launches a new product or service? You don’t want to have to revamp everything to accommodate it. Using a CMS (Content Management System) can allow for future expansion, and enable you to add new features to your existing website.
  5. Are my competitors doing it better? Have a look at what your rivals are doing. If their sites rate above yours in search results and look more professional, it may be time for a refresh.

If you'd like to a chat about what you need to go forward, give us a call.

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How to create a simple yet effective marketing plan

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marketing plan

It’s a well-known fact that a business plan is vital. However, many people don’t realise that a marketing plan is just as important.

A marketing plan is a strategic document outlining your objectives. It spells out all the tactics you’ll use to achieve your goals. It’s your plan of action, and unless you’re using it to help gain funding, it doesn’t have to be lengthy: bullet points will do.

Here are the elements you should include in your marketing plan:

1. SITUATION ANALYSIS
This is a snapshot of your current situation. It can be broken down into these sub-sections:
• Definition of your company and its products or services
• Your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
• How the benefits you provide set you apart from your competition (also known as your Unique Selling Proposition or USP)

2. TARGET CUSTOMERS
Create a simple description of your target customer. This is known as a Customer Persona. You can describe the person in terms of demographics - age, gender, family, income, location - as well as lifestyle or social factors. Is your customer traditional or modern? Are they leaders or followers? Introverted or extroverted? How often do they purchase what you’re selling? You'll probably have a number of different customer types; create personas for each of them.

Customer Personas work just as well for B2B organisations, although you’ll need to adjust them slightly. Your target customers will be working within other businesses. You can define them based on their type of business, job title, size of business, location, estimated turnover, etc.

3. MARKETING OBJECTIVES
What do you want your marketing plan to achieve? For example, are you hoping for a 10% increase in sales per quarter?

Write down a short list of goals. Make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant/realistic and time-bound) so you’ll know when you’ve achieved them.

4. MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
This is probably the most important part of your marketing plan. In this section you should detail the tactics you’ll use to reach your target customers from section 2, and achieve your objectives from section 3.

Strategies
Different strategies are suitable for different stages of the ‘customer journey’. For example, advertising and direct marketing are great for reaching cold prospects. Warm prospects - people who have already been exposed to your marketing message and perhaps even met you - will respond best to permission-based email, for example. Your hottest prospects are people who already know you, and are ready to buy. Generally, personal contact (whether face-to-face, by phone, or email) combined with good marketing will help complete the sale.

Tactics
In this section, summarise your marketing strategies above, then list the tactics you’ll use to reach your customers at different stages of the customer journey. For example, you might combine online and print advertising to reach cold prospects, but use email to contact your warm prospects.

To identify your ideal ‘marketing mix’, find out which media your target audience turns to for information on the type of product or service you sell. Are your target customers using social media? Do they read trade publications? Do they attend industry events? The marketing tactics you choose should reach people when they’ll be most receptive to your messages.

5. MARKETING BUDGET
A good rule of thumb is to set aside a percentage of projected annual sales for your marketing budget.

Tactics are available for even the smallest budgets. If you exceed the budget in your marketing plan, you can simply go back and adjust your tactics until you have a mix that’s affordable for you. The key is to never stop marketing.

6. REVIEW AND ADJUST
The final step in any plan is to monitor and evaluate progress. If you're not achieving the results you would like, go back a few stages in the plan and make any tweaks you feel are necessary.

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How Google Analytics can help improve your web traffic

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Google Analytics Leamington Spa

Google Analytics monitors and measures your website traffic.

It’s free, and integrates with other Google programmes like AdWords.

You can see how many people are actually engaging with your website, which you can't do using offline marketing tools like brochures or press ads.

We recommend that you analyse your website traffic reports regularly. These will help you understand where your traffic is coming from, and what visitors do when they land on your website.

How to set it up
1. To use Google Analytics you need a Google account. If you don't have one, set one up. It's quick and easy.
2. Once you have a Google account go to Google Analytics and sign in with your Google account.
3. Follow the instructions to create a new analytics account.
4. When you are creating a new account, the 'Add Tracking' step will generate your tracking ID. The tracking ID will start with 'UA'.
5. Copy and paste the tracking code into the pages of your website that you want to track.

You can follow these steps yourself, but it may be easier to get your web developer to do this for you.

With this code in place, you will immediately start to receive data related to your website that you can then use to analyse your traffic and business goals.

One fantastic feature of Google Analytics is goal tracking. Set up a 'conversion goal' within your analytics account and you will be able to check if you are reaching this goal. You will be able to see exactly where you are losing your visitors along the conversion process, allowing you to correct any mistakes you are making on your site.

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So you want an eCommerce website. Why not try WooCommerce?

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woocommerce-website

You may be a business owner who currently sells products from a 'bricks and mortar' shop, and is looking to expand their sales channels to include online.

Or perhaps you've already got an eCommerce website, but it's been around for a few years and you're unhappy with its limitations.

If you've read any of our previous blog posts you'll know that we're big fans of WordPress. We love it because our clients can update their own websites after launch, it's easy to use, it's great for SEO, and if you want to increase what your website can do, it's usually possible to add functionality with 'plugins'.

If you want to sell products via your website, WordPress can handle this via a plugin called WooCommerce.

Woocommerce allows you to easily control the products on your website. You can add 'basic' products, products with variations like different sizes and colours, and add a range of images to show different angles. Shopping carts and checkout pages look professional and are customisable.

You can up-sell and cross-sell related products – Amazon do this, so why not borrow their idea? It's also easy to enable social sharing, so your customers can share links to your website via Facebook, Instagram, etc.

You can administer the whole process on the website, including checking your orders, despatching them and printing out packing slips (via an additional plugin).

If you have stock to clear, you can set up a Sale at any time by updating the prices of your products and showing a 'before' and 'after' price. You can even use voucher codes for a set price discount, a percentage discount or free delivery. This could be for a month, a week, a day...or however long you want your promotion to last. All this can be done with no input from your web developer.

There are a wide variety of delivery options including Flat Rate Shipping, Free Shipping, International Shipping and Local Shipping. Delivery options are very flexible and allow for detailed control of shipping rules and rates. This part can get a bit complicated depending on your delivery requirements, but once it's all set up there's no need to go back and update it.

WooCommerce supports hundreds of payment gateways (for example WorldPay and PayPal) and provides secure SSL certificate support, giving you and your potential customers peace of mind.

How about keeping a track of figures? The system includes dashboards and widgets to monitor your sales and performance.

Here's one of our WooCommerce websites, which is being run successfully and profitably: lilacrose.co.uk

There are so many possibilities when using WooCommerce, whether you want a basic online shop or an all-singing, all-dancing site. If you want to find out more about how WooCommerce can help you run your online shop more easily, drop us a line.

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Printing jargon buster

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Printing Leamington Spa

We received so much positive feedback from last month's blog post on busting the jargon around graphic design that we thought we'd treat you to a glossary for printing terms! So here goes...

Binding
Method by which pages of a publication are held together.

Bleed
Additional printing area outside the normal printing area. Necessary for the allowance of the mechanical cutter in the trimming process.

Creep
Tendency of a printed image to drift out of register or position during the printing process.

CTP
Abbreviation for 'Computer to Plate', the method of making printing plates direct from digital media.

Die cutting
Process that uses sharp steel blades, laser beams or water jets to cut predetermined shapes into substrates.

Digital proof
Soft or hard copy proof produced from digital data on a display or on a substrate.

Drilling
Process that uses drills to bore holes in a substrate, for example in paper inserts which will be bound in a ring binder.

Embossing
System that uses dies to press raised images or textures onto blank or printed substrates.

Encapsulation
The process of covering and sealing printed paper or board with a tough waterproof, plastic film. An overlap is usually left around the edge. Often mistakenly referred to as 'lamination'.

Fill in
Undesirable effect in which small non-image areas are filled by ink.

Gloss lamination
A printing finish that gives a high gloss sheen often used on brochure covers, menus, magazine covers or presentation folders.

Gravure printing
A process in which the printing areas are below the non-printing surface. The recesses are filled with ink and the surplus is cleaned off the non-printing with a blade before the paper contacts the whole surface and lifts the ink from the recesses.

GSM
Measure of paper density. Stands for ‘Grams per Square Metre’. The higher the GSM number, the heavier the paper. For example, standard A4 office paper is 80 gsm.

Hickey
Imperfection on a printed sheet caused by unwanted particles that can cling to the image carriers during lithographic printing.

Imposition
Positioning pages in order to ensure correct sequence when the resulting print work is converted to final page form.

Laminating
The application of transparent plastic film, usually with a high-gloss or matt finish, to the surface of the substrate to enhance its appearance, increase the thickness and stiffness and to increase its durability. Differs from 'encapsulation'.

Letterpress printing
A process in which the printing surface of metal, plastic photopolymer or rubber is raised above the non-printing surface. The ink rollers and the substrate touch only the relief printing surface.

Lithographic printing
Process for printing from a smooth surface, called a plate, to a substrate, generally paper. Based on the rule that ink and water repel each other. The image area of the plate is treated to receive and transmit ink to paper via a blanket. The non-image area of the plate is treated to attract water and thus reject the ink from the ink roller.

Matt lamination
A printing finish that gives a subtle, tactile effect, and forms a protective coating over the print. Gives a less glossy finish than gloss lamination.

Moiré
Interference patterns that can appear at regular frequencies when two or more patterns on an image interact with each other (for example a fine check pattern).

Offset printing
The most commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface.

Pagination
Making up into page format.

Perfect binding
Adhesive binding – gluing together individual pages or signatures directly to the cover of the book. Best used when the spine thickness is from 3mm to 25mm.

PP
Acronym standing for 'Printed Pages'. For example a brochure may have 16pp.

Perfecting
Printing the second side of the sheet. Also known as backing up.

Process colours
The colours used for four-colour process printing: yellow, magenta, cyan and black.

Raster Image Processor (RIP)
Processor that creates a bitmapped image from any other form of electronic file.

Register marks
Small reference patterns, guides or set of fine line crosses, added outside the image area to provide points for alignment and registration of subsequent colours in printing operations.

Run on
The additional cost to print further copies at the same time as the main print run.

Saddle stitching
To stitch with wire through the back of a folder booklet or brochure. At a larger pagination this method will not work, and a different option such as perfect binding will be used.

Screen printing
Often called silk screen printing. A stencil process with the printing and non-printing areas on one surface, the printing (image) area is open screen. The substrate is placed under the screen and ink is passed across the top of the screen and forced through the open (image) areas on to the substrate below.

Self cover
A brochure or booklet having the cover in the same substrate as the text pages (inside pages).

Signature pages
Professionally printed books have many pages printed per sheet of (large) paper, which is then folded and cut where necessary to produce a gathering or 'signature' of several smaller sheets.

Spot colour
Colour created from a single ink, which is not one of the process colours.

Spot UV
A special printing finish you can apply to specific areas on your print work to make it shinier. For example you can apply UV varnish to your logo.

Stitching
Method of binding pages in a booklet, for example using wire, thread or metal/plastic rings.

Stochastic screening
Printing process that uses the variations of spacing of tiny dots of uniform size and density to render tones.

Substrate
The base material that images will be printed onto, for example paper or card.

Web printing
The use of rolls (or 'webs') of paper supplied to the printing press in a continuous form. Generally used for runs in excess of five or ten thousand impressions. Typical examples of web printing include newspapers, newspaper inserts/ads, magazines, direct mail, catalogues and books.

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6 rules for writing advertising copy – by George Orwell

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Copywriting Leamington Spa

George Orwell, author of ground-breaking works such as Nineteen Eighty-four and Animal Farm, started his career as an advertising copywriter.

He used this experience to create a few simple writing rules, which we can still use today to ensure our writing is clear, direct and effective. His rules apply whether we're writing a blog post, web page, magazine article, news story, advert or mailout.

1. Try not to use metaphors, similes or other figures of speech
DON'T SAY: Cutting-edge web designers
SAY: Leading designers / the kind of designers that others follow / the industry's most original designers

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do
DON'T SAY: Expeditive, accommodating or monumental
SAY: Quick, helpful or large

3. If it's possible to cut a word out, do so
DON'T SAY: J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury's most lucrative writer, is now exploring themes of great importance - crime, suicide - in her first novel as Robert Galbraith, “The Cuckoo's Calling”.
SAY: J.K. Rowling explores crime and suicide in her first Robert Galbraith novel “The Cuckoo's Calling”.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active
DON'T SAY: It was understood by the team that Peter's visit was a great success
SAY: The team understood that Peter's visit was a great success

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent
DON'T SAY: In the spirit of carpe diem, the design team blue-skied proposals on the aortic behaviour of cupid's arrow
SAY: The designers took the opportunity to think creatively about love

6. Don't break these rules!

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