SEO Tips

5 Reasons Businesses are still Afraid of Social Media, and why they shouldn’t be

We speak to many businesses every day, who are still afraid of opening their doors to social media marketing.

These clients won’t always say outright that they are unsure of the platforms, but will instead say things like:

“Our industry doesn’t lend itself to social media”,

or something about being an industrial business, such as:

“We’re B2B, not B2C – we don’t need social media.”

These conversations differ slightly, but generally go the same way. Reason after reason. Excuse after excuse. We’re not on social media because. . . we don’t do social media because we. . . it’s only for young people. . .

We do understand this. When you are a business owner, you’re already juggling a million balls up in the air. Often, the suggestion that you add another ball like social media can elicit a groan.

But, social media isn’t going away. Your customers and potential customers are on social media. And so are your competitors. Social platforms help you connect with your target market, allow you to increase awareness about your brand, as well as boost your leads and sales. With more than three billion people around the world using social media every month, it’s no passing trend. In fact, social media is one of  the fastest growing, and arguably, most innovative ways of marketing your business today. Below are some of the main reasons we hear daily about why a business isn’t implementing a social media strategy, along with ITCS’ reasoning behind why they should be.

1) We’d have no control over what others said about us:

This is probably the most common uncertainty we hear. It’s true: Social media allows everyone to be a journalist. It’s a completely public platform. Provide a bad client experience, and they will quickly take to their Twitter or Facebook feed to express their disappointment.

Our answer to this is always the same:

They are going to say it anyway. 

This may sound harsh; but even before social media came to its prominence, word-of-mouth still spread like wildfire. Whether you have a social presence or not, people will still complain about a bad service experience, and tell as many of their friends as they can. So, with that in mind – social media complaints can be a golden opportunity to control your narrative as a brand. It can allow you to showcase your customer centricity and brand values, and potentially quickly change a bad review into an improved experience. For tips on how to handle social media complaints, see this article by the Social Media Examiner.

Build an active networking base online to ensure that you can communicate quickly and respond to the conversation going on. Present your own perspective on the topic. Be part of the conversation, and don’t ignore it.

2) Social Media marketing can’t be measured:

Our answer to this? Yes it can! 

How do you measure a billboard? Do you know how many people drove by, read it, and bought your product? How do you measure a TV, newspaper or radio ad? Can you calculate how many heard, watched, or read the ad, were swayed by its’ message and bought as a direct result of it? How many people never even saw it because they changed the channels?

It’s true that measuring the results of your social media marketing campaign can be challenging, because there is not a clear path to measure true ROI. However, you can easily measure engagement. Platforms are now becoming more sophisticated – you can now see on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn how many people engage with your content. Social media can tell you how long someone watched a video or visited a website, when they clicked away, and where they went. In contrast, mainstream media can only guess at the numbers of viewers, listeners, and readers. We aren’t saying that these forms of marketing aren’t effective, but they should definitely be integrated with online channels in order to be able to truly measure customers’ engagement with your brand.

Related image3) I don’t want my staff on their phones all day: 

According to recent studies, UK employees spend nearly 3 hours a week on social media – so we understand this concern. However – as we stated earlier, social media isn’t going away. So our answer to this?

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em:

Rather than reprimand your employees for all the time they’re probably already spending on social media, why not harness that time spent online for promoting your business? Encourage them to share pictures, blog articles, an other similar activities. If you are a B2B service business, employee advocacy on platforms like LinkedIn can actually be a very effective lead generation tool.

4) Paid advertising is expensive:

We also understand this one. It’s true – poorly targeted social media adverts with no strategy can be costly. When it comes to advertising on social media, it is best to proceed with caution and with a budget in mind, as spending more money doesn’t necessarily equate to greater success.

However, when done right, paid advertising on social media can be really effective. Each platform is designed to facilitate the goals of your business, such as brand awareness, lead generation, website traffic, and more.

Our recommendation:

We recommend planning out paid advertising. Work out who your target audience is: who do you want to reach and how you want to reach those people? Then, you will be able to  decide how to spend your advertising budget.

5) I have no time and I’m really not ‘techy’:

This is one uncertainty that is both extremely common and totally understandable. There are two elements to our advice here. Busy business owners can find social media a struggle: It can even be frustrating. You may have the the best of intentions, and the desire to be helpful and visible on social media. But real time posting throughout the day, lack of resources and having to split yourself into 10 different roles at once, means that real time social media just isn’t realistic for a busy business owner or Managing Director.

Our time-saving solution:

Schedule your posts.

Social media scheduling, quite simply, saves time. No more having to get to your computer at a certain time each day, no more missed opportunities. Scheduling your social content in advance lets you take care of everything scheduling-related in one go, and then it’s out of sight, out of mind. Then, you only have to keep up with notifications and engagement with posts.

Our tech novice solution:

Ask ITCS for help.

This is for those who simply do not know how to use social media. You’ve read through this article, you agree with all of the points put across, and yet you are still feeling disheartened. You don’t know where to begin, and you don’t have the time to sit down and learn from the beginning. Well – we can help there. We build a bespoke SEO and Digital Marketing Strategy to enable you to continue doing what you do best – running your business. At ITCS, we’ll work alongside your business every step of the way. We will get your website seen by more people, and make sure it appeals to all your potential customers.

Rounding Up:

The power of social media is huge, and it can open the doors of success for your business when used in the right manner. Benefits generated are cost effective and measurable and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be using them.

Web5 Reasons Businesses are still Afraid of Social Media, and why they shouldn’t be

7 Time-Saving Outlook Tricks to Get you to Work Smarter

Outlook is renowned for being one of the best email providers for business: the platform helps millions of people manage their email correspondence every day. The snag? It assumes you already know how to organise your office correspondence for optimal productivity. But what if you don’t?

We all know that time is invaluable, especially when it comes to running a business. Improve your Microsoft Outlook productivity and you’ll find yourself working more efficiently. Whether you want to be an Outlook expert or just save time, you’ll appreciate the 7 time-saving Outlook tips in this tutorial.

Web7 Time-Saving Outlook Tricks to Get you to Work Smarter

Keyboard Hacks – 10 Shortcuts to Help You Work Faster on Windows 10

Although it’s unlikely you’ll be able to memorise every single keyboard shortcut, they really can make you much faster whilst you work on a PC. Learning and using keyboard hacks that are most important to you is a great way to enhance your Windows 10 experience.

Compared to reaching for the mouse or navigating a menu, a single keyboard shortcut shaves a moment off your task. This might not seem like much, but add up all those saved moments over a week or a month, and you’re gaining a substantial chunk of time. That’s why it’s important to know as many shortcuts as possible for your operating system. Try a keyboard hack a few times, and you’ll find out just how useful it can be.

You could even bookmark this page, and use it as a Go-To Tool whilst you learn!

WebKeyboard Hacks – 10 Shortcuts to Help You Work Faster on Windows 10

Adwords is giving me clicks – so where are all the customers?

Google Certified Adwords specialist, Lisa Baker, discusses why self-managed Adwords campaigns rarely attract the right traffic and what customers can do to fix it!

It’s important to remember that customers may not actually buy online, but call your phone instead, especially if using a mobile, so your ads MAY be working better than you think.  However that’s another story.  It’s true to say that self-managed Adwords campaigns often waste huge chunks of budget because customers don’t know how to get the best from them.

“Adwords didn’t work for us”

“Adwords didn’t work for us” is maybe the most common thing I hear when it comes to speaking to new SEO clients.  Desperate to get a bigger share of the traffic for their keywords, many of them have invested considerable resources, sometimes thousands of pounds per month, only to see no return on their investment.

These same clients are the ones who give us a try and are surprised when a month later, they are getting more telephone calls to their business, a lower bounce rate, more leads and more conversions from the same Adwords budget – even after they have paid our management fees!

SEO and Adwords management is often seen as a ‘dark art’.  However, ITCS customers won’t find me waving a magic wand and chanting under a full moon to improve their Adwords performance – it’s actually just a matter of common sense.

The good news is that people like me use the same Adwords portal that you do – we just know how to use it better!

Here’s two ways you can make fast improvements:

 

Avoiding Broad Match Traps

The first tool in your kit needs to be match types – if you don’t know what they are, chances are you will waste 50-80% of your budget.

Google has four different match types – knowing how to use which type and when is critical in getting the right traffic.  Getting it wrong is the most common mistake we see.

Most ‘DIY’ managers only use broad matches and assume Google will only match when the customer search includes their term.  This is a costly mistake.

Broad matches, where a phrase is just written normally, allow for similar or related search terms.  This means in practice if you type in ‘Van MOTs’, Google will also match for Car MOTs, Van Sales, ‘My Van failed it’s MOT’, ‘What does an MOT cost’ etc.

This means two things will happen:

  1. Your budget will go fast, because there are lots of these irrelevant searches and
  2. All those clicks will do nothing to gain you business.

Our advice is:

  1. learn all about the different match types so you know what to use, when – and use broad matches with extreme caution, and
  2. Look into negative keywords use them to avoid irrelevant matches.

 

Getting it right: Quality Scores

Google assigns each keyword a quality score, from 1 to 10.  No matter how much you offer to pay, a keyword with a low score won’t get many ad views, and those it gets will be more expensive.

That’s because Google wants to deliver what customers are looking for.  So, if you don’t sell red shoes on the page your ad takes customers to, and you don’t mention red shoes in your Google Ad, chances are your quality score for the term red shoes will be low!

If you go to the keywords tab, within Google Adwords, you can modify the columns to show your Quality Scores.  If you also add the ‘ad relevance’, ‘landing page experience’ and ‘expected click through rate tabs’, you can see why Google has given your keyword that score, which tells you where you can start to make improvements.

Here’s a handy little infographic to show you why getting Quality Scores right could save you money.

Infographic Provided by Wordstream

Why choose an Adwords professional

While these two points will almost certainly reduce your wasted spend, in the right hands, you could see real gains for your business by getting Adwords right.  Just like adding an extension to your home is something usually best done by a qualified builder, you will get better results by using an expert to manage Adwords.

There is far more to managing Adwords than can be gathered in a simple blog post, Google Certified specialists have to undertake exams every year to maintain their status, and in order to get the best results, our advice is always to use a Google Partner like ITCS.

In case you are wondering what your matches look like, ITCS offer a free review, and will be happy to show you where you could make savings.

Ultimately, Adwords is no different to any other power tool.  In the right hands, it’s an investment in your business – getting it wrong should not be an option.

If you’d like your free Adwords review, click here.

WebAdwords is giving me clicks – so where are all the customers?

The essential questions website owners have to ask – fast!

Google certified SEO specialist Lisa Baker discusses the issues website owners need to consider in 2018

2018 is bringing huge changes for website owners.

Not content with new GDPR rules throwing a huge spanner in the works, Google are also making a major change to their algorithm which will leave websites that aren’t fully responsive out in the cold.

In plain English, if your website won’t work as well on a mobile phone as it does on a desktop, your Google rankings will be affected.  Furthermore, if you don’t have an SSL certificate for your website, Google will now flag your website with the warning ‘not secure’.  This is an even higher priority if you sell online.

Chances are you’ll need to do some updates – ensuring compliance is your responsibility unless you engage a company to do that for you.   Even if your company has been checked for GDPR compliance, it’s important to check your website too – with possible GDPR fines of up to 20 million Euros, you can’t afford not to.

Here’s the vital questions website owners need to be asking:

  • Is my website cookie notice GDPR compliant?
  • Do I use third party tracking cookies?
  • Is any data we collect online stored in a way that is GDPR compliant?
  • Does my website have an SSL certificate?
  • Does my website work well on a mobile phone?  (you can test this by clicking here)
  • Have you checked your website terms and conditions are GDPR friendly?
  • Is my website secure enough to protect vital data from potential hackers?

Web Team Manager Amanda Deere advises:

 “It’s becoming increasingly complex to keep up to date with Google and the legislation, and both are essential.  ITCS has a full web compliance team and we’ll be happy to not only answer those questions for you, but also to provide the solutions if your website doesn’t comply.  Click here to contact us.”

WebThe essential questions website owners have to ask – fast!

How to Write a Great Blog Post that Google & Your Customers will Love!

ITCS’s Lisa Baker shares how customers can write a great blog post that is Google-friendly and will also engage their target audience

As one of the ‘in-house’ SEO experts for ITCS, and the Editor of several online magazines, I’m often asked by customers ‘how can I write a great blog post’?

If you write a great blog post, you can:

• Engage your audience with your brand
• Establish you as a thought-leader in your industry
• Give useful information to your readers and followers
• Help with your SEO
• Add weight to your sales messages
• Communicate your offer to customers

ITCS offer a full SEO and content management service, if you’d rather outsource blog writing, but here’s some helpful tips if you do it in-house:

1. DON’T use your blog or social media to over-sell

Some blogs are just a collection of different ‘buy me! posts’. Too much selling is a real turn off and offers no independent value to your readership – you wouldn’t watch a channel with nothing but adverts, so why would you return to a blog that’s stuffed with ‘buy me?’

The occasional special offer is fine, but your blog should be informative, reinforce your brand values and build customer trust. See it as a long-term relationship rather than a one-night-stand. Selling on blogs should be subtle and link-based.

Here’s some ideas for useful posts that will interest your readers:

 

2. DO – Share useful, informative content, at least once per month. Think about:

New Products – If you have a new product or service, the blog is a great way to launch it. Write about the new service in an informative way, with a subtle call to action button at the bottom.

Seasonal Tips – ‘Top 10 tips for (moving home/stress free motoring/buying the perfect gift/camping/booking a holiday) in (Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter)’ (obviously, this will depend on your business – this works really well for consumer sites)

Topical Thought Leadership – Is there a particular topic that everyone is discussing in your industry? (e.g. Brexit/Minimum Wage/Taxes/legislation/AI and tech). Stamp your authority as a leader in your field by sharing your opinion and/or advice. It is an opportunity to brag about your knowledge and experience in the light of current events. These posts also make great press releases.

Customer Service – Is there a question that your customer service team are always being asked? Save time by providing advice on common queries in a blog post. This could help your customer service team avoid repetitive support calls, and demonstrates to non-customers that you are a company who cares about their customers. A call to action button connecting to the customer support email address makes it easy to mail support.

Staff News – people buy people, and the internet can makes companies seem faceless.  Make your staff seem accessible, show the world they are likeable! If someone spends Sunday running for Cancer Research, ask if they mind you sharing the news on the company blog, and include a link to their online fundraising page. It helps staff feel valued and supported by the company and shows your customers you care about your staff.

Company News – Got a significant new contract, company award, or new department? Why not turn it into news and share it on your blog? News posts tell the world that your company is growing and ready for business. Word of warning though, if you plan to quote a customer, check they are happy first. Again, these can be part of your PR, and a pic of you with said customer will go down really well.

 

3. Write a Great Blog Post that is Google friendly too!

Your blog can only help your SEO if Google finds it. A professional SEO service like ITCS is great, because choosing the right keywords for your post can make the difference between Google indexing your post and not. SEO experts have tools to help them do this.

However, a little common sense will help you write a great blog post which Google can find. Just think – ‘what would my audience type into Google’  to find my product? Let’s imagine a Bridgend shoe shop has just had it’s new collection and wants to be found for ‘red shoes in Bridgend’:

What not to do….

‘This season’s new collection’ with information about your new range would make a great sales brochure, or customer mailshot.

However, it wouldn’t work as an SEO friendly blog title. ‘This seasons new collection’ is too vague to be helpful. If you want to be found for ‘Red shoes in Bridgend’ or even just ‘new shoes in Bridgend’, you need to use relevant keywords in the title to help Google find you.

What to do….

The Blog title is what Google displays as the first line in your search ad.  It also helps Google decide if your page o determine if it’s a good match for the keyword.

In this case, ‘Bridgend Trends: Red Shoes are Hot this Autumn!’ would be a much better title, because ‘Red Shoes’ and ‘Bridgend’ are both in the title, it doesn’t sound flat and gives enough information to make the reader want to click through to read more.

Google also checks for consistency. As well as the header, the post should be relevant to the header and talk about why red shoes are hot in Bridgend this season. Add pictures of the red shoes you sell, with relevant image titles. (Sales tip – link the images to the sales page for that shoe!).

 

Think like a customer, then think like Google

Your customer knows what they want, and Google wants to help them find it.  To score success even before you start to write a great blog post, try to think like your audience.

Here’s my short, sharp summary to getting it right every time:

• Think about what your audience want to read
• Think about what you want to say
• Think how about what your audience will search for to find it on Google

Now go and write a great blog post with your audience in mind!

 

Lisa works within the ITCS SEO team and is Google Certified.  For advice about Blog Posts, SEO, Social Media or help running an Adwords campaign, contact the ITCS Web and SEO team on 0845 444 200.

WebHow to Write a Great Blog Post that Google & Your Customers will Love!