Why you should be checking out your competitors

Knowing who your competitors are and what they are offering can help you to make your products, services and marketing stand out. You can use this knowledge to create marketing strategies and take advantage of your competitors’ weaknesses, improving your own business performance. Also assess any threats and how you can overcome them.

Here are three important reasons on why it’s vital to be checking out your competitors.

1. To be the best

See what your competitors are excelling at and understand why with the following examples:

  • Do they have a higher following on social media than you? Maybe this correlates with how active they are on their social media platforms.
  • Do they have lots of reviews and higher ratings? See if there is a trend in what their customers are raving about. What do they do that is so outstanding?
  • Are they in the news? What are they up to? Is this anything that you can announce to the media?

2. Get ideas for what not to do

Learning from someone else’s mistakes is an effective way for you to progress. Monitoring your competitors’ marketing campaigns brings in ideas of what works well and what doesn’t. Try going through their website as if you are a customer, to see what they are lacking in that you could use to your advantage.

You can also see if they have any bad reviews and why. Generate leads by offering your solution to their problem.

3. To be one step ahead

After thoroughly examining your competition, you might be bursting with creative ideas to take you one step further, coming up with ideas nobody else has thought of. Don’t rip off their ideas. Let their ideas inspire you to come up with your own. Better ideas that convert.

Keep in mind that your competitors could be watching you! Set the bar high.

So how do I start checking out my competitors?

We have recently created a free template where you can easily compare your business with your competition. This will provide you with valuable ideas and inspiration that you can use to your advantage.

Download template here

However if you don’t have time to complete this, we can do it for you in detail for just £270.

6 free marketing tools every new business owner should know about

All business owners understand the importance of saving money on expenses, especially start-ups. It’s crucial to effectively market your business. But fortunately there are tonnes of free digital marketing tools that can really have an impact. Listed below are some of our favourites:

  1. Use Buffer for social media management

Buffer is an online social media management tool that will enable you to schedule social media posts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. Buffer will help you increase your following, engage your audience and build your brand, saving you a lot of time.

The best thing about this tool is that it allows you to connect multiple accounts to one dashboard. You can schedule posts, create campaigns and analyse the outcome of your posts. Buffer’s free plan is great for new businesses who want to grow their social media presence.

  1. Use WordPress for blogging

Blogging is a great way of driving traffic to your website and boosting your credentials. WordPress is a straightforward tool used by millions, with plenty of themes and plugins to choose from to make your Blog unique.

  1. Use Canva for easy designing

Having visual content on social media is becoming an increasingly popular form of marketing. From infographics to custom illustrations, visual content is a brilliant way for entrepreneurs to build a professional appearance and gain credibility.

Luckily for most business owners, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to use this simple tool. You can create almost anything visual on Canva, from social media images and infographics to flyers and brochures. Its free library of illustrations, templates, fonts and images give you plenty of graphics that you can easily play about with.

  1. Use MailChimp for email marketing

While building your brand on social media platforms is effective, email marketing is vital to the success of most businesses. It allows for a more intimate interaction between you and the consumer by offering you the tools you need to nurture leads. MailChimp is a fantastic free email marketing tool and one of the easiest for new businesses owners to learn.

  1. Use SurveyMonkey for customer feedback

Surveys are a great way to collect consumer information, uncover trends, engage customers and gain tangible insights on your business. SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular free online survey tools, and is incredibly simple. Within just a few minutes, you can create, design and publish your own business survey. Plus you’ll be able to analyse the results.

  1. Use Evernote for organisation

Organisation is crucial when it comes to marketing your business; if you’re able to prioritise and organise your notes, you might not be able to act on opportunities.

Evernote is a tool where you can capture inspiration, ideas and trends, and store them all in one easily accessible place. It can be accessed on your laptop, mobile or tablet, making it the ideal tool for finding and storing content ideas, brainstorming, market research and competitor analyses.

Bonus tip: free stock photo websites

As we previously said, having visual content on social media is becoming an increasingly popular form of marketing. New business owners often get into trouble by using online images that aren’t royalty-free; the use of these can result in a fine. So in a previous article, we created a list of brilliantly free stock photo websites.


marketing plan templateDownload our free Marketing Plan Template

Download this Free Marketing Plan Template to easily keep track of your marketing activities.

Click here for more info and to download.

Five ways to keep your online customers loyal

Attracting new customers costs much more (in fact almost eight times more!) than retaining existing ones, so understanding how to do so can be the difference between business failure and success. Of course, having a great product or service with competitive pricing are fundamental in keeping online customers, but here are five basic pointers aimed at helping you encourage customer loyalty online.

1. Keep your customers informed

Throughout the entire order process, keep your customers up-to-date and informed. A confirmation email, dispatch notification and an accurate delivery day/time are all important.

If any mistakes happen or if there are any delays, ensure the customer is kept informed, then correct it promptly. A discount on their next order could help the situation.

2. Be personal

The web is very impersonal, so take every opportunity to personalise your service. One example could be birthday/event email marketing, creating a customer database with their birthdays, so when it comes to the date you can send a little gift – an offer, discount or freebie.

3. Stay fresh

Change the homepage of your website frequently with fresh offerings and news. This reassures customers that your service will be fresh too, and it’s also helps SEO rankings.

4. Reward your customers

If a customer has used your services for a long time, let them know how much you value them. It can be annoying for loyal customers if first-time buyers are getting an equal or better offer than they are. For the long run, loyalty programmes are great. Especially if the rewards are unique and personal to each customer.

5. Don’t be complacent

Continually review your service by contacting a selection of customers after delivery, to check that they are satisfied. If not, you can resolve any problems and learn from the mistakes made. Also, contacting customers for valuable feedback on your products and services gives you the opportunity to tell them about your other products and services, or perhaps any current offers.


Free Smart goals templateDownload our free SMART Goals Template

Use this simple spreadsheet template to enter your SMART goals and analyse results.

Click here for more info and to download.

SEO is still important for small businesses – here’s why

SEO – three letters that cause mixed feelings for many business owners: some who know and see the benefits, some that want to avoid it at all costs, and some that have had their wrists slapped due to bad SEO practices before. But like, dislike or ignore it, SEO is vital for any business with a website.

Search engine optimisation is something that all business owners should be thinking about today. Because in the future, your natural search engine rankings could massively boost your business.

More brand awareness

If people see your website floating around, you would be surprised at just how many people remember you. The more traffic you get to your website, the more remarketing you can do (putting ads in front of people that have visited your website – on other websites they visit and on the social networks they use). This will increase your company awareness even more. The average prospect needs a whopping eight associations with your business before they become a customer. The more you make yourself available to them, the higher chance you have of getting the results you want. Being seen more, along with your other marketing tools is critical to increasing your long-term customer base.

More customers

If your website is spot on, increasing your traffic will lead to an increase in your customers. If your website doesn’t turn visitors into customers then this is what needs to be your priority, not traffic. But once this is taken care of (which we can help you with by the way!), more traffic results in more customers. So by being high in the rankings for a range of relevant key search terms, your traffic should steadily grow, with people all ready to buy your products or services. 50% of all searches will head to the top three results in Google. This means it is crucial that your business is occupying the top spots.

Some of your competitors WON’T be doing it

Many of your competitors will have old websites which aren’t responsive and mobile friendly. Your industry may have seen the same businesses occupy the top listings in search results, but that can change. Whilst it takes effort and possibly paid help, you can get there and convert their customers into becoming yours. There are always opportunities to explore and get more business from in regards to natural rankings.

Less reliant on budget

As the name suggests, pay per click costs money each time someone clicks on your advert. If you have 50 visitors, you pay 50 times. Whereas if you have 50 visitors from natural results, technically you aren’t paying per visit, just the effort and time it has taken to get you there. SEO is less budget reliant than PPC. Your SEO campaign should help you to improve your range of keywords meaning you aren’t so restricted in terms of a monthly budget.

SEO isn’t entirely cheaper than PPC as it does depend on how much you invest in each. But in general it should work out far less budget restrictive in the long run than your paid campaigns might be.

Increased long-term return on investment

There is no increased cost with more people searching for something through natural search results and landing on your website, unlike PPC where you still have to pay for each visit. This means in terms of a long-term return on investment, SEO will always be the more cost effective way to go. As discussed, because SEO is your long-term goal, it might cost you more in the first year than other online marketing strategies, but if your SEO is good and the results are effective, it will provide one of the more effective return on investments you will ever see from a marketing perspective.

So how can you start improving your SEO? Take a look at our 8 simple ways.


content marketing calendarDownload our free Content Marketing Calendar

Use this template to create a full schedule of activities for marketing your business over the next 3 months.

Click here for more info and to download.

How to get reviews from your customers

Businesses these days have more and more competitors. So it’s increasingly important to have online reviews to stand out and make you more valuable. People want proof of how great your products and services are; unfortunately your word for it isn’t enough.

Having positive reviews and testimonials plays a big part in persuading prospects to choose you. There are a growing number of places where people can leave online reviews now – Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor and more.

But, getting your customers to spend their time writing reviews for you can sometimes be tricky. Here are a few tips on how to get your customers to do so.

1. Asking in person

The best way to get a review is ultimately by asking in person. The right time to ask is when you have established a connection and the client is happy with your service. It should be asked by the person who conducted the sale or service. The customer will feel more inclined to than if they were asked by another person in the business, e.g. the owner.

The perfect time to ask for a review is just when they have thanked you for your service or product. All you need to do then is ask them to put what they have just said in writing for other people to read.

2. Asking via email

It isn’t always possible to ask in person – you may not have much face-to-face interaction with your customers. The email should come from a personal email address and from someone the customer is familiar with. Make it as personable as possible.

3. Make it easy

Customers won’t be as inclined to leave a review if they think you’re expecting pages detailing how wonderful you are. If you want a short and snappy review then that is fine. For a review more than a paragraph long, provide your customers with a few questions that they can easily answer, so you can put the testimonial together.

If you want them to leave a review on a certain website like your Facebook page or Yelp, give them the link to the exact page. It’s all about making it as easy as possible for the customer.

4. Provide an incentive

Sometimes, even your most loyal and happy customers need a little incentive to spend their time on writing a review for you. Offering a prize to a random winner who writes a review can be an effective way to get lots of reviews. Just make sure that your offer is for writing a review in general and not for a good one. Don’t give people the impression that you are paying for good reviews.

Now it’s time to start asking! For more information on how we can help your business develop an effective website and online marketing campaign, as well as generate great reviews, get in touch with us.


content marketing calendarDownload our free Content Marketing Calendar

Use this template to create a full schedule of activities for marketing your business over the next 3 months.

Click here for more info and to download.

7 vital questions to ask before hiring a marketing company

Nothing frustrates us more than when we see businesses paying out hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds each month to a marketing company that isn’t giving them the level of service that they should be. For example, in marketing attention to detail is vital – a common aspect often overlooked. If you are considering hiring a marketing company, make sure you ask these questions:

1. What do you need to know about my business?

How is a company meant to market your business if they don’t know the ins and outs of it? Many marketing companies have the same marketing strategies for businesses in different industries, which is rarely effective. Marketing strategies and action plans need to be tailored to your business. This is so they can reach out to your target markets in the best way.

We have a 28 Point Discovery Session we go through with you in the initial process. This covers everything we need to know about your company, your products and your services. It includes your background, client demographics, sales processes, current marketing efforts, and more.

2. Do you have the same passion for my company as I do?

Passion is important – how can a company market and promote your business if they don’t love it themselves? Larger marketing companies work for so many different businesses that you might be concerned that their work will be robotic and not personal to your business.

At Bellüber, we work with clients who we believe have the potential for lots more growth, something that we will assist you in achieving through our tailored marketing strategies and implementation.

3. Do you know how important it is for me to get a good return on my investments?

Do they have lots of experience in owning and running businesses? A good marketing company will understand the day to day issues you face with managing your time and resources for marketing as well as how important it is to get a good ROI.

We analyse every aspect of the marketing activities we implement, through to the sales that result from them. We then adapt the strategies and activities to reflect the results.

4. Will you analyse my competitors?

Every company has competitors, and it’s important for marketing companies to get to know these well. They should research how your competitors market their businesses and analyse what is most effective, as part of the extensive research. This is something that marketing companies can overlook!

In part of the initial process, we also put together a very detailed competitive analysis of your competitors, in a table where we can easily compare all of their different marketing efforts. This is summarised with a SWOT analysis, identifying each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, along with your opportunities to take advantage of and threats to your business. We also provide a list of recommendations as a result.

5. Do you pay attention to detail?

As we said before, attention to detail in marketing is key. Your marketing content (website, social media posts, printed media and so on) is what your audience will see and make a decision on, so it’s vital that it is up to the highest standards, and in particular has no spelling or grammatical errors. When choosing a marketing company, take a good look at their website, social media posts and/or emails, to ensure they pay attention to what they put out there.

6. Will I be kept informed of the actions being taken and the results?

It’s vital that you are aware of what is being done as well with your marketing. You want the marketing company you choose to keep track of (and tell you) what is working and what isn’t, then focus on the activities that get the best results.

We provide regular monthly reports of our activities, with recommendations on what we need to do next, in order to achieve the best results.

7. Will I be in a long term contract?

While contracts are important for protecting both the client and the provider, a good marketing company won’t try to lock you into a contract that doesn’t meet your needs, right from the beginning. A lot of initial contracts last too long or are more restrictive than necessary. A marketing company may start to pick up their efforts at about ten months into a one-year contract in the hope of signing you up for another year.

We provide you with a six-month contract, completely tailored to your specific goals and requirements. During and after the six months, we analyse the results of our activities and the return on investment to you. We then give you these choices:

  • To opt out of marketing (this is very rare as our clients realise how vital it is to continue)
  • To proceed with a second 6 month contract, tailored to take account of the previous 6 months’ results
  • Continue on a monthly rolling term with no commitment
  • We train someone in your team who can then take over the activities (with our guidance)

Whether you are considering us or another marketing company, make sure you ask these questions first.


content marketing calendarDownload our free Content Marketing Calendar

Use this template to create a full schedule of activities for marketing your business over the next 3 months.

Click here for more info and to download.

How to review and improve your website

Many of our clients are surprised at how many important things they are missing from their website which can improve their marketing, growth and sales. These range from site loading speed to your navigation menu. Here are some of the factors that we check apply to our clients’ websites…

The homepage shows USPs and benefits

You have such a short amount of time (reportedly just 6 seconds!) to grab a visitor’s attention before they move onto another website in their search results. An important way to entice them immediately is by highlighting your unique selling points on the homepage.

The homepage immediately tells the visitor what you’re about

It’s important that your homepage shows the visitor straightaway what you offer and how you can help or benefit them.

The URLs contain keywords/phrases

The page URLs need to have relevant keywords/phrases in them, e.g. about-us could be ‘about-typeofcompany-location’ so the URL could be www.yourwebsite.com/about-business-coach-london which would help you appear higher in results when the search term ‘business coach London’ is entered.

Links to social media pages

Not only should you have links to your social media pages on your website, but these should be high up the page – ‘above the fold’.

Google Analytics integration

This enables you to view your site statistics. It provides the number of visitors, where people on your site came from, and more. If you want to improve your marketing and get more visitors, your website needs to be visible on as many platforms as possible. Tracking your visitors and where they come from is critical in knowing what marketing tools work.

picture1Meta tags

These are codes in the background of your page containing words and sentences that search engines can read and display in results. People often put loads of keywords in the code hoping that Google will then place them in a higher position. But Google is cleverer than that. Title and description tags are vital as these are what is shown for your page in search results. These need to stand out from your competitors and grab the attention of the people searching.

Keywords and phrases in the content

Think about the words your target market will enter into search engines – anything they might want that you provide. Ensure the content of your site includes these keywords and phrases. For example, if your target market includes businesses and you give advice on cash flow, think about what a business owner might enter into a search engine to find advice on that topic and make sure that phrase is within your content.

Site colours

picture2Many websites that we have redesigned have had too many colours and fonts! The colour scheme needs to be simple and consistent. Links/buttons should all be the same colour to help visitors become familiar with navigating around the site. Don’t use more than 4/5 colours in the site’s main content or it will look untidy and unprofessional.

 

 

Using stock photos

Avoid using those cheesy stock photos on your website. There are websites where you can download great quality royalty-free images that look professional which include Pixabay and Unsplash.

picture3The website is mobile friendly

Around 50% of website visitors are via mobile phones. Your website should be able to adapt in size for a mobile or tablet. Google are now giving mobile-friendly sites priority positions in search results performed on mobiles, as you can see in the image.

Navigation labels

The labels on your navigation need to be clear and concise, as well as relevant to what the pages are about. They should also be enticing – for example instead of ‘Blog’ it could say ‘Free Advice’ and instead of ‘About Us’ it could say ‘Get To Know Us’.

Regular blog posts/news/articles

A great way of keeping your website updated regularly is by having a blog. It will also show that you’re an expert in your industry; building the ‘know, like and trust’ with your potential clients. Blog posts could be top tips, ways to avoid something, etc. These need to include keywords that your target market are likely to enter in search engines.

picture4Having ‘Where did you hear about us?’ on your forms

This is a simple way to keep track of how people filling in your forms on your website heard about you, to see which advertising methods are most effective.

There are clear calls to action

On every page of your website there should be clear calls to action to encourage visitors to take the next step in your sales cycle, whether you want them to subscribe, contact you or make a purchase.

Testimonials and reviews

Saying how great you are is one thing but having other people say it is so much better. Case studies and testimonials can show how you have helped other businesses.

It’s all well and good knowing what needs to be on your website to make it most effective, but do you know how to implement these features so they can be most beneficial? At Belluber we do this for many different businesses – if you would like us to review your website and give you a personal list of recommendations that apply to your business and target market, please get in touch.


Marketing TipsDownload our free marketing tips whitepaper

Download this whitepaper for useful marketing tips that you can implement into your business immediately.

Click here for more info and to download.

5 tricks you may have missed that can generate more business

Most of our articles and updates focus on how to get more business via online marketing methods such as Google and social media. But, it’s important to consider life outside of SEO and PPC, and these methods shouldn’t be dismissed.

Business was being generated long before the internet began. Although technology is being used more and more, every business should still consider other methods instead of putting their eggs all in one basket. In case their successful lead generating method no longer delivers the results they need.

So we’ve listed 5 other ways to generate more business that if you’re not doing at the moment, you might want to consider. If these are done right, they can really help to increase your customer base whilst being quite cost effective.

Exhibitions

To make exhibitions work from a brand awareness point of view and a direct sales point of view, you need to choose the right ones to get your money’s worth. You’ll also need to take a few roller banners, promotional items, a laptop plus your products you want to sell. Getting these together will cost, but it’s a one-off investment that can cover several exhibitions, so it’s worth it.

Pick exhibitions that are either niche to your industry or localised. Also try to visit them before you agree to exhibit, to see how things works and the turn out, as well as the other businesses exhibiting. Most places require a fee for you to exhibit so it’s important that you pick the right place.

Postal marketing

You will have seen a massive drop in the amount of advertising you’ve received in the post over the past several years. Whilst some may take this as meaning postal advertising doesn’t work anymore, others will see it as a great opportunity. By sending something with a handwritten address, you can almost guarantee that it will be opened. This is simply because we’re not used to getting so much post these days.

Of course, there are costs involved in this, in terms of developing effective promotional material to send. But with the right level of thought and planning, this could really be a winner. Especially for the more traditional people that aren’t as confident in the world of online advertising – the kind of business that may not see your digital marketing efforts.

Local networking groups

Networking groups require you to go, get to know others and in turn, let others get to know you. They’re not just something that you go to a couple of times and never go back to. But with a bit of effort, networking groups can be effective, especially the smaller, independent ones. Search around for some local networking groups and try them out, as most are free on the first visit. Then choose a couple that you think are right for you. Even if you try for a few months and it isn’t for you, you may still get some good contacts.

Facebook groups

This approach is a long one, as you cannot simply go wading into groups and start bombarding them with your services – not if you want results anyway. You need to join local Facebook groups and national business networking groups (e.g. Local Business Network). But before you jump straight into waving your company banner around, join in the conversations, build an authority and then the results will start to come. By building the know, like and trust in these groups, people they are more likely to buy from you. If you can work hard at it, not only will you increase brand awareness, you will generate leads.

Localised sponsorship

From local charity events to football teams, sponsorship can be really effective in your community and doesn’t always have to cost a fortune. Plus at the same time you’re giving something back, which is great. If you sponsor the right event or team, the long-term brand awareness is potentially massive. Imagine sponsoring a local kids football team. Not only will your logo be seen on match day and in the resulting photos, but every child has a parent who has friends and family, all of which will see your company logo on their kit. Ring around some local teams or keep an eye out for local events to see if you can offer sponsorship.


content marketing calendarDownload our free Content Marketing Calendar

Use this template to create a full schedule of activities for marketing your business over the next 3 months.

Click here for more info and to download.

4 reasons why Richard Branson is better at social media than you

With nearly three million Facebook likes, more than seven million followers on Twitter and nine million followers on LinkedIn, Richard Branson joins Elon Musk and Mark Cuban as one of the most prominent entrepreneurs on social media. He follows several social media best practices that elevate him to the top of the pack. Success on social media goes well beyond likes and follows. Use these four practices to establish leadership, drive leads and create relationships on social media.

Read more