LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com) has established itself as the place to be seen for businesses and business professionals alike with a UK membership of over 4 million and 90 million worldwide.
Whilst it doesn’t have the apps of Facebook or the music of MySpace (or perhaps because it doesn’t have those features), LinkedIn has become an established place to make new contacts, to seek out opportunities and to find answers to burning questions.
Gareth Edwards, Associate e-Marketing Consultant at The National B2B Centre, puts forward a few pointers on how you can get the most out of this tool.
Using LinkedIn effectively really isn’t all that difficult but like most Social Media tools achieving success requires more effort than many people realise. You can use LinkedIn to tell people about yourself and your organisation, to find people and information using the extensive search facilities and most importantly to engage people individually or in groups about topics of mutual interest.
Here are some key tips to being seen and having a voice.
Have you ever been ripped off by Internet Marketing companies that claim they can “get your business onto the 1st page in Google” and then don’t deliver any results? Do you receive calls every day from companies that claim they can get you a lot more business than you already are?
Well, you are not alone. Every year, thousands of UK businesses buy into rogue services that fail to deliver results of any kind. The most popular type of service that Internet Marketing companies push is called Search Engine Optimisation, otherwise known as SEO.
Amo Sokhi, a search specialist for B2B SEO agency Polaris, looks at what you need to look at when choosing an SEO supplier.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of increasing a website’s position in the search engines so that the website receives more visitors. If carried out correctly, an SEO campaign can deliver a measurable increase in targeted traffic: visitors looking for a particular service or product.
By focusing on specific keywords, a website can be optimised to appear in the search engines for relevant searches. The more exposure a website gets in the search engines and the higher up in the results the website appears, the more visitors the website will get from its target market.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is an increasingly popular tool for businesses that are seeking to take more control over the way that they work. There are many questions that people ask when starting to consider CRM for the first time, or when they have outgrown their existing method of customer management and are looking for a replacement.
Helen Caldicott, a consultant from Marketing Answers & Solutions, has gathered together the most common questions she gets asked about CRM… and provided the answers!
1. What is CRM?
Gartner describe CRM as
“A business strategy whose outcomes optimise profitability, revenue and customer satisfaction…CRM technologies should enable greater customer insight, increased customer access, more effective customer interactions, and integration throughout all customer channels and back-office enterprise functions”.
2. Why are companies interested in CRM?
Companies are interested in CRM because they recognise that the customer is their primary strategic asset and thus seek to better understand the behaviour and needs of that customer and therefore enhance their relationship.
Choosing the right keywords is a vital part of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Gareth Edwards, e-marketing specialist at the National B2B Centre discusses some ideas that you can use to develop your list.
One of the most successful aspects of our “Essential Guide to Online Marketing” seminar series in 2010 was the Choosing the right keywords exercise that we ran. The intention of the exercise was to give delegates the chance to discover how other people would search for their products and services.
We kind of knew that people would be surprised by the responses and it was fascinating to hear exactly how few of them had taken a customer or external view when thinking about keywords. For some delegates the exercise actually turned into a business development session because the input revealed completely new ways of thinking about their business.
However there are going to be occasions when you don’t have the luxury of helpful folks sat around the table with you. So how else can you find out what keywords to use?
DIY – Brainstorming
If you are aware of the need to look at the topic of keyword discovery from different angles then sitting down and brainstorming some ideas by yourself is a perfectly good approach. You just need to look at the subject from the perspective of different prospects and customers. How would the Finance Director’s search differ from a site engineer’s search, for instance?. If inspiration isn’t forthcoming then try what I do and actually put a different hat on to represent new groups of people. Really! It works.
What are keywords?
Keywords (also known as search terms) are the words and phrases that people type into a search engine to describe what they are looking for.
Understanding what keywords are used by the people you want to attract to your website is absolutely fundamental to search engine optimisation. It is also vital in understanding how to make your web pages more interesting and compelling because if you use the same language as your visitors you will be able to establish a relationship with them more easily.
It is important to remember that the majority of searches are now for 2 or 3 keyword phrases or longer. This is because, as we all know, you have to be more and more specific about what you look for in order to get results that reflect what you want.
So searchers may add new keywords to their search to get what they want by, for instance;
- Product characteristic (e.g. red diesel ford fiesta)
- Question format (e.g. how do I clean tar off vinyl)
- Location (e.g. online marketing workshop Coventry)
One of the other important aspects of search is that people will use very different words and phrases to you to describe your product or service than you expect. Our experience of working with clients and running workshops is that you would be amazed by how differently other people will search for your product or service. Usually the reason is that like it or not you will have slipped into using the jargon of your industry. It doesn’t matter whether you run a B & B or make widgets you will have a specific perception of what you do and how it is described.
So we strongly advise trying to find ways to “step into your customer shoes” and if you can get your clients’ perspective direct by ringing them up or conducting customer surveys.
As the B2B Centre’s clients get more sophisticated with their use of online sales and marketing many of them are starting to use external suppliers to take on some important tasks. So increasingly you are using website developers, pay-per-click experts and, particularly, SEO companies to provide resources and expertise that might be difficult to get in-house.
The B2B Centre’s approach is that while we continue to bring hundreds of small businesses up to speed on a variety of online marketing techniques there comes a point where you have to get your priorities right. It is good to know what SEO is but your time might be better off spent deciding what products to sell and which markets to sell them to.
So bringing in someone to help could be a good idea. The trouble is we keep coming across people who are paying many hundreds or even thousands of pounds for SEO services that are at best ineffective and at worst are actually damaging the ranking of their websites.
We have put together just a few tips on choosing the right supplier for your SEO needs and avoiding the bad ones, which are based on the experiences of many of the people that we have worked with.
Knowing what to say is often the first hurdle in using Social Media. The B2B Centre’s experience is that every individual/organisation has lots of interesting things to talk about – it is just a question of unlocking it and remembering that other people will be interested in what you do.
The Success Audit is intended as a quick way of helping you to develop your ideas. Just work through the simple exercises; get some external input from a business associate or adviser for an objective view on what works and what doesn’t. And let us know how you get on.
Spend 10 minutes brainstorming potential stories to tell the world about. Example themes are client wins, your expertise, “war stories”, new products, market changes etc.
Consider how the stories might be impressive, innovative, beneficial, unique, emotive etc.
Try wearing “different hats” and looking at your stories from different perspectives (what would be interesting to a finance director, supplier, end-user etc.?) to create new stories.
Now choose 1 of the stories to move forward with.
What content have you already got / could you create?
You may already have content available that could be reused to help tell your story on different Social Media platforms. For example; brochures, press/staff/client photos, video, press releases etc. Or maybe you have the means to create content for your story by writing an article, filming a presentation etc.
Make a list.
Pay Per Click advertising has the potential to generate a lot of new business for small and medium sized companies. It also has the potential to be an expensive mistake if it is used incorrectly.
Gareth Edwards of the National B2B Centre outlines some things to look at if you are considering your own Pay Per Click campaign – we’ll focus on Google AdWords but the lessons apply across the board.
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can be a great way of driving well targeted, sales oriented traffic to your website…if it is done properly. PPC seems to have something of an allure at the moment because it looks as though it could be a bit of a short cut to success. Perhaps it just sounds a whole lot easier than all of that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) stuff?
At the B2B Centre we have had a lot of experience recently with SME clients who found that PPC hasn’t worked as well as they hoped and in some cases has also cost a serious amount of money. Fortunately we have been able to rescue the situation for these companies and this set of tips highlights some of the pitfalls to avoid.
Optimise your website FIRST.
No website should ever be launched without at least some basic search engine optimisation work being done. This can be as simple as adding relevant keywords to page titles or developing some inbound links.
If you optimise your site properly you either might not need to pay for traffic at all or you will be able to invest your pay per click budget more effectively.
We have had some clients who have spent serious amounts of money to generate traffic using keywords that they could easily have optimised their site to get page 1 Google listings.
The first reaction that we get when we show newcomers to Google Analytics exactly what information it provides is often one of sheer amazement. When people get over the initial surprise and, particularly when they try and use the tool themselves, the first questions are “What should we look at?” and “What does it mean?”
Gareth Edwards, eMarketing specialist at the National B2B Centre, provide a quick overview of what he looks at first when using Analytics and what you can use the information for.
Google Analytics is a very powerful tool to measuring website performance and understanding what people are doing on your website (or your blog). For those of you using it for the first time the amount of information it provides and the different measures it gives can be a bit overwhelming. The good thing is that you can get a pretty good feel for what’s going on by looking at just a small number of items.
This article is intended to highlight just some of the valuable information that Analytics provides based on how I use the tool when working on client projects. Some people may query my choices and omissions but the essential thing is that you start using Analytics and find out how easy it is and how essential.
Take a few moments and consider just how many photographs you have generated as part of your business activities over the past year or so. Press releases, brochures, websites, eCommerce sites and networking events, all generate photo opportunities don’t they?
Many of the B2B Centre’s clients have been surprised about exactly how many images they have, and then delighted when we explain how they put them to good use on photo sharing sites.
Mark Bonnett, of the National B2B Centre, highlights how to go about using these sites and explains the promotional benefits that you can get from them.
The B2B Centre has been experimenting with the Flickr photo sharing service to understand what the benefits of photo sharing are and how to use such sites effectively. You can use Flickr too or choose from the many other sites available since they work pretty much in the same way.
There are 3 main areas of benefit from using photo sharing.
- Real people (prospects and customers) use these services to look for products and services.
- Search engines look at the content and, if you have provided them with the appropriate information, will use it in search results.
- In addition to tagging images you can use registration with the sites as an opportunity for developing inbound links to your website to help with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
It is very easy to sign up on the sites in the first place and most of them will offer a free membership that allows you to post images subject to a monthly and total upload limit.
Top Ten Tips
So how can you make best use of photo sharing? Here’s my top ten tips.