Hard skills vs soft skills of a marketer

As someone who does all the marketing for my business, I know there are many skills that marketers need. There are hard skills, which are more the technical and analytical side, and soft skills, the more creative, collaborative side.

Marketing Skills

Hard skills

Let’s take a look at the hard skills first.

Analytics

Analytics is about finding your way around the large sets of data, to help you interpret your audience’s behaviour, look at the performance of campaigns and measure the ROI (return on yours or your customer’s investment).

When working with content creation and product marketing, it’s imperative to be able to measure what you do and whether it’s having the desired outcome and impact on your target audience. Marketers with excellent hard skills like this are very sought after in both corporate and retail companies, as well as the smaller businesses.

There are several tools you can use to measure data, such as google analytics, and if you are a social media manager, using the insights on the pages you manage is invaluable.

Content Strategy

Content Strategy

If you are into content creation, then content marketing and a strategy is a fundamental part of your job. Here are a few statistics that illustrate the importance of content creation and content marketing.

  • 47% of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before engaging with brand.  Source
  • 84% of people expect brands to produce content. Source
  • 91% of B2B marketers say that they use content marketing in their strategies. Source

So, you can see that content creation is a very valued skill. Content isn’t just about making a few pretty images, it’s about the sales pitch or the caption that is written to go along with the images you curate. Some social media channels require a short and concise caption, whilst others, such as Instagram, can be longer and more detailed.

Content creation also includes things like blog posts, articles, eBooks, emails and other written materials. Effective writing skills are very sought after and not something that can be automated. It’s a very human skill and crucial if you are a marketer.

Social Media

Most businesses use social media platforms to advertise their products or services and to put their brand out there. Over the past 10 years, social media has transformed the way that people interact with brands online and also the way that marketers communicate with target audiences.

All social media platforms have measurement tools to help you get to know the audience that follows you, likes and comments on your posts and generally engages with your business and brand. A social media content strategy will include setting goals for your business, based on social media posts and campaigns.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

There are literally billions of people interacting online at any one time during the day or night. Most of us look first to the internet if we want to buy something and even look at reviews of products or services before we even press that ‘buy now’ button. But how do they find what they’re looking for? That’s where SEO comes in.

If you’re a marketer, you need to at least have a fundamental understanding of SEO, so you can be sure that your business, or your customers’ business, is found online. This includes keywords and phrases to help Google find your business, when someone types into the Google search bar.   

SEO doesn’t just apply to websites and social media, it’s also vital to ensure that anything you post is optimised for mobile users as well as desktop, tablet or iPad users. Most website hosts do this for you, but it’s always worth checking that your content looks good on a mobile as that’s where most people do their searches.

Technology

Technology

This is kind of linked to analytics, but what I’m getting at here is actual technology, such as the tools and platforms that you might use to promote your business or help you manage your business. For example, if you send out a regular email or newsletter, the General Data Protection Regulations, (GDPR) states that you must get customers to opt-in to your emails – you can’t send them anything without their express permission. And the easiest way to do this is by setting up your opt-in on a platform, such as Convertkit, MailChimp or Mailerlite, which are the three platforms I use for my clients. When you set up your subscription opt-in on these platforms, they automatically ask the right questions so you are compliant with GDPR – they also give your customers the option to unsubscribe to your newsletter or email via a button at the bottom of each email that goes out – which keeps you compliant with the rules and regulations.     

SOFT SKILLS

Soft skills are the more creative and collaborative side of marketing, probably the bit that most marketers love – well I do!

As well as creativity etc., soft skills also include many different attributes, such as honesty, leadership, a good work ethic, time management – skills that are very difficult to quantify.

Here are some of the top soft skills.

Creativity

Creativity

This includes bringing new ideas and interpretation to common problems, and how to solve them using the written word.

Flexibility

Marketing means you have to be flexible – there are always new tasks to take on and new responsibilities constantly pop up. Very often, what you started off doing a few months ago for a client, will look very different 6 months down the line. You have to constantly be on top of new ways of doing things and you often have to hit the ground running with new platforms etc.

Resourcefulness and Adaptability

A resourceful marketer uses all the tools available to her, to find the most appropriate one for each customer or business. It’s also important to be on top of the analytics to help make that informed decision.

Marketers have to learn as much as they can about target audiences, in order to be able to make decisions about the way to market a product or service. Intuition and adaptability plays a big part here and covers things like quick decision making, keeping calm under pressure or going against the norm to achieve success for your clients.

Adaptability also means that you’re able to change plans at the drop of a hat and tackle new challenges with determination and vigour.  

Collaboration

You might work for a small business or a large corporation on their marketing. Whichever it is for you, collaboration will be a big part of everything you do. You need to build good, strong relationships with your clients and with other people who work for that client or company too. For example, you might be asked to do email marketing or write a regular blog post, and your client may already have a social media manager. You will definitely need to collaborate so that the social media marketing takes into account the emails or blog posts you write – and that subject matter is consistent with the overall marketing plan or strategy. 

Leadership

Leadership

Leadership is the last point I’m going to cover, but a crucially important one. So, what is leadership? It’s about having the ability to keep a good group dynamic, be able to lead a team with compassion, and inspire your team with your business insights, experience and innovation.

It’s also about being able to assess situations and defuse anything that could get out of hand. A leader will usually drive any collaborations, adapt to new technology and lead the marketing strategy in the best way possible.

A leader will need to know the customer or target audience inside out. What they like, don’t like, making sure that everything that’s done or suggested has the customer at the heart of everything. Are their problems being solved? What makes them happy? What makes them tick?

Marketing is something that never goes away. No matter whether your business is small (or just you!), or whether you own a multi-million organisation, marketing is the key to getting your products and services in front of your target audience. It’s not something that you can wing and hope it works – it needs to be carefully planned, organised and executed with a sound strategy.

If you’d like help to build your marketing strategy, find out who your target audience is and how to reach them, but don’t know how, drop me a mail and I can help.

cindymobey@outlook.com

How Social Media Marketing benefits your business

Social Media is probably the widest used platform on the internet. There are so many different platforms to choose from, and they all have millions of people using them every single day. For many of us, social media is the first thing we log into when we get up in the morning, and the last thing we check before we go to bed at night.

Social media sites can be accessed by any device that has an internet connection, including PCs, mobile phones, tablets etc. Some of the most popular sites are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Snapchat. It’s a huge advantage to any business, big or small, to be on some of these sites in order to grow business, and social media marketing is a bit part of that. 

So, what are the benefits of social media marketing?

The Time Factor

It can take as little as an hour a day to increase traffic to your sites, make sales and get your brand out there. Social media gives a massive amount of exposure to your business and social media sites are an important part of any marketing plan.  

Create social media profiles for your business on your chosen sites and start engaging with potential clients. Invite your friends, family, employees, business partners – in fact anyone you know, to like and share your page. Just having people interact with your page and your content will increase your brand awareness and start to build your brand reputation.   

More traffic

Social media marketing – posting and engaging with your followers – will help you reach many more people than if you ignore social media. Every single time you post, you are giving your business another opportunity to get a new customer. Join more than one social media site, as different platforms serve different people and different ages. Different people search differently and also like different types of posts, so mix it up with your posts – don’t stick to just selling. You also need to engage, entertain, educate and inspire your followers. The 80/20 rule is useful – 80% engaging, entertaining, educating and inspiring and 20% selling.

Social Media also gives you access to followers from all over the world, and engagement at all times of the day and night.

Search Engine ranking

Search Engine ranking

You will get seen more on social media, but of course, there is more to it than just posting every day. Search Engine Optimization is also important to get your page ranked higher with search engines, such as Google.

To give your business the best chance to be seen and found, create good quality content, use keywords and phrases, and use good quality images.

If you write a blog, share it to your social media page, do video, infographics, include the odd case study and give business information. Don’t forget the fun stuff too – show where you work, your hobbies, employee photos, stuff you do at weekends or for charity. This all helps to not only improve your ranking, but goes a long way to show that you are human and real to your customers.

Conversion

Once your business is more visible, you’ll have more opportunities for your posts to convert into customers. People like to know who they’re buying from, and social media allows them to see your personality, to engage with you on things other than business and have a little insight into the person you are outside of work. People prefer to deal with real people, so social media serves this purpose. The more of an impression you make on a new follower, the more likely they’re going to think of you when they need what you offer.

Customer satisfaction

As the name suggests, social media is about being sociable. It’s not just a business networking platform, it’s also a communication and social network too. When customers comment on your posts, make sure you reply and try to strike up a conversation. Showing that you reply to each comment personally proves to your customers that you care and value their opinions. This gives them a good customer experience and so they’ll be more satisfied.

Sometimes you will get a complaint or get asked difficult questions. It’s even more important to answer these comments – don’t ignore them. The fact that you take the time to respond publicly to a complaint or question will make the customer see you in a much better light, especially if you can turn it around and make the complaint into a compliment!

Brand loyalty

We all want to have shed loads of loyal customers who love what we do , how we do it, and who want to come back and buy from us time and time again. Social media can help with that. Customers love social media and love to interact with the company they’re buying from – they often see social media as the place they can communicate directly with you and your business. And research has shown that customers are more loyal to brands that directly engage with them on social media.

When customers see you engaging with your followers, they’ll start to see you as an expert – and regularly posting different kinds of posts makes you also appear credible. Interacting with customers shows you value them, and care about them. This will result in them recommending you to family and friends, they’ll mention your business on social media and, if they see someone asking for what you supply, they’ll put your business forward.  

 It doesn’t cost much

Social media marketing is probably the most cost effective form of marketing. You can join all platforms with a business page for free. You can post, engage, get new customers, and interact with them…all for free. It’s only when you decide to advertise on a platform that there is a cost, but the costs are really quite low compared to other forms of marketing.

Being on social media and having a huge following with loads of customers for free, gives you a bigger budget for other kinds of marketing or for investing in your business.

Market insight

This is one of the best things about social media. You can monitor and measure the activity on your sites – using the page’s insights. By interacting with customers and looking at how they react to your individual posts, you can gain valuable information about your customers.

You can find out what their interests are, what their opinions are, what they like and dislike. All information that can help you understand your audience and what they want from you.

Be an expert

I touched on this briefly earlier, but by posting well written content, quality images, and video etc., your audience will start to look to you for information and you will become an expert or leader in your particular field.

Social media platforms are the idea place to set yourself up as an expert. Being able to directly speak to your customers also creates a rapport with them, a relationship that you will both value. This could lead to you becoming an influencer.

Conclusion

Social media marketing needs to be done correctly and consistently. If you follow all the points mentioned in this article, you will find that you increase your brand awareness. Your followers will see you as an expert, will enjoy the interaction they have with your business and they will become loyal followers and customers

How Copyright protects your work

Copyright is what protects your work and prevents others from using it without your permission.

It is automatically applied to your work, so you don’t have to pay a fee or apply for a license.  Copyright is automatically applied when you create:

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration work and photography
  • Original non-literary written work, such as software, web content and databases
  • Sound and music recordings
  • Film and television recordings
  • Broadcast
  • The layout of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works

You can put the copyright symbol on your work, alongside your name and the year, e.g. ©Cindy Mobey 2021. Even if you decide you don’t want to do this, or if you forget, it doesn’t affect the level of protection you have.

How long does copyright last?

It starts as soon as you’ve created your work and expiry date is anywhere between 50-70 years after creation, in some cases 50-70 years after the death of the creator. This depends on what you’re creating, be it music, literary, broadcast etc.

What happen if I breach copyright?

The one thing I always talk about to my clients is copyright. If you are writing a blog, or creating content online, for social media for example, you should NOT just use any image you see on Google. Most images on the internet are protected by copyright and you could face legal action and substantial fines if you are found out. I always say to use the free image sites, such as unsplash, pixabay or pexels. These images, in the majority of cases, come with a commercial license, so it’s OK for you to use them for commercial purposes – such as your blog or social media pages.

Breaching copyright is also very damaging to your reputation. If you’re a small business, we all know how important it is to be trustworthy and ethical. Being found in breach of copyright could seriously undermine the trust that customers put in your business. They may wonder if you’re honest in other aspects of your business. So, it’s really not worth the risk.

Copyright Policy

If you have a website, it’s a good idea to have a copyright policy. This policy just basically tells people that your work is your own and that they can’t copy it etc.

This will then protect you from anyone:

  • Copying your work
  • Putting your work on the internet
  • Performing or playing your work in public
  • Renting or lending copies of your work, (books for example)
  • Adapting your work for their own use
  • Distributing your work, or copies of your work, regardless of whether they distribute it for sale or free

It can be very tempting to just copy something or copy and paste that cute image you see, but it’s really just not worth it.

If you’d like to find out more about international copyright log into the IPO Information Centre – information@ipo.gov.uk

How to write email sequences

An email sequence is a series of emails, usually automated, to go out a few days or weeks apart. The content of the emails must make sense to whoever signs up for it, and be engaging in order to entice them to open following emails from you.

The benefits of having an email sequence is that it:

  • Makes it easy to nurture your subscribers with your content
  • They help you to pitch to your subscribers and sell your products or services at the end of the sequence
  • Helps you create a relationship with your subscribers and build that all important trust
  • Aids in highlighting your best content on your own terms and in the order you want to send it

Before you start, you need to know what your goals are in setting up your email sequence – what do you want the end result to be at the end of the sequence?

What’s your goal?

It might be that you want to get a sale at the end of the sequence; it could be that you’re looking to turn them into a regular client; you might want them to join your course or join your social media group; you might want them to sign up to your masterclass

Whatever you want that goal to be, make sure you are very clear about it. If you set up a sequence without an end goal, you could be wasting your time…your subscribers won’t know what to take from each email and where and what you’re trying to get them to.

If there’s no direction with your sequence, it shows in the copy or content that you create, and can feel disjointed.

You want your emails to establish your authority on a particular subject, maybe want them to join your community and you definitely want to establish yourself as an expert and build trust with your subscribers.

How many emails do you need?

Think about your goals and how many emails you need

This is really quite a personal thing…I’ve seen blogs and articles that say you must have seven emails – others that you must have five or three. It depends what your end goal is and how long it will take you to direct your subscribers in that direction, so there’s not standard answer to this question…in my opinion!

All I would say is that each email in the sequence needs to inch your subscriber closer to the end goal you have in mind. And it’s up to you to provide them with all the relevant information and resources they need to make that informed decision by the time they get the last one.

Before you start writing

There’s always preparation work to do, so this is what I would suggest you write down before you start…let’s use an example to help. Your goal is to have subscribers sign up to your course – How to market your business on Instagram.  

  • What are the pain points of your subscribers? What do they struggle with in relation to marketing on Instagram?
  • What words do they use to describe those pain points? You can get this by researching what questions people ask online…or from your own experience with feedback etc. You might see comments on business groups stating they don’t understand the algorithm, or the insights or maybe how hashtags work. This gives you answers to what you need to include in your emails, when describing what your course will achieve.
  • Write down any experiences you have regarding marketing on Instagram. What turning points did you discover when marketing your business? What failures did you have and how did you overcome them? Do you have any success stories from people using your course?
  • Mistakes that people make when marketing on Instagram – or mistakes that you made
  • And why are you the best person to teach them all about this subject and what will your course give them that they didn’t have before?

Now you have the goals of your email sequence and what you need to include in your emails, you can begin writing.

Email 1

This is always a welcome email. If your subscribers have signed up for your email in return for a freebie, include the link to the freebie in this email.

The first email should always include WHY you are the best person to help them with this subject.

You can also write a very short introduction to yourself – NOT long and involved and telling them your whole life story! Just a couple of sentences.

Email 2 and all others you send

I always use email 2 to write a bit more about me and my experience in relation to the subject I want to sell them at the end.

I include five facts about me – not related to business, to show my human side.

Then start weaving in various stories, experiences etc., linked to your subscribers pain points.

Each email you send should include a main point, or teach your subscribers something, or give them one strategy.

Don’t go straight in for the kill and talk about your end game (the Instagram course), but rather lead up to it, teasing and intriguing them and hinting about what you’re inching them towards.

Close each email with a question or an intriguing lead into what the next email will cover. For example, using our Instagram course, the question could be.

‘Do you know the #1 mistake people make when marketing their business on Instagram?’ Look out for the answer in my next email.

This keeps their interest and they’re more likely to open the next email if they want to know the answer.  

Frequency of email sequence

OK, so you have your goals, your plan and your emails written. Now it’s time to decide how far apart you’ll send each email. Again, this will depend on how many you’re sending.

Subscribers will always get the first email when they sign up for your freebie – the welcome email. It’s a good idea to send the second one within a couple of days, and then the rest depending on how much content is in each email and how many they are. You don’t want a sequence of 10 emails being sent 1 day apart. It will clog up someone’s inbox and they’ll soon get fed up with seeing yet another email every day. So, try and space them apart. For example, you might be giving exercises or workbooks/worksheets for your subscribers to complete, so you’d need to leave a good few days, or even a week, for them to have time to complete them.

The technical side

Now, you’re ready to actually set up your email sequence. There are loads of providers out there. I’ve used MailChimp, Convertkit and Mailerlite and they all have their merits.

These sites give you the option to set up an opt-in for your course (or whatever you’re doing). An Opt-in is a box where your subscribers input their name and email address, stating they want to receive your freebie in return for joining your email list. Using a site like those mentioned above, once you set up the opt-in box, they’ll ask if you want a double opt-in, which is where an email is automatically sent to your subscriber, asking them to confirm their subscription prior to receiving your freebie and first automated email. This is a great idea as it’s compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

When you set up your sequence, you’ll be asked to load your freebie and then you set up the emails. Each platform (whether MailChimp, Convertkit or Mailerlite), all have excellent training modules to help talk you through each stage of the set up or they point you to videos, where someone will show you.

Then you’ll set up the automation, so the platform knows when to send each email in the sequence.

This might sound complicated, and whilst it takes a bit of learning, it’s completely doable!

When sending an email sequence, it is also part of the GDPR rules that you offer each subscriber a way to unsubscribe if they so wish. This is automatically done for you at the bottom of each email if you use one of the platforms I’ve mentioned (and I’m sure, any other platforms that do the same).    

Now you’re all set to share the link to the opt-in on your social media pages, blog, newsletter, social media group, or any other email list you might already have. And you’re now set to marketing your opt-in to get people into your email sequence and hopefully, at the end of the sequence, your subscribers will buy your product or service, sign up to your social media group or course, or do whatever it is you’re trying to get them to do.

If you need help with setting up an email sequence or opt-in, drop me an email.

Website strategy to increase conversions

With all the problems that people seem to be encountering with social media sites at the moment, it’s now even more important to ensure that you have a website. Social media sites are dependent on algorithms and they decide who sees and who doesn’t see your business page. But if you have a website, you own it and your domain, and are in control of how it’s seen by your target audience.

The most obvious reason to have a website is to convert your visitors into customers. Your website is your shop front and, if your products or services are what your audience is looking for, you’re more likely to get customers that buy from you.

A good homepage

The first thing people will see when they visit your website is your homepage. It can feel a bit overwhelming to try and decide what you want your website visitors to see first and it’s really tempting to give as much information as possible on that first page. You want to show off your products, services, awards, contact info etc., but keeping your homepage (and the rest of your website) simple is the key to more conversions.

  • Keep text to a minimum so it’s easier for your visitors to scan the page and focus on the headlines.
  • Have good headlines
  • Don’t have too many tabs that people have to go into to find what they want, and keep the navigation simple
  • Have a clear message on what you want your visitors to do – this is via a Call to Action (CTA). Position this before they have to scroll, so near the middle of the page. This could be asking people to sign up to your newsletter or sign up to a service for free. It could be a direct link to your product page
  • Your homepage design needs to make it obvious what you offer your customers in a clear and concise way
  • Use your brand colours, but don’t overwhelm you visitors with colour – again, simplicity is the best way to go

Conduct a website analysis

website analysis

The first step to making sure your website is effective is to conduct a website analysis.

  1. Review your navigation bar (or tabs) to ensure that anyone visiting your site can easily find and access what they’re looking for – are they labelled clearly
  2. Look at the font sizes and colours – are they easy to read? Can any images be seen and do they load quickly?
  3. Check out your website on all devices – desktop, iPad or tablet and mobile – most people use a mobile these days and it needs to be easily viewed or people will find one that is.
  4. If you use Google Chrome, log into other browsers, such as Firefox or Bing and make sure it can be loaded easily from others, as well as the one you use.
  5. How long does it take for each page to load? People will lose patience really quickly if your site pages don’t load quickly.
  6. Look at your content – is it easy to understand, written in plain English and more importantly, written with your target audience in mind? Does it give them solutions to their problems and tackle their biggest challenges? Are your headlines attention grabbing?

Once you have all this information, you can focus on fixing anything that doesn’t work or that needs a little tweaking!

Search Engine Optimisation

The next thing to look at is to ensure that your website is optimised for SEO. This is all about making your website attractive to search engines, such as the browsers that your audience use.   

Use keywords and keyword phrases that are relevant to your business, and words and phrases that you think your audience will use when looking for your type of products or services.

Keyword research is crucial to your website being found and ranked on search engines. There are lots of keyword research sites out there that you can use – the Google Keyword Tool is a good one. It will help you find terms that are relevant to your type of business and help you understand how many people are searching for those terms online.

Once you have a list of your keywords and phrases, plan your content to include them. I don’t mean changing your content to absolutely stuff it full of keywords so that your content no longer makes sense or is valuable, but use some them to help your content – still make sure that your content is informational and entertaining, so it adds value to your visitors once they arrive.   

On-site optimisation – Another way to boost your SEO is to look at your headlines, Meta descriptions, images and image tags. Use keywords in these.

Link Building is another important factor. Search engines look for content links to help determine whether the content on your site is valuable. You can do this by submitting your site to different business directories, register your website with Google My Business, and to other browsers, such as Bing.

start a blog

Add a blog to your website, giving valuable information about you, your business, your special offers, competitions or discounts. A blog can help you be seen as an expert in your field. You can share the blog link to social media, which will help drive traffic from there to your website.

Set up an email list – if you haven’t yet got an email list, it’s a good idea to set one up, that your visitors can sign up to. This gives you their email address. You can then send them a monthly email giving details of new products or services, special offers or discounts. In order to be compliant with GDPR, you must get the permission of anyone who gives you their email address – they must know that you will be emailing them with your newsletter and it must be clear that this is what they are signing up to.  

Adding a pop-up on your site is the best way to get people to sign up to your email list – AND if you ensure you use the double opt-in, you will be  compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). As well as a pop-up, you can also set up a landing page, which entices people to sign up to your newsletter, by offering them something for free in exchange for their email address. This could be a checklist, eBook or pdf. It could be a recording, a podcast or instructional video. People like to get freebies and this is the ideal opportunity to do this for your customers and get something back in return.

Add testimonials – add a testimonial or review of your products or services on your website. It’s a good idea to put a testimonial on your homepage – this is social proof that you can be trusted and that your business is what you say it is – or that you do what you say you do. Generally, before people buy anything, they look at reviews or recommendations.

Images – make sure your images are good quality, clear and are not too large in size and don’t use too many. This makes your page slower to load. Use images in jpg format wherever possible as png format is slower. DO NOT take images from Google – they are often subject to copyright and you could find yourself with big fines. Use your own photos, or find images on a site whose images are free for commercial use. Sites such as unsplash, pixabay or pexels are good. When you add an image, add a caption to your image (this can be hidden), as this helps with SEO.

Paid ads – you can also use paid ads to boost your visibility and bring more visitors to your website. This could be through Google or through social media sites. You can also tailor your ads to a particular target audience by age, gender or interests.  

Although not done as much as it used to be, if your local area has a freebie paper or magazine, you could advertise in there too. This still works for a lot of people.  

Social Media

Social Media can help you in driving traffic to your website. Pick a couple of sites to focus on and use content to attract and engage your target audience. Don’t try and use loads of sites as being on social media is very time consuming, so ensure you do at least two sites really well…research your target audience, so you know which sites they hang out on and use those for your content.  

Keep your branding consistent on both website and social media, so your customers know that it’s you. As I said before, you can use social media to publicise your blogs – give your audience a taster sentence, then put the link to your full blog article. On social media, you can also show the human side of you too, by posting the odd personal thing – what you did at the weekend, or a photo of your pet or a family day out. This helps your audience relate to you on a more personal level and let them get to know you better.   

Contact details

Finally, make sure that visitors to your website know how to contact you. Give them your telephone number and email address. Make sure that this is prominent and obvious on your website, so that visitors don’t have to go searching for it. Usually, this is either on the homepage, on a tab at the top of the page, and also in the footer of your website. If your business has physical premises, make sure you include your business address.   

I hope this has helped you think about your website and how you can maximise the opportunities you have to convert your visitors to customers.

If you don’t yet have a website and want to find out about the best web hosting company for your small business, check out digital.com who have a fabulous list of the best hosting providers for 2021.

If you need help with your small business, feel free to email me – cindymobey@outlook.com

How to use Facebook for business

Facebook is a great place to showcase and market your small business. It is totally free to set up a business Facebook account – you just have to have a personal account first, in order to be able to set it up.

I’m not going to go into the setting up of the actual page in this post, but if you need help with this, there is a great, step by step tutorial by Facebook that is really useful.

If you want your business to really blossom on social media, then Facebook is an excellent place to do just that. It’s a great place to market your business and, according to Facebook,”creating a Facebook page allows more than 2 billion people on Facebook to discover your business – think of your page as a digital shopfront.”

What do I post about?

With Facebook, you can create many different types of posts. Each different type of post has its benefits and can engage your audience in different ways. I always suggest that people use the 80/20 rule. That is to say, 80% posts that are engaging, entertaining, educate or inspire your audience, and 20% sales. Your audience don’t want to just be sold to all the time – they want to engage with you and your business and this also helps your brand. Your social media strategy should include all of these types of posts. Let’s look a bit deeper…

Facebook Text Post

A text post is exactly what it says on the tin – just straight forward text only…just words, no photos, no videos, and no links.

Although this type of post is direct, I wouldn’t say this was great for business – especially if your strategy is to drive traffic to your website or directly speak to your audience to get them to buy or engage with you and your brand. But text posts can be good to share opening hours or availability, but be aware that the Facebook algorithm doesn’t really like text only, so your reach may not be good.

Photo post

Generally, photo posts see a higher engagement than text posts. You can use photos, illustrations or infographics to catch your customers’ eye, so you need to think about the images you use. There are lots of free image sites out there where you can source photos – PLEASE don’t use google images and just copy and paste. Most of the images on google are not royalty free and you could get into trouble with copyright issues.  I use pixabay.com or unsplash.com – these are free sites and when you pick an image, it tells you that the image is free for commercial use, which means you can use it for social media or on your website. Of course, you can choose to also take your own photos – especially good if you sell products.

Photo posts are great for product-based businesses, as you can really show off your products and you can show behind the scenes shots – anything really that will engage your audience.

Video post

Videos have even higher engagement rates than photo posts. You can do short and sweet video announcements or you can do longer videos to explain something, or to do a ‘how to’ post.

Video automatically plays in your feed, so you’re guaranteed to catch your audience’s attention.   

Facebook Live

Facebook Live video is, as the name suggests, a video that you stream in real-time or ‘live’. This is really popular and a great way to show your authentic self and a fabulous way to connect with your audience. Some ideas you could use would be an introduction video so your audience get to know you better; you could do a Q&A post to let people know more about what you do or your products; you can do behind the scenes video or product demos…in fact anything you can think of.  

Link posts

A link post is exactly that – a post that shares a link (or URL) with your audience. This is great to share your website or blog site. You just copy and paste the URL of your website/blog post and paste it into a Facebook post. The link automatically shows your audience a preview of the site with an image from that site.

You can also share links to other sites – interesting articles or links to events that you might want to share. Just make sure that you add some of your own wording before you click ‘publish’, so it’s personal to you and speaks directly to your target audience.

Stories

If you’re on Instagram, you’ll know that you can publish stories on that platform. But Facebook stories are also a great way to get the attention of your followers. Just like Instagram, Facebook stories are photo based, or short video posts. The photos appear for five seconds and videos can be up to 20 seconds long. Like Instagram, they disappear after 24 hours. It’s a good way to give a quick sneaky peek at something you’re about to launch, or use it for intrigue for a competition or contest.

Pinned post

You can ‘pin’ any regular post – pinning a post means that it will always stay at the top of your page feed, so it will always be the first thing that people see when they visit your page.

Once you have created the post, simply click on the three dots to the right of your post – you’ll see the option to ‘pin post’. Once pinned, the post will say ‘pinned post’ above it. You can change it whenever you like. It’s good for giving important information or instructions to your audience…or as a temporary announcement.

Facebook Watch Party

You can use this feature to screen a public video on Facebook in real time, so you and your followers can experience it together. It’s a great way to create a buzz for a new product launch – and this is often used to launch a music video.

You can promote your watch party by creating an event.

Create event

If you do events, for example if you are a musician and you’re playing in a local bar, you can set up an event to advertise it. Not only a great way to advertise, you can also invite people to your event, you can add photos and information so people know exactly where and when the event is…and what they will get.

Other options

You can also post job listings, special offers and you can even use the option to raise money for a charity.

Marketing your business on Facebook

Now you know how you can post on Facebook and the different ways to post, how do you actually market your business? I talked earlier about the 80/20 rule; 80% engaging, entertaining, educating or inspiring your audience and 20% selling your products.

It’s best to plan your content strategy, so you know what you are going to post and when. There are loads of different types of posts that will do all these things.

Engagement – you can engage with your audience by asking questions, or you could give them information about your products/services without doing the hard sell. Talk about the features or benefits of your products/services – what’s in it for your potential customers? What does your product or service do for them? How can it help solve their problems?

Entertaining – these posts could be something funny or interesting to share.

Education – ‘How to’ posts or teaching your audience something about your business or products/services.

Inspiring – this could be in the form of inspirational quotes, or you could include a link to an inspirational article that you like – or one linked to your particular type of business.

The final type of course, is selling – this would include images of your products, advertising what you sell or what your services are.

In a previous blog, I talk about the different types of posts you could incorporate into your content strategy – click here to find out more.   

How do potential customers find your page?

This is all about you engaging with your target market. You need to know who your ideal client is and what they like. Join groups on Facebook, via your personal page – there are several that are set up for Facebook to specifically help you engage with like-minded businesses and your target audience. For example, Hike Those Likes Market Place is a friendly group where you can meet other small businesses. They have regular, daily engagement sessions that you can join and leave a link to your business. Other people follow you if they like your business. Once they follow you, every time you post, it will appear on their timeline – and so everyone who has liked their page will also see your post.

You can use the search bar to search for your target audience and engage with their pages. Once you have followed them, you will see their posts. Comment on their posts – a pointer here is to be totally genuine – don’t just comment for the sake of it, but only if you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Facebook ads

You can also create an advertisement for your business on Facebook. This is all about getting your message in front of your target audience – those that are most likely to want what you sell or provide. There are different types of Facebook ads and targeting options. To find out more about ads, Hootsuite have a great guide.  

And finally, measurement

How do you measure whether or not your posts are successful? You can find this out by using Facebook analytics or Insights.

Facebook Insights will let you know which types of posts work best for your business. It measures things such as:

  • likes/follows
  • reach – how many people saw your post
  • engagement – how many people liked, clicked, shared or commented on your posts

It also tells you which posts result in people who ‘unlike’ your page.

Conclusion

Facebook is a great platform for small businesses and if you put in some time to understand how it works…and more importantly, what works best in terms of post type and frequency etc., you really can take your business to the next level.

If you need help with your Facebook business page, please feel free to contact me.

cindymobey@outlook.com

Earth Hour 27 March 2021

The first Earth Hour was started by WWF, as a symbolic lights-out event in Sydney in 2007, but has since become one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment. Held every year on the last Saturday of March, millions of people worldwide turn their lights off to show support for our planet.  

Although Earth Hour is technically only one hour a year, it has become a lasting catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes. This is a very rare event that encourages every single person on the planet to participate. Only by working together, are we going to save the beautiful planet we live on.

For 2021, with the current Covid restrictions, instead of meeting in a public place, people will be participating in Earth Hour online. They are asking you to share a video link on your social media pages and take photos of you and your family switching off all of the lights and electronics in your home at 8.30pm (your local time), on Saturday 27 March.

Take part tonight – Click here to see the video link that you can share

Why support Earth Hour?

Nature underpins everything around us, from the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, to our very livelihoods and quality of life. Nature is crucial for all our futures and helps against the current climate crisis. The biodiversity of our planet is under threat and we can do something about it…

What is biodiversity, why is it under threat and why does it matter?

According to worldwildlife.org

“Diversity is all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area—the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.

But as humans put increasing pressure on the planet, using and consuming more resources than ever before, we risk upsetting the balance of ecosystems and losing biodiversity. WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report found an average 60% decline in global populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians since 1970. The 2019 landmark, Global Assessment Report, by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services reported one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction – the highest number in human history. 

Three-quarters of the land-based environment and roughly 66% of the ocean environment have been significantly altered. More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production. Climate change worsens the impact of other stressors on nature and our wellbeing. Humans have overfished the oceans, cleared forests, polluted our water sources, and created a climate crisis. These actions are impacting biodiversity around the world, from the most remote locales to our own backyards.”

WWF also tell us that one of the most wonderful things about biodiversity is its resilience. If we “ease up on the pressure, manage resources well, give it time, and the ecosystem will adapt. Nature and biodiversity will recover.” 

What can you do to support this event?

2021 is an important year for change. World leaders will be coming together in key global conferences to set the environmental agenda for the next decade and beyond. Decisions will be made around climate action, nature and sustainable development – this will directly affect the fate of humanity and our planet for years to come.

EARTH HOUR 2021 could help put nature in the spotlight and show world leaders and other decision makers around the world that nature matter and urgent action must be taken to reverse nature loss.

So, as a reminder, switch your lights off for an hour – you can light candles and post your photos on social media of you and your family switching the lights off or sitting in candlelight to show your support.  

And don’t forget to share Earth Hour’s official video on your social media pages.

Essential Website Policies

Most businesses these days have a website. Some of them have several different pages, and some are very simple with just two or three pages. Whatever type of website you have, there are some essential policies that you should include.

Why would you have policies on your website?

Everyone is more savvy about handing out their credit card details or even giving out their email addresses. So, when they land on your website pages, they need to know that your site is safe and that you make them feel safe. If they know that any data they give you is safe, for example, they are more likely to trust you. And trust inevitably leads to loyalty…and loyalty to purchases.

Some of the policies are not only essential, they are a legal requirement, with the right kind of legal language.

So what policies should you have on your website?  

Depending on what your business is, whether you sell products or offer services, will determine the kind of policies you need.

First of all, let’s look at the absolute legal stuff – what you MUST have on your website.

Privacy Policy

Every business should have a privacy policy on their website, which details how you keep your customers’ information safe and secure, and how your business complies with the latest GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations).

Your Privacy Policy tells your customers what personal information you collect from them; why you need to collect it and what you do with it.

Both the UK and the EU, follow rules set out by the GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulations that became law in May 2018. Any time your business takes personal information from a customer or potential customer, they need to be pointed to your Privacy Policy. According to the GDPR, your Privacy Policy (or Privacy Notice as some people prefer to call it), must:

  • Be concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible
  • Be written in clear and plain language, especially if any information is addressed specifically to a child
  • Be delivered in a timely manner
  • Be provided free of charge

Here’s a quick checklist of what you will need. Please note, however, that you should always check out the relevant government advice, depending on what kind of business you are. Generally, you need to include:

  • An explanation of the information you collect and what it is used for. For example, if you have an opt-in form on your website, to get people to subscribe to your email, you will be collecting email addresses.
  • Details of how people can get access to the data you hold on them and how they can change any details you have previously collected. If you use opt-in forms, you need to provide information on how to unsubscribe at any time.
  • Details of how you will notify visitors of any changes in your Privacy Policy
  • A statement about age restrictions – usually this involves restricting the site to individuals who are either 13 and older, or 18 or older.
  • How you share any information you collect. For example, you might use email marketing software or payment software from a third party – this is sharing your customers’ information. So they need to be aware of this.

There are loads of rules and regulations which I can’t cover in this blog post, but you should check out your country’s rules and regulations to ensure that you comply.

UK ADDRESS 

EU ADDRESS 

Can I just copy a Privacy Policy from someone else’s website?

You can, but it’s not a good idea. There could be legal consequences of copying another website’s Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions, as they are not likely to cover what you need for your business. Every business is different. Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policies are copyright protected, so unless you have express permission to use and adapt someone else’s policies, I would steer well clear.

Where do I put my Privacy Policy?

Generally, a link to your Privacy Policy is situated in the footer of your website – usually alongside similar policies on Cookies, Terms and Conditions and contact details. This makes it clearly visible to any visitors who want to know how their personal data will be used.

Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions are basically what it says on the tin…it’s the terms and condition, or contract, that you make with any visitors to your website. It sets out what you expect from them and what they can expect from you…in other words, to record what you agree with your customers.

They set out business procedures, limit your liability and protect your business and your rights.  

Why do you need terms and conditions?

Terms and Conditions can save you a whole lot of hassle further down the line, especially if your visitors become customers. If you have these in place, and point every customer to them when they order from you, they can save you from any disputes coming from the use of, or purchases from, you site.

What should your terms and conditions contain?

Your Terms and Conditions can contain whatever you think you should include, or want to include. However, here are a few basic ideas that I always ensure are included.  

  • Make it clear exactly what you are selling
  • Your products or services should be described in detail – you can put a link to a PDF or catalogue, or a link to your website product or services pages
  • It’s impossible to state a set price as this can vary, but worth mentioning your general pricing for your products, with a link to your current price list, stating that you reserve the right to change your prices from time to time – maybe state that you raise your prices every April, for example
  • If you’re a services business, a link can be included to a page where you show fixed price contracts, your cost per hour, or however you operate. Again, you should include that you reserve the right to change your prices from time to time – maybe state that you raise your prices every April, for example
  • Don’t use sales talk or make promises, such as ‘we will reply to any enquiries within 24 hours’…unless that is a set policy and you can deliver
  • You can use this page to talk about shipping, delivery, risk and insurance. Don’t generalise on this – make sure it is what you’re going to do. Some people have a separate shipping policy, which is a good idea if you sell physical products.
  • Returns and refunds – what are your policies around returns and refunds? Again, some people prefer to have a separate returns and refunds policy – this is a good idea if you sell physical products.

Termination

Some contracts will be over with almost as soon as they’re made – if you sell products, they are paid for up front, posted, received and customer is happy.

Other contracts might be ongoing and need renewal, so it would be worth including something around this. You might want to consider the following:

  • How long will your contract last?
  • Why would it terminate? Cover a natural termination – simply come to the end of a contract. It might be because your customer is not happy about some aspect of your work.
  • What happens to any services not completed, especially if they are paid for up front?
  • Do you want to impose a penalty if your customer terminates the contract early?
  • If you’re going to lose money because of a contract termination, how are you going to prove what you’ve lost?
  • If you are creating software, a game, or a bespoke item, who will it belong to if the contract is terminated early? This needs to be clear on your website and on any sales material relating to this kind of product/service.

Product or Service Liability

Think about what will happen if you have to pay your customer for either products or services that fail. For example…

  • What will happen if you don’t provide good or services you advertised?
  • What if something you sell if faulty?
  • What kind of fault is a good enough reason for the good to be returned?
  • What if your customer thinks your services are inadequate, or you don’t provide what they thought you would?

Protect yourself from clients

You need to make sure that, as well as protecting your clients, that you also protect yourself and your business. If you write something for a client, for example, who owns the copyright? Generally, once it is completed, it belongs to your client, for example if you are a ghost writer of a book.

If you do this kind of work, it would be worth including a confidentiality clause, detailing ownership of intellectual property.

If there is a problem

It’s worth putting something in your terms and conditions to set out how you resolve any problems. This might be a simple statement just saying that ‘if there are any problems with my products or services, please contact me by email in the first instance. I will do my best to work with you to resolve any problems you might have.’

ALWAYS DO YOUR OWN TERMS AND CONDITIONS – DO NOT COPY ANYONE ELSE’S. No two businesses are exactly the same, there are certain rules and regulations in some countries, which may differ from where you live, so always worth checking out your country’s government website for guidance.  

Finally, your clients must agree to your terms and conditions to be bound by them. So, if you do a contract, make sure you get your client to sign the contract that states they have read, understood and agree to your terms and conditions.

Refund Policy

A refund policy can be part of your terms and conditions. But, if you sell products, I think it’s more important to have this on your website as a separate policy…or do both!

Refunds are sadly, a part of life and there will be a time when a customer receives your product or service, doesn’t like it and want a refund. So it’s really important to make it absolutely clear what is and what is not acceptable to you.

Most refund policies state that a refund will be made if the goods received are faulty or damaged.  

You don’t have to offer refunds – if you don’t, that’s fine, but you need to make it crystal clear in your refunds policy.

Please note: If you live in the EU, it is mandatory to offer a refund, so you don’t have a choice!

Things to think about…

  • Do you have a time limit on returns?
  • What condition does the product need to be in for a return to be accepted?
  • Who pays for the return shipping?
  • What if your product arrives in a damaged state? Or doesn’t arrive at all?
  • What if your product does not live up to its advertising and a customer is disappointed with quality?
  • How long does it take you to process a return?
  • If you decide that a return is acceptable, how long before your customer gets their money back?

Copyright Notice

The Copyright Notice tells visitors to your website that all the content is legally yours. They do not have the right to use it or reproduce it without your expressed permission.

This notice should include:

  • The copyright symbol
  • The year you created your site
  • The name of the copyright holder – most likely you or your business

If you are happy for visitors to use certain aspects of your material, you need to ensure this is stated very clearly. If you do this, it’s worth making it clear that you still maintain ownership of the material at all times.  

Cookie Policy

Cookies are small text files that your browser downloads and stores on your device. It is anonymous data and is stored separately from any personal information that people provide, so it is impossible to connect it to any particular person. Cookies are used to improve your website and services. 

You need to:

  • Give clear and comprehensive information about the purposes for which cookies are stored and accessed
  • Get visitors to give consent to cookies being used, usually in the form of a pop-up banner
  • Give details of all cookies used and purpose for which they are used – your website provider will have these details available online for you to use

Conclusion

There are lots of different policies you can use, but the essential policies that you legally need to have on your website are:

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Cookie Policy

I also like to include a Copyright Policy. If you sell any kind of products, it’s a good idea to also have a Shipping Policy and Refund & Returns Policy.

Please always check out your country’s government website, as that will advise you what is legally required for your business. Please note that I am not a lawyer. The information in this article is absolutely not legal advice and I cannot be held responsible for its accuracy.

Manage your time working from home

Working from home is always a challenge, as it is so easy to be side-tracked by distractions. That’s where managing your time comes in. Distractions can range from children, pets, housework and washing, to social media, having snacks and general procrastination. We’ve all been there, and since the pandemic has encouraged more and more of us to work from home, managing time has often meant working long hours in order to fit everything in. Sometimes, working late at night after the kids have gone to bed, simply just to be able to fit everything in, alongside the distractions that take us away from our work during the day. Put into the mix, the fact that we are in the throes of a worldwide pandemic, which also brings its own stresses and challenges.

So, how do you manage your time effectively without causing yourself even more stress?

You probably think I’m going to say that you just need to be more organised…and to a certain extent, I guess that’s true, but there are other things you can do.

  • The first thing is not to put too much pressure on yourself and don’t have ridiculously high expectations of what you can achieve in a day. Be kind to yourself!
  • I’ve heard some people say that they’re working from their bed on their laptop. Whilst this might feel good to start with, you’re not actually shifting your mind-set into work mode, and are likely to be less productive. Try and find a small space where you are comfortable that you can dedicate as your work space. It might be just a corner of a room or at the kitchen table, but you’ll feel better if you feel like you’re ‘going to work’.
  • Get ready in the morning as if you are going to work – have a shower, brush your hair, get dressed – you’ll feel more professional and ready to face the day.
  • Surround yourself with things that make you feel ‘work-like’. For me, it’s stationery (!) as I love stationery! I have fresh notebooks, nice pens, a diary and a calendar so I can keep track of what I’m doing.
  • Think about when you are most productive. Are you a morning person or a night person? When you feel awake, it can help boost your productivity. For example, if you love quiet mornings and feel focused in solitude, try working on more challenging tasks as soon as you start your day. Many of us feel tired after we eat lunch and the afternoon hours hit, so consider answering emails or making phone calls at that time. Nothing is set in stone when you work from home, so it’s up to you to decide what works best for you.
  • Create a to do list…NOT a long list as it will feel overwhelming. I make a list of everything I need to do, then do a separate list of things I know are achievable in one day. Split some of the bigger jobs down into more manageable chunks. It feels good to be able to tick off each little task and you feel you are really achieving something.
  • Block out time in your diary. Split your tasks into time slots. Work on the hardest and most time consuming things first…try to keep that to no more than two hours at a time and work hard and deep on that particular task so you get it done in the allotted time.  Then take a break, move around and have a drink. Walk outside and get some fresh air. Then start your next task – that might be one hour, or 20 minutes. If you give every task a set time, you’re more likely to get it done.
  • Have a set time to work on social media…and stick to it! It’s very easy to set sucked into browsing social media and, before you know it, two hours have passed.
  • Set specific times to check emails and make phone calls. This might be a couple of times a day, maybe more, but try and do it in half hour slots. Let customers know that you’re only available on email and phone calls at certain times.
  • When you’re not on social media or email, switch your device off, so you’re not interrupted. If you use a landline, put the answer phone on. This will help you avoid those distractions. This is my worst enemy…if I hear the ‘ping’ of social media, I have to look. If my device is not on, I don’t hear it!
  • Make sure you stop and have lunch – then you won’t get the munchies and want to snack all day.

You might find that you do need to do certain things during the day, if you are at home. You may have to take and collect children from school, prepare snacks for younger children, take your dog out for a walk etc. That’s fine – just incorporate that time into your day. I know it’s easier said than done, but as much as you can.

Planning your to do list

A big part of being effective when you are working from home is planning. I’ve mentioned writing down all the tasks that need doing and then narrowing that down to manageable chunks, or a smaller daily to do list.

Prioritising those tasks is also important. Sort your tasks into one of these categories…

Important and urgent… tasks in this category must be done right away, so focus all your energy on doing these before moving on to others

Important but not urgent…tasks in this category will be those that appear important but on closer inspection, they could be left until a later date if necessary.

Urgent but not important…these are tasks that nag at you, but once done have little or no lasting value to your business. These can be delegated or outsourced.

Not urgent and not important…these are low priority tasks that often give the illusion that you’re really busy. Can be done at a later date, when you’re not so busy.

Add the important and urgent tasks to your ‘to do’ list and tick them off as you do them, then you can move on to the other categories in a more timely way.

Delegation

If you are a small business and find that you are spending too long on tasks that could easily be done by someone else, then delegate or outsource those tasks.

That leaves you time to focus on the important stuff. For example, you might not be good at keeping up with social media, so hiring someone to do that would really free up more of your time.

Hire someone to either do the mundane stuff that you really don’t have time for, or for the more complicated things that you don’t know how to do, or that you know will take you too long as you’re not experienced in that area.

You can also delegate or outsource tasks you absolutely hate doing. There is nothing wrong in delegating or outsourcing; it simply gives you more time to do the things you enjoy or that need to have your undivided attention.

At the end of the day, it’s important to create a structure of time management that works for you and your family, and for your particular circumstances. The most important thing is to look after yourself and don’t succumb to burnout. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan – things often don’t. Just start again the following day. If you’re comfortable and happy with your routine, and have some planning around time management, you’ll feel more in control.

The pros and cons of Opt-In

We all get loads of spam in our email inboxes every day. I don’t know about you, but I find it really irritating when I get an email that I’m not expecting, especially if it’s someone trying to sell me something…or cold calling. But, if I am interested in a business and want to receive emails from them, I like to be able to request that myself. This process of filling in a form to say you want to subscribe to an email list is called Opt-In.

The legal stuff

Opt-In is regulated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK and the CNIL in France in the form of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations).

Regulations state that the consent process must be ‘specific, granular, clear, prominent, opted-in, documented and easily withdrawn’. So, all consent options need to follow these specific requirements in order to be compliant with the GDPR rules.

Any consent processes on your website need to be separated from other terms and conditions. This is known as being unbundles. This is the way to make it clearer and more prominent in what you’re asking of any individuals, without them being confused by other information.

Opt-In forms are usually on websites in the form of a pop-up or as separate page that you point your potential customers to.

If a person opts-in to your email list or freebie, they complete a form. This gives their permission for you to send them emails. The only other real requirement is that when emails go out to customers, there must be an option somewhere on the email for them to unsubscribe at any time, with no repercussions.

What are the pros of having an opt-in?

  • Opt-ins help you grow your email list quickly. You can choose from setting up a single opt-in or a double opt-in*
  • When someone opts-in to your email, it gives you the opportunity to predict the kind of content that a particular customer wants from you
  • If you just send a random email, the open rate is virtually nil, but if a customer has agreed to receive emails through the opt-in form, you will get very high open rates on your sent emails.
  • If a customer, or group of customers buy a specific kind of product or service from you, you can segment those customers into a group. This gives you the opportunity to up-sell or cross-sell other products or services that you think they might be interested in.
  • You can also automate your email service, using platforms such as MailChimp or Convertkit. Using these platforms you can ensure that when someone completes your opt-in form, they get an automatic welcome email. Then you can automate further emails in a sequence to let them know about your other products or services and their benefits and features. You can also use these platforms to set up and automate regular email newsletters or promotions.
  • Opt-in also saves you time and effort once the automation is set up – you’ll be interacting with your target audience and current customers on a regular basis, with little or no work.    

*Single opt-in versus double opt-in

A single opt-in, as the name suggests, is a one-step process. A person simply needs to enter their email address once in the sign up box on your website and they immediately become a subscriber.

A double opt-in is a two-step process. When a person enters their email into the sign up box, they will receive a confirmation email that they must click on to confirm being added to your email list.

The single opt-in is easier for your subscriber as they only have to do one thing – enter their email address and they are subscribed, so you are guaranteed subscribers immediately. So, it builds your list quicker than the double opt-in. But it has been found that more subscribers tend to unsubscribe with single opt-in, once they get what they want.

Double opt-in means that the subscriber has to go into their email and press confirm in order to get what they want. This has the disadvantage of getting lost in the hundreds of emails received every day, unless the person subscribing goes straight in and does it immediately. So, it doesn’t grow your email list quite so quickly. The double opt-in generally means that once the confirmation has been completed, it’s given the subscriber time to think about it and they are more likely to be genuine subscribers who are genuinely interested in your products or services. And you’re more likely to have a higher open rate of subsequent emails with the double opt-in. The double opt-in also leaves less room for error as it will be obvious if the person has entered an incorrect or spammy email address, so the leads are more solid.

The cons of having an opt-in

  • Your first email will most likely be opened as the customer is likely to be getting something, but subsequent emails might be considered junk emails…and they just won’t be opened or the recipient will mark them as spam
  • If you leave too long between the first automated email and the next one, your recipient can forget what they signed up to, so it’s important to do a small email sequence and ask them to add you to their contacts list to avoid this happening
  • If you already have a list of contacts and are adding to that list with new subscribers, then you or your admin team send an email out of the blue, it could cause subscribers to unsubscribe. It’s important to let them know exactly what to expect up front.  

Most email lists are grown using the opt-in method. Usually subscribers sign up for your regular email or newsletter in return for a free checklist, product or other freebie. This is usually advertised via a landing page on your website, on social media or hosted on a platform such as MailChimp or Convertkit.

If you need any help in setting up a landing page to help grow your small business, please feel free to email me. I can help you set this, and the email sequence up for you… cindymobey@outlook.com