Creative ways to solve low ranking on social media

When people talk about ranking and search engine optimisation, (SEO), it can feel like a very dry subject that gets most of us glazing over. So, I’m hoping that my blog this week will help unravel those complicated articles and make it a bit clearer!

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of SEO, but concentrate on social media SEO, which can help your small business be seen and help with your ranking on Google.

Recently I’ve talked about algorithms and how their constant and many changes effect small businesses. Creating great content is very time consuming, without even thinking about networking and the engagement that you must do to keep your business in the spotlight. But, and this is a big BUT (!), social media isn’t just about posting articles and images, and this is a huge misconception for a lot of businesses, it’s about building brand recognition, sharing valuable and memorable content, earning that all-important trust from your audience, showcasing your expertise, and driving targeted traffic to your website, shop, or blog.

What is SEO for social media?

Social media SEO is about combining social media and SEO strategies, so that when someone does a search in google for something you do, your position in that ranking is on that first page, and the key to that is optimising certain keywords or phrases that are relevant to you and your business. For example, I specialise in marketing strategy for small businesses. My target market is small businesses, specifically creative businesses. So, I use these phrases as a category or tag when I publish my blog posts to help my business get found. If you type ‘creative business marketing in Charente’ or ‘small business marketing Charente’ into google, my marketing blog (which includes my name, email address and contact details) ranks on the first page. This encourages people to click on my blog posts, which then points them to my website where they can find more information about what I do and how I can help.

Social media helps you big time in achieving this. You can include keywords and phrases in your posts and in hashtags. And you can point readers, via a link, to your blog, shop, or website.  

No matter what business you’re in, whether you’re an artist, writer, builder, dentist, beautician, photographer etc, there are billions of people out there who trawl the internet every minute of every day, searching for things they want to buy, or just generally looking for something that grabs their attention. Did you know that ALL the major social media sites now use hashtags, keywords in posts or both, to CATEGORISE YOUR CONTENT? People can follow hashtags or subjects they’re interested in; in the same way they follow accounts – every post that they engage with tells that particular social media site about their interests. Then they will automatically be shown similar content from accounts they don’t follow. And, if you’re doing all you can to rank your social media posts, that content that’s being pushed could be yours!

If just the word ‘SEO’ gets you running for the hills, screaming, and pulling your hair out, you can be assured that even though it is important, social media outshines SEO in the social aspect. SEO gets people to click into your website, shop, or blog, but it doesn’t help you engage with your audience. That’s down to you and your social media posts.

But you can use your social media posts to ask your audience questions using polls, you can engage in comments and learn a lot about their wants and needs are, as well as replying to questions and concerns. Then you can use this information to make more relevant posts – and include the keywords and phrases you know will resonate with your audience, (SEO), to encourage them to engage more, share your content and visit your website, shop, or blog. It’s kind of a big circle!

SEO really is just getting traffic where you want it and being found on google.

How does social media help your SEO?

Social media helps by:

  • Helping your content get found and enjoyed by more people – this is especially important if your business does not rank on the first page of a google search.
  • Building your brand awareness. Social media helps you expose your business to a wide audience, so when your business does appear in search results, it will be a familiar name.
  • Building your credibility – showing your expertise and knowledge on social media helps to set you up as an expert in your field.   
  • Generating trust – your followers on social media learn to trust you through the engagement they have and see with others on your page. When someone likes what you do and has a great customer experience, they will refer you to their friends and family – so they will check out your business, which may include searching for you on google.
  • Increasing local knowledge of you and your business. Local SEO, (keywords and phrases that mention your area – small business marketing in Charente), helps your content get discovered by people local to your area. This is especially important for us smaller businesses.
  • Building more links to your business – the more that links to your business is shared, the more likely you are to rank higher. Encourage people to share your content that has links to your website, shop, or blog. That will then be seen by their followers. You can also buddy up with other businesses – choose those that do something that compliments your business – and put links to each other’s business on your website. For example, if you are a hairdresser, you could buddy up with a beautician and/or nail technician to offer a full wedding package. 

It’s important to remember that business social media pages appear in google searches, and I’ve heard that Google is working with Instagram and TikTok on an agreement to index video posts.  

What can you do to help boost clicks to your website?

Although the answer to question, ‘Does social media improve my ranking on Google?’ is technically ‘no’, it plays a crucial part and is a powerful SEO tool to help boost clicks to your website, shop, or blog, which in turn helps with your rankings.

Here are three quick tips that can help you with your social media content to help boost those clicks:

  • Cut down on word count. This is a very controversial statement, and I must admit not one that I adhere to all the time! The ideal length of a post varies depending on the social media site, but generally less is more. According to Neil Patel, his research shows that the click-through rate on paragraph-long Facebook posts is 2-6 times lower than updates that are approximately 40 characters long. 16 Tips To Improve Your Social Media Conversions (quicksprout.com)
  • Tell your audience what you want them to do next…include a call to action (CTA). Use words or phrases such as, ‘check out’, ‘like’, ‘follow me for more….’ Don’t leave anything to chance – if you want people to read your blog post, ask them by giving a link; if you want them to check out your shop or website, tell them how they can do that. Be clear and concise.
  • Give your audience a reason to click away from your social media post. Don’t just sell to people, help them. Ensure that your content solves a problem or pain point that you know is common to your customers. If your products or services help solve that problem, pointing them to your website or shop for the solution will help your click-through rate.

Conclusion

I hope that this article has helped you see how your success on social media can influence your SEO results. In short, if you use your social media channels and posts to distribute helpful content to your audience, build your brand awareness and point people to your website, shop, or blog to gain more traffic, it will always impact your SEO rankings, and you’ll nail it!

I help small businesses with marketing strategy and social media marketing strategy, so please feel free to contact me. I offer a no-obligation 30-minute consultation. Email me at cindymobey@outlook.com

Alternatively, you can follow my marketing blog, which gives heaps of marketing tips every week – cindymobey.blog

Features vs Benefits of your products/services explained

When you think about marketing your product or service, most people think about marketing the features, as opposed to the benefits. But it’s the features that sell whatever you have for sale. This week’s blog post looks at features versus benefits, why both are important and how to market these things separately.

One of them looks at what your product or service does and includes everything that you’ve worked hard to develop and bring to market. The other looks at HOW your product or service will improve your audiences’ lives.

What is a feature?

Let’s look at a very simple example…a slow cooker. So, you’ve decided you want to buy a slow cooker. The first thing you’ll look at is the features – this is the description that you will find about the product. For a slow cooker, this could be:

  • A choice of sizes and capacity to suit your family
  • Glass bowl or ceramic bowl
  • Oval or circular shape bowl? This will depend on what you want to cook in it.
  • Digital settings with a timer
  • What are the settings – usually low, medium, and high, but some only have low or high.
  • Easy to clean
  • Sturdy handle 
  • Versatile – can cook a huge range of foods

All these things describe what your slow cooker can do, what it looks like and how it works.

What is a benefit?

Again, let’s look at the slow cooker as an example. The benefits are the outcomes that slow cooker users will experience.

  • It saves you money
  • It saves time in the kitchen
  • Less preparation time – you can get it ready and leave it to do its thing
  • If you set it in the morning, you have a hot meal to come home to in the evening
  • Less clearing up, you only have one pot to wash, not several
  • Less chance of burning food
  • A slow cooker gives off less heat than a conventional oven, so not so hot in the kitchen
  • As food cooks slowly, meat falls off the bone and the food has more time to infuse with herbs and spices, so can be tastier
  • Ideal for the busy person who doesn’t have time to spend hours preparing and cooking in the evening
  • If there are several of you in your household, you don’t have to all eat at once – you can leave it on low and people can eat when they want to
  • It’s not just for soups and stews – you can cook a variety of dishes – even bake bread or make jacket potatoes, cook cakes, and even rice pudding!

Marketing your features and benefits

When you set out the features and benefits of a product or service, as I did with the slow cooker, it seems obvious, but it can take ages to think about this when you have your own product or service you want to sell.

Marketing is hard; just because you know why your product or service will make your ideal customer’s life better, doesn’t mean that they will. You need to carefully examine what your features are and what your benefits are.

Let’s face it, when we’re trawling the internet looking for that special something we want to buy, we don’t care about the business, how long it took to make or produce; we don’t necessarily think about the person behind the business who must make the trip to the post office to post the item. All consumers really care about is what’s in it for them? Why should they buy your product or service compared to others on the market?

When you are pulling together your marketing strategy for your business, its products, or services, you need to keep in mind ‘what’s in it for your customer?’ This should be the question you continually ask yourself.

Try using a feature/benefit matrix

A feature/benefit matrix is a great way to address these things and make you think seriously about each of the features your product or service has – then produce three things that are benefits of that feature.

Once you have these set up, you can think about the messaging you will use to illustrate those features and benefits to your target audience. And what call to action you will use to help you get your message across.

FeatureBenefit 1Benefit 2Benefit 3MessageCall to action
Feature 1       
Feature 2       
Feature 3       
Feature 4       

Below is a couple of examples using this matrix for our slow cooker.

Feature  Benefit 1Benefit 2Benefit 3MessageCall to action
Digital timerYou and your family can eat when they want toYour meal will be ready when you get home from workSaves time on preparation and cleaning upGreat for busy households. You never have to worry about making sure all your family are home at the same time ‘or their meal will be cold or burnt’Buy now – check out our different slow cookers
Easy to cleanFood doesn’t burnDishwasher safeDigital touchpad easier to clean than knobsSaves you time and effort. Just one pot to clean, not loads of washing up.Buy now – link to website
VersatileCook soups and stewsBake cakes and dessertsBake breadAll in one option. It’s not just for soups and stews. You can make cakes and desserts, perfect for entertaining.Download your eBook with over 100 recipe ideas

You get the idea! There are lots of phrases I’ve heard that illustrate that from a selling perspective, it’s best to focus on benefits:

  • Features tell and benefits sell
  • Sell the sizzle, not the steak

This really tells you it all. Whilst the features tell people about the product or service itself, the benefits are what people are really interested in – the ‘what’s in it for me’ part.

Whilst the steak is important, it’s the sizzle that will sell – what it smells like, tastes like – evoking that emotion in the buyer to entice them to buy. It’s the description of what it’s like to eat the steak that will sell it – not just the picture of a steak on a plate.

Conclusion

I hope this has helped you to distinguish between the features and benefits of your products/services. Now it’s your turn! Take one of your products or services and think about the features – then make a list of the benefits that feature brings to your ideal audience – and use that in your marketing to sell your item.

If you need help with your marketing strategy, and how to best sell your products or services, using the feature/benefit matrix, or just don’t know where to start with your messaging, give me a shout. I can help you see things clearer, so you can focus on your target audiences’ what’s in it for me question.

Email me at cindymobey@outlook.com

The Instagram Algorithm in plain English!

I’ve been reading a lot about the Instagram algorithm (and the Facebook one too) and, although I eventually understood, it took a while as so many articles are written in such an unnecessarily complicated way. So, I thought I would write one, taking details from the research I’ve done, and put it into plain English! I hope this helps.

What is the Instagram algorithm?

Basically, it’s a way to look at the content on Instagram and rank it into a particular order. The algorithm decides what content is shown and what order it’s shown in each Instagram user’s feed. It also uses this same information to decide what is shown on the Explore Page, Reels feed and hashtag pages.

The algorithm takes every bit of information into account and analyses every piece of content that is posted. It also looks at any captions or alt text on images and hashtags. It then decides what and how it is going to give relevant content to each user, ensuring that they all have access to subjects they are most interested in.

It knows what you like and want to see as it looks at, not just what posts, stories or reels you post, but what posts, stories or reels you look at, as well as considering any other interests or behaviours you show on Instagram.

For example, I post mainly marketing tips and quotes for small businesses on my feed, with the occasional light-hearted post thrown in.

As well as looking at other businesses’ marketing posts, I also look at foodie, keto and recipe type posts, and reels. And I love following photographers, crafters, artists, and some fun stuff.

So, these are the kind of posts that are fed into my suggestions.

How does it work     

Every time you go onto Instagram, the algorithm scans through all the available content to decide what to show you.

It looks at three particular factors:

Your relationships – it looks at the content you post and the people who look at it – and vice versa. Do you follow each other? Do you leave comments on each other’s posts? Do you message each other? If you regularly interact with the same user, you’re more likely to see any new content that they post – again, the same vice versa.

This is important for your small business. If you are constantly responding to messages and comments – and sending/posting them, it can help improve your visibility on Instagram.

Your interests – the algorithm looks at the type of content you interact with. When it notices that you tend to look at similar types of content, it will give you more of the same.

Is it relevant? The algorithm will decide how relevant each piece of content is, if it fits with any current trending topics and whether the content is evergreen or timeless. The most recent posts are considered more relevant than older ones for example.

How often you use IG – If you don’t use IG very often you will only see things that are directly relevant to you, so you might find you seeing only posts from your friends and family.

Another thing that is considered is how many people you follow. The more people you follow, the more accounts are competing for space in your feed.

How long you spend on IG – this is called session time. If you don’t spend much time on IG, as I said above, you’re more likely to mainly see posts from your friends and family, whereas if you spend a significant amount of time on IG every day, you will start seeing more posts that you are interested in, and similar businesses to your own. Also, you’re more likely to see more posts from those you follow and interact with.

Why do you see what you see in your feed?

Every day you will see lots of posts and stories that the IG algorithm predicts you will like, based on:

  • The accounts you follow
  • How many likes those posts get
  • How many times you’ve interacted with that account in the past (through likes, comments, profile visits, follows and saves etc.)
  • What kind of posts or stories you look at and interact with

After it’s assessed all these things, the algorithm has an idea about what other kinds of posts you might be interested in, and then pushes them to your feed and stories. This might be accounts you already follow, but it also shows you posts that it thinks you’ll like from people you don’t yet follow. It will also suggest accounts that you might be interested in.

In the same ways that the IG algorithm looks at all these different things and rewards quality, engaging content and pushes it your way, it also rewards quality, engaging content that you post by pushing your account to others.

There are strict guidelines about posts

Just the same as any other social media platform, there are strict guidelines about what is not acceptable. Posts that contain misinformation, or of a political nature, or content that is potentially upsetting or sensitive are not liked, so if you post this kind of thing – or if your images or videos are low resolution, you might find that your posts are not pushed to other accounts.

The best way to get seen on IG

The best way to get seen on IG is to post a variety of posts regularly, such as carousels, single posts, images, reels, video, stories etc. When posting reels or stories, use the filters, effects, stickers, polls, links, music etc that is there to help you, as this makes your posts more interesting.

Check out your insights

Your insights will give you information about your audience and what kind of posts they like best, so keep an eye on this on a regular basis. It also tells you what time is best for you to post to get the maximum reach for your account.

Getting more engagement on a story or reel can be as simple as adding a sticker or poll. It’s about experimenting with all the options available to you, to find what works best for your business and followers. Ask questions so that you encourage your audience to engage with your posts, and always reply to comments and DMs.

Why are hashtags important?

Whilst the IG algorithm can evaluate certain things, it can’t recognise what’s in a photo or image you’ve posted. This is one way that hashtags come into their own. For example, if you’re a pet photographer and you post photos you’ve taken of customers’ pets, the algorithm won’t know this – but it will recognise the hashtags, such as #cutecats or #dogsofinstagram. Using accurate and descriptive hashtags that are relevant to your post will help the algorithm understand your post, and so push it to people it knows are interested in that subject.

Conclusion

To sum up, the IG algorithm evaluates content and ranks it. It looks at what you and others like and matches up accounts it thinks will resonate with you all. Hashtags help it to categorise posts, so it pushes those posts to what it thinks are the relevant audience.

You can help the algorithm get your posts noticed by doing a variety of different types of posts, using all the gimmicks available, posting regularly, and engaging with people who comment on your post, and with those whom you comment on.

Use your insights to help you know what your audience find most interesting and engaging and to find out when is the best time to reach your maximum audience.

Instagram is a social media platform…so you must be sociable. You can’t just post and run and hope that what you post is seen.

If you found this helpful, please leave a comment below. And if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me an email – cindymobey@outlook.com   

How to spark a conversation with your customers

Whether you’re new to your business, or have been going for a while, it can be difficult to know how to spark a conversation with your customers…and conversation is the skill you need for networking and building relationships.

Conversations you have with customers will be slightly different from those you have with your family and friends but are vital to build valuable relationships and build that all-important rapport.

Starting a conversation

This is sometimes the hardest part. But a good way to start is to ask for information. It’s the most effective and natural way to start building that rapport. Ask them about themselves or ask about their business.

  • Do they have a family? If they have their own business, how do they work that around their family?
  • How did they get started?
  • What made them choose their particular business?
  • What is their ‘why’ – why do they do what they do?
  • How are they hoping their business will evolve in the future?
  • What problems do they encounter in their line of work?
  • What inspires them?

These are just a few things you could ask, but you get the picture!

Introduce yourself

Probably the most obvious way to start a conversation is to introduce yourself. But be brief! No one wants to hear someone rambling on about themselves. Tell them a little bit about yourself and what you do, then you can go on to the other conversation starters I mentioned above.

Pay them a compliment

The most important thing about this one is to be genuine – if you can’t think of anything, don’t use this one as it is easy to see through someone who isn’t genuine!

If you love something that they do, or something they’ve made, or have seen a social media post that you particularly like – tell them. And say why you love it.

Comment on something you have in common

This could be anything, from something that’s happening in the world that they’ve commented about, the weather, an event that’s happening, or a situation that you’ve both experienced. Usually, you can pick up on something like this from social media posts.

Offer help

Sometimes conversations can be started because you find yourself in a position to be able to help someone. Offering your assistance can help you earn trust and show you as a likeable person, especially if the concern or help you offer is genuine. As in everything when meeting and talking to new people, the key word here is ‘genuine.’ Don’t offer to help if it will be difficult for you to manage or you don’t really have the time, as this can cause more damage than good.

Ask for help yourself

Asking someone for their advice or help is a highly effective conversation starter. It works well because it makes the other person feel like they’re being helpful and useful. You could always offer them help in return, which will really help build a relationship. We often find we do this without thinking, it’s a natural human behaviour to ask for advice or help.

Talk about a shared experience  

Shared experiences are great to talk about. It might be that you are a crafter or artist and have attended the same market or gallery to show your products. It could be that you attended the same conference, or even went to see the same concert. It doesn’t have to be work-related.

This kind of conversation is great, as you’ve both done the same thing, so conversation flows more easily.

Ask for an opinion

I see people doing this a lot in social media networking groups. You may have a new product or service and would like an opinion on it. It’s a great way to start conversations. People naturally like to help, so if you post your question on social media, you will get plenty of answers…some of those you will be able to message to find out more about what they think.

Show genuine interest

Primarily, and I know I’ve said this several times, be genuinely interested in what people have to say. Actively listen to them, which is focusing completely on the person you’re talking to. Repeat back what they say, so you confirm your understanding.

If you’re talking to someone face to face, for example at a networking event, respect their personal space and don’t get too close. Make eye contact, and smile! But be aware that not everyone likes eye contact, so it could make them uncomfortable. If it’s obvious that they are not interested in talking to you, move on and don’t get offended – you can’t please everyone!

Conclusion

I’m sure that you can come up with loads of ways to strike up a conversation with customers or new contacts…if you have any other suggestions, please put them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Top tips for effective communication with your customers

Communication is key to nurturing and keeping long-lasting relationships with your customers.

For your communication to really work well, you need to know everything about your products or services better than anyone else. Skills such as patience and active listening can make a huge difference, as well as having a very attentive mindset. It’s important to ensure that you respond to all messages, comments on social media, phone calls, live chat, and emails promptly, as a delayed response could make them turn to your competitors.

Why is communication important?

In today’s online world, with so much competition for every single business out there, no matter how big or small, the way you communicate with your customers can make or break your brand.

There are lots of ways you can communicate with your customers, and factors such as 24/7 availability and multiple channels that they can contact you on, are important for customer satisfaction.

You need to be able to help them in real time, give them any updates to your business or products/services, market new products to them and keep them happy.

The four most popular ways to communicate are:

By phone – this is the best way to resolve any issues with your customers that can’t be solve in other ways. Sometimes, when you try to email or message an unhappy customer, the feeling behind your message gets lost and it can come over as abrupt. So, phone is better as nothing is more reassuring than to hear a real human voice, who is calm and can explain any issues. Customers will like that you’ve taken the time to speak to them – it helps to make them feel like they are valued.

By email – This is good for giving information, for example, newsletters. Email is cost-effective and you have an email thread to keep track of the conversation. I speak to my clients by phone once a month to talk about how things are going – and always follow up with email to confirm our conversation and anything we’ve agreed.

Live Chat – you can put live chat on your website, but for me most live chat comes via messenger, where I can talk to my clients in real time. Sometimes, when doing this, it becomes obvious that you need to have a chat by phone, and other times you will find that you can confirm a date or delivery etc this way.

Social Media – social media is great for sharing regular updates with your customers, talking about new products or services, educating them about something you do or your business, and entertaining or inspiring them with quotes or funny stories/memes. Social media is also brilliant for engaging with your customers in a way you can’t do via other communication channels.

Tips to improve communication with your customers

Here are a few tips to help improve the experience your customers have with your business.

The right message

Conveying the right messages or information is crucial for any business. It is your responsibility to ensure that any information about your business, be it around shipping, info on a particular product and its use, turnaround times, pricing etc needs to be accurate, so that you can set realistic expectations from the start.

If you have a website, shop, and social media channels, make sure that the information you give is consistent across the board, as this leads to a positive customer experience with your brand and business. Any information that differs can cause confusion and ultimately, could lose you customers.

Be proactive in your communication

Inevitably, there will be times when a customer is not happy with the service you offer. They might hassle you to get their problem solved and might keep hassling you if it’s taking longer than they expected.

The best way to solve this, and to avoid it, is to be proactive with your communication. Let them know how things are going every step of the way.

Let me give you an example. I used to work for a global insurance company, and at one time was in their call centre. I worked solely on complaints, which could be quite difficult at times. I found the best way to make the customer experience a good one – even though I was dealing with a complaint – was to be transparent, open, and honest, and above all, keep them informed. When a complaint was first made, I always apologised and said that I would investigate it and get back to them. Now, people hear this all the time and often don’t get a call back – this is where I made a difference. I gave them a time and date that I would ring them back…and I made sure I rang them, even if I didn’t yet have an answer. I’d ring and tell them that I didn’t yet know the answer but was hoping to find out by ‘whatever date.’ I’d then agree another date and time when I would ring them to update or give them an answer. Nine times out of ten, customers were happy with this because I’d still taken the time to ring them in person.

This is what I mean by managing a customer’s expectations. That call makes all the difference. The customer knows that you care and that you are doing your best to sort things out for them. They also know that you will keep your promise to ring and update them.

Active listening    

Active listening is about paying attention to what your customers are saying to you. Listen to everything they have to say and repeat back to them anything that is important to remember or know. This proves that you are listening and ensures that you have understood correctly.

Keep a pen and paper handy in case you have to make notes and don’t interrupt them. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat something or clarify something, so you fully understand. You don’t want to miss any vital information or details that are important to them.

Whilst you are speaking to your customer, get rid of any other distractions – turn off anything that is likely to interrupt you. If you are speaking on a landline, switch off your mobile, and if you are on your mobile, switch off your landline or put it on answer phone. If possible, take the call in another room. Don’t have any background noise on such as music or TV.

Earlier I said to avoid interrupting your customer. However, there are times when you may have to – for example, if the line is bad and you can’t hear them properly, or you may have to ask them to repeat something if there is a language barrier.

Know your product or services  

This sounds obvious, but your customers will ask you all sorts of things about your products or services, and you need to be prepared.

Know everything inside-out, so you can answer questions with confidence. If there is something you’re not sure about, or something you’d not thought about, be honest and say that you don’t have enough information about it but will find out and get back to them…and make sure you get back to them in a timely manner! Don’t forget!

Try to avoid words such as “I think’’, “it might be, or it could be,” or “maybe it’s xxx.” This doesn’t instil confidence and makes you sound confused or that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Take your time

It’s normal to feel some frustration when a call is taking a long time, or you are speaking to the twentieth customer that morning. However, for your customer, it is the first time they have spoken to you that day, so they deserve the same polite, helpful treatment that your first customer received.

Take your time to understand queries and give as much information to help solve any queries or complaints.

The call you receive may not be negative – it might be someone phoning to say, ‘thank you,’ or to give a compliment!

Give your customers what they want

All customers are different and have different needs and wants. Whilst one customer will be happy with an email or messenger response, you will have those that prefer to speak to you directly.

If a customer is asking you lots of questions, ask them what they would prefer. Ask questions such as “What is the best way to contact you?” or “Are you happy for me to email or message you, or would you prefer a call?”

In my experience with my business, I get different requests, and some prefer both. I find it easier to explain something complicated over the phone, and then follow up in email. Part of my business is coaching, so that is always face to face via Zoom or video call, but even then, I’ve had someone say they prefer phone and not face to face. So, each customer is different and it’s up to you to find out what they like best and work to that.

Keep a record of what your customers have bought from you before, be it a product or a service, so you have something you can talk about and show them that you remember them. Call them by name, so that it is more personal. And, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and treat them how you’d like to be treated.

Encourage your customer to ask questions

Communication is a two-way process, so encourage your customers to ask you questions. When they ask a question, it gives you the perfect opportunity to, not only answer but to give them information about the various benefits or features of your product/service.

At the end of any conversation, whether by phone, email, or messenger, always ask your customer if they have any questions.

Encouraging questions can lead to more interest in other products or services and could lead to more sales.

Conclusion

Communicating effectively with your customers breeds loyalty. When your customers know that they can contact you easily and that you genuinely care about them, this builds trust. Trust in you and trust in your brand.

Happy customers will refer you to their friends and family and they are the best form of marketing you can have. Communicating them using the channel they prefer helps build that trust and loyalty – in no time at all, you’ll have your own army of marketers, promoting your business for you!

If you need any help with customer communication or would like help with your marketing, please get in touch. I offer a free 30-minute consultation.

Email me at cindymobey@outlook.com or call me 0033 (0) 545 31 13 86.

Content Marketing Strategy – your way to success!

Do you have a content marketing strategy? A lot of small businesses don’t – and if you are one of those businesses, you are missing out on planning your way to success!

A content marketing strategy includes all the things you do to attract, engage, and keep your audiences’ attention, by creating and sharing content, such as blog posts, videos, newsletters, podcasts, and social media content. In fact, anything and everything that keeps your business in your audiences’ minds when they decide they want to buy what you offer.

The strategy is about the planning of that content so that it achieves your goals and is aimed at your specific target audience.

You can’t achieve your goals if they aren’t clear, and you know what steps you need to take to achieve them. Your content is what helps you achieve those goals, so that you grow your audience, and push them towards your website, online shop or whatever you want them to do.

Why is the strategy important to your business?

I’ve seen lots of people on social media saying that they want to grow their business and it’s just not happening.

Is this you?

You’re consistently posting on social media, you might have a newsletter, you show your products or services, publish your blogs, pay for ads – and are consistent – but still you’re not getting as much business as you hoped.

If you’re doing all this and don’t seem to make much progress towards your goals, it’s likely that you don’t have a content strategy in place. It could also be that your goals aren’t realistic.

Content marketing is a long game – it’s not something that you can implement and get results within a few months. That’s why so many big companies have a whole marketing department. They know that they need to have people working on it constantly and over a long period of time to get any return on what they do.

With the right strategy in place, you can:

  • Generate leads
  • Raise your brand awareness
  • Engage your followers and target audience
  • Retain your current customers
  • Position yourself and your business as an expert in your field

You can’t just wing it!

Unfortunately, content strategy isn’t something you can wing! You need to conduct research, know your target audience, know what keywords to use and have a clear idea of your buyer personas.

Most small businesses will know their target audience(s), but quite often still post and focus on what they believe to be important or interesting, rather than what their audience and perspective customers need and want. Having a strategy addresses this matter.

If you do take the time to develop a content strategy, and work to it, you should expect to see growth over the first six months.

It’s not a secret that creating content is time-consuming, but writing short blog posts, or putting up a social media post just because you haven’t done one today – or trying to put out three posts every day, means you’ll probably do something quickly, just to get it out – and this could end up with you losing out in the long run.      

High quality content helps you to rank better in Google, helps you to build trust with your customers and followers, brings you leads and importantly, helps you to convert those leads into customers.

I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for short-term content strategies, as these can produce some instant results, but a long-term strategy will allow you to build a rapport with your audience, provide real value to them and keep your business in the front of their minds long term. Long-term strategies also tend to build bigger audiences and don’t concentrate on the hard sell, which puts a lot of people off.

How do you build a content strategy?

Your content strategy is the foundation of your customers’ journey with you. It helps you have better customer satisfaction and helps you with sales.

These are the things you need to know and include:

Your audience

Who will be reading your content? Who is your target audience? Do you have more than one?

Create a buyer persona for each of your target audiences – this will help you tailor content specifically for them.

What problems do your products or services solve?

What are the benefits and features of your products/services? What are your customers’ pain points and how do you solve them?

What makes your business unique?

What do you do that is different from your competitors? What makes your products/services better than theirs?

It might be that you have years of experience; you might have a distinctive way of speaking to your customers (your tone of voice).

What are your business goals?

This is very important as you need to know what goals you want to achieve, so you can tailor your content to help you achieve those goals.

What kind of content format will you use?

Bear in mind that you need your content to reach your customers, so where do they hang out? This might be social media, a blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel, and of course an email newsletter.

Once you know what format you need to use to suit your audience and to reach them where they are, think about your budget and what you can afford to be able to use all these channels effectively.

Where will you publish your content?

Linked to the previous point, where you publish your content will depend on where your audience are. This might be your website, or social media. If social media is a big part of your strategy, which sites will be best for you? Which sites do your audience use?

If you target a younger audience, you might want to opt for TikTok and Instagram.

How will you manage your content?

Once you know what channels you’re going to use, you need to think about how you will create and publish all your content. Will you be doing it all yourself?

Have a plan, and plan at least two weeks ahead, so you know what posts are happening and when. For social media, you can batch-create content and schedule it in advance. Blog posts and email can also be planned and written ready for publishing.

If you plan your content around a particular theme each week or month, it makes content creation much easier. If you write a blog, or have a podcase, you can also repurpose that content to make social media posts/videos.

Make sure that your content tells your customer how you can help them solve their problems, use your unique voice, and try and weave in your overall business message.

I try and use the 80/20 rule for my content. 80% entertaining, engaging, educating, or inspiring my audience and only 20% sales posts.

Your strategy also needs to:

  • Ensure your content points your audience to your website or online shop…or somewhere they can get more information
  • Be cost-effective
  • Include an audit of the content you’ve already published. Look at your insights on social media to find out what kind of posts work best you’re your business. And, if you blog/podcast, look at your stats to see which articles/episodes are the most popular. What works and what doesn’t?
  • Does your current content align with your goals, and will it help you achieve it? If not, you may need to look at changing what you do and how you do it.

There are loads of different types of posts you can create to keep your audience interested, and to help you achieve your goals.

Content Marketing is all about reaching your target audience with the kind of content they want to see, in a place where they hang out.

Planning and having a strategy are key and will really help you achieve your goals, reach your audience, build trust and rapport with your followers…and ultimately make those sales.

If you’d like help with your content marketing strategy, I’d love to help and get you moving towards building your audience and growing your business. Contact me via email (cindymobey@outlook.com) to book your free 30-minute consultation – I look forward to chatting to you about your business.

5 ways to be accountable to yourself for your business

When you are employed and work for a company, you are usually accountable to someone. You can ask that person for help; you might have a mentor and your manager will usually help you climb the career ladder.

However, when you work for yourself and own your business, the buck stops at you. You are suddenly responsible for everything – not just the day to day running of your business, but the marketing, sales, customer service, your own training, training employees if you have them, and keeping yourself organised and efficient. You are only accountable to yourself…and that can be hard.

It’s not that you aren’t responsible to anyone, it’s that your goals become more subjective. Your diary fills up with things you ‘have to do,’ rather than things you should be doing…or even things you enjoy doing.

But there are ways to create self-accountability so that everything you do doesn’t depend on your willpower alone!

Get yourself an accountability partner

Team up with another small business so you can encourage each other. Share you goals and deadlines, so you can help each other achieve them.

Having someone you can talk to, perhaps just once a week – or even once a month – can really help you to stay on track. You can ask each other for advice, share your new ideas, run social media posts past each other, talk through any problems or issues you might be having with your business, and generally gee each other up to keep going.

This will help you in many ways, but mainly because you won’t want to let your accountability partner down, so you’ll find you get more done and with more enthusiasm. Give it a go!

Share your goals publicly!

By this, I don’t mean plaster your goals all over your social media and website! You just need to be reminded of the commitments you’ve made to your business. Tell your friends and family about the goals you’ve set yourself and your business. Not all of them will ask you about them, and some will forget you even told them, but you will find that a few will ask how you’re getting on – and it will spur you on.

Speak about what you want to do in networking groups or business groups that you belong to and share that you need a bit of accountability. You’ll always find a few people who will be willing to encourage you.

Community support can be amazing. For example, if one of your goals is to learn a new skill, find a training package that includes a support group – or create one yourself. Finding people who you can work with – who have the same interest and goal as you will really increase your chance of success.

Have a plan

I know I’ve said this load of times, but I just love a list! So, for me, planning is key to me achieving things. I always have a ‘to do’ list going, which will help me achieve the things I want to get done. I have lists for the month, for the week and a daily one too, which when I think about it, might be a bit excessive!

It’s about doing things that work for you. The best thing about having a plan of action, and a list, is that it feels so good when you can tick something off that list and see it shrinking.

If your goals are big, work out a way to cut them down in more manageable chunks, so you achieve that goal step by step.

When you can see that things are getting done, this gives you more confidence and will inspire you to keep moving forward.

Use a calendar

I’m sure that most of us will use a calendar to put meetings in, schedule work we need to do and deadlines we need to make. But do you use a calendar for yourself?

I’ve started to do this over the past few months, and it makes such a difference. I block out time to batch-make social media posts, write my blog and monthly email newsletter. I’ve started scheduling some of my social media posts so that I save time. I must admit I do like to post in real time too, so I don’t schedule everything. I like to engage with people as they comment, but I now block out time to do this – and guess what? My engagement figures are increasing and I’m getting to know more small businesses.

If you have a goal such as learning a new skill or completing a course – schedule time in your diary for that, so that you don’t forget about it or let it slide. It also helps you to avoid that Mr. Procrastination!

Avoid procrastination  

That does bring me nicely to Mr. Procrastination. One of the things that will help you is to recognise why you procrastinate. Some of the signs are that you will find any excuse not to get on with the job in hand. You might find yourself just doing the easy, quick-to-achieve work, instead of concentrating on the larger, more complicated tasks.

You might find yourself ‘popping onto social media’ for a bit, and then realise that two hours have passed!

Sometimes it’s just that you’ve lost sight of why your goals were important to you in the first place. So, being organised and having a plan can help you with that – and all the other things I’ve mentioned above to be accountable to yourself.

And finally…CELEBRATE YOUR WINS!

No matter how big or how small, celebrate your achievements. If you’ve cut a big goal down into smaller chunks, celebrate each milestone along the way. Cut yourself some slack and look at all the positive things you have managed to do.

Coaching can really assist you with accountability, and with an action plan to assure you achieve your goals. If you would like to book a free 30-minute consultation, we can discuss your situation and how I can help. Please email me – cindymobey@outlook.com

How the customer experience (CX) is evolving in 2022

The customer experience is every interaction that a customer has with your business, from the very first time they find your website, shop, or social media pages, to every time they comment or like what you do, right up to making a purchase or working with you.

It’s something that continually evolves, and since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, it’s developed faster than every before. During the various lockdowns, we all had to adapt our businesses to cope with being more visible online…and customers have found that they like the services that businesses started to offer during this time and want it to continue.

For the rest of 2022 and into 2023, there are several things you can do to ensure that your business evolves to match those new customer experience trends.

The Digital Experience

These days people use technology more than ever to find what they want – most of us reach for our phones to look at things we want to buy. We can see what the best products are, compare prices and look at reviews to see which is the best to buy. If you’re a small business and not online in several places, you’re missing a trick.

The obvious one is to have a website. I know that many small businesses have online shops, such as Etsy, to sell their products, but at the end of the day, you don’t own that shop. You must pay high fees and the owners of Etsy could shut you down whenever they want.

Whereas, if you have your own website, you own it. No one can take it away from you and you can put so much more information about your business on it – you’re not just restricted to a shop. As well as being able to tell your backstory through your ‘About’ page, you can also set up an email subscription to communicate regularly with your customers and set up a blog to share information with them. It’s more personal.

Your social media accounts are also useful to gain a following and promote your products or services. You can also promote your website, blog, or email subscription, with links to your website.

Consumers expect you to be on these channels and they are the best way to engage and interact with your customers and potential customers.

Be personal

Another positive for the customer experience is personalisation. They like personalised experiences when they engage with a business. And not just greeting them by name in emails etc, or remembering birthdays, they want more than that. They expect to be able to contact businesses on their terms – using email, chat, voice calls, messaging etc. They want their enquiry answered in a timely way and don’t want to waste their time waiting or having to repeat themselves.

Customer expectations

As things have evolved to a more digital world, customer expectations have grown. And if you make any kind of promise to a customer, they will expect it to happen quickly.

How do you find out what their expectations are? Ask them! Put questions on your social media pages to find out what they like and don’t like.

You could send out a link to a survey…and offer a discount in exchange for completing it.

It also helps to look at your competition to see what they’re doing and how they interact with their customers. If you run the same, or a similar business to that of your competitors, your customers will have similar problems.

Identify customers’ pain points

To turn your customers into fans and advocates for your business, you must exceed expectations. Look at the pain points that your customers have and find out how you can address them with what you do.

Some common pain points include shipping, returns, sizing and being able to easily contact you. By looking at these and other pain points, you can exceed expectations and create very happy customers, who will recommend you.

Your customers put positive experiences above everything else, as you can see from some of the latest statistics below.

The Omnichannel experience

Omnichannel simply means lots of different channels – social media, website, email, chat etc.

To maximise this experience for your customers, ensure that you are consistent across all channels – that branding and the way you speak and interact is the same. And that your customer service is excellent and exceeds expectations on all channels.

Data Security and privacy

Another thing that customers are very aware of these days is data security and privacy. There is so much on the news and online about this that most people know they have certain rights.

The emphasis on data security and privacy is only going to increase over the coming months and years. As your customers share more personal data, businesses must adhere to the General Data Protection Regulations, (GDPR) relevant to the country you trade in, as well as the countries you sell to.

You should ensure that you have a privacy policy and clearly you’re your data practices in that policy. You need to ensure that you are clear about your purpose and processes for collecting and storing customer data.

You need to have your customers’ consent to email them – most email subscriptions include an opt-in, where customers willingly give their name and email address, so they are consenting to you sending emails.

Never share your customers’ data with third parties or sell lists of customers email addresses.

You can find out more about GDPR online for your country, but here are a couple of useful links.

GDPR UK

GDPR EU 

Top tips for a great customer experience

Businesses with great customer experiences have higher customer referral rates and higher rates of customer satisfaction. This means you’re more likely to keep those customers’ loyalty and they’re more likely to come back for more. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have – your customers do the marketing for you, saving you time and money.

In today’s market, you not only need to compete on price, but you also need to compete on experiences, that is, your customers want to feel emotionally connected to you and your business.

Here are some of my top tips for creating that great customer experience:

  • Every business should have a mission statement and set goals. Make the customer experience part of your mission statement and have specific goals to enhance that experience.
  • Be friendly – whether you are talking to customers face to face, or via video call or phone, SMILE! Believe it or not, you can hear that friendly smile. If you’re face to face, make eye contact. And always use warm, friendly language and tone of voice.
  • Have empathy for your customers. Do your best to understand them and what they want. Make the experience they have with your business, the best!
  • Provide value – by this I don’t mean that your products should be cheaper than everyone else’s. I mean deliver the best value you can, at the right price for your customers. Make sure your prices are easy to find and are visible – people don’t have to go looking – they’ll just log out. Make the sales process as quick, efficient, and easy as you can.
    Make sure that your shop or website is easy to navigate and doesn’t take ages to load – or you will lose customers.
  • Be easy to contact. This speaks for itself. Make sure that your contact details are on every channel you use…be that your phone number, email address or chat box.
  • Be consistent with everything you do and never stop looking for ways to improve. Listen to your customers, take note of any feedback you get and act on it.
  • Finally, show your appreciation for your customers. Sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ is enough, whether that is face to face or via email.

I hope that this article has been helpful – if you have any further suggestions or have any questions, please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can email me at cindymobey@outlook.com or contact me via my website.

Is your business suffering from the summer slump?

How is it nearly the end of August already – and what a weird, hot summer it’s been. For most of us, it’s also meant rising prices, fuel costs going through the roof and everyone seems to be tightening their belts.

The summer slump is a real problem for some businesses, and usually this simply means that time in summer when business seems to drop off. You don’t get so much engagement on your social media pages, sales disappear, and generally, everything seems to grind to a blinding halt.

The main reason for this is that in general, people just stop paying attention to the things they normally do. The children are off school and need to be entertained, the weather is nicer so they’re thinking about BBQs and social gatherings with family and friends. They are also thinking about going away on holiday, (especially now the restrictions of Covid are virtually over). Add to that the rising cost of living, and for some, the slump has been more of a reality than usual.

This year, more than ever, small businesses are telling me that they are experiencing a real slump in their sales.

So, do you just wait for things to pick up by themselves? Or do you want to be proactive and do something about it? There are still some things you can do to ensure that your business is still being seen.

Here are some things that might help:

Don’t stop doing what you normally do

This seems obvious, but it’s important to still have your business out there. If you post once or twice a day on social media, continue doing that. Be consistent, just like you always have.

If you publish a weekly or monthly blog, do it, even if you don’t get much engagement.

If you send out an email newsletter, absolutely still do this. The tips that follow will help you with the sort of things you can talk about.

Look at starting a new inbound marketing campaign

What do I mean by this?

Create a new campaign on your social media or email, to attract customers. You do this by tailoring your content to what they need, problems they need to solve, and forms relationships with your followers.

The old way of mass marketing just doesn’t seem to be as effective anymore. Things like pop-up ads and the hard sell are more likely to put people off these days. So, it’s a softer approach you’re after.

Get going with educating your current and potential customers about your products or services. Use email, direct mail, and social media posts/stories/reels/video to teach your audience more about your products or services and how you can help solve some of their problems.

Go ‘live’

Hold a live event or a series of events highlighting what you do best. Include details of your best sellers, and don’t forget to include testimonials or case studies to help you. Success stories always sell.

Focus on your customers

This is a good way to look at how you can serve your existing customers better. Look at whether your customers use your product or service to its full capacity. Look at feedback to find out if there are any needs that your product isn’t meeting that could be tweaked in future. You can do this simply by messaging your customers and asking for their opinion. People like to be involved, so ask if there’s anything you can improve on, or if there is anything you don’t yet provide that you could provide in future.

Ask for referrals

This speaks for itself, but whilst you’re quiet, you can ask for a referral – and maybe offer a discount if the person they recommend buys from you.

Ask for testimonials. You may get regular testimonials, but some people just don’t think to give them, so there’s no harm in asking.

Join a networking group

There are so many groups on social media that you can join. It just takes a little bit of time to engage with the other businesses in the group. Look at other businesses, engage with their posts by commenting. You might find something you’d like to buy. This is a great way to build genuine relationships with other like-minded people.

If you have any local in-person networking events, try to get along and introduce yourself. Face-to-face events are great for networking in real time. Make sure you are armed with a stock of business cards to give out and ensure that you listen to other businesses and what they have to say, as well as talking about your own!

Share your schedule

If you are going on holiday in the summer, tell your clients about it beforehand. Encourage them to place orders before you go, so they get their orders in good time. Scarcity sells, so don’t miss out on this one.

If you know that you have customers who buy Autumn items from you, such as Halloween products, contact them early and show them your range, asking if they’d like to order early to beat the rush.

Invest in you

When your business is quiet, it’s a good time to learn new things or develop new skills. Or, just to brush up on what you already know. Book a coaching session to help you with a specific part of your business, sign up to a few webinars, or look at a short course that will help you grow your business further.

If you have sales material, presentations, case studies, welcome pack, an automated email newsletter, or a website, now is the time to review them and update them, so they are all current and nothing is out of date.

When you have done that, you can do a couple of launch posts to show your new-look website or landing page.

Update your Facebook cover and your profile photo. And spend some time thinking about your brand and how you can better show your brand in your social media posts.

Conclusion

These are just a few ideas to help you beat that summer slump. Doing some of these things will make you feel more proactive, and you’ll be raring to go once the summer is over and we are into autumn.

I hope that you have all had a fabulous August, have enjoyed time with family and friends, enjoyed the gorgeous weather, (even if it was a tad too hot at times) and are looking forward to launching into autumn with renewed vigour.