Aligned Assets

Aligned Assets Case Study

Since enhancing our gazetteer with 118 Information, we’ve seen a more accurate identification of business addresses for our 999 call handlers and operation crews. This has led to an average reduction in Business Incident attendance times of 30 seconds – and that can mean the difference between life and death.

The fragility of today’s economic climate has meant that businesses come and go at a faster pace than ever before. As a result, when a Fire and Rescue Service is called out to an incident, details about the business operating out of a property may not always be accurate. This will inevitably lead to an unprecedented delay in the deployment of response vehicles to the scene, the consequences of which are easy to imagine. In addition to the growing trend for short-lived pop-up shops appearing on our high streets, established businesses continually move, change names or close down, and new start-ups are born. This ebb and flow of businesses in our local cities, towns and villages can create a substantial drain on Fire and Rescue Services’ resources, as these address changes are often not recorded by the local authority or Royal Mail in good time. When there is a gap in the business-address information available, a Fire Command and Control Centre may need several people simultaneously searching the Internet for information that may or may not be correct. This was a very real challenge for the Network Fire Services Partnership (NFSP) – a collaboration between Devon & Somerset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Services. Through a shared Command and Control System, the aim of this partnership was to enable a more efficient deployment of Fire and Rescue Services to an emergency call-out. However, the efficiency of reaching business emergencies in good time was being greatly tested. The NFSP were already sharing Aligned Assets’ gazetteer, Bluelight, so the move over a year ago to share and access the most accurate business data from 118 Information was a natural progression. 118 Information is the most accurate and comprehensive list of businesses actively trading in the UK, and is maintained by continued verification through direct contact with businesses. By embedding the 118 Information into the gazetteer management system to fill the gaps within the existing AddressBase Premium list (provided by Ordnance Survey), Aligned Assets were able to feed this most up-to-date business data into the NFSP’s Vision Command and Control system provided by Capita. Looking back over the past year, Stuart King, NFSP ABR Vision Lead & Fire Control System DC, reflects on what they set out to achieve: “Our key goals were about time savings. It was crucial to reduce our call handling time by accurately finding the business in the Command and Control gazetteer. We also wanted to reduce fire crews’ attendance time by being able to correctly identify and communicate the business name and address. In the past, we’d often had to rely on crews actually seeing fire and smoke to identify the location of the incident, and as we know, not all emergencies are identifiable that way. “Since enhancing our gazetteer with 118 Information, we’ve seen a more accurate identification of business addresses for our 999 call handlers and operation crews. This has led to an average reduction in Business Incident attendance times of 30 seconds – and that can mean the difference between life and death.” A second efficiency the NFSP has benefitted from has been the 90% plus reduction in requests to amend gazetteer entries from 999 calls, dropping from 10–20 per month per Fire Service to none, or the occasional one. This means the resources used to manually update the gazetteer can be better spent responding to emergency calls. This simple but innovative use of data and expertise from different sectors has led to an extra 45,000 business addresses being available to the NFSP for emergency response in the South West, leading to greater safety and security for those businesses, their employees and their customers. To find out more, contact Aligned Assets on 01483 717950. For more information, go to Source: UK Fire, published 8/8/18

GDPR: The Pain And The Possibilities

A lot has changed over the last two decades, from the way we live our lives to the way we do business. Just twenty years ago the internet was in its infancy, most people didn’t own a mobile telephone and the fax machine was an office favourite. Today we have super-fast broadband, everyone and her grandmother owns a smart phone and the idea of communicating via fax is frankly funny. Two decades on and we are all now part of the Internet of Things — increasingly online and increasingly connected. We organise our lives and run our businesses via the internet, which means there is now a plethora of personal data all floating around out there in cyberspace. And this is why the EU is implementing the new General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force in May this year, to address this massive digital shift and to make businesses more accountable for the collecting, storing and processing of all this private information.

Make Sure Your Business is Ready for the GDPR

On May 25th 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and it will impact your business. Whether you’re a large national organisation holding banks of marketing prospect information and online identifiers or a micro company with one employee, if you handle any personal data belonging to EU citizens, be that personnel, prospect or customer information, the new GDPR will apply to you. The vast majority of businesses collect or hold some amount of data from third parties, customers or prospects. After all, a healthy business feeds on a proactive marketing approach. From 25th May things will change, and to hold, store or process personal data you will need to have an established legal basis to do so, and documentation to support that. The GDPR will require your business to regularly assess, record and document compliance. You will be expected to keep clear data records, make any data breaches in your organisation known within 72 hours and give individuals the opportunity to right to remove their details easily from your database at any time.

Power to the People

Essentially, the new General Data Protection Regulation gives individuals more rights. The personal data of all EU citizens will become increasingly protected and your company will become accountable for the safety of all the personal data you hold. Your business will become responsible for obtaining, storing and processing personal data securely and will have to be able to demonstrate it too.

How the GDPR Will Impact Your Business

Without a doubt, preparing for the new GDPR is going to be majorly disruptive for most businesses. You’ll need to be aware of all the personal data you hold and know where it is located; you’ll need to know who exactly has access to this information and know how it is managed.

A Few Things to Consider in Your Preparation

Audits & Accountability An internal data audit will be necessary on the run up to May 25th, to establish what data you hold and where.  Some organisations will need to appoint a Data Protection Officer to deal with data security and to manage the processes involved.  You’ll need to be able to evidence and demonstrate the legal basis on which you hold personal data. Transparency It’s likely you’ll need to review and update your company’s privacy policies and statements to ensure transparency under the new regulation. Your GDPR-ready policies should give individuals more ‘clear and understandable’ information about how their personal data is used. The Information Commissioner’s Office will require your privacy policy to unambiguously inform people who you are, clarify what you are going to do with their information and inform them what use is being made of their details. Removal & Access Requests Under the new GDPR, every person has the right to access the data you hold on them and, in certain circumstances, the right to be forgotten.  If someone requests access to their data, you must send this to them free of charge and within one month of the request; this information can be requested in an electronic format so it can be transferred to an alternative data controller. If asked, you must also delete an individual’s private data from your database and make reasonable steps to inform any third parties. It may be tempting to bury your head in the sand or to feign ignorance in the face of so much disruption — but the new GDPR simply can’t be ignored. Failure to ensure your enterprise is compliant by the date the regulation comes into play and you put your business at risk. Serious breaches could cost you up to 4% of your annual turnover or 20 million Euros in fines. So it’s best to be prepared.

New Rules, New Opportunities

The fact is the new GDPR is going to happen and it will still be applicable to your business beyond Brexit. It would be a costly mistake to assume that as it’s an EU directive it will only apply to the UK for a short time. Even when we have left the EU, UK data protection laws will need to be in line with the EU’s. But as with many things in life, what you get out depends on what you put in. Approach the new GDPR in a positive way and you’ll see that these inconvenient new rules can bring with them new opportunities for your business. The new GDPR offers a great opportunity to sort through and better understand your data landscape. It’s always a good idea to periodically examine the data processes and procedures within your business and this new regulation offers the possibility to clean up outdated practices, to clear out useless data and to implement new, more effective ways of doing things that will benefit your business in the future. No one likes to feel forced into doing extra housekeeping, but it is possible to find value in the cost of compliance. Making your data collection truly transparent and your security systems safer will only help to build customer trust and benefit sales.  

How Market Location Can Help You

The new GDPR will bring with it many changes to your B2B sales and marketing activities. And you’ll need to know you’re compliant and not running the risk of fines. But if the thought of auditing all your current data, keeping your data up to date and ensuring your data procedures meet the new regulation brings you out in a GDPR-induced sweat, we can help. As we hold the premier B2B database of UK businesses, we fully understand and comply with the procedures as defined in the GDPR and this compliance is at the heart of everything we do.  Our large inhouse call centre constantly verifies records, making 10,000 outbound calls a day,  to make sure your B2B data is safe, compliant and of a high quality. We communicate regularly with data subjects, explaining what their data is being used for and offering them the ability to modify their data. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, you need your marketing efforts to make an impact and make a difference to your sales. We can produce a full audit of your data, highlighting where details are out of date or businesses are no longer operational. This will help to clear up your database and improve the quality of the data you hold, reducing the volume of postal returns, bounced emails and disconnected calls. But it’s not just the Data Protection Act that’s being updated to become the new GDPR, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which has provided privacy rights concerning electronic marketing since 2003, is also changing. Currently at draft stage, there is currently no date set for the new ePrivacy Regulation to come into force. As our society quickly changes, so do our rules. But with Market Location you can trust your B2B data is of high quality, compliant and the best for your business. A lot has changed over the last two decades and this shows no sign of slowing down.  So if you need a stress-free solution to the new regulations and want to feel confident about the B2B data you use for sales and marketing in your business, contact Market Location today, on 01252 941 224 and turn the pain of change into new possibilities.

Marketing Tips: How to Plan for Success

Plan for Success Has January taken you by surprise and you haven’t yet done your new annual marketing plan? You will find you are not alone. Many businesses get so caught up in trying to achieve targets at the end of the year that the marketing planning process for the next year fails to begin until the year has already started! Starting a marketing plan can be a daunting process you would prefer to put off and focus on the business of selling, but having a plan in place is critical for focusing effort, measuring and achieving success. Even if you are already receiving regular enquiries for your product or service, you need a marketing plan to ensure those enquiries continue into the future and keep building your sales pipeline. Follow our advice and you’ll have your new marketing plan done in no time.
  • Marketing Tip One: Define and learn about your target audience
In order for your plan to work, it must be targeted at reaching the right people who use your product or service and importantly, make you money. Make sure you understand who they are, their key demographics and how you can reach them.
  • Marketing Tip Two: Perform research
If you aren’t sure who your best target audience is, you might need to research this. Research doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming – a lot can be done via social media asking for feedback directly or sending your customers online surveys by email. You might need to incentivise your customers to respond, but their feedback will be extremely valuable to you. Research can also uncover a new target audience you hadn’t considered before or make you aware of how your business is really perceived, which might be different to how you thought it was!
  • Marketing Tip Three: Assess your previous results
You’ve just finished a full year, so you should know how your business has performed. Look at your customer numbers, revenue and profitability.  What marketing promotion did you do and what worked best for you to bring on profitable new customers? These are the channels you should look to include in your new tactical marketing plan, and test alongside new marketing channels.
  • Marketing Tip Four: Formalise your business goals 
Now that you’ve looked at how your business has performed, you need to formalise where you want your business to go over the next year and beyond. Many businesses will have one, three and five year plans, but for marketing tactics (how you are going to reach your business goals) you really only need to plan for the next year and that is what we are focused on achieving here. Your business goals should be defined and measurable so you can understand if you are being successful. For example, how many new customers do you want to bring on board and how much revenue and profit are they going to make you? How much market share do you want to achieve?
  • Marketing Tip Five: Define your marketing tactics
The next step is to add more detail to your plan – what tactics you are going to use to achieve your goals. For example, to target new customers you may want to use email marketing and to increase your general brand awareness you might want to make yourself more visible across social media channels.
  • Marketing Tip Six: Agree your marketing budget and resource
As you know how many customers you are aiming to attract and how much revenue and profit you should make from them, you can set aside an amount of money for implementing your marketing tactics to achieve your goals. You also need to think about how much physical resource is going to be needed for implementation. If you don’t have a Marketing team in-house or lack certain areas of expertise you will need to think about engaging a third party who can fill your gaps.
  • Marketing Tip Seven: Continually evaluate your results 
Once you start to implement your marketing plan it’s important to review your results regularly. Often this will be on a monthly basis, as you need to give some time for implementation and results to accumulate before you can collate them and see the overall picture of performance and how sales have been impacted. Set up a spreadsheet to track the key metrics associated with your marketing campaigns in one place to make analysis easier.
  • Marketing Tip Eight: Be flexible to changes
Whilst a plan is necessary to give you a framework to work to and focus your efforts, it’s important to remember that sometimes your plan might not deliver the results you expected or outside variables, such as new competitor developments, will mean that you will need to adapt and change your plan. A degree of flexibility is always important.
We hope you found the above tips a useful resource for helping you with your marketing plan. If you would like more help with planning your marketing activity please get in touch. Our Marketing Consultants are available to help you understand your business opportunities and how to reach new customers cost effectively. Get in touch with us today.

Forward Line Events

Forward Line Events Birmingham, B37 7GN
We here at Forwardline Events came into contact with Market Location back in May this year. We are an Events Company that host Regional Business Growth and Development shows. We came with the view of using your facilities of data contacts to email out Invitation Campaigns and we also purchased telesales lists to use to call off as well. The service we received from Market Location  was very through and professional, with constant contact with our Account Manager. The original outcome of the first email send was pretty good on a results side of things for us. We had lots of hits from our website and some telephone calls. In all we cannot fault the service that Market Location  has offered us with the products we have used. Our account manager has been the best part of the whole relationship. She is a lovely, warm, friendly person that is really easy to talk to, listens to our needs and understands fully what we required from using you. She has been professional to the very letter but accommodating where she can with our needs. Looking at moving forward we would like to keep using Market Location  for the services and products that they offer and the professionalism that comes from all the staff. Yours sincerely, Simon Harrington (Event Manager)

10 Tips for Improving Your Direct Marketing ROI

Are you looking to boost the return on investment (ROI) of your direct marketing efforts? Then these 10 tips provide essential reading.

Direct Marketing ROI In the right hands, direct marketing is a cost-effective tool for generating sales. In addition, it’s great for making contact with potential and existing customers. For this reason, direct marketing is also a powerful method for promoting your products and services and creating brand awareness for your business However to get your business in front of the right people, at the right time, you have to know what tactics to use and when. With that thought in mind, the following 10 tips will help improve your direct marketing efforts and boost your return on investment.

Tip 1: Choose the right contacts

The success of any direct marketing campaign relies heavily on the data you use. It must be well targeted at the type of individuals or businesses that are most likely to purchase your products or services. Make sure you understand the profile and key characteristics of your best customers, so you can seek out and target more prospects just like them with your marketing campaigns.

Tip 2:  Keep your list up to date

All marketing lists go out-of-date with time, and an outdated list will seriously hamper the success of your campaign. Expensive mailings can end up straight in the bin, and time can be wasted on telemarketing calls that don’t connect to the right prospect. Close to the beginning of your campaign date, refresh or purchase a new list to give yourself the best chance of reaching your target audience and minimising wastage.

Tip 3:  Define your campaign objective

Before purchasing any data, ask yourself: “What am I trying to achieve with this campaign?” Some businesses launch a campaign to generate leads and orders, others aim to raise awareness of their brand and products. Determining your objective is the first and most important step in any direct marketing campaign because all other steps should drive towards achieving that goal. Without a clear objective, it is impossible to determine whether or not you’ve been successful.

Tip 4:  Make sure your objectives are SMART

Your campaign goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. With SMART objectives documented, you can make sure that you are focused on making progress towards achieving them, which should have the greatest positive impact on your business.

Tip 5: Include an offer, call-to-action and multiple response mechanisms

To generate high response levels, your campaign needs to excite your prospects. One of the best ways to do this is to include a time sensitive special offer in your communication – and then shout about it. It’s no good if your offer doesn’t stand out and grab attention. The deadline will give the prospect a reason to respond quickly. Plus a clear call-to-action will tell them what you want them to do and how you want them to do it. Some prospects will prefer to call, some an email, while others will prefer to visit a landing page on a website – where they can get more information and complete a call back form in their own time. As a result, you should try and include all these different response options in your direct marketing campaign.

Tip 6: Include testimonials

Including a customer testimonial in your direct marketing campaign is one of the most compelling messages you have at your disposal. You’re not saying how great you are, your genuine customers are! A message from your customers provides a greater impact because of its objectivity and independence from your company.

Tip 7: Keep testing

Once you have delivered your first campaign, it’s important to measure your response and then try to improve it with your second campaign. What’s more, you should repeat this process for every campaign you launch, as testing and learning what works best for your target audience is vital to success.

Tip 8: Call to follow-up

Calling your prospects after a direct mail or email marketing campaign is a great way to personalise and reinforce your message. Following up with a timely phone call will help you to turn more prospects into leads, which, in turn, will help increase sales and revenue.

Tip 9: Have realistic expectations

Before you spend time and money on conducting your campaign, you should work out how many leads and sales you are likely to generate. This will give you the confidence that all your hard work will provide the positive ROI that you’re looking for. This might sound difficult, especially if you haven’t done much marketing previously. However, you can set realistic expectations about response rates to determine how many leads you are likely to generate. For example, a typical direct mail response rate is around 1% of the total volume you mail. So if you send out 1,000 mailings you can expect around 10 enquiries back. For business email campaigns to cold prospects, you can expect around 0.5% in clicks, of which only a portion will become actual leads.

Tip 10: Track your response properly

The more mechanisms you include for response, the harder it can become to keep track of how many leads your campaign has actually generated. If you include a telephone number, you should include a unique quote code so you can track the resulting leads. If you include an email address, either make it unique to your campaign or again ask the prospect to quote a code. Finally, if you direct prospects to your website, make sure it is a dedicated campaign landing page with a uniquely trackable form. Following each of these tips will help you significantly improve the number and quality of the leads you generate, and ultimately your sales and return on investment.

Kevin Sanders Web Designer

Kevin Sanders Web Designer Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, SN4 7DP
With reference to the New Business Data (New Connections) service that Market Location are providing me with, please find my testimonial below for your use as you see fit. The new business notification service has proved to be a valuable part of my marketing strategy. As a sole trader I have to be careful with both my time and money, and so far I have found the service to provide a good return on both those things. I opted to have the data sent through on a daily basis, and have found that I therefore need to be able to dedicate a small amount of time every day to dealing with it. It’s no good saving it up to do one big monthly calling session, or mailshot – you have to strike while the iron is hot. For that reason, if you’re not able to put this time aside on a regular basis, this probably isn’t the service for you. But if you can, it’s great to be able to get your foot in the door before anyone else. Market Location have been extremely helpful throughout the process. From the initial sign-up to checking up on how things are going their reps are more than willing to give you advice on the best way to use the data they provide. In general I would say this is a service where you definitely get back what you put in. You may need to work a little harder to secure the deals, making time for cold calling or sending out letters, but this means that the relationships you form are strong and will probably last longer than others. Yours sincerely, Kevin Sanders (Owner)

Is Manchester Really as Digital as They Say?

Digital Manchester In a series of articles we look at major tech cities across the UK and find out how digital their retailers are. In cities full of talented digital people we expected to see a large proportion of their retailers trading online. This report looks at how digital Manchester is. Manchester is a real up and coming digital city. The transformation into a digital hub has happened in the last five years with companies such as the BBC moving around 2,000 jobs to the recently developed MediaCityUK in Salford Quays[1]. Manchester is also staking a claim to be Europe’s 3D centre with tech giant EON Reality opening up a base in the city[2]. The websites of retail businesses in and around Manchester were analysed to find out how well they are engaging with digital. Using data from Market Location, the analysis looked at whether retailers have websites that offer e-commerce functionality, whether the websites are designed to be viewed on mobile devices and how often the websites have been shared on social media. Digital Manchester Around a fifth of the sites that were analysed had e-commerce functionality. This shows that there is potential for 80% of the businesses who don’t currently sell online to look into adding e-commerce functionality to their sites. Despite high-street retailers having a tough time at the moment e-commerce revenue in the UK is growing quickly, with some months showing a year-on-year growth of over 20%[3]. Soundbase Megastore is a retailer located in the upbeat Northern Quarter of Manchester City Centre. They supply digital DJ equipment ranging from turntables for the bedroom DJ to full PA systems for large events. Having e-commerce functionality on their site enables them to offer their entire product range to anyone in the world. By listing all of their products on their website they are also likely to encourage more local DJs to visits their retail store. The retailer websites were analysed to see if they were designed responsively so that they work on mobile and tablet devices. This test also looked at whether the retailers had a dedicated mobile website. Digital Manchester Around 22% of the Manchester retailer sites in our study are responsive or purpose built for mobile devices. This compares favourably to a recent study that showed that around 12.5% of all websites are responsive. This number is rising rapidly and retailers should look into ensuing that their websites work well on all devices to give their customers a better user experience. Bakery retailer Kara specialise in frozen bakery products for the food service industry. Their site enables users to see their full product range on all devices, showing a collapsible menu to those with mobile phone sized screens. This gives them a clear advantage over competitors whose sites do not respond to different screensizes. Finally, the websites were analysed to see how often they had been shared across social media. Sites were grouped by the number of Facebook Likes and Tweets on Twitter that they received. Digital Manchester While the websites of most Manchester retailer shops had less than 100 Likes or Tweets it is good to see some of the independent businesses have over 500 Likes or Tweets. Engaging with your customers through social media is a great way to increase your brand awareness and improve your customer service. When combing some of this data we can see that website owners who have sites that work on mobile devices and offer e-commerce functionality tend to have more social shares. Around 6% of the sites in the sample had websites with both mobile and e-commerce capabilities with these sites having a much higher than average number of social shares. The website of Faiths Florists has had an impressive 679 Likes on Facebook. This shows that they are popular with their customers and provides ‘social proof’ to others who are considering ordering flowers from them. Manchester has seen a big increase in their digital sector and this is slowly being reflected by local retailers. While only around 20% of retailer sites offer e-commerce, around 22% of the sites are responsive, showing that retailers are aware of the increase in mobile device usage. With Manchester predicted to create 23,000 digital jobs[4] in the next decade local retailers have plenty of help with building a perfect e-commerce website! 1. 2. 3. 4.

DMA Guest Blog: Data hygiene and accuracy have never been more important.

Data hygiene and accuracy have never been more important.; As we create more mature relationships with consumers (built on honesty, openness and transparency) then the way that we keep our databases up to date, relevant and accurate must also move with the times.

Data hygiene and accuracy It is, in fact, a surprisingly mature market; we launched The GAS File (the UK’s first suppression file) in 1992, some 23 years ago. Yet in the majority of suppression files sold today, the offering remains essentially the same. This means it will find someone that it thinks has moved house or died and stop spending the client’s money on sending mail to them. On the face of it, simples! But of course it rarely is. What happens if a person moves jobs, or a business closes (50% of start-ups close in the first two years)? What happens in the event of a divorce (one in four households)? What happens if the husband has died but the wife continues to live at the house (about 34% of deaths)? What happens if the household has only moved out for six months to refurbish the house (80,000 a year)? What if the child, now at university, has the same name as the father or mother (more common that you might think)? Not quite so “simples” as it seems. In the days where carpet bombing and mass targeting were the de-facto strategies, the idea of getting rid of another 40, 50, or 60 thousand names from your file really didn’t matter; the so called “Spot and Drop” model. However, in this new-found era of “less is more”, with marketers trying to forge “real” relationships with their customers and prospects, the number of targets prospects is much smaller. Therefore every single one should be nurtured as fully as possible, creating no room for error. If you get something wrong, they will be in the arms of a competitor faster than you can say Jack Robinson! I still sit in many meetings and have clients say to me “Great, supplier x has achieved twice as many matches as suppliers a, b or c”. I explain that they are asking the wrong question; what in fact they should be asking is “how and why has supplier x matched more than a, b and c?”. Querying where the data is from is a remarkably infrequent question asked these days. A single source of data in such a peripatetic marketplace is unlikely to ever cut it. The Spot and Drop model also concerns me as we should be using that data to enhance our positive targeting. How often do you undertake an analysis of those customers that have moved house without notification? Is this important? If you knew the profile of these individual customers, could you try and preempt it? How often do you take your Gone Away file and, firstly, see if they are still customers and, secondly, if they are not, try and relocate and re-engage? Experience shows that the longer you leave it after moving home, the less likely they are to return. Over the years, we have discovered that by building a universe of population movements we now receive a raft of confirmations that lift the levels of certainty on these issues to extremely high levels. So in the case of home movements, we track the whole range: move outs, move ins, temporary changes, single move outs/ins, as well as a host of other transactional information to validate either a constant address presence or a new one. We apply the same validation rules across our entire data product suite as we know that using the wrong information will always be more expensive than doing nothing at all. This is not to discourage you from doing anything at all, but to impress upon you that, these days, using accurate, qualified data is the only way forward. So the next time someone says they’ve just cleaned up your database and got rid of 500,000 records, think of that as the start of something, not the end of it.

Online Marketing Strategy for SMB’s

Online Marketing Small to medium sized businesses often have a hard time of it when it comes to online marketing; often lacking the niche interest of micro businesses (with close knitted clientele), and not big enough to warrant huge budgets on expensive campaigns. SMB’s are frequently left with the less glamorous aspects of online marketing.  That said, whilst they might not be glamorous, many of the campaign types appropriate for SMB’s can be hugely effective, manageable in-house with a small team and can be an opportunity for achieving a great return on investment (ROI).  Here we go through a few of the most popular techniques to engage your prospects online. Social Media; Social media is where many of the customers are spending their free time; it’s important to join them there, whether it is simply by being visible on their preferred platforms or by hosting competitions, giveaways or promotions through these channels, social media can offer great visibility for free, with the option to increase results through paid promotion. Whilst this may be best suited to B2C businesses, there is no reason you can’t leverage your ‘thought leadership’ to dominate online conversation in most B2B industries also; using LinkedIn and Twitter can be an effective way to reach buyers at all stages of the funnel. Email; Whilst social media may be the talking point now, the dinosaur of the internet – email – is as effective as ever, research show that marketers can expect a 40 times return on investment through using email campaigns. Building and nurturing contacts lists should be a priority for your SMB. Search Engine Optimisation; SEO is an tool for being discovered online by your target audience.  Without an optimised online presence you may be getting overlooked by countless potential customers, but by using local search techniques such as citation building, directory listing and onsite optimisation, to name a few, you can generate dramatic uplifts in revenue for your business, even if yours is a primarily offline offering. Blogging; This can be a great method to help your search engine optimisation attempts and thought leadership simultaneously. By publishing fresh content online regularly, Google will have more to crawl and your pages will become valid results for increasing numbers of search queries. In addition, the blog posts should be interesting enough to encourage return visitors and can have a soft sales message to maximize conversion on your site. Paid Efforts; Terms such as ‘pay per click’ and ‘display network’ might intimidate small business owners, however this needn’t be the case. Paid advertising online can help you reach potential customers wherever they are on the web. It can also be a handy method of encouraging return visits by ‘retargeting’ browsers who have visited your site before. Press Releases; Just like the offline world, there are plenty of press outlets who could be interested in reporting your news, in fact, you’re much more likely to find an interested outlet online due to the vast quantity and range of topics covered.
Using a combination of the above methods is a great way to get started with your online marketing, the process may seem daunting, but in reality much of it can be learnt online and can be made much easier by using available marketing tools. Whilst we cannot recommend a specific order to tackle these processes, the general advice is to play to your strengths, if you have a great customer database, use email campaigns to engage them, if people are walking past your business, make sure you’re visible on local search and if you have something genuinely interesting to say, publish it online either through social media or blogs!