Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the process of having other online sites and businesses advertise your products / services. It is one of the best ways to generate additional sales for your business.

The biggest advantages of the scheme is that you only pay your affiliates when they have successful referred a customer. Therefore, you can make a great and guaranteed return on investment from using affiliate marketing.

 

The Main Players In Affiliate Marketing

If you are new to affiliate marketing , you need to understand the major parties in the industry. Here is a list of the terms used to describe the different individuals involved and how they fit into the system.

Advertiser / Merchant

The business / individual who owns the product being sold / advertised. These are the people who want to use other sites to promote their work and will pay affiliates for their time. Although many advertisers believe they have the easy part of the affiliate campaigns; having a successful campaign is something will take time and effort and will only yield good results if the advertiser is willing to put in significant amount of work.

Affiliate

The individual or organisation who is advertising products on the behalf of the advertiser. Their business is often built on selling products from numerous brands. Some of these affiliates have one website while others will have many; each concentrating on a specific theme. The affiliate is paid based on the number of sales they have generated.

Network

This is a group of affiliates that advertisers can approach to see if any of those within the network would like to promote their products. This is usually a good way to entice several affiliates to sell a product / service but it can cost more.

Agency

A company that manages affiliates, advertisers and the campaigns so that all involved can achieve a significant return on their investments.

Agencies can offer significant value to the process as they can advise what steps are needed to improve the whole process. This advice can be given to the affiliate or advertiser. As agencies often work with the same select few affiliates, they will also know which affiliates would suit what products.

 

What Are The Main Advantages Of Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing has several benefits. Affiliate programs are constantly working to deliver high quality traffic to your site. This can boost the value of your site, if you were planning to sell it at a later date.

Also, affiliate marketers are like a sales team where you only pay for their performance. If they don’t perform well, there is no cost to your business. This makes affiliate marketing almost risk free; although there is sometimes a small campaign set up cost. This can range between $100 to $1000.

In addition to higher traffic levels, the traffic generated has a high conversion rate. This is because most of the hard work on persuading the visitor to convert has been done for you. When coming directly to your site via PPC, organic search or social media; only about 4% of your traffic will be in a position to buy a product.

In contrast, when someone is directed to your site from an affiliate, they have already been processed down a significant proportion of the sales funnel.

Therefore they are approximately 3 – 4 times as likely to make a purchase. Although some research suggests that if you have an optimised landing page, you can have an 85% conversion rate.

Also, affiliate marketing allows you to grow the reach of your brand. Many affiliate marketers have extensive network of consumers. The affiliate will know what their audience likes and what will excite them. This can be beneficial to the merchant because it can shorten the selling process and increase the effectiveness of marketing activities.

Another direct benefit is that the traffic generated through your affiliate marketing is going to be highly targeted. Therefore, you know that those who have landed upon your page are interested in what you are selling. They may not buy your product straight away, but they might decide to subscribe to your newsletter, blog or download an ebook. This can all be valuable information that you can use to further market to them and convert them into a paying customer.

If this does happen, it is always good to still pay the affiliate for introducing you to the new customer.

Affiliate marketing techniques are known to support a brand’s search engine optimisation. This will help you to develop your own leads as your search engine rank increases and your website gains more organic traffic.

You can also test new marketing strategies and content styles with your audience with very little cost to yourself. With most other forms of advertising, you’ll have to invest a significant amount up front to create new marketing materials and to maintain the campaign. With affiliate marketing, some of the costs are absorbed by the affiliate, giving you a significantly less risky option for testing.

 

Tips On Running A Successful Affiliate Program

To have a successful affiliate program you will have to use the best practices. Here are some of the ways that you can improve the chances that your affiliate scheme is successful.

Offer a high commission – some of the best affiliate marketers can request commissions to be upwards of 30%; especially for software products. This is often because they have a track record of generating traffic and sales for their merchants. When you are setting the commission, consider carefully how much you are going to offer your affiliates and how much you can afford.

Don’t be complacent – don’t think that an affiliate network will automatically increase your website’s sales. You still need to create good product pages, checkout systems and a perfect website.

Provide your affiliates with materials – your affiliates will better at selling if you provide them with numerous marketing materials. This can include banners, email copy, sales copy and other materials.

Be available – affiliates like to know you will be available to talk to them about your products. Therefore, ensure you can be reached by telephone or email when they have questions about your products or how specific campaigns are currently running. You should also communicate often with your affiliates to tell them how landing pages have performed, is there a sudden rise in interest for a certain product or if there is a seasonal abandonment of another. The more you interact, the more enthusiastic your affiliates will be to promote your product.

 

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to generate traffic and sales. However, it is not as easy as picking a few affiliates to market your site. You need to be dedicated to the process and be a good manager of various personalities and processes for your schemes to be a success. Consider looking for an affiliate marketing network today and see if you can grow your business.


Email Marketing

Email Marketing

When businesses talk about their digital marketing efforts, they are often referring to blogging, social media and display advertisements. Very few consider email marketing as a serious contender to generate sales.

However, email marketing can be one of the best ways to connect with your audience and process them further down your sales funnel. By utilising a good email strategy, you should see a significant increase in your online sales and traffic.

Here is why email marketing is one of the best marketing avenues.

 

1. Penetration

There are more than 3.9 million email accounts currently active in the world. In the developed world, it is believed 95% of all online consumers have an email address and more than 9 out of 10 will check their accounts every day.

In comparison to social media, this is a significantly larger proportion. For example, Twitter has 232 million active users but 651 million users who have abandoned the network.

With email being such an integral part of how we communicate with family, friends and work colleagues, there is little chance for email to be abandoned by the masses. Therefore, your business can be certain that investments in email marketing will yield a return for your business in the long run.

 

2. Better Reach

Email marketing has a considerable potential to reach your target audience compared to other digital marketing opportunities. The emails you send to your subscribers are nearly always delivered to the contact’s mail box.

According to research, only 18% of email messages are blocked by email servers and 4% are sent to a junk / spam box.

These numbers can be improved by adopting a proper email marketing strategy and best practices.

In contrast, social media updates are less regularly seen by your followers. The potential reach for your updates is stated to be the number followers or likes you profile has. Despite this, only a small fraction of your followers will see content you have published; for example, only 12% of your Facebook followers will see any updates.

Therefore, even with fewer email subscribers; you will have more people reading your email content than your social media updates.

 

3. Emails Last Longer

The majority of Facebook interactions occur within the first three hours of the update being posted and the lifespan of a Tweet can be gauged within five minutes of being published. After these times, the content simply disappears.

Emails on the other hand, assuming they have been delivered and not deleted, never disappear from the inboxes of your subscribers. Therefore, the subscriber can find your email several days or weeks after they originally received the message and so the lifespan is almost unlimited.

 

4. Email Marketing Achieves More Sales

Many individuals talk about how they can earn more money through social media sales. However, research has shown that social media is a poor sales conduit with only 1% of all online sales originating from social media.

In contrast, email marketing was the second highest online sales referrer with 13%. Therefore, with one email marketing message, you can achieve significantly more than posting several messages on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

 

5. Email Marketing Can Be Analysed More Easily

With the right email marketing program you can monitor the performance of your campaigns much easier. They can track how many people have not received your email content, how many have opened it and the number who have clicked through on your calls to action.

While you can monitor some statistics on your social media profiles, there is very little accurate information to demonstrate how many people have seen your content and it is hard to determine who has made a purchase.

With available email marketing statistics, you can determine who should be removed from your contacts list, what content your audience prefer and finally if your products are appealing to your audience.

 

6. Email Marketing Can Be Shared Via Social Media And Email

Social media content can only be shared via social networks, and normally only on the platform that it was originally published on.

In contrast, email marketing can be shared on several platforms, including various social media networks and by email. This can increase the reach of your email marketing messages and attract new audiences to your brand.

 

7. You Can Portray More Information In Email Marketing

This is particularly true when you are comparing email marketing with Twitter. Email allows you to have more than 140 characters so you can create more compelling arguments and present greater industrial authority.

The better your argument; the greater the interaction you can generate.

 

8. Promotional

Consumers prefer sales content to be presented to them through email. According to research, 77% of consumers welcome promotional email marketing messages, whereas only 4% on Facebook prefer them and 0% on LinkedIn.

70% of promotional coupons and discounts that have been distributed through email marketing campaigns are used by the recipients.

Therefore, you should use social media to create content to demonstrate your authority and expertise, whereas email can be used to promote your products and offers.

 

9. Personalisation

Nearly every email marketing program has the potential to send thousands of email messages and yet each message can be personalised for the recipient. The email personalisation can include the name, address and even refer to an action the recipient has completed on your website. This allows for greater connection with your audience, which improves the interaction rate.

 

10. Segregation

Unlike with social media, PPC or other digital marketing content, your email marketing contact list can be segregated. You can send content to your audience based on specific actions; for example, if they have downloaded a specific ebook or requested a quote or where they are in the sales process.

 

Conclusion

Email marketing is one of the best ways to connect, engage and sell to your audience. There are numerous benefits of email marketing compared to social media, display adverts and even blogging that you will find that not having an email strategy will damage your business’ revenue.

Therefore, start using an email marketing program to deliver personalised messages to your audience and see your business grow.


Lead Generation

Lead Generation Strategy

Your business cannot be successful unless you are actively attempting to generate leads and qualify them for customer acquisition.

There are many different types of online lead generation tactics that you can implement fairly effectively. Here is a list of some of the most effective ways you can generate those leads online.

 

1. Website

A website is often stated to be an online shop front. It can display your products, take orders and deliver sales content. It can also collect leads if you have the right software installed on your site. Some software packages can detect where and what companies (or whether they are private) the visitor is from.

You can also use other lead generation techniques through your website, such as contact forms and quote generators, to collect information on your visitors. To get the most out of your website, ensure you have good call to actions and your page speed is fast. 25% of your visitors will abandon your site should your site not load within 4 seconds and this figure rises steadily afterwards.

 

2. Social Media

Social media is probably one of the easiest ways to obtain the names, details and converse with leads as their profiles are stored on the system and very accessible. However, converting casual followers to leads is a long process that can be difficult.

To make it easier, it is best to follow a set of best practices for social media. For instance:

  • Don’t be too promotional. Only 4% of Facebook users appreciate promotional content on their newsfeeds and 0% of LinkedIn customers.
  • Converse with your audience about relevant topics. However, you don’t need to be too strict. For instance, if you manage a shoe shop, you could converse about fashion in general.
  • Remember to thank new followers for their time, those who share your content for their contribution and to reply to any social media questions.
  • Always be polite and never show any aggression.

In addition, you might want to consider when the best times to post on social media are and the design of your content. Each social media network has different requirements and best practices, so it is best to optimise your content on one network at a time, instead of doing them all at the same time.

 

3. Ebooks / Whitepapers

Visitors love to receive free gifts; that is why you should consider creating an ebook and offering it for free on your website as a way to attract the attention of your target customers. Ensure you aren’t being too generous and ask for their email details (and some others) in exchange for the ebook / whitepaper.

You can make this process even better by creating several ebooks on a number of business areas that you provide services / products for. Then you can use segregated email marketing lists to target potential customers based on what ebook they downloaded and what products / services they relate to.

 

4. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most successful ways you can generate traffic to your site. Affiliate marketing is where other business owners advertise your products on their site(s) to drive traffics to your site and generate leads. If the visitor converts, then the affiliate earns a commission.

This is one of the best ways to generate leads because the affiliate marketer assumes responsibility for the costs associated with marketing your products. Therefore, you only pay when you make a sale. It also allows you to gain more web space for your products, giving you a greater chance to be discovered online.

Although there are some sites that only occasionally advertised affiliate partner products, there are many small businesses whose only revenue is generated from advertising products from other businesses. Some of these latter businesses can earn thousands of dollars per month this way.

 

5. Word Of Mouth

Word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways to generate leads because consumers trust the recommendations from their peers. There are several options for word of mouth advertising. These include social media shares and review sites.

Reviews are very important because you can share these on your website and through other mediums such as social media, email and in your physical stores. Try to obtain as many reviews as possible by offering rewards such as a free gift for completing a review.

However, do not charge your customers for poor reviews. Firstly, this can cause outrage online and secondly, research has shown that five stars are not always as highly rated as four star reviews.

You can also encourage referrals by offering customers a small gift or payment should they successfully refer their friends to your business.

 

6. Pay-Per-Click

Pay-per-click is one of the most successful advertising channels online. It is the second most used purchasing avenue for online sales. Therefore, there are significant returns to be made from using pay-per-click to direct traffic to your site. There are many options available for PPC, include Google Adwords.

However, to make the most of this, ensure that you are following PPC best practices and that you have a high quality website as seen by Google.

 

7. Blogging

Blogging is one of the most commonly used tactics for generating leads. That is because many (81%) consumers trust information published in blogs and 61% will make a purchase based on that information. Blogging has also been proved to increase the number of leads generated with up to 70% more leads generated when more than 15 blog posts are published.

To ensure your blogging is effective, make sure you aren’t being too promotional and you can provide highly useful information to your audience. Blogging can also support your lead generation in other ways as being used as a basis for your content on social media, PPC and email marketing. It will also support your SEO efforts.

 

Conclusion

Lead generation is one of the most essential tasks for your business. Without leads you will have a highly ineffective sales channel that will result in low revenue and either a loss or not enough profit to maintain your business.

Therefore, use the above lead generation techniques to grow the number of potential customers and use targeted marketing to convert them into paying customers.


Choose Quality Website Hosting

Choosing Quality Website Hosting

Your website is a highly valuable tool that is important to expanding your reach online. The quality of your website (i.e. the way it looks, functions and loads) are critical in your visitors’ decision as to whether they will make a purchase from your online store or not.

Many business owners believe it is the design of the website that determines the speed of the website. Therefore, many webmasters spend their time adjusting images, text and functions to improve the user experience for their visitors. However, many businesses don’t realise that web design is not the only factor for site speed. Their website hosting is also a factor.

In this article we look at why a quality web host is important for your site and what elements you should be looking for to ensure high speed.

 

The Benefits Of A Good Host?

Website hosting is a critical component of your website. It allows you to have your website live on the internet and visit-able by your potential customers. There are several benefits a good host can provide your website, including:

1. Fast Load time

The loading time of your website is important for your users. For every second it takes your website to load you’ll lose 7% of your revenue. This can be a significant drain on your incoming funds and can cause your business to make a loss overall if your site takes too long to load.

Another problem is that your business could lose traffic if it takes too long for your site to load. For instance, if your website takes longer than 4 seconds to load, 25% of your potential visitors will abandon your site. Nearly three quarters of those potential customers will never return to your site.

2. Limited Downtime

Some of the worst web hosts will constantly have problems with their customer’s sites being unavailable. Having your website offline is not a particularly good sign for your business. Customers may believe your business is no longer operational or that it is unprofessional.

Another problem is that search engines constantly look at how often your site is down. Therefore, if your website suffers from significant downtime, you will rank badly.

It is almost impossible to have 100% uptime; however, 99.99% is more than achievable. Ask your potential hosting organisation what their average uptime is.

3. Security

Your website’s security is very important. If you don’t have proper security, a malicious internet user (hacker) can enter in your websites files and make changes. These changes could be something simple like adding links to connect to their websites or an appearance change.

This can be a huge cost for your business if you don’t have a backup. Also, the changes that these businesses can make can be costly to your search engine optimisation efforts and you could lose traffic because you suffer from a Google penalty.

4. Support

Not everything is going to go right for your business’ website. A good website host will provide you with good technical support ensuring that any problems you have with the function, downtime or speed are quickly resolved.

 

What Elements Can Make A Good Hosting Company?

Content Delivery Network

A content delivery (distribution) network is a collection of servers or hosts scattered across various worldwide data centres. The idea is to deliver the content to your audience quicker by distributing it from the closest data centre. This speeds up load times no matter where the person in the world is.

However not using a CDN will mean those who are further away from your server will have poorer user experiences. This can be particularly bad if you are targeting a worldwide audience or if your server is located in a location not near your target audience.

Server Side Compression

Server side compression is another way to speed up your website’s download speed by compressing the HTML of your website so it can be sent in smaller data bursts to your visitor.

The technology to do this has long been supported by the major web browsers since 4.X generation. However, very few sites actually use this technique. This could give you a significant advantage online by speeding up your site and performing better than your competitors’.

Solid DNS

A Domain Name Server is the database which the internet uses to identify your website and ensure it is legitimate. The DNS stores a list of domain names and translates them to IP addresses. This is important because computers and mobile devices access websites based on the IP address and not the domain name.

For instance, your site might be www.mysite.com and that is what users will enter into their browser. However, the browser will translate that into an IP address like 216.167.220.65 and will collect the site’s details from that address and download the necessary information to display the website.

All the information stored on the DNS is stored at a central registry. Top quality hosting companies and internet service providers regularly communicate with the Central Registry to stay updated with the latest DNS information. It usually takes between 1 and 2 days for new sites to be registered with the central registry.

A good DNS supplied by a quality hosting company will support the authenticity of your website. Many suspect that your site’s search rank is affected by the quality of the DNS.

Unlimited Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the measurement of the bit-rate that your website can transfer data with. The more bandwidth that your hosting organisation offers your website the greater the speed of your website will be. There are several benefits for having unlimited bandwidth. Firstly, it will allow you to have high quality images, videos and audios hosted upon your site. Secondly, it will allow you to have a significant number of visitors without the degradation of user experience.

Without unlimited bandwidth, your site speed will be slower and this could affect your page rank on Google and other search engines.

 

Conclusion

The delivery of your website is dependent on your site being hosted with a quality web host provider. If you are unable to obtain one, your site can suffer from numerous problems such as slow load time, poor user experience and high visitor abandonment.

This will affect the amount of revenue generated by your site and could mean your website is a burden rather than a benefit. Check with your host that it supplies the items we’ve highlighted above and ensure you are presenting a professional image on your website.


8 SEO Mistakes

8 Common SEO Mistakes

Optimising your website so that it conforms to the best practices of SEO is an essential task in today’s digital marketing world. It is estimated that 80% or more of your traffic can be directed to your site through search engines. It is also true that the higher your rank, the more traffic that will be generated for your site.

Realising this, many businesses attempt to use black-hat or grey-hat SEO techniques to raise their rank. The problem with this is that while it may temporarily raise your rank, Google can quickly detect sites using these techniques and ban you from the search rankings altogether. Therefore, you should stay clear of any slightly unethical SEO tactics.

Yet not all black hat strategies are intentionally implemented and sometimes SEO decisions, which aren’t unethical, are made which can harm your search engine rank.

So, what are these SEO mistakes that can damage the profile of your website?

 

1. Keyword Stuffing

Keywords have been an important part of search engine ranking for a long time. That is why many businesses attempt to include keywords at a frequency that is unnatural in website copy.

This is one of the first unethical actions Google looks for. It considers any website that is keyword stuffing to be cheating the system, or at least trying to. The search engine will then rank that site low on the search results.

Keyword stuffing can also make the copy of the website read poorly. If your readers can’t understand what you have written because too many keywords are included; they aren’t going to buy from your site either.

Therefore, while you may have a high page rank for a short time, conversions could be low and eventually your rank will fall drastically.

 

2. Broken Links

These are hyperlinks that no longer direct the visitor to the intended destination. This could be because the URL for the other site has changed or is no longer available.

Broken links naturally occur and are something that you can’t always be blamed for. However, Google and users don’t like them and not only can it earn you a bad reputation with your readers, it can damage your ranking as well.

To avoid this, you can use tools that can detect broken links on your site and perform regularly maintenance. This may mean finding other sites that contain similar content or editing your original content to recognise the changes made.

 

3. Duplicate Copy

This is where you copy content from another place on your website or other site. While this may seem like a great idea, especially if the other site is ranking well, it can damage your reputation online.

Google does check for duplicate content and unless you can prove you are the original owner of the content, the search engine will penalise you for the copyright infringement.

 

4. Optimised Images

Images are an important part of your online content. They can convey emotions, ideas and encourage interactions with your audience. However, they are also memory intensive, especially if they are not optimised.

You should ensure your images are high quality, but that does not necessarily mean they have to be big. Have your images in jpeg format as this takes far less memory than png or other formats.

In addition, ensure you have optimised your images so they contain the keyword in all the tags (title, description, caption and alternate text). This way you can boost your search engine rank and it looks more professional to your visitors.

 

5. Non Unique Title Tags Or Meta Descriptions

Many websites fail to consider the impact that the page title and meta descriptions can have on their search rankings. Many content management systems (like Drupal and Joomla) will auto-generate the title tag for your page. However, these might not be optimised to be read by the search engine crawlers and properly indexed.

Similarly, you should ensure your pages’ meta descriptions are unique for each page. Ensure each meta contains the keyword at least once, twice is better but only if you can naturally fit it into the short text space. It should also be informative and tell the reader what the page is about.

The meta description is hard because you’ve only got 160 characters to write the summary, but those used to creating Twitter updates will be ideal for this task.

 

6. Too Many Links To And From Irrelevant Sites

Link farms are one of the prime concerns for search engines. They use to be considered a good way to gain rank on search engines. However, link farms got a bad reputation because they were essentially spam sites that had little useful content on them.

Google took steps to reduce their prominence on the search rankings, but this didn’t stop them from raising the ranks of other sites.

That was until the Penguin and Panda updates. Now, not only are link farms being penalised by search engines, those receiving traffic from them as well are being hurt in rankings.

 

7. Optimising Your Site Around A Common Keyword

Sometimes businesses want their pages to rank well for keywords that are fairly common (i.e. business, accounting, leadership, etc). However, there are so many businesses, journals and information sites (about.com and Wikipedia for example) that it would be almost impossible to compete with them and get a top spot.

Instead, look for high search but low competition keywords and focus your efforts on optimising your site on those keywords. That way you can improve your ranking, gain traffic and generate relevant leads.

 

8. Not Starting SEO Before The Website Has Been Built

One of the biggest mistakes website owners make is to start building their SEO after they have created and published their website.

While some may think this is logical, it can delay the results of the hard work, giving you a significant period of time when your business is unable to generate traffic through search engines.

Start your SEO strategy from the moment you start to create your website and you will see the benefits quickly.

 

Conclusion

Search engine optimisation is an important online marketing activity. Without the right tactics you will lose significant amounts of traffic, leads and revenue.

Therefore, you want the right tactics that will give your website a long lasting prominent position on Google and other search engines. Use the advice above to avoid many SEO mistakes that will prevent you from achieving that and see the increase in traffic you can achieve.


Social Media Marketing Optimal Times

Using Social Media At The Optimal Times

Your business’ social media results rest upon you being able to realise when the best time to post updates are. Simply posting when you like will do very little to gain online awareness for your brand.

To make things more complicated, each social media platform has a different optimal time. However, this can work to your benefit as you can share similar content at different times, depending on when it is optimal for the audience and still achieve considerable success.

Once you have found the best schedule for content on the various networks, you can design campaigns that will boost traffic to your site, generate leads and grow online awareness.

So when are those ideal times for posting on social media? Here is a list of the most popular social media channels and when it is best to and not to post.

 

Facebook

Research has shown Facebook, the largest social media network, is mostly used by office workers when they are entering a workday slump. This tends to be in the early afternoon just after lunchtime. Therefore, any content you post on Facebook should be between the hours of 1pm and 4pm.

You'll also find the number of interactions will increase later on in the week. Updates released on a Thursday or Friday have an 18% higher engagement than on any other day.

Don’t expect much interaction past 4pm on any day. Statistics show the number of users on the social media network dwindles in the late afternoon. The interaction between 8pm and 8am is almost non-existence and weekends are also avoided by Facebook users.

 

Twitter

Twitter is very popular for information sharing and for communication. To get the most out of your updates, use images to increase interactions. Ensure that you focus the majority of your updates between the times of 1pm and 3pm Monday to Thursday. This is when you are going to get the best results; however, you can also publish updates between 8am and 8pm Monday to Thursday.

Don’t ignore the weekends either. Interaction increases 17% on a Saturday, but only 8% of all business tweets are sent.

The worst time to update your Twitter account is after 3pm on a Friday.

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the best social network if you are selling to the B2B market. Because of this, the platform is mostly used just before or afterward working hours. In the morning concentrate your efforts between the times of 7:00 and 8:30am. During the afternoon, you should post updates between 5pm and 6pm.

On any day, avoid sharing updates between 10pm and 6am. There is very little activity at these times.

You should also avoid posting updates on Monday and Friday as the network has the lowest traffic on these days.

Wednesday is also not the best time, but is significantly better than the beginning or the end of week.

 

Google+

Google+ is still a very young social media platform which is growing faster than Facebook or Twitter. Unlike other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the mornings are best for Google+. Aim to publish the majority of your updates between 9am and 11am.

Do not create new content for the site in the early evenings. After 5pm the traffic to the site dwindles and interaction is negligible in the evenings.

 

Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the more interesting social media networks. Unlike with others, there are two peak periods in the week separated by a very short period of high inactivity. If you are looking for the best shares and comments, post your content between 2pm and 4pm.

There is also an evening slot which is 8pm and 1am, making Pinterest one of the few social media platforms where posting past 8pm will achieve any results. It is also advisable to post on a Saturday morning where there are a greater number of users on the social media network.

 

Instagram

Instagram is no longer a platform for those of the younger generation. The social media network has gained a huge following across the world and marketers need to utilise this in order to gain online awareness.

The most effective day to post on Instagram is on a Sunday; however, Thursday is the most popular for users.

Unlike with other social media networks, there is little evidence to suggest there is an ideal time of the day to publish new content. Therefore, you need to experiment to find out what will work for your brand.

 

YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine and one of the best ways to engage your audience. The biggest problem with YouTube is that it is one of the few social media sites where content is not automatically published on the site and there can be a one hour delay.

According to some sources, there is high usage during the day at the weekdays with traffic increasing steadily between 8am and 2pm. The peak amount of traffic occurs between 2pm and 6pm.

There is little traffic after 7pm until the next morning. Therefore, counting for the delay in the publishing, you need to upload your video between 12noon and 1pm on Wednesday or Thursday so it is live at 2pm.

 

Getting The Most Out Of Your Social Media

Even though there has been numerous research projects stating what the key times to update your networks are, caution should always be used. Experiment with your audience, to see when they are interacting with your updates.

To accomplish this you should create content that is spread out throughout the week. See when the most interactions are taking place. This could include the shares, comments and traffic linked to your published content. After a couple of weeks, refocus your content publishing to times where the most interactions were taking place.

Be certain to make notes on which social media platform is performing best at what times. Don’t confuse traffic from one network at a certain time as traffic from all your networks. You could make this process easier by experimenting on a single network at any time, however that isn’t always foolproof.

Once you have found the best times for your business you will be able to gain a significant number of website visitors, leads and revenue.


Best Times to Post to your Blog

What are the Best Times to Post to my Blog?

Blogging is very important for achieving success in online marketing. It provides evidence of your authority, gives your website better SEO and builds a platform to generate leads.

However, these benefits can only be collected when you publish your blog content at the best times.

There have been numerous studies examining when the best time to publish blog posts is. Their results vary. Sometimes this is because of the subject being covered but can also be different depending on the goals of the researcher or how they measured success.

It is also important to consider your blogging strategy. For those who are posting multiple times a week, you don’t want to consider a schedule that will limit an article’s effectiveness by releasing them too close together.

Likewise, you don’t want to be stupid and risk a quality article underperforming because you’ve published it on a day which sees no traffic.

 

How Many Blog Posts Should You Publish?

Research has found that posting multiple times per week is the best tactic for content marketing. Posting more than 15 articles in a month can increase the traffic to your site by 500% and the number of leads generated by 70%. It also offers more chance for inbound links.

However, this frequency of article generation is a significant undertaking. Your audience will want to see consistency. Therefore, you must make sure you can meet your schedule or you’ll risk appearing unreliable.

You should also consider that if you want to publish multiple blog posts in a day, you are likely to receive more attention online. Those who have published two or more articles Monday to Friday often obtain sales directly through their blogs, have a higher rate of inbound links and gain a better search engine rank.

 

Setting Your Blogging Goals

Once you have decided how often you will like to release articles then you need to consider your goals. Only poor online marketers, looking to fail, start their campaigns without a goal in mind.
There are different types of goals including interactions (social shares, comments, e-mails), sales/lead generation, inbound link generation and traffic. Each goal requires a unique publishing strategy
The best times for traffic will yield higher web traffic but also higher bounce rates and lower prominence of your blog posts within the community. This could make it harder for your content to go viral.

On the other hand, by posting at times when few brands are updating their blogs, you will gain less traffic but fewer visitors will abandon your site. This tactic will give you the best chance to generate leads. Your article will also have a higher prominence on RSS feeds and on promotional channels you use.

You might also want to consider when you will get the best interactions as traffic doesn’t necessarily relate to interaction either way.

 

When Is Your Audience Reading New Content?

Significant research has been conducted on when content is being read on the internet. Although there isn’t a significant difference between times; there are more visits to blog content in the morning.

The worst time to update or advertise your new blog posts is during the evening. Very few people take the time to read content after dinner. However, some research has discovered that 9pm to midnight is the best time to publish new content.

Research has also found that it depends on what content is being posted. For instance, informative content like instructional posts, how-to guides and similar are best in the morning. If you are looking to share some entertaining posts, you want to share the content later in the afternoon. This is the time when people on Facebook, and other social media sites, share content that makes them smile and laugh.

Some of the key facts for timing include:

  • 70% of your audience will read content in the morning; however, some will also read content at other times during the day.
  • Men are more likely to read content during the evening.
  • The highest traffic for blogs is recorded at 11am.
  • Comments are mostly left on a Saturday or at 9am during the week.
  • More content is shared on social networks during the morning.

Research has found Monday will gain you more traffic; however, articles released on a Thursday will gain you more social shares. Wednesday and Friday are also days when social sharing is significantly higher than Monday.

However, you could publish your content on Monday and then promote the content on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to try to gain the most online shares.

 

Discovering The Time For Yourself

While research can be very useful, only by looking at your website’s statistics can you determine when the best time for your brand is. Look for times when you are generating the most leads, traffic and social shares. If there are specific spikes in your traffic, these will be the best times to update your blog.

At the same time, don’t concentrate your blog posts on one day. Even if Tuesday is the day when you have the most visitors; don’t be tempted to publish all three of your weekly articles on this day.

Instead spread out your content during times that are nearly as successful.

Don’t be reluctant to test your schedule either. Just because your current schedule is performing well; it doesn’t mean a slight change won’t do better. Therefore, always consider testing until you can be confident you have the right schedule for your brand.

 

Conclusion

Your blog is an important marketing tool for your brand. It can provide evidence of your authority, generate better search engine results and convince visitors to sign up to your email marketing list. However, to get to the best results, you should update your blog so that you are releasing material when your audience are likely to visit and interact with your content.

There has been significant research into which days are best for this. However, you should experiment yourself on what works best for your brand. You might find that your audience is more active at night or only shares your content at the weekends. You should build your blogging schedule towards these behaviours.

Once you've optimised your blogging schedule, your business will achieve significant online marketing success.


Brochures for Marketing

Use a Brochure

Although many businesses believe that brochures have given way to the modern e-commerce store, their effectiveness is still impressive.

Many businesses can use a brochure to entice their target audience to investigate further or make a purchase.

Learn why brochures are still useful in today’s online market and how you can increase their effectiveness here.

 

Why Should You Still Use A Brochure?

Brochures are very effective selling tools if they are used correctly. They give your clients a physical connection to your brand, which can increase their engagement and uptake of offers.

The physical brochure is often less forgettable than online marketing materials, which disappear out of view and mind as soon as the browser has been closed.

Major European discount brands like Netto, Lidl and Aldi use brochures to attract their customers back to the store every week by advertising what stock they will have available soon. This is particularly good for these brands as the stock on offer changes regularly.

Other major European supermarkets publish brochures to advertise their special offers for that week.

Either method is tailored to entice the customer to return back to their brand by advertising what will be available soon. This excites the audience and persuades the majority of them to return to the store.

However, it is not just food retailers who can use brochures. Many other consumable manufactures and sellers can also use brochures to advertise their products.

Often the brochure is designed to reach audiences who find it difficult to access sales material online. For instance, toy stores use brochures so children can have uncontrolled viewing of the products on offer. This is effective as children are more susceptible to advertising and can have limited access to the internet.

Industries where the consumer has significant options for purchasing might benefit from offline brochures. Electronic stores are a classic example.

 

Why Do Brochures Work So Well?

Brochures work well at marketing products and brands because they take advantage of two psychological factors.

The first is the imagery of the product. Images are processed very quickly by the brain and when the product is included with members of the target audience smiling, it creates a positive feeling with the reader. This increases the chances the reader will enquire or buy the product.

The second element is the physical sensation the audience has when they are holding the brochure. This is an advantage brochures have which the Internet cannot compete with.

Physical contact with the advertising materials creates a positive sensation with the reader and has been proven in numerous studies to increase uptake.

You can also attract the attention of your audience to specific offers or products with the use of clever design. This allows you to increase sales of certain products that have high profit margins or where you have excessive stock.

 

What Are The Negatives Of Brochures?

Besides the additional production costs, brochures do have some drawbacks. For instance, brochures are not trackable. With internet users, you can monitor who has read your content and when they return to your site. With brochures you have limited data.

This can affect how you perceive your brochure has performed.

You could get some data back by including tokens inside the brochure for certain special offers. However, the results are limited to only those who use the coupons. There may be many other customers who have returned because of what you have advertised but not used the coupon for some reason.

Brochures can also be time intensive for your brand. You need to control exactly how much you publish in each edition. Otherwise the time and costs can spiral out of control. You might also want to consider that too many items advertised in your brochure can look clumsy.

Service industries, where there are no physical elements to the service might suffer from poor uptake. An example would be accountants who might have difficulty identifying what they can use as a promotional image. However, entertainment and experience services could benefit from using a brochure.

 

What Elements Should You Include In The Brochure To Increase Effectiveness

There are many different types of brochures being published and each industry has variety. For instance, some supermarkets will publish brochures which are just a series of pictures with advertising text. Other supermarkets create brochures which are more like full magazines with articles and recipes.

The latter can be a good way of increasing the retention of your marketing material. For example, if you are an events company, you can include articles on how to host the perfect party for a groom, bride, etc.

Ensure your articles have high value and can be used in the long term. Don’t make them too promotional as this can cause abandonment for the content.

You might also want to include adverts in the brochure to advertise strategic partners or other paying clients. This can help you cover the costs of producing the brochure. However, too many adverts can disrupt the flow of your brochure and cause many readers to avoid reading it.

The images in the brochure should also be very effective at drawing attention. Because images are more effective at allowing audiences to make a purchasing decision there should limited text around them. At most you want to include the price (plus the discounted price if applicable), key features and when the offer is available.

Whenever possible, have people who match your target audience included in the images. Ensure they are smiling and looking like they are enjoying the use of the product or service. This will increase the uptake.

If you are looking to sell a particular product, give that product more space on the page and position it in the top left. This is where the majority of a reader’s attention is drawn to. Products with low profit margins could be included in the bottom right where the least attention is.

 

Conclusion

Brochures are a particularly useful marketing material to reach those who find it difficult to use a computer and as a way to retain customers after they have left your physical store.

There are many elements to include in the production of your brochure but by getting it right for your audience you can increase your sales.

 

Action Steps:

  • Design and publish a periodic brochure.
  • Split test your brochure to see how effective your campaign is.

Small Business Sponsorships

Sponsorships

Sponsoring an event can be a great way to establish yourself in the community and grab extra attention for your brand. There are numerous options available for sponsorship.

However, you have to ensure you embark on the right one, otherwise your brand’s image can be damaged from the experience.

Learn what options you have for sponsorship and how it can benefit your business in this article.

 

What Types Of Sponsorship Are Available?

Brands are always aligning themselves with certain events in order to maximise their exposure to audiences. There are many different ways in which brands can gain sponsorship; though money is usually a factor.

Some of the biggest high profile sponsorship options are available in sports. Football and racing are two particular sports where sponsorship can cost the business millions but yield significant returns. It isn't just the teams which brands sponsor – businesses can choose to favour certain players and offer them deals to promote their products.

However, these aren't the only sponsorship deals available. You could sponsor a local event like a charity event or a business summit. These can be particularly useful in allowing your brand to be highly visible to a large group of your target audience.

A final option some bigger brands can afford is the sponsorship of certain television or radio programmes. This is very popular as it guarantees a certain number of advertisements at set points, usually at the beginning and end of the programme when viewers are paying most attention.

Sponsorship has several benefits for your business. Firstly, it allows you to associate with a well-known brand and gain good market penetration with the followers. For instance, sponsoring a football club can endear you to the fans of the club.

 

Case Studies Of Sponsorship In Action

The success of sponsorship can be seen in a number of case studies worldwide. Here are two sponsorship case studies and how investments have supported the brand’s awareness to grow.

Huawei

The mobile phone producer had achieved considerable success in the Asian market in 2011 and 2012, having grown by 34%. This represented approximately $3 billion in China. However, in the UK market, which they saw as key to their success, they were the worst represented provider of smartphones, with only a 0.9% market share.

To combat this they signed a two year sponsorship deal with Arsenal FC, a well renowned and followed football team competing at the top of the UK’s league system. The deal allowed the brand to use two players in their marketing materials and get regular exposure during matches. The brand also launched a related football tournament and supported children’s charities in local communities.

At the same time the club signed another sponsorship deal with PSG, a French football club.

As a result, the mobile phone supplier achieved incredible growth of recognition. In 2012, only 12% of consumers were aware of the brand; but the end of 2013, 27% of consumers could identify them.

Infiniti

The luxury car market is very competitive. It can be even more difficult for a new-to-market brand like Infiniti.

To gain a larger market share, Infiniti needed to partner with a high profile brand. One of the best arenas would be to sponsor a team in the Formula One Championship. Naturally, this sport is followed by millions of their target audience: car enthusiasts.

Infiniti acquired a sponsorship deal with Red Bull Racing. Sebastian Vettel was also included in the deal and he was eager to help design a new luxury Infiniti model. Having one of the best drivers in the world on board during the deal was a major advertising boost for the brand.

As a result of the sponsorship, Infiniti was able to achieve huge exposure. At the beginning of the partnership, the brand had 7.9% recognition, but by the end of the season this had risen to approximately 43%.

The number of people who visited dealerships also increased with more than 1 in 4 customers visiting an Infiniti dealership before any other brand.

 

What Do You Need To Consider When You Are Choosing An Event or Team To Sponsor?

Selecting a successful partnership role requires careful consideration. There are many elements which can go wrong. Have a look at these criteria when it comes to sponsorship options:

  1. Does the event appeal to your target audience?

There is no point in advertising your brand if you are not able to gain exposure to those who will be interested in your products.

In both of the above case studies, the companies involved knew the majority of the team’s followers would be highly interested in what they have to offer. However, if Infiniti sponsored a boat race, they might have struggled to achieve the same results.

  1. Is the reward worth the cost?

Sometimes the exposure you have might not be worth the cost of the deal. Some sponsorship deals can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the expected return can be far less. Ensure the returns you receive will be greater than the costs.

  1. Does the event or team share similar ethics, goals and values?

This is one of the major sticking points when it comes to sponsorship deals.

There have been several cases in recent years where sponsors have dropped their sports stars because of activities off the playing field. A classic example of this would be golfing legend Tiger Woods, who lost many of his sponsors after the discovery and publication of his affairs.

  1. What do they expect from you? What do you get from them?

Sometimes it is not just money the event or team would like. Ensure you know everything that is expected of you and whether you can commit to that.

In addition, ensure that you are getting your value. Don’t be left paying a significant proportion of your marketing budget for a small banner at the back of the event that hardly anyone will see.

 

Conclusion

Sponsoring an event can be one of the best brand exposure activities your business invests in. Some brands have seen massive growth and it has allowed them to expand quickly.

Learn to make the right sponsorship deal and you could yield very similar results.

 

Actions Steps:

  • Assess a range of sponsorship options and use the above checklist to make sure they are right for you.
  • Sign a sponsorship deal and see what the results for your brand are.

Guerrilla Marketing for Small Businesses

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is one of the best forms of advertising for small businesses. A campaign can have a really high impact on your traffic, leads and revenue while also being highly affordable.

Even big brands use guerrilla marketing to support their bigger, traditional campaigns.

Learn how you can use guerrilla marketing for your small business here.

 

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

Guerrilla marketing is a concept which takes its name from guerrilla warfare. It is usually described as an unconventional marketing strategy with high energy and imagination. The main aspect of this style is to surprise your target audience enough to create a significant impression and considerable social buzz.

Studies have demonstrated impressions created with audiences during guerrilla marketing campaigns are more valuable than those developed by traditional marketing strategies. This is attributed to the idea that guerrilla marketing aims to target the consumer at a more personal and memorable level.

Guerrilla marketing has been used by numerous brands both big and small to gain traction for their campaigns.

Guerrilla marketing was termed in 1984 by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book by the same name. Since then, the strategy has grown and developed organically.

 

Case Studies Of Guerrilla Marketing

There are many examples how guerrilla marketing has created incredible returns for brands. One classic case study relates to the Blair Witch Project. The fake-documentary really set the standard when it came to guerrilla marketing in the film industry.

The budget for the film was just $50,000 (including production) and yet was able to make $240 million at the box office.

The marketing activities included building a website to back up claims the footage was legitimate, filming a documentary about the missing students, spreading rumours on message boards and placing missing posters for the students.

The exact same strategy was used in the publicity for Cloverfield, but by the time of this latter film, social media had come into force and each of the characters had their own social network profile.

Another example of guerrilla marketing can be found with Coca-Cola. The drinks company created the Happiness Machine, a vending machine that delivered more than cold drinks to students at St John’s University in Queens, New York. With the help of 5 hidden cameras they filmed the reactions of customers, created a video and posted it online.

The video has been seen by millions of people worldwide and has won the prestigious CLIO Gold Interactive Award. Interestingly, the film had a significant market penetration in Brazil, Mexico, Japan and Russia.

After this success, Coca-Cola decided to do similar videos.

French charity Médecins du Monde created a campaign in Paris to draw attention to the plight of the homeless. To do this they distributed small pop-up tents to homeless individuals around the city. The result was the immediate allocation of government funds to an emergency shelter program for the homeless.

Another common example of guerrilla marketing is the use of graffiti to advertise a product. This art form grabs a lot of attention from the public and is especially catching at a public space where there is a high footfall or a lot of waiting (i.e. bus stops, train stations, etc).

Not all campaigns are successes. In 2002, Vodafone paid two men to streak across the pitch at a major rugby match. The men had the Vodafone logo attached to their backs.

However, spectators were annoyed at the disruption to the match and the two men were fined. The campaign also had little positive impact.

 

Why Should Your Business Use Guerrilla Marketing?

There are several main reasons why your small business should be using guerrilla marketing in your strategy. These are:

Inexpensive: guerrilla marketing is a low budget marketing form. It cost Coca-Cola very little to adapt a vending machine and place cameras to record reactions. Likewise, it costs very little to create a website and a few posters that were part of the advertising campaign of The Blair Witch Project. Yet both projects were very well received by audiences and yielded high returns.

Social Sharing: Going viral is very important today and guerrilla marketing is the perfect way to get access to that. Whether the campaign is a well written tweet or a perfectly produced video, getting shared thousands or millions of times can attract audiences to your brand and have the world talking about you. The more social conversation occurring; the more excited your audience will become.

Memorable: Guerrilla marketing is about surprising your audiences with a piece of advertising which is innovative and unexpected. A perfectly executed message will allow your campaign to be remembered by your audience and spoken about for years to come.

Extra Reach: Guerrilla marketing has the potential to penetrate your market audience far better than other marketing strategies. This can lead high levels of traffic to your website and a significant number of leads being generated.

 

What Should You Do During A Guerrilla Marketing Campaign?

Coming up with an ideal guerrilla marketing campaign can be difficult. The options are limited only by your imagination and how you believe it can be executed. However, there are a few pieces of advice to consider when designing your campaign:

  1. Create a campaign your audience will enjoy and want to share with their peers.
  2. Always keep to your brand’s personality and ethics.
  3. Do not annoy your audience.
  4. Ensure your activities are perfectly legal and no one will get arrested or fined for the actions.

 

Conclusion

Guerrilla marketing is one of the best marketing strategies for small businesses. It can attract a huge proportion of the market on a small budget by creating social awareness and conversation about your campaign. If you create the right campaign and it goes viral; the results can last years.

 

Action Steps:

  • Study how your competitors are currently marketing themselves. If they’ve conduced guerrilla marketing before, see what the results were and what improvements could be made.
  • Get your marketing team together and see what ideas they can come up with for your guerrilla marketing campaigns.

Zag Brand Strategy

Zag When Others Zig

Creating a brand is an easy process. The major challenge is creating one to stand the test of time and be visible in a crowded marketplace.

To do this, your business must 'zag' when others 'zig'. This is a concept by author Marty Neumeier, first seen in his book, ZAG: The Number One Strategy Of High Performance Brands. In the book, the author describes how radical differentiation is the key to successful brand placement and creating value with your shareholders and customers.

Learn more about how you can zag instead of zig in this article.

 

A Fresh Look At Brand Strategy

Neumeler informs readers that the true power has shifted away from the brand and more to the consumer. Now brands must work harder to create an image to stand out in a crowded marketplace and produce a strong identity that offers a distinctive consumer experience.

One of the most important quotes in his book sums up exactly what businesses should be aiming for:

“When focus is paired with differentiation, supported by a trend, and surrounded by compelling communications, you have the basic ingredients of a zag.”

Each brand’s zag will be different and the result will be dependent on the personality of the company as well as the audience they are targeting.

For brands who want to zag they must complete a simple statement:

Our brand is the only ________ that _________.

Completing the blanks is a hard task. Yet without completing this sentence your brand is likely to fade away and suffer in the long term.

 

How Can You Complete Your Sentence?

To complete the primary sentence for zag you should break it down into the two parts.

The first is dealing with what your business offers customers. This sounds fairly simple. For example; a coffee house could write it sells coffee but there are thousands of businesses selling coffee. Therefore, the coffee house should be looking for the unique selling point: what makes it different?

For instance, it can claim to be a “business meeting place” or a “friends’ hangout”. Notice these two options have little to do with what product is sold but how the coffee house is used.

The second part of the sentence adds the benefits of the business. For instance, the coffee shop could state it sells organic Cuban coffee. But there is nothing to stop other organisations from selling the same product now or to do so in the future. Alternatively the term tasty coffee or tasty drinks could be used. However, again the same coffee can be sold elsewhere.

Instead, the business could state it “offers entertaining experiences in a comfortable environment”. Although others can claim that, no two businesses can give exactly the same experience.

The completed sentence becomes: “Our brand is the only friends’ hangout that offers entertaining experiences in a comfortable environment.”

This sentence does not mention coffee or what products are sold.

Instead, the sentence developed gives an identity to guide the production of marketing materials and the enduring company culture.

 

How To Use Your Sentence

The sentence you have created is not a tool to be used within marketing materials. Instead, it is something to direct and align all your marketing materials so they have a clear focus.

Using the coffee shop example; we see that coffee should not be part of the major focus of the marketing campaigns, as it is not part of the main focus or identity of the brand. The marketing should be focused towards the three key elements mentioned:

  • It’s a friends’ hangout.
  • It delivers entertaining experiences.
  • It is a comfortable environment.

Therefore all the marketing materials created should focus on one or more of these elements. It doesn’t matter that the business sells coffee (although it can be applied with a product placement), what does matter is that it is a social setting that promises positive experiences and where people can relax.

For this, the coffee shop could use a group of young adults sharing a joke in the coffee house. This implies all the aspects of the sentence.

Also any marketing testimonials should be those which mention great experiences and the environment. Advertising reviews and customer feedback mentioning only coffee is not suitable as it is not part of the brand identity. These reviews could be about any coffee shop.

 

Test Your Sentence

To know whether your marketing campaigns are aligning with your sentence you can perform a quick test.

Take your materials and remove all of the identifiable items (e.g. logo, name, address, etc). Then show this to your customers. They should be able to tell it is your brand from the marketing materials.

This technique can be seen on television adverts. Brands that follow a standard message and style on television can often be identified before their name is mentioned. Classic examples of this would be fashion houses or insurance brokers.

Ensure that you are testing your sentence out with focus groups and customer services. You need to know exactly what your customers think about how you brand yourself and their perception of you. If they don’t agree with your branding strategy, you need to consider going back and starting again. Or you could adjust your brand image, though this might be damaging to your revenue if you have an already established brand image.

If you are a new business, asking your target audience will aid you to know how your audience will react.

 

Conclusion

Zag when others zig is about differentiating your brand from your competitors in a crowded market. There is not a huge amount of information to consider. All your brand needs to do is complete one sentence and apply that to your marketing, so your brand is identifiable.

With an identifiable brand your business can grow and gain a significant loyal following.

 

Action Steps:

  • Complete the sentence to find your zag.
  • Check your marketing to see if it matches the major points in your zag sentence.
  • Align your future marketing to align with your sentence.

Coupons and Vouchers

Use a Coupon

Coupons are great for retaining key customers or attracting new ones to your business. They appeal to customers because of the savings they perceive they will make. However, in reality, it is likely that they will be spending more money.

Discover how coupons can be used in your business to advertise your brand and bring customers to you.

 

Are Coupons Cost Effective?

The effectiveness of coupons is often questioned because of the cost involved in producing them and the lower revenue each product is sold for. However, vouchers and coupons can be used as a method to attract customers to your business and delight them with the quality of the product and service.

Once you have hooked your new customers they will become loyal and buy more of your product, at the normal cost.

Therefore while coupons may cost your business in the short run, in the long term your revenues can be increased significantly.

Coupons can also be effective when you are looking to reward customers for participating in market research. By offering a 5% or $5 voucher you can attract more people to partake in important surveys to refine marketing materials or new products.

Other businesses have used coupons as a way to sign people up to mailing lists or make a purchase over a certain amount. For instance, offering customers a $5 voucher if they spend over $50 in store on a particular day.

Vouchers can also increase the brand loyalty in long term subscription customers. Mobile phone operators do this by offering discount vouchers to events, experiences and products from third parties as a way to reward long contract users.

If the experience has been good enough, the memory of the positive experience will be with the customer forever and who provided that opportunity.

 

The Attraction of Coupons

Whether coupons attract customers cannot be questioned. There are numerous websites which actively seek out, promote and distribute coupons to bargain hunters. Some of these bargain hunters will use coupons as a way to find a new brand or product.

In this manner coupons can be particularly useful. Getting your brand featured on one of these websites will expose it to countless members of your target audience. The value of the coupon will also be significantly increased to the target audience as it comes from an independent source. This will increase the uptake of the offer as well.

You can increase the attraction of the coupon by aligning the design of the voucher to match your brand image. There is also the option to add a use-by date on the voucher to create urgency and encourage quick use.

 

Digital Or Physical Coupons?

With the rise of the internet and email there has been an increase in the issue of e-coupons. These can be very effective because they can take advantage of the coupon hunting websites and social media. This allows you to attract a large audience through viral marketing.

However, digital vouchers cannot be touched by the target customer and therefore an important physical connection cannot be established. Audiences who are able to develop a physical connection have a higher uptake.

 

In What Instances Should You Use A Coupon?

There are many opportunities which you can issue coupons. Here are some of the best scenarios:

  1. Attracting New Customers

If you are looking to expand your brand’s reach and attract lifelong customers - coupons can be highly effective.

Placing coupons inside publications or with local businesses, where your target audience might visit, can be one effective method of distribution. Coupons in this case should be such that the cost of producing them and the discount offered does not mean you will make a loss on the sale, but can still be significant enough to be meaningful to your customers.

This does not discount you from offering a coupon for a free product, as long as the cost of producing (or buying) the free product can be covered by the profits of the qualifying purchase.

  1. Increasing Value of Purchases

Attract customers to purchase more by offering them a voucher when they increase their spending. This is particularly useful if you know the average spend is below a certain point.

In this case you want to ensure the value of the voucher offered is less than the profit you would make on the extra purchases.

For example, if you have an average spend of $30 per customer and want to offer a $5 voucher for every $50 then you have to have a profit margin of at least 25% on the additional $20.

  1. For Customer Service

Customers aren’t always happy with the service they receive. Offering a voucher to retain their custom can be one option for your brand.

Supermarkets, including global brand Tesco, often use this. They even offer an automatic comparison of their price compared to that of their major rivals. If the shopping trip would have come to less elsewhere, they issue a voucher for the difference. Alternatively, if the customer is unhappy with a product, Tesco will often issue vouchers worth up to $10 depending on country.

This style of voucher allows the brand to retain key customers who they might have lost otherwise. However, they can only afford to do this because of the bulk of purchases the average customer makes. They know that another bulk purchase will more than make up the voucher value they have issued.

  1. As A (Loyalty) Reward

It is often good to reward your key customers by giving them something free every so often. This doesn’t have to be something sold by your business but could be a low cost option such as an ebook.

The idea of this voucher system is to surprise and delight your audience. It also creates a scenario where they spread word about your brand to their peers on social media or offline.

Another reward might be when they have signed up for your mailing list. Email contributes up to 25% of online purchases and therefore you can often make up the cost of the voucher.

Alternatively, place a condition within the voucher where the customer has to spend a certain amount to claim.

 

Conclusion

Vouchers are an effective sales tool for attracting your audience to your brand and encouraging them to become loyal customers. They can also be used to entice back customers who are unhappy with your product / service.

With a well crafted voucher which has value to your customers, you can create excitement for your brand by using peer-to-peer promotion and social media. This will increase the traffic to your website or store and allow you to increase your revenue.

 

Action Steps

  • Calculate your average spend per customer and profit margins.
  • Offer a voucher to new customers that still allows you to make a profit.
  • Create a voucher system where if customers sign up to your newsletter, they are rewarded on their next purchase.
  • Offer a voucher for those customers who increase the amount they spend.