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Creating a social media strategy

A social media strategy is an essential element in a firm’s overall marketing strategy.

Without a clear plan, social media efforts can be a waste of time and resources. Here are a few things to consider when creating a social strategy:

  • Research your target audience

Before embarking on your social media marketing, it is a good idea to first research your target audience. Define your target audience in terms of demographics, such as age, gender, income; psychographics, i.e. attitudes and lifestyle; geographics i.e. where they are located and behavioural patterns, such as degree of loyalty. A detailed profile of your ideal customer will ensure you understand your audience and send the right messages.

  • Set SMART goals

A significant portion of your social media success will depend on how well you set your goals. The SMART framework is a good starting point as it ensures your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. An example of a SMART goal would be to grow your Facebook page’s likes by 25 per cent in the next six months. It is critical to regularly monitor and review your goals against results as they may need to be adjusted accordingly.

  • Build key messages

Once you have a detailed profile of your target audience, you can start to develop what key messages you would like to communicate. Your key messages should reinforce the messages in your traditional marketing campaigns. Focus on the benefits your firm has to offer rather than using sales-orientated messages.

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Improve your blog with a writing checklist

Blogging is an essential feature of many firms’ digital marketing strategy. It can be an effective way to demonstrate expertise and interact with clients on a regular basis.

However, blogging is not always a straightforward task – the content may come easy but it’s the little details that can set share-worthy and sloppy blog posts apart.

Using a writing checklist is a great way to ensure your blog posts are consistent in quality, style and tone. Here are five things to consider before publishing each blog post:

– Check the category

Before publishing a blog post, be sure to choose an appropriate category as it will assist readers searching for specific content on your blog and, therefore, improve user experience.

– Include appropriate keywords

Ensure to include your primary keyword and keyword phrases where it fits naturally throughout your content. Incorporate variations of your primary keyword as well, such as synonyms Google associates with your primary keyword.

– Use an appealing headline and hook

The headline and first paragraphs of your post should be catchy and instantly appeal to the reader. If the headline is not relevant or interesting it won’t convert to a click. Make sure your headline is short but meaningful and makes use of emotional words and benefit statements.

– Double-check spelling and grammar

Spelling and grammar mistakes are not only unprofessional but they can be a surefire way to lose blog subscribers too. Be sure to proofread posts and get at least one other person to check for typos, grammar mistakes and consistent tone.

– Use links and meta tags

Adding relevant and reputable external links can add value to the reader and help build your online reputation. Internal links are important too, consider adding 2-3 links to relevant pages on your site. Check meta tags are present in the title, description, keywords and alt-tag for images.

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Tips to improve your email deliverability rate

Email is a great marketing tool but simply sending an email does not guarantee it will end up in client inboxes.

A successful email marketing program relies on high email deliverability rates, otherwise it is a huge waste of time and resources. Fortunately, there are some ways to improve your firm’s email deliverability rate:

  • Use double opt-in

The best way to defend against spam complaints is to use a double opt-in instead of a single opt-in. Double opt-in sends recipients a confirmation email after they have entered their email address to validate their address and gain consent.

Double opt-ins have higher email deliverability, open and click-through rates, and lower unsubscribe rates than single opt-in. Double opt-ins eliminate any invalid email addresses and ensure the recipients do want to receive your emails.

  • Purge your list

Remove all inactive recipients, i.e. those who have not opened your emails for a few months, as they will increase your bounce rate. A high bounce rate negatively impacts sender reputation and will suppress delivery of all your emails. Regularly updating your list can drastically improve your email deliverability rates.

  • Pay attention to frequency

Sending too many emails can result in low open rates yet sending too few emails can lose revenue. Work out your firm’s optimal frequency by testing your email marketing efforts, i.e monitoring open and click-through rates. As a general guide, sending one email per week can help to stay top of mind without losing subscribers.

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How to build an online community around your blog

With the rise in firms using social media platforms, developing an online community is not as simple as just updating your blog.

Establishing a community of readers and contributors around your blog requires ongoing commitment and perseverance. But once established, an online community helps to improve your firm’s reputation, generate more leads and develop quality relationships.

Thriving online communities offer space for client feedback, educate prospective clients and are a trustworthy source of advice and ideas. Although there is no surefire way to gain blog followers, there are a few simple principles you can follow to build an online community:

  • Showcase your firm’s personality

Connect with your audience by incorporating your brand’s personality throughout each blog post. Consider using branded images, storytelling and even using humour where appropriate. The tone of a blog post can have a significant impact on the reader – so ensure it directly talks to your reader and uses appropriate jargon and language.

  • Involve your audience

Encourage interaction by creating a two-way dialogue with your readers. Consider including a section for comments, allowing the blog post to be shared on social media sites and promptly responding to comments for optimal interaction. Providing your audience with the opportunity to contribute helps them to feel valued and connected to your firm.

  • Collaborate with influencers

Teaming up with key influencers in the industry will help to increase your firm’s credibility and extend reach to new followers. Guest blogging is a great way to promote your firm’s brand as you are exposed to new audiences on other sites within your related industry. Alternatively, accepting guest bloggers on your own site can increase your website traffic and potentially convert site visitors to blog subscribers.

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Sharing content across social platforms

Social media can be a great way to market your firm and reach your clients. However, standing out online is not always an easy feat.

Crowded social platforms are making it increasingly difficult for firms to stand out from competition. Firms need to adapt their content to suit different social channels for maximum reach and engagement.

Here are three tips for firms to get the most out of each social media post:

Optimise for each social channel
Although posting the same message/image to multiple social sites seems like a time saver – it can render your efforts ineffective. Different social channels have different purposes, each with their own set of “rules” – so, what works for one channel might not for another. For instance, Instagram’s users are searching for visually appealing images while Facebook’s audience generally looks for content that is entertaining and can be shared. Your social media campaign can still be posted to each channel, however, it should be tweaked to suit the platform.

Focus on appealing headlines
Studies show people are more likely to read the headline than the actual copy itself. Headlines should be short and catchy and ideally incorporate direct action words. Well-written headlines clearly engage with your target audience and prompt them to seek more information. The best way to work out what headlines appeal to your target audience is by testing out different headlines and measuring levels of engagement for each post.

Experiment with timing and frequency
To get the most out of your social media efforts, it is best to experiment with different times and frequency to find your firm’s’ ideal schedule. Check which platforms and posts deliver the highest levels of engagement and discover the “peak” times to post. This may be different for each platform, so run a test on each individual platform and create a schedule around your findings. Your schedule will need to be reviewed from time to time, especially if you notice a drop in engagement or followers etc.

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Tips for a successful email marketing campaign

Email marketing should be part of every firm’s online marketing strategy. It is a valuable channel firms can utilise to reach, acquire and retain clients through the sharing of valuable information, news and advice.

Here are some top tips for making your email marketing campaigns as successful as possible:

  • Subject line

An email’s subject line is the first element of your email people see, and most of them will decide whether or not to open the email based on what it says. Effective subject lines are short and include words that make recipients want to click it. Make sure your subject line attracts the right attention so all that time spent writing your email pays off.

  • Include a call-to-action

Emails need a clear call-to-action so your readers know what action you want them to take. The call-to-action also needs to be short and easy for readers to do. Some examples include requests to answer a short questionnaire, sign an online form or liking/following your firm on Facebook.

  • Mobile-friendly

As the majority of emails are now read on mobile devices, it’s important that you make your emails as mobile-friendly as possible. When designing your email, consider how it will display on both a computer and and a mobile device. Keep your text short and sweet, consider only using one column and keep images small so they don’t take too long to load on a small screen.

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Repurposing your content

Creating new content for your blog or site can be challenging; not only does it involve a lot of time but it can require a great deal of creativity.

Fortunately, businesses do not need to write fresh content all the time – old content can be repurposed to make the most out of each of your ideas.

Repurposing content can help expand your reach to new audiences that might have missed it the first time and helps to reinforce key messages. Here are three ways to repurpose your content:

Create a presentation or video

Blog posts can be transformed into a presentation or video and promoted through various social media channels. A presentation or video can reach those audiences who prefer visual content instead of text. Using video content is especially good for refreshing those ‘how-to’ blog posts, checklists and step-by-step guides.

Turn it into an infographic

Visual images have been shown to generate more traffic and engagement than text alone. Consider turning your blog posts into infographics to help make information eye-catching and potentially shareable.

Reuse on social media

It may seem obvious, but reposting on social media can help to drive your key messages. Change a blog post’s heading or include new quotes or statistics to give the post a new edge. This strategy helps to give old, low performing posts another chance to capture your target audience’s attention.

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Maintaining an active online presence

Most small firms understand the importance of having a website, but not as many understand the importance of maintaining a consistent and active online presence.

Maintaining a consistent online presence is crucial for firms wanting to see results from their online marketing strategies. A consistent and active online presence breaks down communication barriers while opening up new levels of communication with clients; it can boost your firm’s credibility and it can also help online followers and clients (current and potential) easily recognise and relate to the firm.

Here are some ways firms can actively improve their online presence:

Encourage online reviews
Online reviews now play a strong deciding factor that influences the purchasing decisions of clients. Therefore, every time a client uses your services, you should encourage that client to share an online review with others about their experience. Reviews are also good for SEO purposes, since search engines consider them ‘fresh content’.

Engage with online followers
The internet has created so many ways for firms to connect and communicate with clients. Utilise these channels and get talking to your clients. If they leave a review, question or general comment on your social media pages or website, make sure you reply immediately. As the conversation is public, this will show other online users that your firm cares about what the client wants and thinks and will be more inclined to engage in business with you.

Share relevant information regularly
Sharing valuable content consistently not only shows clients your business has a strong online presence; it is also beneficial for SEO purposes and growing your credibility in the industry. This doesn’t mean you have to update your blog or share five articles a day; as long as the content is regularly published, visitors and search engines have something to read.

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How to avoid running out of blog post ideas

A problem facing many accountants and financial planners who have chosen to embark on an online marketing strategy is coming up with ideas to blog about on a regular basis.

The ability to generate content consistently can be overwhelming, especially for those in the corporate world who also have to deal with the daily ins and outs of running a successful accounting firm.

However, successful blogs depend on the blogger consistently publishing and sharing fresh, new content that is relevant and engaging to readers. Here are three ways accountants can come up with more ideas, more quickly to share on their blogs:

Read what other people are publishing

Have a look at what other accounting firms are blogging about and what news sources and other online publications are publishing to their websites. This can give you an idea of topics, trends and issues in the industry that are quite popular and relevant to readers that you can also blog about. Accountants can then base their blog post on the latest topic or trend and add their own perspective to it or translate the information in such a way that would make it easy for their audience to understand.

Check social media

Accountants who stay on top of their social media feed can see what followers, customers and other users are discussing. See if there are questions that are being frequently asked or concerns commonly expressed that you could address or answer in a blog post.

Use old content

Don’t be afraid to reuse old content if it is still relevant in the future. Often, an accountant may have addressed a topic already i.e. salary-sacrificing arrangements, but if new legislation, strategies or rules are introduced, the topic can be addressed again with a different angle or it can even be expanded upon. Have a look through previous posts to find blog posts on topics that could revisited, reconstructed and republished.

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Converting email copy into leads

Email marketing is an effective way to reach customers and convert readers into buyers.

However, simply sending emails is not a guaranteed way to increase sales. Email marketing requires planning and effort. Here are five ways to convert your email copy into leads:

Write a compelling subject line
Capture your audience’s attention with an interesting subject line. The subject line can encourage or deter potential customers from opening the email, so it is critical to get it right. Consider using A/B testing to discover which subject lines are more effective among your target audiences.

Use a call-to-action
A call-to-action prompts your reader to find out more information and drives the sales process. A well-placed call-to-action helps to close a sale or encourage an action i.e. subscribe to a blog. Be sure to highlight the benefits of your product or service and include action words such as “sign up”, “buy now” etc. to motivate your readers to purchase.

Be personal
Make sure your email “talks” to your audience. Although your emails may be sent to a mass list, they can still be written to sound customised to the individual reader. Writing in second person and using jargon-free language can help to connect with your audience on a more personal level. Consider personalising your emails by adding the respondent’s first name in the email to further increase trust and credibility.

Include interesting and relevant content
Email content must appeal to your audience and offer your readers value to convert into leads. Using audience segmentation is one way of tailoring your messages to match specific groups or customer needs. Segmenting your emails can help to hone in on a specific target audiences motivations and therefore helps to ensure your email content is relevant.

Make it brief
Write email content in an easy-to-read format which includes lists, bullet points and succinct sentences to hook your readers. As many readers will “skim” over your email, be sure to bold key messages and your call-to-action. Keep your emails short and include images to optimise your click-through rates.