Author Archives: TheHyperteller

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When the Twitter robot fails you

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Twitter_logo_blue

Twitter Logo. This image is the property of Twitter.

A lot of people like to automate their Twitter. I’ve scheduled Tweets every now and then – it’s nice to keep people reminded that I’m alive, and it helps if you’re new to the network, and are struggling to get to grips with it.

But there are others who are happy to let the robots manage almost all aspects of their Twitter account. However, this doesn’t make Twitter easier, because the point of Twitter is meaningful engagement.

Here are a few examples of when the Twitter robots can get the better of you.

The Auto Retweet

Retweeting allows you to share great content with your followers. It also helps to spark a conversation with the person you RT’d.

But it can also provoke some unexpected conversations. Conversations such as the writer who retweeted something I had sent from my personal Twitter to an account run by fans of crime fiction.

Naturally I thought I’d say hello. ‘A fan of crime fiction, are you?’ I asked. To which they – I can only assume – panicked, ignored everything I had said, and listed details of all the books they had published.
Needless to say, that was the start and end of our interaction, and an unfollow quickly, er, followed.

The Auto DM

A lot of accounts use automatic direct messages to thank their new followers, and to tell them where to go. By which I mean direct them to other social profiles like their Facebook page.

You have to remember that people have followed you because they get something out of it. Instantly telling someone to go ‘Like’ your Facebook page is akin to telling them that their Twitter follow wasn’t good enough, and that they should do more to help you out.

The Auto Illogic

I recently received a direct ‘Thank you for following’ message that made my brain hurt. It said ‘We look forward to Tweeting with you.’

But…aren’t we on Twitter now? I thought to myself. If any time is a good time to start this Tweeting that you are so looking forward to, wouldn’t that be now, to thank me for the follow?

That was a piece of ironic missed opportunity that is akin to travelling to someone’s office to tell them that you can’t wait to meet them.

The bottom line is, an automatic message like that just serves to highlight how insincere your message is.

Automatic favouriting

Rather than me telling you how this one can lead you into trouble, I’ll simply suggest that you read this article on the Huffington Post website (warning: rude in places, and I’m in no way responsible for any of the content). Comedian Kyle Kinane noticed that the Pace Picante brand of salsa was favouriting all his tweets in which they were mentioned, regardless of content. Needless to say, after you’ve read the entire exchange, you’ll see why it pays to have a human being running your Twitter account.

Beware the robots

So there we have it; four examples of times when automating your Twitter doesn’t work in your favour. Remember the reason you are on it in the first place, and ask yourself whether your automations are genuinely making things easier, or if you’re really damaging your own endeavours.


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New Year Blogging Resolutions

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The beginning of the year is a perfect time to take a good look at your business. Are there areas for improvement? What about opportunities you can capitalise on?

For many businesses, getting more customers will be on the list. Your blog is a great way of doing that, as you can attract people who are interested in what you do, engage with them, and slowly convert them.

You may already have a blog, but it might not be performing as you hoped. Instead of abandoning it, here are 5 New Year blogging resolutions for you to follow. Stick to these, and you’ll see plenty of improvement.

1. Give something back

People don’t read business blogs because they are interested in what they can offer the business. They read blogs which promise them something – whether that is information, discounts, exclusive news, or the chance to have a say on important issues. Don’t use your blog as a platform for blowing your own trumpet or advertising yourself. Instead, think about how you can give something of value to your readers.

2. Read it aloud

You’ll find out just how easy your new post is to read if you hear it said aloud. You spot a lot more when you do this than running through it silently in your head. Having to actually say it makes you aware of sentence length, rhythm, and poor phrasing.

3. Share the link

Let people know about your new post. Share the link on your social profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If you are giving people something of value (like tips), then they are going to want to know about it.

4. Invite comments

Think of your average internet user as though they are shy. Even the most outspoken, confident people might not naturally think to ‘Like’, comment, or Share your article. Tell, or ask, them to do so, and you’ll see an increase in the amount of engagement you get from your readers.

5. Remember who you’re talking to

Think about your ideal reader. What do they want to hear? How do they want to be spoken to? The best way to ensure you are attracting your target customers is to speak in a language, and talk about topics, that they identify with. Then you’ll know that the people who follow and comment on your blog are the ones you want to be doing business with.

There we have it. Five simple blogging tips to help you make the most of your blog this year. Bookmark this page so you can refer back to it at a later date, and don’t forget to share it with your friends and colleagues so they can benefit too.

What are your business resolutions for 2014? Leave a comment to let me know.

And for more great blogging advice, contact me today.


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5 copywriting tips for writing effective Calls to Action

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Calls to Action are a vital part of any marketing content. They ensure your readers do what you want them to. Many companies make the mistake of assuming their customers will automatically take the next step.

PensYou have to lead your customer by the hand all the way to their destination – be that making a purchase, signing up to your mailing list, or leaving a review. These five tips will help you write perfect Call to Actions that get results and drive customers to do what you need them to.

1. Be precise

What exactly is it they need to do, and why? Tell your customers how to contact you, and the reason that they should. ‘Call today to order our next season catalogue’ means that people don’t have to think for themselves. They know what it is they should do next.

2. Be immediate

Don’t give your visitors a chance to forget you. If they leave your website or shop, or put your brochure or flyer aside, you may have lost them. Tell people to get in touch today or now.

3. Be assured

Be confident in your services. ‘Call us today to see if we can help you’ suggests that there is a good chance you can’t. You don’t want to give your potential customers a reason not to do what you want them to. ‘Talk to us today about how our services will help you achieve your goals’ is much better. If you are confident in your product or service, potential customers will be more likely to be as well.

4. Be assumptive

Be confident when telling customers what to do next. Assume that they have already chosen to use your services. ‘Call us today to discuss your project’ is far more effective than ‘If you decide to use us, get in touch to discuss things’. Talking to your potential customer as though they already are your customer could help them make up their minds.

5. Be prepared

Think about the way in which you want customers to communicate with you. Would it be easier to deal with enquires via email, phone, or in person? Once you’ve decided, use your Calls to Action to get people to contact you in your preferred way.

Combine these five simple tips for killer Calls to Action that people can’t resist. Save yourself time and effort by getting me to do it for you – email me today to find out how easy and affordable it is.


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How a personal bugbear can save you time and money

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Something has been annoying me recently, and it isn’t even the fact that I’m wearing five layers and am still cold. It’s the fact that you can find posts on many jobs sites for freelance writers where companies are asking us to blog for free, or as good as. They say things such as ‘This is great portfolio experience’, or ‘We don’t have the budget to pay’.

I’m going to let you in on a secret

If you don’t believe your blog is going to add enough value to your business to even cover the costs of paying a freelancer to write it for you, then you don’t need a blog.

I’m not saying that everyone needs to get a freelancer to write a blog for them. I’m simply saying that, when you look at the big picture, if blog that doesn’t add enough value to your business to cover the costs of running it, it’s probably not worth having.

What is your blog for?

Whether or not you have a successful blog, whether or not you pay a freelancer to write it for you, it’s always worth asking yourself, ‘Why am I blogging?‘ After all, it is a time-consuming endeavour. What would happen to your company if you stopped blogging?

Like any marketing you do, a blog should add value to your business. Whether that value is in money, reputation, exposure, or web traffic, a blog should be a vital part in your business machine. If it isn’t doing any of these things, you might as well invest that time throwing lemons at passers-by for all the benefits it will get you.

Just another form of marketing

Say you intend your blog to get new people to know about your products. In the print world, this job would probably have been taken by posters or leaflets. Imagine going to your local printers, or graphic designers, and saying “We need to be leaflet marketing, but we don’t really have a budget for it, so can you do it for free, because it will be great portfolio experience?

The idea is ridiculous, isn’t it? The only reason it works when it comes to freelance writers is because there is nothing of perceived value being exchanged. Freelance writers don’t have to buy their words in, and get them delivered on the back of a large truck. When we write a blog post for free is not as if we’re losing money on stock, only time.

If it’s not worth it, don’t bother

If you genuinely didn’t expect to get a return on your investment in those leaflets, you wouldn’t bother getting them made and distributed, would you?

Well the same logic applies to blogging. Blogging is like any business activity. If your business truly needs it, then it can afford to pay for it. If your business can’t afford to pay for it, even if you can do it yourself, then you are just wasting time and money.

Want more advice on business blogging? Send me an email today.


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Get blogging right by remembering this one simple fact

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A lot of businesses try blogging, only to give up because they believe it isn’t working. A lack of hits, comments, shares and follows might suggest that your blog is not performing, but this might not be the blog’s fault.

In the same way a match won’t ignite if you strike the wrong end, your blog won’t take off if you don’t use it correctly. A lot of people make some very basic mistakes when it comes to blogging. These mistakes cost them not only time and money, but also potential.

There’s one thing you really need to remember when it comes to blogging. A blog must provide your readers with value.

Why people read blogs

In order to write a good blog, you have to keep in mind why people read blogs. There are several reasons people might read your particular blog, which could include:

  • Your blog title promises to answer a question they have
  • They are looking for more information about a product or service
  • They want a better insight into your company
  • They want interesting and relevant content to share with their social media followers
  • You are the expert in your particular field
  • They want information on why they need your services, or how your services help them

There are many different reasons, but these give you an idea of the value people are looking for. Your blog should be giving something away for free. A lot of businesses baulk at that prospect. Think about how you operate in real life. If a customer came into your store with a question, would you want your staff to answer it helpfully, or tell them to go away because you don’t give out free information?

People want to get something from your blog posts – they won’t read them as a favour to you.

Why selling gets you nowhere

Your blog needs to be about giving. Selling is exactly the opposite. No one is going to want to read a post when all it is doing is asking them for money.

In order to be allowed to sell to your blog followers, you have to provide them with something in return. In fact, you should let the rest of your website do the selling for you. If appropriate, you may want to point people towards your contact page or another part of your website, but it is a good idea to get the notion of profit completely out of your head when you first start blogging.

Have you ever sent your customers a satisfaction survey? If you have ever offered the chance to win a prize for completing it, I bet you saw much higher completion rates. Even when your customers are buying something from you, they aren’t thinking about what they’re giving you, they are thinking about what they’re getting.

Keeping this in mind when you write your blog posts will help you to avoid perhaps the most common blogging mistake – writing posts as though you are a market stall fruit & veg seller, constantly shouting about your wares and prices.

How remembering to add value gets your posts off to a great start

Keep in mind the idea of giving value to your reader as you write each blog post. Whether you are educating, enlightening, helping or entertaining them, you will find you get a much better response from your audience if you switch things around. Be the one giving something away, and let them be the ones expecting something from the relationship.

Keep it up, and the value you give away will be vastly overshadowed by the value a functional, engaging blog brings to your business.

For more information on blogging, get in touch with me now.


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Three essential components of a great website

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Website Black Board

Photo Credit: Shutterstock – JayLopez

A while ago, the advice used to be ‘You need to have a website’. Well, now most people have listened. Unfortunately, getting a website isn’t the end of the road. ‘It isn’t?’ you ask, sitting up in your hammock, piña colada spilling down your Hawaiian shirt. No, just having a website won’t get you very far.

There are several essential components of a great website you need to have. In many ways, the old advice about needing a website isn’t true anymore. Everyone is so tech-savvy that having a bad website probably does more damage to a customer’s perception of your company than having no website. You have to get it right to ensure it is meeting the needs of your customer.

You don’t need a website, you need a great website. But what makes a great website?

Read on for three essential website components.

Design

There was a time when tables were the height of web design. Simply having a website was dazzling. It didn’t matter that you had bright yellow text on a sludge green background – you had a website! Customers would flock to your premise, their mouths still hanging open from the technological wonder. They had typed your business name into a search engine, and about 15 minutes (we’re talking dial-up here, remember) later they were looking at information on your business; online!

Now, everyone has a website. Which means yours needs to stand out. It’s not just about looking pretty though. Great design comes from a combination of striking themes with slick usability. It’s no use having a website that looks fantastic if finding what you want is harder than using Apple Maps.

Content

Content is king. That’s the current marketing buzz phrase. Remember that your website is a sales tool. Without content that conveys your key messages, you’re not going to see a return on your investment. It’s not just about having something to fill in the blank spaces, either.

Your content needs to grab your visitor’s attention, and flow smoothly so that they read all the way through. You only get one chance to convert a visitor into a customer, follower, or newsletter subscriber, so every word has to count. Hire a copywriter if you want to make sure it gets done properly.

Flexibility

DSCI0288Evolving technology has changed internet behaviour. Many users will now look at your website on their smartphones. Will the design and content adapt to this? If not, you could drive customers away.

You also need to consider who is going to be looking at your website. You might have two separate target markets, for example. You want to make it so that your website provides only the right content for the right market – having consumers reading through content aimed at the B2C market isn’t going to provide the desired results. How does your website fare from a usability point of view?

Remember your goals

Always keep your targets in mind. What do you actually want your website to do? Its ultimate purpose will help to guide you with the choices you need to make. A website that needs to drive foot traffic to your physical premises will need to be different to one that allows customers to buy your products online.

Remembering what the ultimate purpose of your website is will allow you to ensure you are taking the right steps towards optimising it.

The content of this post, including any images (unless specified), is copyright Rewan Tremethick 2013

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Why social media marketing isn’t necessary for every business

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Here’s something controversial; you don’t have to be on social media. Social media marketing isn’t a necessity for your business.

Well, it is, but it isn’t. Let me explain.

For a long time, business owners have been bombarded with people telling them they ‘must’ do certain things. They must have a website, they must be on Facebook, they must be blogging. The benefits of these can be huge, and more and more statistics are appearing all the time to suggest that social media marketing is a great tool for businesses.

However, I don’t think it’s as straight forward as that.

The internet where bad marketing comes to die

A quick look around the internet will tell you two things, 1) search enough results pages and even the most innocuous search terms return porn, and 2) there are hundreds of thousands of businesses getting it wrong. Websites with designs from 1995, blogs where the last post was several years ago, empty Facebook accounts. The internet is a graveyard of misunderstood marketing attempts gone wrong.

Easy to say, hard to practice

The thing is, it’s very easy to say ‘You need a website for your business to succeed’, or ‘You must be using social media marketing’. There is a lot more to it than that, however. Simply giving those kinds of obvious statements out to businesses as expertise isn’t really fair.

I could tell aspiring homebuilders to put one brick on top of another, but that doesn’t tell them how to build a house. Especially a wooden one. Experts can tell you all you like that you need to be doing X, Y and Z in order to succeed, but if they don’t also tell you how to do X, Y and Z, they haven’t helped you in the slightest. Rather like giving men fish verses teaching men to fish, telling someone they need social media marketing is not useful, showing them how to do it is.

You don’t need it if you can’t use it

I don’t need my own plane or helicopter, because I don’t have a pilot’s license. If I had a pilot’s license, then ‘You need a plane to get into the sky’ is a brilliant piece of advice. But at the present (unless I win the lottery in between writing and posting this*), I can’t make any use of a plane, because I don’t know how to. The knowledge isn’t there.

*Update: I didn’t.

It’s the same with social media marketing. Yes, there are huge benefits. But if you don’t have a clue how to get access to them, and can’t afford to hire a freelance professional to help you out, all that’s going to happen is you will make mistakes, and decide it’s not worth it. It’s the same with blogging. If you can’t hire a professional copywriter to blog on your behalf, you’ll be so busy you’ll end up with an empty blog, and conclude the benefits aren’t there.

So before you decide to bow to the pressure and get on these social marketing channels, ask yourself if you have the skills to actually use them, or the finances to hire someone who does. Because if the answer is ‘No’, then they will do more harm than good. And no business ‘needs’ that.


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IOS7 shows need to balance professional knowledge with personal taste

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Apple’s new operating system shows that just because the customer isn’t the expert, it doesn’t mean you can ignore their opinion.

Today I got the little alert on my iPhone that everyone has been talking about. IOS7 is available, update now. I was interested to see what my phone would look like when it turned back on. Apple had promised a ‘beautiful new design’, after all.

What really happened is my eyes bled. To be fair, the new lock screen is nice, especially when combined with the picture of the Earth that comes in the new standard wallpapers. The round passcode buttons are quite pleasing too. Soft, gentle, sophisticated, so far so good.

Then I reached the home screen. I looked at it for a few seconds, then immediately Googled how to reinstall IOS6. Which you can’t.

What even is this?

Apple’s USP has always been that their technology is sleek and sophisticated, at the cutting edge of design. (I suppose I should have guessed IOS7 wasn’t going to be great considering they have recently abandoned their trademark monochrome schemes and released colourful iPhone 5s, which look pretty sickly). Apple technology was about making you go ‘Oooo’. The whole point was that you had something to boast about to your friends (which is why I resisted buying anything Apple until the genuine need actually arose).

Now, Apple users are greeted by some psychedelic neon clipart. Where is the subtlety? Where is the beauty? Whether or not you like Apple, you can’t deny that style was the one thing they did better than anyone else.

Thanks to IOS7, I’m regretting more than ever that I didn’t wait until the Nokia Lumia was a bit cheaper on contract and get that instead. I won’t be updating my iPad until someone from Apple comes around and holds a gun to my head.

What does this teach us about providing services?

Because this is actually a lesson for us all. I’m sure there are plenty of people who love the new look. Just as I’m sure there are plenty who, like me, can’t stand it. But of course, we’re stuck with it, because Apple have said ‘This is what you’re getting’. Only a day after IOS7 was released, they have already stopped IOS6, so there is no choice for those who don’t like it.

As experts in our fields, we have to be a little more careful than Apple, who are so big they can do pretty much whatever they want to their users. We have to take into account what our customers feel and want, even when we are the specialists. So if a clients doesn’t like the headline I have written, I will explain to them why it works, but if they really don’t like it, who am I to argue? They are the ones who have to live with it representing their company. The same goes for web design, graphic design and marketing.

So, remember to get that balance right. Some clients will give you free reign, but others will want some control. As long as we remember the overall objective, it should be possible to balance what needs to be done with what they want to be done.

Unlike Apple, we can’t slam our ‘superior’ knowledge of what works into the faces of our customers. Apple can afford all the negative feedback. We can’t.


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What’s the ideal email marketing frequency?

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Email marketing is a great way to connect with customers. Because customers have to opt in to your marketing messages, your email list could be a gold mine of potential repeat business. Customers that sign up to receive messages from you are showing their loyalty and indicating they want to be marketed to.

When email marketing, it is your responsibility to ensure that you don’t abuse this position of trust. There are many laws and regulations that need to be followed when email marketing, but there are still plenty of legal ways you can drive your customers away through email marketing.

Frequency is one of them. How often should you send your clients an email?

Too many will drive customers to unsubscribe

Almost half the people in the UK who were surveyed about their email habits in 2011 said that they had unsubscribed from a company’s email newsletter because they sent emails too frequently. This is something I can relate to. I was subscribed to a company’s email marketing list but stopped after it became apparent that they were going to send me 2-5 emails per day. Who has time to read that?

What happened in my case is probably the same as with a lot of the people surveyed. I don’t read marketing emails straight away, so if another one comes in before I have read the first one, I’m quickly going to build up a stockpile of marketing emails I haven’t read. What’s in it for me to go back and plough through all those emails?

The answer is ‘not enough’.

Too few will cool their interest and create indifference

Customers sign up to your email marketing list because they want to hear from you. If they don’t hear from you, they’ll think either you haven’t got anything worth saying, or that you don’t value them. Both of these are bad impressions to give. While bombarding your target market with emails isn’t going to do you any good, sending too few could be almost as bad.

But what is a good frequency? Well, once a month is a good place to start. It gives you a chance to update your customers about what has been going on, share any exciting news, and try and tempt people with offers. And, while 12 emails a year doesn’t seem like too much effort, you’ll be amazed at how having yet another important task that demands your full attention will eat up your time.

What do your customers want?

The best way to decide on the perfect email frequency is not to decide at all. Ask your customers how often they want to hear from you.

This way you can create the perfect frequency that doesn’t flood your readers, but doesn’t leave them wondering where you’ve gone, either. Combine great design with irresistible content, and you could find that your email subscribers eagerly await your next newsletter arriving in their inbox.


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How far do you go to protect your intellectual property?

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I had an interesting experience on a website this morning. I was browsing the pages and found one that I wanted to open in another tab to look at later. I thought nothing of right clicking on the page link, until an angry JavaScript box opened in the centre of my screen.

It proceeded to tell me, in rather an aggressive tone, that I did not have permission to copy anything from that website, and as a result of my actions my IP address had been logged, and would subsequently be policed to ensure no content stolen from this particular website appeared on any sites connected to that address.

Now apart from the fact that I wasn’t even trying to copy anything, and that right clicking on a link opens up a menu full of things that don’t involve intellectual property theft, this seemed like quite a strong reaction.

Keeping your content safe

Of course I understand and appreciate that intellectual property such as web content should be protected. One of the things new clients not infrequently ask is for assurance that I’m not going to sell any work I create for them on to other parties. Of course, I would never partake in such activities, as I believe the point of web content is to appeal directly to the company’s target market. But nonetheless it is understandable that people are worried about their web content.

Angry pop-up boxes of doom

But was this website’s attempts to keep its content safe an overreaction? As I mentioned two paragraphs ago, right clicking on a website can serve a lot of other functions than to copy the text. Ironically, highlighting the text and using the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V shortcuts to copy and paste text work just fine.

At which point I should stress I have not copied anything from that particular website, other than into a new window to test whether or not it worked, which has now been deleted. Attempting to copy something from this website was purely for research purposes and no content has been saved, duplicated or posted.

What this means is that the user experience of the website is being negatively affected by its attempts to protect itself. While I actually doubt that the measures threatened by the website would actually be carried out, I can imagine a lot of people would be incredibly put off by this. Essentially, the website is threatening to stalk them. Not exactly the engaging user experience most people are looking for, is it?

Helping or hindering your website?

Angry pop-up boxes deter users and make it harder for people to navigate your site. There are plenty of plagiarism checkers on the internet, such as Copyscape, which can be used to ensure your content has not been duplicated. This is a much easier, and less invasive, way of looking after your intellectual property. I’d recommend doing this, as what’s the point in having a website full of unique content if everyone is too terrified to come on it and read?

How do you protect your content? Have you ever had your content stolen? Let me know in the comments’ section.


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