Preparing for GDPR – 7 key steps for employers 

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A Guest Blog by Sue West from West HR

sue westWith just over a week to go before GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation) becomes law, here’s a useful guide to the initial actions employers need to take – helpfully broken down into 7 key steps by our HR partners at West HR

Businesses across the length and breadth of the UK are busy preparing for how GDPR affects their use and storage of customer data. But it’s crucial to remember that the definition of ‘personal data’ under GDPR also applies to all personal data held about your employees (and potential employees) in HR systems and files anywhere in your business.

It’s also important to understand that certain categories of ‘personal data’ are subject to even more strict rules regarding collection and processing. These ‘special’ categories include things like racial or ethnic origin, sexual orientation and health/medical information.

Here are 7 key steps for the initial actions you should be taking as an employer, to make sure your processes for collecting, storing and using your employee personal data don’t fall foul of the new GDPR regulations:


gdpr Conduct a data auditStep 1: Data Audit

Conduct a full data audit of what staff data you hold, where you store it, why you hold it, who has access, and how long you keep it for. This may be quite a challenge if you store your personnel records in different locations, but it’s a crucial first step because it will inform all the other documents and records you will need to demonstrate your compliance with GDPR. West HR can provide a template to give you hints and tips on where to look and what to capture.


gdpf remove as much duplication as possibleStep 2: Duplication

Your data audit will identify areas where you store the same employee personal information in more than one place. While some duplication of data is unavoidable to ensure the smooth running of your business, it’s important to understand that the more duplication there is, the harder it is to keep it up to date and delete it when it is no longer required. Speak to operational teams and other data users within your organisation to find ways to hold employee data in a shared location, so the information is only ever stored in one place, with secure and appropriate access by different teams and functions when needed.


gdpr write your privacy statementsStep 3: Privacy Statements

For employee data, you’ll need to write two different privacy statements – one for job applicants, and one for employees. Your privacy statement is a clear explanation to your data subjects (employees and job applicants) of what data you hold, why you hold it, what you will use if for, and how long you will keep it.


gdpr review your documentsStep 4: Document Review

Your existing employee documentation will need to be reviewed to remove all but a few references to consent and the outgoing Data Protection Act (1998). You’ll also need to look at any confidentiality, discipline and social media policies, updating them where necessary to reflect the new GDPR standards.


gdpr train your workforceStep 5: Staff Training

As an employer in the new world of GDPR, you’re not only responsible for your company’s systems and procedures, but also for the actions of your staff. All your employees will need overall GDPR awareness training – and any staff members who work with personal data will need more detailed specific training on what they need to do to comply with the new regulations.


gdpr Procedural ReviewStep 6: Procedural Review

Check when and how you are communicating your privacy notices to employees and job applicants – make sure that anyone who provides you with personal information knows why you are collecting it, what you will do with it, and how long it will be kept for. You also need to implement robust procedures for dealing with requests for data changes/updates, Subject Access Requests, and data breaches so you can respond appropriately within the new timescales set out in GDPR.


gdpf remove as much duplication as possibleStep 7: Deletion Procedure

An important part of GDPR is not keeping personal data for longer than it is needed. Job applicant details are generally deleted after 6 months, and employee details are normally only retained for 6 years after their employment ends. Make sure you have a robust process for deleting personal data in line with the new regulations – and include a regular audit of personal files to ensure you aren’t storing any information you no longer have a use for.


west hrFor more information about GDPR and how it affects your business, check out these other useful resources:

For one-to-one guidance and support with preparing your HR records and employee personal data for GDPR, contact West HR.

is your website gdpr ready

Is your website GDPR-ready?

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You’ve no doubt heard lots about the new GDPR which is launching on 25 May.

As the main focus is on the way you source, store and share data, there are implications for your website so we’re here to make sure you’re fully prepared.

How GDPR affects your website

GDPR is all about consent. When you collect personal data on your site, you need to get permission to use it. People who use your website must understand how you plan to use their data, and give their consent.

So if you’ve got someone’s email address because they’ve placed an order with you, you can only market to them if they’ve actively agreed to this. Not just because they bought something from you once upon a time.

As this is all so new, the ramifications aren’t yet clear. Nobody has professed to be an expert at GDPR and there’s no one size fits all solution yet… believe us, we’ve checked!

5 key areas for GDPR compliance

To help you understand what it will mean for your website, we’ve put together a quick check list:

  1. Your documents are likely to need updating, starting with forms, privacy notices and cookies. All the small print. You’ll want to tell your visitors what sort of data you’re collecting and why. Take a look at our privacy notice to see how it’s changed.
  2. It’s also wise to make sure that any data submitted to your website is encrypted through a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This not only secures your website’s connection and protects personal data by making it unreadable, it can also boost your Google rankings. If you don’t already have this, talk to John about it. He knows exactly what to do to put this in place so that you have peace of mind about every transaction.
  3. Consent is a big part of GDPR. You’ll need to make sure all consent forms are unchecked by default and that’s it’s absolutely clear about what your visitors need to do to ‘opt in’. Keep these forms separate from your regular terms and conditions for optimum transparency.
  4. Under the GDPR, you’ll need to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) if you are a public authority, or if you carry out certain types of processing activities. This role can be an existing employee or someone external. Make sure that their contact information is clearly listed on your site so that people can easily get in touch. There’s more about what’s required at ico.org.uk
  5. Are you clear about the Right to be Forgotten? The GDPR states that “a data subject should have the two rights. The right to have his or her personal data erased. And no longer processed where the personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purpose for which they are collected or otherwise processed.”
    As a result, your visitors can request to have all the data held about them deleted, including back up systems. According to research by Solix, 82% of organisations don’t know where their most sensitive personal data is stored… and only 55% maintain audit trails for data consents, collections updates, and deletion. It’s a bit of a risk for non-compliance. Therefore, getting to grips with what you need to do in bite size chunks makes a lot of sense.

Still unsure about the GDPR and your website?

If you’re not clear how all this will affect your website, don’t worry. It’s not too late…

We can help you and your website get ready for 25 May. Just give us a call on 0330 088 9277 or email john@ketchup-marketing.co.uk.

Video Marketing

Video marketing: why it works

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Are you using video marketing in your campaigns? According to Wyzowl, 63% of business wouldn’t be without it as part of their wider strategy. With good reason… it’s one of the most powerful, versatile marketing tools you can use. Include it on a landing page, and conversions can increase by up to 80%.

Why? Because videos are the quickest and most efficient way to digest information.

Five ways that video marketing benefits your business

  • Video boosts engagement. Research shows that adding a video to your home page attracts attention. It encourages sharing to Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and other social media channels.
  • Video gives a good return. You can make a video to an acceptable standard using just your smartphone. Content matters more than a perfect edit, in any case.
  • Video builds trust. Giving people interesting and useful information in an accessible and visually stimulating way makes customer confidence soar. Promotional videos present your products or services in a conversational way – bringing it to life rather than just words on a page.
  • Google loves video. Including videos increases the time visitors spend on your site and tells search engines you have good content – fabulous for ranking.
  • Video appeals to mobile users. Nine out of 10 people watch video on their smartphone: it lends itself to life on the move. We’re all too busy to read a long product description – let’s see it in action.

Make video marketing work for you

So what do you need to keep in mind when it comes to using video marketing in your next campaign?

First of all, get a cracking team on board. Choose Ketchup, and we’ll use our expertise and analytical tools to get a real insight into your target audience. Next, we’ll devise a strategy to help you win new business. See how we can do this here

Together we’ll think about the questions your customers will want your videos to answer – it’s a great way to kick off relevant topics.

We’ll choose your keywords carefully to help searches and keep titles and opening credits short. You’ll tell your audience in the first five to 10 seconds what they’ll learn. And you’ll pick clean images that reflect the content and avoid clutter. You don’t need to overthink timing… your video can be as long or as short as you want, whatever is reasonable for your topic.

We’ll end with a call to action – to share your video, watch more, call your team or visit your website. You could even throw in a special offer or incentive.

Finally we will embed your video on your website or in a blog post. We’ll upload it to YouTube , Facebook… wherever your target audience hangs out.

But this should be just the start. Generating regular new video content in a similar style consistent with your branding keeps things fresh.

Time for lights, camera, action? Don’t press pause on your marketing campaigns. Get in touch to fix a free consultation.

data protection

Data protection: what’s all the fuss about?

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On 25 May 2018,  a new era in data protection will begin. This is when new rules around collecting, storing and handling personal data come into effect.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), organisations will need to keep transparent records of how (and when) an individual gives consent to store and use personal data.

 

Built in, not bolted on

This isn’t just an evolution of the Data Protection Act – it has wider implications for the way that companies operate. It ensures that data is protected by design and default at a very intrinsic level.

Organisations will need to know exactly what personal data they hold and where it is located (on PCs, servers or in the Cloud). They must also have procedures in place to remove it permanently when an EU citizen requests this.

 

Why now?

We’ve moved on. The current Data Protection Act dates from the 1990s when only the largest companies had the means to collect and store significant amounts of data. Times have changed and the digital revolution is upon us. Thousands of SMEs now routinely access and store data about their customers.

As many of our clients are SMEs, we figured it would be useful to outline some key points about the new regulation. You have better things to do than read the official document’s 200+ pages.

 

What will the new data protection law mean for your business?

You will need to use simple language when asking for consent to collect data. You must explain clearly to customers what you do with their information. You’ll also need to have the functionality in place to respond to requests to delete data. In the future, all software will need to be capable of erasing data, rather than suppressing it. Quite a challenge.

 

So what’s changed?

The world has changed. Huge amounts of digital information are collected, exchanged and used every second around the globe. The GDPR will include,  for the first time, things such as genetic, mental, cultural, economic or social information that can be used to identify an individual.

It doesn’t matter where your business is based – after 25 May 2018, if you’re processing data about someone in the EU, you’ll need to follow the rules.

We’re all familiar with the small print on marketing materials. Things like the pre-ticked boxes that imply consent unless customers choose to opt out. Under the new rules, individuals have to actively give consent – and they can also withdraw this consent at any time. When this happens, their details must be permanently erased – not just deleted from mailing lists. It’s the right to be forgotten.

 

What happens in the event of proven non-compliance?

The penalty for breaching the regulation is eye-watering.

Serious violations will set you back up to £17 million or 4% of your annual global turnover, whichever is higher.

Here in the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will enforce the GDPR. It’s worth following their updates here before 25 May 2018.

Their intention isn’t to make early examples of organisations for minor infringements or to threaten big fines. There are other sanctions that they’ll use in cases of non-compliance… reprimands, warnings, corrective orders. As a result, it’s your reputation rather than your bank account that’s more likely to suffer.

Final guidance was published in December 2017 which you can see here.

Let’s end on a positive. You’re very likely to already comply with the terms of the Data Protection Act, so you’re well on the way to being ready for GDPR. If your website stores information about your customers, it’s a good idea to get in touch for an audit so we can help you identify the changes – if any – you need to put in place.

Using social media to market your business

How marketing uses social media

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Social media can help get the word out about your business. But, more than that, it provides you with an opportunity to start a conversation with your target audience and build long-lasting relationships.

Get your social media marketing strategy right and you can truly engage with current and future customers and turn that engagement into sales, growing your business.

More than four in five businesses are using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Pinterest but not all do so effectively.

You’ll need to decide which social media ‘channels’ are most suitable for your business and you’ll need to make time for it and plan ahead.

You’ll need to adopt the right tone and speak with one voice in keeping with your branding and image. Always be consistent in your message across platforms.

Here are five more reasons why social media marketing could be right for your business:-

  1. Your fans, followers and connections are the people most likely to tell their friends and associates about you. They can be your sales force and bring you new customers.

  2. Social media is very popular with all ages and demographics so will touch nearly every customer you come into contact with.

  3. Social media adverts are a low-cost way to promote your content, new products and special offers and get your voice heard amid the din.

  4. Social media encourages a two-way dialogue so learn to listen, you’ll find out more about your audience and their interests and can gather instant market research. You can be nimble and respond quickly in or out of business hours. It can be a great demonstration of the level of customer service they can expect from you.

  5. Social media users are active and most will have smartphones so will see your posts many more times than they will actually visit your business. Your social media sites can also become the go-to place for customers who want to learn more about you and search engines may also take them to your business. Sharing any email marketing you do on social media is another way to extend your reach.

So which social media networks would work best for my business?

  • There are few small businesses that couldn’t benefit from having a Facebook page so it’s as good a place as any to start. In fact, some start-ups and small businesses use a business page on Facebook as a kind of unofficial website. It’s easy to use and update and gets you connected.

  • LinkedIn tends to work best for professionals and business owners seeking to build a network and collaborate.

  • Pinterest is a great way to showcase your company’s products and services and drive traffic to your website.

  • Instagram is great for lifestyle content, showing what goes on behind the scenes and building a visual story of your business.

  • Snapchat is a good vehicle to reach a newer, younger audience such as the millennial generation..

  • And Twitter is great for sending out messages and links to blogs and web pages and for becoming a member of a wider community.

To build a social media platform that your customers will enjoy you’ll need good visuals – pictures or video – and an ability to rein in the words as little and often works best. Posts should seek to inform, entertain and inspire. If you want a longer form write a blog instead.

Calls to action are fine, but direct sales pitches should be used sparingly or you’ll risk switching people off. You want people to ‘buy in’ to your brand and interact as that’s the way to build a fruitful, long-term relationship.

Getting it right requires careful thought and commitment so if you need help or don’t have the time (or both), ask the team at Ketchup.  Contact us here or socially we are here and here ..

the power of social media in marketing

The power of social media in marketing

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The way businesses interact with their customers is changing – it’s no longer enough just to have a website and send out the odd newsletter.

Social media helps you to get your content seen by a community of people interested in you and what you offer. Build a relationship with them, and they’ll view you as someone they trust – and people buy from those they trust.

The first recognisable social media site, Six Degrees, was created in 1997 and combined personal profiles, instant messaging and friends. While they feel like they’ve been around forever, it wasn’t until 2006 that YouTube, Facebook and Twitter really took hold.

Social networks help you engage with your customers in real time. Simply put, they allow your brand, your business and your customer to interact freely and quickly.

So how can you harness the power of social media in your marketing?

Sign up to a social media platform that suits your style of business. Start a dialogue with your customers. Be authentic. Encourage them to leave reviews and feedback. Capture their interest. Step into their world. Make sure you reply to queries and respond to comments. Positive user-generated content is a powerful endorsement for your business.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular social media platforms.

 

Facebook

facebookA few years ago, people thought Facebook was just for keeping up to date with friends and family (let’s not mention tracking down old girlfriends…).

Now it’s one of the most effective tools for reaching new audiences and engaging with current customers, generating leads, profile raising and making some brand noise.

Not to mention being able to target specific audiences based on location and demographics to behaviour and interests… it’s cost-effective, it’s easy to do and it works.

Top tip! Use images abundantly as they tend to attract the most likes, shares and comments. According to Facebook, images account for 75% of content posted by brands.

Speak to our experienced team about how your business can get the most out of Facebook.

 

Instagram

instagramEvery month, 600 million active users tell us about their lives via Instagram.

Every day, one billion photos are liked. This is where quality beats quantity. According to Forrester Research, Instagram user interactions with brands is 400 % higher than on Facebook and Twitter, delivering 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.

As with all social media sites, it’s about keeping your followers entertained and engaged, so you’ll need to post photos that will inspire your target audience to be part of the lifestyle that your business represents.

There are some fantastic tips available online to make the most of your business the Insta way – all you really need is your phone and a great picture – but if you’d prefer to talk to a human, ask our friendly team for a few pointers.

 

LinkedIn

linkedinLinkedIn is the network for professionals. Our top tip? Writing posts just for LinkedIn grows your brand and your connections. It’s also a great platform to build a relationship with influencers. Learn the rules. Follow them, share their content, engage and interact. Give people solutions to problems they don’t know they have. Like Zig Ziglar said:

“If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.”

There’s lots of info available about marketing at LinkedIn but we know you’re busy people and are short on time so give us a call if you’d appreciate our help.

Snapchat

snapchatRelatively speaking, Snapchat’s the new kid on the block. It can help you build an engaged following, increase loyalty and boost your brand visibility if your target market is teenagers to 25 year olds.

These fast delivering platforms don’t like contrived messages. It’s about being spontaneous rather than scripted, memorable rather than mass market. You have just seconds to create an impact…

For a snap shot about Snapchat and its capabilities, just give us a call.

 

Pinterest

pinterestPinterest is visually led by definition – in the word of its co-founder, it’s a dream catcher, helping you plan, turning thoughts into reality and keeping a close eye on the latest trends and influences in the marketplace. Perhaps even inspiring them.

We’d love to tell you more about the power of social media for your marketing campaigns so please get in touch …any way you choose!

A-Z of Marketing: QR Codes

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When QR codes were first launched businesses went crazy, adding them to everything that they could. However, the excitement has now died down and people have moved on to the next big thing.

You still see QR codes around but actually, I think that we have gone to the other extreme and we under-use what can be a great additional feature to any printed piece of marketing collateral.

What are QR codes?

QR codes are a way to make your printed marketing collateral more interactive and they are a very handy tool for getting people to visit your website. Essentially QR codes are a little like the bar codes used in shops. They can be scanned by a smartphone or tablet, this then takes you to a web page of your choice, it could be a specific page designed into your website, or even a social media account.

Benefits of QR codes

As previously mentioned, QR codes are a great way to add some interactivity to printed materials, they also offer other benefits;

  • Encourage further action – printed materials are still a fantastic way to tell people more about your products and services, and they are still an effective marketing tool. However, the addition of a QR code offers an easy to follow call to action.
  • Allow you to point people in the direction of targeted information – the printed material that you give to your customers can still only tell them so much about the products and services that you offer. The addition of a QR code can encourage people to view further information, and even visit a page where they can purchase the product there and then.
  • Gets people onto your website – let’s face it, today we want to encourage as many people as we can to visit our website. This used to be achieved by adding the website address to you printed materials, which meant that the holder of your flyer or brochure had to actively type the website address into their browser. This may seem like a small thing but it meant effort on the part of your potential customer. Now they simply scan the code and end up on the exact page that you want them to view.
  • Save on printing costs – with QR codes, you can offer more in-depth information without having to increase the size of your printed collateral

Some ideas for using QR codes

If you would like to try using QR codes as part of your printed materials, here are some ideas to help you to get started;

  1. Business Cards – adding a QR code that points to your LinkedIn or professional online profile to your business card is a great way to offer people the opportunity to find out more about you.
  2. Brochures – people are often put off from reading thick company brochures. With QR codes you can reduce the amount of information offered to just enough to get the reader interested enough to scan the QR code and find out more information
  3. eGuide/Whitepapers – if you want to offer people access to further information about a topic, maybe even point them towards specific facts and figures, case studies etc…, the QR code is a perfect way to do this and avoids overwhelming your readers with too much information/a War and Peace size document
  4. Point your QR code to a specific offer, sign up, or purchasing page – the QR code makes it easier for the readers of your printed material to sign up to your mailing list, or take advantage of a special offer by purchasing online via a dedicated QR code

For more help with the design and production of your printed materials, contact the team of expert designers at Ketchup today on 0330 088 9277, alternatively, complete our online contact form.

 

What is PR

A – Z of Marketing: Public Relations

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Public Relations, or PR, activity can be extremely useful to all kinds of businesses, whether they are small, big, or multi-million corporations. When PR is used correctly it can be a fantastic tool to raise awareness of your organisation, and build your brand and reputation.

What is PR?

PR is often seen as something that a publicist does for celebrities, and while that is one arm of Public Relations, it’s not the only one. The objective of PR activity for organisations is to build a positive image and reputation, therefore, it fits in well as part of your overall marketing strategy. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ official definition of Public Relations is:

“Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you.

Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”

Here are some examples of how PR can benefit your business;

  1. Credibility – Your reputation is everything in business. It’s easy for businesses to plaster advertisements everywhere and maybe it will result in a few sales, but if you have spent time and effort on building your reputation, people will feel more comfortable buying from you.
  2. Securing bigger business – A good and well publicised reputation takes away some of the risk in buying from you, that means that larger organisations will be more likely to want to work with you and will be willing to pay a premium for your products and services.
  3. PR and the internet – Online advertising and other forms online marketing is a must but with PR you can get so much more out of it. By sharing press releases, news, broadcast clips and much more with news outlets online, you can boost validated links to your corporate website and therefore increase traffic and your rankings with search engines.
  4. Cost effective awareness building – Even with the use of the internet, advertising and marketing can be costly, and businesses have to budget, which can limit what is seen by customers. PR is much more cost effective if done right because one major link to your business via the media can result in more custom than months of minimal advertising.
  5. Stand out against your competitors – PR is an excellent way of positioning yourself ahead of your competitors by building a rock solid and well recognised reputation.

Public Relations can do a lot for a business if carried out correctly, having a great reputation in your marketplace can offer you so many benefits, from being able to charge higher prices for your products and services, to standing out against your competitors.

If you are looking for someone to handle your company’s Public Relations, including media publicity, you need to contact the Ketchup team today on 0330 088 9277 or by completing our online enquiry form.

A-Z of Marketing: Pinterest

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In the last few years, Pinterest grown more and more popular, to the point where it is predicted to overtake more traditional channels such as Facebook and Twitter. With over 10 million users, it is home to a bigger audience than traditional advertising could ever reach for any business. With Facebook being number one, Pinterest is the second highest social media site for referring traffic to business websites, so if you haven’t already got an account, you may want to head over and sign up ASAP. Now that you know how powerful Pinterest can be in establishing your business and loyal clientele take a look at these tips on how to get started in the right way.

  1. Set up your account properly – When you intend to use your account for business, make sure it is in the name of your business. This means that every time you pin something, your business name is seen. The Pinterest Business Centre is a great tool to use when you’re getting started because it will equip you with the basic knowledge you need for a business account.
  2. Share your pins – By now you probably have at least one account with a social media site, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other. Pinterest allows you to share what you’ve pinned on other social media accounts so you can easily get your existing followers to follow you on Pinterest and see the types of things you’re pinning.
  3. Carry out market research – Pinning is a great way of showing people all of your interests and ideas at once. By using Pinterest to narrow down the type of customer that your business will attract you can also research what that customer is pinning and keep their ideas in mind so you can apply them to your business marketing.
  4. Keep your own material – As a business owner, a lot of your pins will be original rather than taken from somewhere else and many will want to re-pin them. When you post content that is original, make sure you watermark it with your logo or website address so it cannot be stolen and when it is re-pinned, you get more advertisement.
  5. Get involved – The best way of getting the most out of Pinterest is to get involved. Pin across a variety of different boards, follow people that are like-minded, and make sure to interact by commenting on and liking pins. Like other social networks, you can also use @ to tag users and # to highlight keywords so people can see what you’re doing more clearly.
  6. Keep it interesting – Remember, the name is P(interest). Around 80% of all pins are re-pins so you must remember to pin things that you think others will want to re-pin. Find quality images, don’t over complicate things, be creative, and show the world what you and your business are capable of doing.

Pinterest is a fantastic way of communicating with the people that are admirers of what you do, potential customers, existing customers and life-long customers. It’s a network full of ideas and creativity that your business can benefit from daily.

If you are looking for a team of marketing experts that can get your business noticed online, contact the Ketchup team today on 0330 088 9277, alternatively, complete our online enquiry form.

LinkedIn Marketing for businesses

A-Z of Marketing: LinkedIn

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The social network LinkedIn has brought tremendous benefits for businesses. It’s natural for a business to want to create a Facebook or Twitter account but LinkedIn sometimes comes as an afterthought. For anyone trying to grow a business, this could be a huge mistake. The main reason for LinkedIn being such a major success with businesses and professionals is because it’s aimed at businesses and professionals, not just the general public. Everything on LinkedIn is business related.

With this in mind, businesses can get an awful lot out of a LinkedIn account. Some of the benefits include:

  • LinkedIn Groups – The groups are an ideal place to share links to some of your blog posts. You can track down groups that are about the same industry as your business and skills and therefore target like-minded people that will be interested in what you have to say. This will increase traffic to your online content.
  • Learn from others – LinkedIn is a social network that is full of people who have been there and done that. If you’re just starting out, or you’re branching out into different areas in your industry, LinkedIn is the best place to find advice from experts that have tried and tested it all before.
  • It’s much easier to connect with people who will be interested in what you do – LinkedIn has over 200 million users and it’s organised in a way that will help you connect with the right people. There’s no time wasting with LinkedIn and what business owner has time spend on PR and advertising?
  • Others will make connections for you – With LinkedIn, people you are connected to can introduce you to others that they think may be interested in your work. That way you aren’t just tied down to the people you are initially connected with and your network will continue to grow.

LinkedIn is all about building relationships with other professionals. It’s a place where you can be challenged on improving the way you work, staying innovative, and learning how to market your products and services in the right way. You can also build local links with other businesses that may end up referring clients to you in the future. LinkedIn is being recommended to university graduates as way of quickly getting on the career ladder and building a useful online network that they can maintain for life.

Many people that use LinkedIn find that they use it daily and build up valuable connections quickly. It’s important for a LinkedIn profile to be complete and include the vital details needed for others to want to connect with it. Once a profile is up and running there’s no end to the profits that can be gained from it. Every business needs good connections to survive and LinkedIn makes that possible in a quick and convenient way. In essence, LinkedIn is the Facebook of the business world and just as many individuals couldn’t do without Facebook these days, many businesses and professionals shouldn’t do without LinkedIn.

If you would like help building your business’ online presence it’s time to talk to the experts. Contact the Ketchup team today to discuss your requirements on 0330 088 9277, alternatively, complete our online enquiry form.

Our visit our LinkedIn page.

Lead Generation

A-Z of Marketing: Lead Generation

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Generating leads is so important to ensuring that your business is successfully, so much so that we have even discussed it in a previous blog post.

A lead is someone who is interested in your products and services and therefore is more likely to become a customer. They will have made contact with your organisation in some way, for example, through the completion of an enquiry form on your website, and have been classed as a viable prospect for purchasing your products and services. The quality of the leads that you are generating says a lot about the effectiveness of your marketing and sales activity. The higher the quality of leads you are generating, the more effective your targeting and messages are. To ensure that you are bringing in the right leads you need to focus on the lead generation activities that you are carrying out.

So, why are effective lead generation activities essential to businesses these days? As the world grows, becomes more technical, and more businesses establish themselves, the competition gets much tougher. It isn’t easy to draw people into a business and keep them loyal any longer. Once you have found these leads, you then have to convince them that your company is worth looking at. Plan a pathway from finding the lead to warming them to your products and services, and then eventually buying from you.

Finding leads

To find high quality leads for your business you must be targeting the right people in the right way. Where can you access your target market? Is it through online advertising, social media, your email marketing strategy, or by driving them to your website through SEO and PPC advertising?

It is important to know and understand who you are targeting. You also need to put in place a system that will encourage your target customers to add their details to your marketing list so that you are able to send them targeted and relevant messages.

Some elements that you need to put into place to generate high quality leads include:

  • A good landing page – A landing page may just seem like an entrance into your branded website but it’s actually the first page that many visitors will see. If it isn’t good enough, you may find that visitors don’t progress and never return. Think of your landing page as the page that needs to capture the imagination of potential customers.
  • Data capture forms – As mentioned above, you could ask for information in exchange for a voucher or other opt-in offer. Whether it’s just a name and email address or more than that, it all helps.
  • Strong calls to action – Encourage your target customers to take action on your website. Whether it’s to claim a free voucher or go further into the site to look at new and exciting products, they need that nudge to become customers.

Lead generation is the key to business survival and the better quality of leads you can generate the more likely you are to see increased revenue. To get the best out of your lead generation activity you must make sure that all areas of your business are of the highest standard possible.

For help with your lead generation activity why not speak to the experts at Ketchup. Contact us today on 0330 088 9277 of complete our online enquiry form.

Instagram can be used to reach your customers instantly

A-Z of Marketing: Instagram

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Instagram is just one of the many social media platforms available today and it can help boost businesses in many different ways. It focuses on image sharing, posting an image can reach millions and provide a visibility like no other. The Instagram community is growing daily so it’s a good idea to hop on board the Instagram train before your competitors do.

Instagram can be used to reach your customers instantly and give them an idea of how your business is run and what you stand for. Creating this kind of connection with your customers and potential customers is priceless. Take a look at some of the ways you can use Instagram to promote your business:

  • Display your products – The most important thing that you can use Instagram for is to show everyone your products. The benefit of shopping online is that customers can browse through products at their own leisure, and from their own home, and Instagram presents that same opportunity. Show people the variety and uniqueness in what you offer and you’ll gain some loyal subscribers. (We’ve got loads of experience creating new ecommerce sites, if you need a little help).
  • Give people a visual insight into your business – People always want a quality product but all too often they’re left to rely on recommendations. With Instagram, you can show your followers how your products are made. Take shots during the process of producing your products so that your customers can see the time and effort that goes into it and they can be sure it’s money well spent. Letting people see what goes on behind the scenes can really promote trust.
  • Before and after shots – Your customers will want to know what your products can do. It’s a great idea to take some before and after shots so everyone can see how well your products perform. For example, a shot of a dirty carpet before and shot of the same clean carpet after using a carpet cleaning product.
  • It’s all about exclusivity – Your followers should feel like they have special access to your business. Use Instagram to offer exclusive previews of new products or exclusive discounts and offers on existing products. There has to be a reason for them to want to follow you and your business.
  • Show people how much you love your job – It’s important to share the passion you have for your business with others. If people can see how much faith you have in your products, it will rub off and result in sales. If you are attending an event, or going to research stock, take your followers with you by taking shots of your day.
  • Get silly – If you bump into a celebrity on your travels or even find a funny animal, share it. Your followers will want to be included in everything and it shows them you are a human being, not just a corporate body behind a machine. Being a bit more personal can be great for your business.

Instagram is a great way of showing your followers who you really are and what your products are about. It’s a way of saying everything you need to say without saying a word and creatively keeping your followers entertained so that they eventually become loyal customers.

If you need help with your social media strategy, or your marketing strategy and activity in general, it’s time to talk to the Ketchup team. Contact us today on 0330 088 9277 or complete our online enquiry form.

Google+

A-Z of Marketing: Google+

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Google+ seems to have been a bit hit or miss in terms of popularity and utilisation by businesses but those that are not using it could be missing out. If you have never explored Google+, it is used in much the same way as Facebook and Twitter but has been designed with business use in mind, in a similar way to LinkedIn.

Google+ is a social network where your business can gain likes, or +1’s as they are called, and people can keep up to date with developments in your business or industry. You may not see that it’s necessary to use it if you already have Facebook or Twitter accounts, it’s just another social media channel to manage, but Google+ is one of the best tools to use when you’re promoting your business and its user base is continuing to grow daily.

Google+ and Google search results

As a business owner, one of your many goals must be to rank highly on Google searches. When you use Google+ as a way of advertising your business, the posts that you share are indexed in Google’s search engine. Therefore, when someone searches for your type of business in your particular area, it’s likely that your posts will show up if they’re relevant.

So, how do you use Google+ to make sure you rank above your competitors?

  • Don’t just think about it – It may sound obvious but the first and most vital part to using Google+ is to create a profile for yourself and a page for your business. Make sure you utilise all that Google+ can offer, rather than just adding it to the To Do list and then forgetting about it.
  • Generate buzz – Just as you would on a Facebook page, your Google+ page needs to be shared. This means asking your existing circle of friends and colleagues to share posts, encourage others to follow, and engage with what’s happening on the page.
  • Post interesting content – One of the key benefits of using Google+ is the fact that the content that you post will be indexed in Google’s search results and will link back to your company. Make sure that you post articles, blogs, and opinions to boost your online presence.
  • Google authorship – Google+ can really help you to position yourself and your employees as thought leaders. Linking any articles you write to your Google+ personal profile will get you in the search results and get the content that you’ve posted noticed.
  • Use what you’ve already built – If you already have Facebook or Twitter accounts, it’s a good idea to use those to tell people that you’re now present on Google+. You may find that some of the people following you use Google+ more often than other social networks.
  • Learn about your audience – Using a different platform can have all kinds of different advantages. The main one is that you can learn about customers and potential customers; what posts they like, what information they value, and what products they’ll buy.
  • Really stand out – When you’re up and running, try using Google+ Hangouts. These are a great way of starting up conversations with your audience and making a name for yourself within your local community.

The most important thing that Google+ can do for you is give you credibility. Without that, you won’t stand a chance of ranking on any kind of search engine, never mind the world’s most used one. It’s a way of showing people that you’re out there; reaching people you would never normally reach through traditional advertising. With 540 million active users, why would you want to miss out? This social network will only become bigger and better over the years, so start building your presence now.

If you would like to add social media channels such as Google+ to your marketing strategy but don’t know where to start, it might be time to speak to the experts. Contact the team at Ketchup Marketing today on 0330 088 9277 or complete our online enquiry form.

Facebook marketing

A – Z of Marketing: Facebook Marketing

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Do you have a Facebook business page? If not, you may need one! There are so many benefits to be had from setting up and using a Facebook page that businesses should consider adding Facebook marketing to their overall strategy.

Facebook pages are easy to set up and only cost something if you choose to use the various paid advertising options, and even these are highly customisable so that they can be utilised in a way that fits in with your budget. Gaining page likes and posting targeted information is an ideal way of increasing custom in your area, or further afield, and it’s much less time consuming than many forms of marketing, it’s fantastic for businesses large or small.

Here are some of the main advantages to having a Facebook business page:

  • Facebook has over one billion users! ONE BILLION! That means you have the potential to reach so many more people than you would with any other form of marketing, and you can target your efforts so that you only reach the people that you want to. It is a guarantee that you will find customers that are interested in what you’re offering.
  • It’s a great starting ground. Sure, Facebook will never be enough to keep a business going on its own, but it will mean that you have people watching what you’re doing and possibly telling others about it too, it’s a great way to encourage engagement and content sharing.
  • Facebook leads to email addresses. Make sure you create a mailing list from your Facebook contacts by encouraging them to opt in to receive your newsletters or emails – it’s a great way to start building a highly targeted mailing list of potential customers who are genuinely interested in what you are offering.
  • Facebook doesn’t cost anything. In comparison to other ways of advertising, Facebook is a dream for keeping costs to an absolute minimum, especially if you can design and manage the page yourself.
  • You can expand your reach through advertising. If you want to step up the level of activity and number of page likes, or you want to target as specific demographic with a key message, you can use adverts to get to your target audience. There’s no point in inviting everyone on Facebook to like your page. The aim of a Facebook business page should be to target people that will actually engage with your posts and be interested in your products or services. There are a number of advertising option available and you have a high level of control over what you spend, it is also easy to monitor results and tweak your adverts so that you gain the best results.
  • Facebook will give you valuable information. With a business page, you’ll get insights into how well your posts are doing, weekly page updates, and other statistics that could help you to create more sales by offering what your customers want most.
  • Increase brand recognition. When you create your Facebook page, make sure you have created a brand identity you want to stick to. People will come to know this brand through Facebook and therefore, they will be able to recognise it outside of Facebook.
  • Facebook will lead to other things. Use your business page to drive traffic to your website or blog.
  • Conquer the mobile world with Facebook. Many small businesses haven’t designed their company websites for mobile. If you have a Facebook page, this is a mobile friendly way for customers to browse through your business’ portfolio on their phones.

These are just some of the benefits of using Facebook Marketing and, as you can see, it can really make a difference to any business. It’s worth taking the time to experiment with the platform and see how it could potentially work for your business.

If you feel that you need additional help with Facebook, you can talk to our team of social media experts on 0330 088 9277, or get in touch by filling out our contact form.

A – Z of Marketing: Email

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It’s unlikely that any of your customers don’t use the internet in some form, whether it is via a computer, smart phone, or any other mobile device, and the majority of them will check their emails daily. Email has grown to be one of the key forms of business and personal communication and is still seen as one of the most effective marketing channels for businesses today.

So, what is email marketing and how can it help your business?

Email marketing is a way of communicating with your customers/clients electronically. It can be used in a number of ways to help you to reach your business objectives. For example:

  • Sending an email to strengthen the relationship between you and your customers.
  • Encouraging existing customers to remain loyal with loyalty schemes or thank you rewards.
  • Sending offers to potential customers to tempt them into looking at and buying your products.
  • The distribution of useful and informative content as part of a content marketing campaign.
  • You can even purchase advert space on other company’s newsletters or promotional emails so that your business is promoted to their customers.

Using email marketing has many different advantages. The best of these advantages is the ability to collect data that will allow you to personalise your offers to your customers. Using email, you can reach a significant amount of people in a short space of time and monitor which customers click on links, shop, and even abandon their online shopping carts so you can remind them of products they were looking at. The cost of email marketing is minimal and, compared to other forms of marketing, email is both cost effective and gets some of the best results. Because of this, you can also quickly learn what your customers like and dislike so you can offer the products and services that will actually make you money.

What can you do to ensure that your email marketing campaign is successful?

  • Make your emails creative. They must be designed in a way that will appeal to your audience. Make sure that the first sentence is powerful enough to encourage the recipient to continue reading.
  • Make sure you’re targeting the right people, your database is key to the success of your campaign. If your products don’t apply to the people you’re emailing, you are not going to get sales. Try to personalise your emails for a better response.
  • Make your subject lines interesting enough so that the people receiving the emails will want to open them. Stay away from the generic! Asking a question in the subject line can work wonders.
  • Why should your customers respond to the email? Make sure there’s something inside that will make them want to shop! Place multiple calls to action throughout the email, the easier you can make it for the reader to respond, the better.
  • Know your customers. It’s no good sending out an email at 3am knowing that your customers will be asleep. Do your research and find out what days and times are best for sending emails.
  • When you add links to your emails, make sure they are direct links to the products, services, or information that you’re promoting. If a customer is interested in seeing the product but lands straight on your homepage and has to find it for themselves, you risk the chance of them leaving instead.

If you don’t feel comfortable writing emails that sell, use our email copywriting services to get your message bang on point.

Email marketing shouldn’t be the only method of marketing used but it’s almost guaranteed to be one of the best for results. It’s essential to businesses that want to thrive now and in the future and there is so much you can learn from using it, so don’t miss out!

At Ketchup marketing we have supported a number of clients with their email campaigns and often achieve results over and above their expectations. Call us today on 0330 088 9277 to discuss your email marketing campaign in more detail. Alternatively, complete our short contact form and one of our experts will be in touch.

CRM

A-Z of Marketing – CRM

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A-Z of Marketing – Customer Relationship Management

Developing a good relationship with your customers is vital to a successful and long-lasting business. There are a few tried and tested methods that can help you to create relationships that can stand the test of time, and therefore create a constant flow of income to your business. Putting a strong customer relationship management strategy in place will allow you to keep track of your relationships with individual customers, your suppliers, and your colleagues. If you’re wondering what you can do to improve your CRM practices, take a look at some of the advice from the Ketchup team:

  • Understanding your customers – In order to look after your customers properly, you need to know about them. A CRM strategy allows you to gather information, such as a customer’s order history, order status; previous issues, you can even gather together information about their likes and dislikes. From the moment a customer engages with your business you can and should gather and store relevant information about them. This way, you can tailor your correspondence to cover the products, services, and information that they will be interested in. This is far more likely to result in sales!
  • Improved customer service – If a customer walks into a store or calls your customer service team and asks for an update on an order but the staff has no information, it isn’t going to encourage them to come back. By having all the information to hand you will build a smoother, more efficient customer service process. This will keep you customers happy and encourage long lasting and profitable relationships.
  • Managing enquiries and relationships – Do you know what your customers are asking for? By quickly responding to enquiries and developing an excellent level of customer service you can learn more about your target audience and how they are evolving. Using CRM systems and processes means that all this information is gathered together in one place which makes it much easier to read, analyse, and use to your advantage.
  • Collecting data – Once you know who your customers are, what they’re buying, and what they’re likely to buy, you can also tailor your market research to them, and your potential customers, so the information that they are presented with is relevant. The same goes for marketing messages and contact such as newsletters and emails. A customer is much more likely to open and view an email that contains something of interest to them and has been personalised rather than a generic email sent to everyone.
  • Increase referrals – One of the most rewarding points to using CRM is the fact that customers are more likely to pass things on to their friends because they have common interests. Therefore, if a message is personalised and they like what they see, the business will gain additional custom. This can happen in many forms; for example, sharing a Facebook post with friends.

There are so many advantages to using CRM in a business, and as customers become more interested in personalised messages and marketplaces becomes more competitive, it’s important that your methods of collecting, storing, and using customer data, are as advanced as possible. CRM will change the way your business is run and it will always be for the better!

At Ketchup Marketing we can help with all aspects of your marketing activity, from design your website, to email marketing, and copywriting. We can help put all that lovely CRM data to great use, contact Michelle today on 0330 088 9277 to discuss your requirements or use our contact form here.

Marketing Audit

A – Z of Marketing: Audit

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What is a marketing audit?

If you want your business to succeed and grow, you need to market your products and services effectively. At Ketchup, that’s what we do, we work with businesses to ensure that they have a product and services marketing strategy.

We’ve got a lot of marketing super brains in our team, even if we do say so ourselves, so we’ve decided to put together a series of blog posts covering the A-Z of marketing and how you can and should be using it within your business. This week we’ll be focusing on your starting point – the marketing audit.

Before you start to focus on your marketing and where you want it to take you and your business, it’s wise to get a feeling for where you actually are now. A marketing audit will essentially show you more about the environment you are operating in, what are your competitors up to for example, plus what you are doing well, and what areas can be improved upon in your current marketing activity.

Why should you complete a marketing audit?
The results from completing a marketing audit will show you your starting point. This will then enable you to identify the objectives for your marketing, enabling you to plan how marketing activity will be used to support your business going forward.

How do I complete a marketing audit?
The marketing audit will involve you taking a look at your organisation from the inside out and the outside in. The following steps should be taken when conducting your marketing audit:

1. Look at your company

As your company stands currently, how well known are you, what are sales levels like, how aware of you and your brand are your target market? What is the perception of your company and its’ products and services among your buyers?

Answering these questions with honesty and as much accuracy as you can will provide some very powerful insights. Maybe you are doing better than you thought or maybe there are some gaps between how you want to be perceived and how you actually are perceived.

2. Identify your objectives
What are your key objectives when it comes to your marketing and building your company? Do you feel that you need more visibility, are you hidden behind your competitors, do you need to increase sales leads and your market share? By getting your key goals down on paper you can then start to add some focus to future marketing efforts.

Separate your objectives based on long term – say the next 2 – 3 years – and short term, objectives you want to achieve over the next 6 – 12 months. Make sure you are realistic about this based on your team and the resources available to you.

3. Who buys from you now
Carry out a quick review of your customers. Where they are based, what jobs they do, what their income levels are, the typical lifestyle choices they make, what kind of companies they work for, etc… Obviously the questions you ask and the profile you build will depend on whether you are dealing with businesses or individuals.

What you want here is an overview of your ‘average’ customer.

4. Who would you like to buy from you in the future
Now that you have your customer overview you can make some decisions regarding your ‘ideal customer’. If you are already selling to your ideal customer then that’s great. Sometimes though you might want to look at people with higher levels of disposable income, bigger budgets, those who are more likely to repeat purchase etc…

Based on the information you already have, take a good look and identify how you can grow your business through the expansion or change of your current target market.

5. More about your product and service
What do you offer your current customers? What are the main features and benefits of your current products and services? Why do people buy from you? What do you offer that your competitors don’t and what do your competitors do better than you?

In the wider environment are there any factors affecting the use or adoption of your products and services? For example, new legislation, currency strength, or economic changes.

Has there been and increase or decrease in awareness and sales levels over time and what are the likely causes? Answers to these questions are designed to help you look at what you are offering in an objective way with the view to identifying strengths you can maximise and weaknesses you can work on to improve.

6. Your competitors
Who are your main competitors? If possible choose 5 or 6 of your closest competitors and really delve into what they offer and what their objectives and goals are (many organisations list this kind of information on their website these days). Take a good look at their products and services, what do they offer, to who, at what price. How are their products and services better than yours, be honest here! How are your products and services better than theirs?

This knowledge will help you to see the bigger picture when it comes to who and what you are competing with on a daily basis.

7. What’s currently working
As a business it is probably fairly obvious to you what’s worked and what hasn’t in terms of marketing activity over the years. The one thing that many business owners fail to do however is to sit down and look at why certain activity has been more successful and the way that they can improve on things even further.

Identify your most successful sales and marketing activity over the past 12 – 18 months and the reasons why it worked.

8. What’s the plan
Now it’s time to take the information you have and put it together into an outline marketing plan for the next 6 – 12 months. Take a look at your budget and revisit the objectives you want to achieve. Analyse the resources and knowledge you have in house, is it time to bring in extra resources or outsource some of your work to an agency? The information you have gathered during the previous steps should have gone a long way towards getting you clear on what needs to be done to take your business to the next level.

If you are looking for support with your marketing audit, planning, and activity going forward it might be time to speak to the experts. Call Ketchup Marketing  today on 0330 088 9277 or use our contact form here.

 

Lead generation – the lifeblood of any business

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They say that cash flow can make or break a business and this is very true, however, in order to get your cash flowing, you need to generate leads. Once you have those leads you then need to nurture and convert them into sales.

Lead generation is something that many companies struggle with. The Ketchup team have put their heads together to come up with a few tips on how to get your lead generation activity running smoothly; contributing to your cash flow, and the growth of your business.

  1. Make time for lead generation activities – whether you are a start-up or a well-established business with a mature client base, you need to carry out lead generation activities. Yes this takes time, but remember, you are doing this to ensure that your business survives. Make sure lead generation activities are happening in your business every day.
  2. Think about your lead generation strategy and put together a plan – when you are looking for and targeting prospects, you need to have a fair level of knowledge about:
    • Who is most likely to need and buy your product or service
    • How to contact them, who to contact, and through which channels
    • What problem you are going to solve for this prospect – for example, at Ketchup we get results for your business through great marketing
  3. Don’t give up – unless your prospect comes back with a resounding no, as in we will never be interested in what you are offering, then keep in contact. They may not need what you are offering now, but they may need you in the future. You want to be the business your prospect thinks of when they are looking for the products and services you provide.
  4. Quality over quantity – this comes as a result of carrying out tip number 2. If you have profiled your ideal prospect and stuck to that profile when adding to your prospecting list, the leads you get should be of high quality, with a high chance of conversion to a customer. If you are finding that the interest in your business isn’t from people you want, you should probably sit down and review your lead generation strategy and prospecting list.
  5. Log, monitor, and measure – You need to know that your lead generation activities are working for you, no matter what channels you are using. You also need to manage the leads you have generated so that they move through your sales pipeline to become customers. Look at:
    • The number of quality leads you are generating
    • Which channels your leads are coming from
    • The cost per lead generated
    • Cost per customer generated
    • The accuracy of your data
    • The conversion percentage – i.e. how many leads turn into paying customers
  6. Continually look at and improve your lead generation process – Based on the information gathered on the number of leads, the costs involved, etc… how you could improve things? Always question your lead generation activity and the results being generated. If they’re not good enough, tweak things until you are getting the results you need.
  7. Don’t stop once you get busy – This goes hand in hand with making time for lead generation. You will need to be continually generating leads so that your business always has customers, new and existing, and cash coming in.
  8. Don’t forget your current customers – This is something that can’t be stressed enough, repeat custom is a sign of a successful business. By keeping in contact with your customers, offering them a great service, and saying thank you, you will have a flow of repeat business and happy customers who will recommend you to others.
  9. Referrals are important – One of the best ways to generate new leads is to encourage referrals from existing clients. Be sure to say thank you though, we send flowers or a bottle of red wine to people for each referral they give us.

Your lead generation activity and management should run like a well-oiled machine, by following the tips in this blog and having a great marketing team behind your business, you should never be short of qualified, high value leads. If you feel that you need more support with your marketing and lead generation activity give Michelle a call on 0330 088 9277 or use the contact form here.

The Role of PR for SMEs

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We don’t really do PR here at Ketchup. Or do we?

We do talk a great deal about embracing the whole marketing mix when it comes to promoting your brand – and in this current economic climate, small and medium-sized enterprises need to be aware of the many factors which will either strengthen or threaten their existence in the short, medium and long term. While SMEs need to be concerned with investing in their brand marketing strategy & shoring up their sales pipeline to ensure a secure and efficient revenue chain, a healthy PR campaign is a valuable addition to the mix.

Many traditional thinkers still believe that public relations deals only within the realm of damage limitation or engaging current clients and a very specific target audience; however with the advent of social media and with the subsequent increased leverage associated with such marketing communications, the correct targeting of a public relations campaign has never been more important. Forward thinking dictates that social media networking is fast becoming the preferred method of marketing for many global businesses.

The benefit that these have for SME’s is that there is usually little if any monetary investment while exposure can be phenomenal. It is therefore essential to gain a direct working knowledge of these sites; from such aspects as how to write a press release to how to actively engage the correct leads. The fundamental concept which needs to be recognised is that social networks are the marketplace of the future. In fact, if employed correctly, such word-of-mouth advertising can have the added benefit of generating more leads simply by increased social interest.

The principal benefit for small businesses is that this is still considered a niche market for many larger corporations. What presents itself here is a genuine opportunity to slide the proverbial “foot in the door” of what is proving to be a truly global marketplace. For guidance on your marketing strategy and how you can integrate social media into your marketing mix, call Michelle on 0330 088 9277

EU Cookie Law threatens 92% of UK companies

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Half-baked EU Cookie Law threatens 92% of UK companies

Following straight bananas and standard-sized apples, the EU has passed a law on cookies. Snack-lovers needn’t worry though, these are the cookies that live on websites, not in biscuit tins. British companies, on the other hand, should be worried.

Potential fines of up to £500,000

From the end of May 2012, the UK government been enforcing this European Union law – passed in May 2011 – and the penalties could be quite severe for those companies found not to be complying with it.

So the big questions for you are….does your company’s website contain cookies and are you contravening the law by not giving visitors the right information and options about computering cookies stored on their computers?

The big answers are ‘yes’ and ‘maybe’

For a technical explanation of exactly what cookies do, please see below or talk to John, our SEO Director. But basically a cookie is a small file that allows the site to remember data about that user.

So ‘yes’ your website almost certainly uses cookies – 92% of UK websites currently do use cookies in some capacity on their website.

But are you in contravention of the new law? ‘Maybe’. It’s really worth making sure you are compliant with the new rules – after all, figures like £500,000 fines are being talked about for deliberate and malicious misuse, so it’s best to be on the safe side. If your company / website is based in the UK/EU then you must comply, even if your website is hosted outside the EU and even if you are not using a “.uk” domain name.

The letter of the law

The law actually relates to the use of ‘non essential’ cookies. All websites in the EU are now required to make visitors aware of the use of cookies and give them the option to opting out of using them. For example, cookies which are deemed not “strictly necessary for a service requested by a user” such as visitor tracking codes, advertising and most Google Analytics tools may well be subjects for consumer opt out.

It’s not enough to simply rely on visitors changing their cookie settings in their browser to block websites from storing cookies on their machines. It’s also worth noting that it’s no longer advisable to merely have a privacy policy; you may choose to provide information on the cookies from within your privacy policy – a practice that is currently gaining ground with many companies.

Be safe – put Ketchup on your cookies!

We  can conduct an initial assessment of your needs, followed by a complete audit of your website and full integration work to ensure your site is fully compliant with the Cookie Law. We’ll help you make sure the information about the use of cookies on your website is transparent and easy to find, and that you give visitors to your website the choice of opting out of your use of cookies. We’ll advise which cookies are necessary for the working of the website (Eg: Cookies used to remember which items visitors have placed in their online basket and are permitted within the legislation. And – most importantly in terms of the law – which are not.

We’ll make sure it’s as fast, non-interruptive, economical and painless as possible. For our full cookie recipe, see below. Or talk to us on   0330 088 9277

 

Ketchup’s cookie service – the ingredients

A full, Ketchup audit of your website will list each cookie and detail how it is used. We can then provide you with a couple of solutions to ensure your website complies with the new legislation. Our service also includes:

  • Assessing how intrusive your use of each cookie is to the user’s privacy.
  • Establishing whether these cookies can be linked with personal data such as a username or email address.
  • Finding out whether they apply to the session or if they’re persistent cookies.
  • Checking that your Privacy Policy includes accurate information on each cookie being used.
  • Giving visitors a way to opt out of the use of cookies.

 

What is a ‘Cookie’?
Cookies are small files that websites put on your computer hard disk drive when you first visit.

Think of a cookie as an identification card that’s uniquely yours. Its job is to notify the site when you’ve returned. While it is possible to misuse a cookie in cases where there is personal data in it, cookies by themselves are not malicious.

Many websites, including Ketchup’s, use cookies. Cookies tell us how often you visit pages, which helps us improve our website for you and future visitors. In this way, we can concentrate more on the content you like and less of the content you don’t. If you’re using analytics software such Google Analytics then your site will be using cookies to track the page visits.

Some cookies are essential to the working of a website and can help you be more efficient. Have you ever put something in a virtual shopping basket on an online store and then returned a few days later to find that the item is still there? That’s an example of cookies at work.

Cookies let you store preferences and user names, register products and services, and personalize pages.

But if you never register or leave personal information at a site, then the server only knows that someone with your cookie has returned to the website. It doesn’t know anything else.

A Cookie is NOT a virus. Many cookies are used to make the experience of using a website better and disabling cookies may prevent a visitor from using certain aspects of a website’s functionality. If your website does any of the following, then you will be using cookies:

  • Uses Google Analytics or similar to track page visits
  • Uses a plug-in such as Twitter feeds, Facebook Like or Google +1 buttons
  • Embeds a YouTube Video
  • Has any kind of “remember me” button
  • Enables the user to “login” to their website 

 

Different Types of Cookies

Session Cookies
Session cookies are stored on your computer until you have finished browsing the website. Once you leave the site the cookie will be deleted. For example if you visit a website and you need to login every time you visit they are using a session cookie. The website will use this cookie to store your login details temporarily whilst you browse the website. Session cookies are less intrusive than persistent cookies.

Persistent Cookies
Persistent cookies are cookies which are downloaded onto your computer to help identify you when you return to a website. For example if you use Facebook and you tick the “Keep me logged in” when you login this will store a persistent cookie on your computer to remember you when you return so you do not need to keep logging in. All persistent cookies have an expiry date, this can normally be 30, 60 or 90 days and once reached the cookie will be deleted.

Secure Cookies
Secure cookies are only transmitted via a secure HTTPS connection. These types of cookies are generally used during the checkout process of an online ecommerce website. This cookie will ensure any data stored is encrypted as it passes information between the website and the browser.

Third Party Cookies
Third party cookies are ones which are downloaded onto your computer via external websites such as Google Analytics, AdSense, AdWords, Facebook likes, Statcounter etc. These cookies are set by a domain other than the one being visited by the user, but they are placed through the website being visited.

 

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Your privacy matters to us. We promise to keep your information safe and we’ll only get in touch with you according to your preferences.
You can read more about how we store and use data in our privacy notice.

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