Top 5 Best Free Image Editing Programs

You’ve heard it all before. Images are a crucial supplement to any blog or article you publish on your site or via social media. If you cannot afford the outlay for the likes of Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, there are free alternatives.

Photoshop CS2 is free

The latest Photoshop costs, but older versions, like CS2 are free to dowload.

Check out our top five best free image editing programs below.

1. Adobe Photoshop (CS2)

Okay, Adobe Photoshop is not actually free, but you can use one of the older versions for free. For example, you can download CS2 without the need to pay a penny. Yes, you will be using a version that is many years old, but a lot of the features are as good or better than features you will get with many free software options.

Sign up for an Adobe ID at Adobe.com
Login and accept the terms and conditions.
Choose the language you want your Photoshop version to be in and begin the download.

There’s a good post on how to do it here.

It’s unsupported and outdated, but it works on any system. Ignore the warning about Windows 7 and Windows 8. Plenty of users have run Photoshop on these systems without any problems.

2. Pixlr

Pixlr is an online and offline image alteration option you can use from your browser. What we love about it is the fact that it comes with many of the features you will find on the paid version of Photoshop. It’s free, and you will not be prompted to pay for anything extra – and it’s not time limited.

The only disadvantage is you cannot download it and use it without your browser.

Pixlr is usable with smartphones and tablets as it’s compatible with Android and iOS. There is a separate Pixlr app for mobile use.

Pixlr photo manipulation software

One advantage of Pixlr is that you can use it in your web browser.

3. GIMP

GIMP is another highly popular free alternative for image editing. The difference with this software is that it works very much like Photoshop. One of the integral features is the use of layering. This allows you to edit different aspects of an image without impacting the rest of it.

We would not recommend using GIMP if you are new to image editing. It has a similar learning curve to Photoshop, so if you need to get something done quickly, then this is not the ideal choice for you.

You can use a number of file formats with GIMP, including Photoshop’s PSD extension. This is likely the closest you will ever get to paid image editing without having to pay anything.

Linux users can also use GIMP.

4. Sumopaint

Sumopaint is another good image editing tool. The interface and features resemble those of Pixlr and Photoshop. It’s really just for those who need to make simple changes to images. There are plenty of features, and it is much easier to use than GIMP.

The main disadvantages are you can only use it in your browser and you are restricted to using it with JPG and PNG files without the paid version.

Take note that there is a paid option. For a small amount, you can remove most of these restrictions.

5. PicMonkey

PicMonkey made this list, but it is nothing like Photoshop. If you want a piece of software for personal image editing and no learning curve, this is the option for you. Users who would most benefit from PicMonkey are those who want to use simple clipart.

There are some features for image manipulation and cropping, along with the ability to add effects.

The free version limits you to editing pictures online, but there is a premium version that allows you to download the software.

What’s Best for You?

The best free image editing software really depends on two key factors, namely your experience and what you want to do with your images.

There is little point in learning to use GIMP if all you want to do is tweak the contrast of an image or add a filter to your latest selfie. Think about your needs then match them up against the options on this list.

If you are having trouble with editing your images, need advice on optimising them for the web or anything else to do with the web, please get in touch.

10 Best Social Media Marketing Tools

There is no doubt that social media can play a crucial role in business, but it can take a lot of time and effort to ensure that your social media campaign is successful. If you want to improve your marketing strategy with social media but you don’t have the time or the know-how to do this, or if you simply want to get more from your current campaign, you might be interested in some great social media marketing tools that can help you get the most from your social media marketing time and budget. Below are what we consider a few of the best tools on the market.

Social Media Marketing tools

The Right Social Media Marketing Tools You Can Keep Up-To-Date With What’s Going On

1.    Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management system that enables you to utilise a number of different social network platforms. It allows users to, for example, monitor what others are saying about them across a range of social media platforms and provides the tools required for instant responses. As well as this, Hootsuite can be utilised by different users, so it is a popular choice for businesses that want to manage customer service effectively. An administrator can delegate tasks to various members of the team who can then deal with their own list via the Hootsuite interface.

2.    Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck allows users to manage all their Twitter accounts via a handy dashboard interface. Users can view and send tweets as well as see other users’ profiles. Tweetdeck can be customised according to personal preferences with timelines based on particular criteria. So you could have one column dedicated to mentions of your company, another for direct messages, another for mentions of a specific product, and one for tweets about a competitor, for example. Tweets can also be scheduled for a later time or sent immediately if required.

3.    Sprout Social

Sprout Social is an ideal social media management tool for businesses and it is compatible with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. This tool allows businesses to identify new customers and to enhance their presence on social media. Customers’ profiles can also be monitored, and the platform can be integrated with Google Analytics.

4.    Radian6

Radian6 is a monitoring tool for social media that helps businesses engage with their customers. It is one of the best tools on the market in terms of allowing users to listen to what their customers are saying about them, their brand, and their competitors. As well as being a fantastic tool for gathering data, Radian6 also allows users to analyse this information, which can be used to improve marketing campaigns.

5.    Spredfast

Spredfast is one of the top software tools for large companies or for agencies managing social media campaigns for a number of companies. It provides the tools to build campaigns, monitor social media presence, and analyse data. It is compatible with most social media platforms, making it a very powerful tool.

6.    SocialOomph

While SocialOomph was originally intended to improve the productivity of Twitter users, it is now used with other social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Time-consuming regular tweets can be scheduled, thus freeing up the user to concentrate on other aspects of business.

7.    Social Mention

For businesses or entities that want to track what others are saying about them on social media, Social Mention is an excellent tool. Social Mention will monitor mentions from a host of social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Digg.

8.    Followerwonk

Followerwonk is a terrific tool that will help you find relevant Twitter users based on their bio. You can use it to compare your Twitter followers against those of your competitors as well as track your followers and cultivate relationships with them.

9.    HowSociable

If you want to measure the impact your brand is having on social media, HowSociable is the perfect tool. You can use this super tool to track your social media presence and that of your competitors. The free version will allow you to track twelve different social media accounts. Each account will be given scores, helping you determine which social media site is working best for your brand.

10. SocialBro

SocialBro is a tool specially designed for Twitter users. It allows you to tag Twitter users who meet specific criteria that you have set. This advanced solution gives users the opportunity to manage and analyse their Twitter community with a view to improving their marketing campaign. Companies can use SocialBro to monetise their social media contacts using real-time data and actionable stats.

Social media tips

 

The above are just a few examples of the many great tools available to help boost your social media campaign. Some are ideal for companies that are new to social media and have little time to take care of their campaign but do not have the budget to pay for this service while others are more advanced and are designed to make the job of social media marketing a little less time-consuming.

If you want to know more about social media marketing, why not talk to the experts? Call us on 0141 374 2468.

The ABC SEO Blueprint ©

A Complete Plan For Building An SEO Campaign.

SEO is horses for courses. Every website has a different starting point, different goals and a different strategy. Strategies may change, but the process for undertaking SEO should be the same. So, exactly what is the SEO process? And, how do you undertake an SEO campaign?

There are as many ways of doing SEO as there are SEO’s out there, not all of them methodical (or sensible) in approach. We thought we’d publish how we go about our SEO campaigns, highlighting the main elements and tasks, and the order in which we do it.

Please find our ABC SEO Blueprint below. Some of the points might not apply to your campaign, and you might like (or have) to undertake things in a slightly different order. And that’s okay. It’s merely a blueprint, you have to add the SEO bricks, mortar and floorboards.

The blueprint won’t tell you where to get links, what content you need or how to do an audit – information and guides on those are freely available out there. What is does do is outline, is a sensible, pragmatic process, what main elements you need to do to undertake an SEO campaign from start to finish (if SEO is ever finished!).

The ABC SEO Blueprint

 

  1. A is for Audit

There’s lots of free tools and resources out there that explain audits. The most common things include spidering the site, testing speed and servers, checking domains, redirects and security.

  • Comprehensive technical audit of the website.
  • Competitor and sector research.
  • Keywords and SERPs (search engine results pages) research.
  1. B is Benchmark

A snapshot of various metrics as a starting point for measurement including keyword rankings, backlinks, traffic, social followers. You need to benchmark, otherwise you won;t know if what you’re doing is having an impact (good or bad).

  1. C is for Clean Up

You’re only as good as your weakest link. If you have any poor backlinks holding you back, it doesn’t matter how many good links you build or how much amazing content you add to your site. So, clean up any poor backlinks, either by removing if you can, uploading a disavow or blocking the inbound link using a 410 (pronounced four-ten) ‘this page is gone’ server message.

  • Technical optimisation of code and content
  • Off page clean, including removal, disavow or blocking of poor quality backlinks.
  1. D is for Devise & Deploy

Plan your overall link building and content strategy as well as any other online marketing strategy (pay per click, social media, content etc.)

  • Deploy low-hanging fruit tactics (quick gains)
  • Start content strategy based on keyword research (if required)
    • Current content evaluation and realignment
    • New content, blogs, articles, media (videos, sound, infographics) if needed
  • Start link building strategy (if required)
    • Target competition links
    • Manufacture links with own content (text, documents, media)
    • Social Signal building
  1. E is Evaluate

If you don’t measure, you don’t know what’s working and what’s not. And, you can’t adjust.

  • Track rankings, traffic & links acquired
  • Adjust, retarget and refocus if needed

We’d love to hear what you think and how you go about your SEO campaigns.

How To Market Yourself Online With A Small Budget

The success or failure of any business depends on how effectively it can market itself. For small businesses, especially those just starting out, there may not be much in terms of revenue to spend on marketing. So what can you do if you have a limited budget?

Marketing on a tight budget

With the right strategy, you can market yourself without a big budget.

Luckily, there are many ways that you can promote yourself online with a small budget. It is important to realise that marketing is essential to business; whether your business has a limitless budget or a very tight one, you should never ignore this significant process.

The Importance of Online Marketing for Small Businesses

If you have recently set up a small business or have been in business for a while but are struggling to attract customers, you must dedicate time and money to marketing. This is a vital part of business and one that can make or break your company. No matter how wonderful your products or services are, they are useless to you unless your customers know about them. This is where marketing comes in. Below are a few reasons why marketing is so important for small businesses.

  • Getting noticed
    You must make sure that potential customers know about your company and the products or services it provides. Marketing ensures that your company gets noticed, and it will help customers consider your products or services when they are in the market to buy.
  • Increased sales
    The aim of any business is to make money and to do this, you must increase your sales. Once potential customers become aware of your company, you are in with a chance of getting sales. With effective marketing campaigns, your company will become noticed and word will spread. If your products and services are as good as you say they are then you may find that customers will recommend your company to other people, therefore increasing your sales even further.
  • Build your brand
    Successful marketing helps to build a brand and the reputation of your company. If you can employ a successful marketing campaign, your company will develop a good reputation, which will help to develop a loyal customer base.
  • Identify new opportunities
    With effective marketing, it is possible to identify new products, services or potential customers. This will all help towards increasing your market share and boost sales.

How to Use Effective Online Marketing on a Tight Budget

It is not necessary to spend thousands of pounds on marketing these days. There are numerous tips and tricks that do not require a large budget but can be very effective when it comes to helping to promote your business online. As long as you understand the market you want to target, you should be able to boost your sales and generate a bigger profit. Even if you do not have a lot of time or money, the following tips should help in terms of getting your name out there.

peacocks-get-noticed

Getting noticed online doesn’t come natural but is rewarding if done properly.

  • Use online review sites
    Many people buy products and services online these days, and they will often check out reviews before buying. It therefore pays to have your business listed on these online review sites. This will help to drive traffic to your site and increase your sales. It will also help in terms of building your brand and improving your reputation. Some of the best sites to try are My Business Page with Google, Yelp, and Bing Places.
  • Use social media wisely and consistently
    Social media is becoming more and more effective in terms of marketing online. With so many people using social media every day, it makes sense for businesses to take advantage of this platform. Creating a Facebook business page, for example, will help you to promote products and services to your followers, and it can be used for running competitions to boost sales. You can also use other social media sites such as Twitter and Pinterest for posting product photos and for making people aware of discounts and promotions. Check out our using social media for small business post for more on how to promote yourself using this vehicle.
  • Develop a business network
    LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for connecting with other relevant professionals. You may be able to develop partnerships with other businesses that will benefit both parties as well as your customers. Also, sites like Meetup, offer an excellent way of finding local, linke minded people in your niche, as well as small business groups.
  • Write a guest blog post
    If you can contribute a post to a popular blog, this may help you to raise awareness of your company. Guest blogging can build credibility and will help with the development of business relationships. Make sure that your target audience follows the blog you are writing for or you may be wasting your efforts. If you do not have writing skills yourself, hire a professional copywriting company to do this for you.
  • Create your own blog
    It is so important to add relevant content to your website. Creating a blog is a great way to engage with customers, who may interact by commenting on relevant posts. Again, you can hire a copywriter to create the posts for you, which should not cost too much in terms of effective marketing. Sites like WordPress and Blogger offer great, free blogging platforms.
  • Create infographics
    People love infographics, and these are a hugely powerful marketing tool. Although it can be expensive to hire a professional designer, you could try creating your own – there are plenty of tips and tricks online for this. There are also a number of free online templates available that can be customised using PowerPoint.
  • Create a customer reward or referral programme
    Reward points for shopping or making referrals are a great way to encourage people to buy from your company. Many individuals are influenced in their buying decisions by the opportunity to earn points, so this is a great way to boost sales and promote your business.

 

7 Aggressive Ways to Steal your Competitors Customers Online

In the unlikely situation that your industry has plenty of business for everyone, then good on you. But, it won’t be too long before your market becomes squeezed by new competitors, all too willing to steal your business and you may have to revisit this post. Let’s be clear about this: competitors would not hesitate to take your business, so you should not think twice about taking theirs.

If, like many businesses, you’re in a tight, saturated or stagnant market then gaining new customers may mean taking customers off your competition to gain market share.

At the end of the day, business is business and if you need to acquire customers from your competitors, then so be it. So, how do you go about stealing these customers?

Poaching Competitors

Poaching Can Be Very Healthy For Your business

Many customers will remain loyal to another competitor: if this is the case, then there’s not much you can do to tempt them away without spending fortunes. However, there are no doubt customers who are unhappy or not too brand-loyal with their current suppliers, so it’s these types of customers who are ripe for the taking. And, what we really mean by all this is, that if you want to improve your market share and gain more customers, you’re going to have to be aggressive in your marketing strategies and go directly for competitor customers.

If your firm trades on the Internet, or it’s a primary vehicle for new business enquiries, your competitors may have a large number of customers online, so the internet can be a very useful when it comes to stealing them. Here’s a few ways that can help you steal your competitor’s customers online.

  1. Poach LinkedIn Contacts
    LinkedIn is a very powerful tool for business to business. Many companies are connected to their client list through LinkedIn. Depending on your sector, it may be easy to identify which contacts are customers, so by checking the LinkedIn profile of your direct competitors, you can reach out to these customers and make them your contacts too. Once you have connected, it’s then up to your influencing and sales poaching methods to explain why your products or services are better than those of your competition.
  2. Get Discount Dirty
    Many companies are resorting to dirty tactics when it comes to stealing customers from their competitors, and you can too. All you have to do is offer a reward (usually a discount) to customers who choose your company over that of your competitors. You could offer discounts if customers prove to you that your competitors have given them a quote or if they provide a competitor’s brochure when making a purchase from your site. Many insurance companies do this by asking what quotes you’ve had so far to renew your premiums. This is one of the best ways to poach customers with little effort, especially these days when most people are looking for great deals. Check out your competitors’ online adverts and advertise in the same places.
  3. Use Twitter
    Steal your competitor’s Twitter followers by tracking tweets about them and then responding to these tweets. It’s easy to track your competition using the search box in Twitter and tools like Topsy and Social Mention are helpful in undertaking this. Monitoring competition social media allows you to check for questions from their customers. If you can respond to their queries before your competitors do, you will be creating awareness of your own, helping to build your company’s reputation, and hopefully result in more customers.
  4. Take Advantage of Facebook
    As with Twitter, it is possible to steal customers from your competitors through Facebook. By checking out your competitors Facebook page, you can see who their followers are and which followers tend to interact the most. You can then target these customers and attract them with offers for your products or services. Facebook is a great way to get more information on the demographics of competitors (age ranges, locations etc).
  5. Go Direct
    Okay, this depends on your industry but often your customers will be visible – you just need to know where to look. For example, if you are a coffee supplier, then coffee shops are pretty visible, and popping in to see them, emailing them or connecting via social media will reap rewards. They key here is not to let rejection put you off. Plug away and it’ll pay dividends – those who shout loudest often get heard.
  6. Point Out the Competition’s Weaknesses
    If you want to entice new customers, you need to show them why your company is better than that of the competition. Create comparison charts that will highlight all the ways in which your product or service is better than that of your competitors. Look to place ads on websites where your competitors’ customers frequent. Mobile phone, broadband, web hosting and software companies often use comparisons this to highlight the features, benefits and prices of their using comparison tables.

    Example Competitor Comparision Chart

    An example competitor comparison chart on Formstack’s website.

  7. Spend Money on Relevant Content/SEO
    If you want to make money, you very often have to spend money; that is just how business works. Your website needs to have appropriate content, and plenty of it, in order to appear higher in the search engine rankings. If you do not have the time to add relevant content to your website or blog, pay a professional copywriter to take care of this for you. A good content marketing strategy will ensure that your site appears higher than that of your competition. Once this happens, you will begin to steal the customers that were previously visiting your competitor’s website.

Bonus Tip: Hiring an SEO company is also an excellent way to improve your website’s position on search engines such as Google. SEO experts use effective tactics to ensure your site ranks higher for the keywords you want to target, and keywords that your competitors and industry target. Most companies have neither the skills nor the time to do this, so hiring an expert is the ideal solution. There are lots of ways expert SEO’s can help take competition customers. Any SEO worth their salt will undertake competitive research: Checking competitors backlinks, forums and other (non-social media) places on the Internet where potential customers reside.

Image Credit:

Online Marketing to Teenagers

Teenagers spend an extraordinary amount of time online. The latest stats from OFCOM suggest they spend around 27 hours a week1.

And if you need to market to them, then undertaking a successful online marketing campaign requires a different approach than other groups.  Marketing to teenagers is notoriously difficult. This demographic does not yet have defined preferences in terms of brands, so getting through to them can end up being very lucrative. However, the teenagers of today tend not to pay much too much attention to what big media have to say (aside from the odd technology company such as Apple) and they actively ignore advice provided by the older generations. Teenagers today can be more inclined to setting trends rather than actually following them. Another issue for marketers to consider is the fact that many teenagers are now influencing purchases that their parents make, instead of the other way around. When it comes to technology purchases, teenagers are the driving force behind the products bought by their parents and grandparents.

Teenagers Jay and Silent Bob

Teenagers, like Jay and Silent Bob, can be fickle when making decisions

Difficulties in Online Marketing to Teens

Teenagers are less loyal than they were a decade or so ago. These teens are used to new products appearing on the market all the time and will not stick with a brand simply because it is one they are used to. If a new product is ‘the next big thing’, they will change their preference instantly, even if this new product is an entirely different brand to the one they have had before.

What is hot one month may be naff the next. Teenagers are, by nature, fickle, so companies need to continually reinvent or update their products to keep teenagers interested. Moreover, with teenagers always changing their preferences in terms of shopping and social media sites, it can be difficult for companies to keep up, especially those with a limited marketing budget.

What Do Teenagers Want?

Companies need to understand what it is that teenagers want in order to be able to effectively market to them. Teenagers do not care about a particular brand unless it means something to them and unless it provides them with value. Teens are more aware of value than ever before, which is evident on the rise of second-hand clothing stores selling vintage items.

How to Market to Teenagers Using the Web

Teenage Online Marketing

With teenagers changing their brand preferences all the time, you may be wondering how to attract them to your product or service. With the reality that a brand that is doing well one minute can be out of favour the next, this does not mean all is lost. There are some things that can be done to ensure teenagers see your marketing message.

  • Employ a brand ambassador if budget allows
    Many companies will hire a brand ambassador to promote its products or services, and this is a tactic that is highly effective. Nonetheless, when your target audience is teenagers, it is vital that your brand ambassador is someone these individuals can relate to. These days, teenagers are more influenced by a social media presence, such as YouTubers or Viners. When choosing a brand ambassador, find out whom your target audience follow on YouTube or Vine, as this will give you some idea who will provide the most influence in terms of selling your products.
  • Use the same social media that they do
    Social media preferences among teenagers changes all the time. One day, Facebook is big, the next it could be Instagram or Snapchat. It is important to keep up with social media trends and develop marketing campaigns accordingly. It is imperative to advertise on the same social media platforms that teenagers are using if you want them to see your message.
  • Engage with your target audience
    Social media engagement is hugely important for businesses. If you want to entice teenagers, then make them feel important. This could be simply retweeting, commenting, or liking a post. If they have a large number of followers, you could gather a lot of attention for your brand.
  • Consider music platforms for advertising
    Teenagers love music, and many stream their music through websites such as Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube. Make the most of advertising opportunities on the free versions of these sites because that is from where most teenagers will be streaming.
  • Keep it simple
    Teenagers tend to switch off if they are met with lengthy explanations and sentences of why your product is the best. They prefer, short and to the point, and one of the best ways to grab their attention is with an advertising message that can be quickly processed. Short sentences coupled with eye-catching graphics and pictures work best.
  • Consider peak shopping times
    Teenagers tend to spend more money at certain times of the year; this often coincides with the beginning and end of the school year. At the end of the school year, they want to look nice for graduation while at the start of the school year they are focusing on looking their best for going back to school. Businesses should consider promotions at this time of year.
  • Make them laugh
    Teenagers spend a lot of their time watching funny videos and memes on sites such as the aforementioned YouTube, Vine and Facebook. If you want to grab their attention, create something that will make them laugh. They are more likely to share this type of content, which could ultimately do wonders for your brand.
  • Take advice from teenagers
    If you want to market effectively to teens, it is a good idea to seek advice from that demographic. Teenagers will listen to other teenagers about what is cool and what is not, so using them to help create your advertising campaigns is a wise move.
  • Show them rather than tell them
    teenagers want to see how your product will help them rather than hear about it. Use ads that show your product being used as this will be much more effective in getting teens to listen.

What to Remember

If you are lucky enough to create an ad campaign that works, don’t become complacent. Remember that teenagers are fickle and can quickly move on from one great thing to the next. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to be constantly updating and improving your marketing material in line with the ever-changing world of your audience. Use social media effectively and make sure that you keep abreast of what is in and what is not.

Source:

  1. OFCOM Adults’ Media Use And Attitudes Report 2015 (PDF)

Using Social Media for Small Businesses

There is no doubt that today social media plays a huge part in many people’s lives. People now spend extraordinary amounts of time online, chatting to friends, catching up on the day’s events, meeting new people, changing careers, watching viral content. And there’s countless other reasons why people use social media daily. Many individuals now spend more time on social media communicating with folk than they do in real life, like it or not.

Perceptive businesses use social media to their advantage, and it is not just the big corporations. Many small businesses are finding that social media can be hugely beneficial in terms of expanding customer base and helping build relationships with existing customers.

Social Media Targeting

Social Media Can Target Your Message Without Being Intrusive

As social media can play a significant role in the success or failure of a business, it is important for new companies to think carefully about how they utilise it. With limited resources and tight budgets, small companies must plan carefully to ensure they are using a social media platform that will provide the most effective results.

Benefits of Social Media for Business

Almost three-quarters of adults with internet access use some form of social media every day while around a third of these will use it to research products, brands, or services before making a purchase. It is, therefore, vital that every small business concentrates on social media to build its brand, increase sales, and expand its network. Below we have listed a number of benefits to using social media for business.

  • Learn about your target audience
    Businesses can learn about what their target audience likes and dislikes through social media. There are some tools, including Hootsuite and Facebook Insights, that allow a businesses to learn specifics about their audience, which will then enable them to target their advertising campaigns accordingly. It is possible to target specific people by age, location, or gender, for example.
  • Reduce marketing costs
    Social marketing can be a fantastic way to market to certain people without spending a small fortune. Businesses can get their message to a target audience by establishing an effective social media campaign. In certain circumstances, the only cost is the time required to tweet, pin product photos, or post about discounted products.
  • Find new customers
    Businesses can expand their customer base by using social media. It is possible to locate people based on their tweets or posts and then reach out to them with promotions.
  • Improve search results
    Social media can have a positive impact on a website’s search engine position. The higher a website appears, the more likely a business is to see increased visitors and, hence, sales. While optimised content and a great SEO campaign are the best ways to achieve higher search engine rankings, those who engage in social media will also see the benefits. Sharing content on social media will pay dividends if others decide to share your posts or link to it. Google and Bing are increasingly taking notice of social media efforts and engagements.
  • Get feedback from customers
    Instant feedback from customers, either positive or negative, is another advantage of using social media for business. Using social media to launch new products or promotions will immediately give businesses the chance to find out what customers think. Social media can also help businesses with ideas for new products if they engage with customers about what they want or are looking for.
  • Improve customer service
    Businesses that interact with customers via social media often find that business improves. Customers like to comment or ask questions about brands and specific products and appreciate quick, honest responses. They are more likely to stay loyal to a company if they are receiving excellent customer service in a timely manner. They are also more liable to recommend your business to others.
  • Monitor the competition
    Social media monitoring allows businesses to stay ahead of the competition. By monitoring mentions of a competitor and their products or services, companies can target campaigns that enable them to capitalise on what the competition is missing.
  • Expand your professional network
    Expanding your professional network is possible through social media. Social media is not just for connecting with customers. You may be able to connect with other companies that you can work alongside. This could mean developing new partnerships that will be beneficial to both businesses.

How to Use Social Media Effectively

With all the benefits that social media can bring to a business, it is no surprise that small business owners want a piece of the action. However, it is important that social media is used correctly; otherwise, it could become a fruitless endeavour. Below are a few tips for getting the most from social media for your small business.

Social media automation

Save Staff Time And Be More Productive With Social Media Automation

  • Sell products and services
    Social media makes it possible to connect directly with customers, so this allows for products and services to be advertised more effectively. Many businesses use social media for market research, and they will develop products and services based on their findings. They can connect directly with their target audience to find out what they want beforehand, meaning that they can create products for which there is a market.
  • Improve customer relations
    Customers are more likely to buy from companies that they are already interacting with. Social media platforms such as Twitter are the ideal place for businesses to get in touch with customers and build relationships. Businesses need to find out which social media platforms their target audience use and then create a social profile of their own through which they can connect with potential customers.
  • Use social media management apps
    Managing social media is very important to a business; to that end, there are numerous apps that make the job easier. Apps such as Buffer and Hootsuite are easy to use and tend to service most of the well-known social media sites. If you want to get the most from these apps, however, it is a good idea to take the time to learn as much as possible about them. To get the most from social media for your business, you need to invest the time and put in the effort, as this will help you to reap the rewards.
  • Use automation
    Social media automation can save valuable time, so scheduling repetitive tasks with social media apps is a very good idea. If you have found that you are doing the same task repeatedly, you should consider automation. You can use automation for a variety of tasks including retweeting messages on Twitter, following people once they have followed you, and mentioning others in messages. It is important, however, not to automate everything, as the ‘personal touch’ is still required.
  • Ensure your business is worthy of being followed
    The idea of social media for business is to get as many followers as possible. No matter what social media site you are using, the more interaction you get, the better. The best way to ensure you garner more followers is to appeal to them. This could be through weekly competitions or lively, fun debates.

Using social media correctly could prove to be immensely beneficial for your business so it is not something you should ignore. If you are worried that you do not have the skills to make it work for you, speak to a professional SEO company about getting them to take care of this for you.

Top 5 Online Advertising Tips

With more than 3 billion people worldwide using the Internet1, it makes sense for businesses to concentrate on advertising their products and services online. Smartphones and other mobile devices have made the internet more accessible at all times of the day, and most people will immediately check online whenever they want information or if they wish to make a purchase.

Most internet users expect businesses to have an online presence, and many people admit that if they see a product in a store, they will wait until they have checked online first to try to find a similar product but at a cheaper price.

Businesses must, therefore, consider their online advertising options if they want to stay ahead of the competition. Although advertising methods such as TV, radio, newspaper, and magazine are still effective, most companies now realise that advertising online is definitely the way forward. Online marketing channels such as pay-per click advertising, banner ads, affiliates, social media, Google Shopping etc work – if done correctly –  and the media & internet giants know it.

Online Advertising Glasgow

An Alternative To A Poor Online Advertising Strategy

Benefits of Advertising Online

The internet offers businesses the chance to reach a far greater audience, and it has some distinct advantages over other methods of advertising, including the following:

  • More Cost Effective – the most obvious benefit of advertising online is that it is a much cheaper option than other advertising methods such as TV or newspaper advertising. Traditional advertising can be very expensive, and many companies are unable to afford these outgoings. Online advertising has opened up the competition and enabled smaller companies to compete with large organisations.
  • Greater Reach – with traditional forms of advertising, companies were limited in terms of audience reached. Online advertising provides a far greater reach, with many businesses being able to sell globally as a result.
  • Easy Measurement – online advertising is easy to measure, which is attractive for many customers. There are countless analytic tools available to help companies measure the success of their advertising campaigns, and this helps business owners when it comes to future campaigns.
The right website traffic

It’s all about the right kind of traffic

Online Advertising Tips

When it comes to advertising, most business owners are aware that online advertising is effective, yet many are unsure of how to get the most from their online advertising. Below are the top five tips for advertising online.

  1. Use Interactive Advertising
    Interactive advertising is an enormous advantage of online advertising. This allows customers to provide feedback and encourage engagement, which is hugely beneficial to businesses – in fact, the whole idea of social media marketinis to encourage engagement, so why not do this with advertising? By providing customers with an online feedback form, companies can get an idea of how consumers view their products and services. This is also an excellent way to get customers to provide their email address and sign up for newsletters, as well as enoiraging likes and follows in social media. If customers have agreed to a weekly or monthly newsletter, a business can then include advertisements for new products and services, or discount vouchers to encourage them to buy. The social media signups allow you to deliver offers via the chosen channel too.
  2. Be Honest
    When advertising online, it is essential that a business is honest about its services or products, and that information is accurate. For banner ads, they need to ensure that these are to the point and that they are providing a solution to a problem their customers may be having. Too many banner ads are misleading, targeting clicks rather than qualified traffic. To get effective results, customers who click on banner advertisements will need follow through to a completed sale. This simply won’t happen if a product or service does not offer the solution a customer is looking for, adn just adds to bounce rate and wasted advertising spend
  3. Spend as Much As is Affordable On Design
    At the end of the day, a business wants its online advertising to work for them, so the best way to do this is to make sure your banner ads look professional. This may mean spending more money but, by employing a qualified specialist, a business can be certain their banner ads look professional and so will attract more clicks. A good banner ad will compel visitors to click and hopefully make a purchase. Adverts have to look appealing.
  4. Use Powerful Headlines
    Obvious we know but too many adverts focus on the logo, or colour, or try fancy/clever messages and not enough time on the main event. The most important thing with online advertising is to grab the attention of those who see the ads. The internet is flooded with advertisements so, in order to stand out from the competition, headlines have to not only grab the attention of those who see it but also keep their attention. In order to create a compelling headline, think about the target audience and what would actually make them stop and click on the ad. What would make you look at an ad? Here’s a great post on how to write headlines in 9 steps.
  5. Attract Potential Buyers with Offers
    Customers love it when they think they are getting a good deal – I know I do. There are many ways that businesses can attract customers but offering them a bargain is sure to get them interested. Offering a discount or free shipping is a great incentive for customers to buy a business’s product or service over that of the competition. Advertisements should also be used to focus on how a product or service will benefit the customer. Sell the product benefits not the attributes!

For information on advertising online, contact us for free advice on how to get your message out there in a cost-effective and efficient way.

Source:
(1) Reference: http://www.statista.com/statistics/273018/number-of-internet-users-worldwide/

7 Online Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

SEo & Small Business Marketing Online

Small businesses, particularly new starts, need all the help they can get in promoting themselves in this economy. Here’s our magnificient seven ways to kick-start you business online:

  1. Choose your domain name wisely.

    Incorporate search keywords and a location if you operate in a specific location. For example, if you’re sell bananas in Manchester, then bananasmanchester.com might be a good choice.

  2. Get a website that’s professional, and quick to load on all devices.

    Around 50% of all searches are now on a mobile or tablet, so make sure it’s has a responsive design (meaning it displays accordingly on the device it’s viewed on). Avoid online website builder software as it can restrict functionality and also tie you in to long-term expensive contracts. Get a couple of quotes from local website designers as costs can vary greatly for the same service.
    Responsive website design Glasgow

  3. Know Your Competition.

    Who’s at the top of Google for your industry and keywords you are aiming for, and why are they there? Do they have good, informative content? Are there calls-to-action (or CTA’s for short, which include telephone numbers, emails, contact forms etc.) that easy to include phone number, email and contact forms

  4. Have Great Calls To Action

    Too many website have poor response mechanisms. Are your telephone numbers, email address and contact forms easy to find on your site?

  5. Make Your Website Credible & Trustworthy

    Do you have a landline telephone number, postal address, terms & conditions and privacy policy on your website? Visitors, as well as Google, use this as a signal of trust. If you sell online, are you advertising that your checkout is secure

  6. Add Your USPs High Up On Your Home Page

    Without being too pushy, are your main unique selling points conveyed to visitors? Do you have free delivery? Sell the tastiest doughnuts? Ethically sourced products? Whatever your USP’s are, get them high up the homepage to grab attention.

    Googleplus Logo

  7. Claim Your Google+ Page

    This is how you get in to the local map search results in Google. Claim your listing, filling the information in full at google.co.uk/business and make sure you verify it!

SEO & Web Designer Checklist Before Launching Your New Website

Here’s our checklist for use before launching your new website.

  • Install Yoast or an SEO plugin (if WordPress or other CMS)
  • Check spelling and grammar on all pages
  • Test all forms
  • Check markup validation with W3C
  • Minify scripts/gzip/cache site
  • Customise the 404 page to include links to main sections and home page
  • Titles and other metas changed/ported across – if in doubt, keep old titles
  • Map current URLs to new urls using 301’s
  • Add Google Analytics tracking and check it’s working!
  • Check display and speed on all devices
  • Set up Google and Bing webmaster tools
  • Check robots.txt allows crawling and hides any pages we don’t want found
  • Ensure sitemap.xml exists
  • Check for broken links
  • Check Analytics is working