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"marketing" category

How grown up is your online marketing?

25th March 2014
Categories: marketing, measurement, seo

Some of the Oxford Web team had a great session with Ned Wells from Cicada Online today, looking at the "maturity" of various facets of our online marketing.  For example, with the measurement of the online marketing that you do - is it in a "baby" phase - all trial and error - or have you put a lot of thought behind it and aligned it with your business objectives?  Energising stuff!  Do get in touch with us or Cicada if you want to investigate these topics for your business.

Can a social media presence replace your website?

17th March 2014

I recently attended a business meeting with a wide mix of businesses represented, and a presentation on social media. In the presenter's opinion, social media had made websites outdated.

If social media supplies a need for your business, that's great; we're making use of social media too, and many of our customers do, in different ways. But what it doesn't do is obviate the need for other forms of e-marketing and e-provision (not all websites exist for marketing!).

Take a business that doesn't sell anything online, doesn't have a great deal of information to get across, and doesn't have any online provision for such functions as customer/member service. Do they still need a website?

Assuming they sell something that people look for on the internet, then yes, I would suggest a website even if they have a social media presence on various platforms, simply to provide a base for describing what they sell, and pointing to the various social media sites.

The one constant in social media (if we are talking about facebook, twitter, pinterest.. - menshn closed last year, by the way) is that. as a user, you are faced with a rolling list of new topics, latest at the top.  

So as a business, if you have to constantly re-state your USPs in order to keep them in people's minds, you're using the wrong medium!

Are you paying too much to get traffic to your website?

19th September 2013

A lot of people talk about search engine optimisation when what they mean is getting traffic.

Getting traffic is easy.  But getting the right traffic - that's the difficult bit.

You can pay to get people to come to your website - that's what you're doing when you use Google Ads, and in effect it's what you're doing if you make any kinds of promises in an email or a link.

Some traffic is better than none, but not when you're paying for it and it's the wrong traffic.

Hook up Google Analytics and you can find out what people are doing on your site when they arrive from various sources. You can also associate a cost with a source of traffic. Are you getting the wrong people on your website because you've promised them something you can't really deliver (like the cheapest prices or the best stuff)?

Honesty means you filter out the visitors you don't actually want when all's said and done - so in your Google Ads, your meta-description, and your email links, talk about what visitors you really want - what their story is, and how it should perfectly match your story.

For example:

Oxford Web

We design, build, and develop websites for growing organisations who want to invest in digital marketing because it works.

or

Oxford Web

We help membership organisations drastically reduce their administration costs by building hard-working, top-notch websites.

New plans - make your website work for your business!

2nd September 2013
Categories: business, marketing

This time of year is as good as any for reviewing your business and your website and making sure that both are performing as they should, and that you have a plan for the next few months.

Many businesses work up to a busy time at Christmas; others are simply back from holiday with a fresh outlook and new ideas.

I find this table useful:

Our Business Objectives Inward Facing Outward Facing
General    
Specific    

“Inward facing” objectives may involve staffing or administration, premises and so on, while “outward facing” objectives will normally involve your customers, suppliers, partners, members, the press, or the wider public.

Examples of “General” objectives may include staff morale, making a profit, keeping your customers better informed, finding more customers, etc., while “Specific” objectives may include things like income figures, profit margins, or numbers of new sales enquiries.

If you can't easily categorise an objective, don't worry, just pick a box to put it in. The main thing is getting them down on paper.

Our Business Objectives Inward Facing Outward Facing
General

boost staff morale in warehouse and sales team

make a profit in Q4

keep customers informed about our new super tech range 
Specific complete design of new ultra tech range  monthly average sales enquiries - Q4 - 200

Not every objective you have can be fulfilled by your website or online presence - but starting from the perspective of business objectives is the right way to look at a website.

It's easier to ask "what's happening in the industry?" and be bogged down with HTML5, responsive design, twitter, pinterest and so on. But these can distract you if you don't have solid objectives and a clear focus. You should by all means learn what these things are - but you should focus on your business objectives if you're going to get anything right.

The third stage of this table is aligning the objectives with a specific action. In the example below I've focussed just on online tools - but of course in a real plan you would have other things going on:

Our Business Objectives Inward Facing Outward Facing
General

boost staff morale in warehouse and sales team - listen to their concerns and reduce the clicks they need to look up internal information on the company extranet!

make a profit in Q4 - use google ads and search engine optimisation to boost the number of website visitors and thus increase sales!

keep customers informed about our new super tech range - use an informative email newsletter to get to people who want to know!
Specific complete design of new ultra tech range - use google docs and skype to improve team communication and a project planning tool to track progress! monthly average sales enquiries - Q4 - 200 - use google analytics sales funnel and usability analysis to find the bottlenecks on the website, and make the website easier to use!  - more visitors x more conversions = much increased sales!

Happy planning!

websites need words

23rd November 2012
Categories: blogging, marketing

When you walk into a shop or an office, you expect to get a feel for the owners' character, vision, and ethos. Walking into a small independent East Oxford coffee shop, for example, you might see mismatched crockery, antiques, union flags, Bovril jars, pictures of letterboxes, and war posters, which give a homely, "made in Britain" feel - whereas if you walk into a coffee shop chain you'll see a reduced colour palette, all matching crockery, smart new furniture, large scale black and white photography, and uniform typefaces and signage.

But having stepped in, your next step will be to order a coffee. If the shop owner has trained their staff well, your conversation (i.e. your "ordering experience") will be at one with the ethos of the business. Perhaps in the chain they'll refrain from certain forms of addressm like "love", or "my dear", and perhaps in the independent shop they will be more flexible about what you can have and how they can accommodate you.

A nice website design isn't enough to portray the character of a business. You need to expose some of your thoughts and ideas, your philosophy and ethics. And you can't do this with "Home", "About us", "Services" and "Contact us" alone! 

So write about what you know, what you think of the regulations surrounding your industry, what your customers are up to, and what new services and products you can offer - but above all, write!  And if you need help setting up a blog to do just this, hopefully you'll know where to come.

One Simple Message

21st September 2012
Categories: marketing, usp

I was at a meeting this morning where the speaker advised adherence to one simple message in your marketing, citing the example of Heineken, who, discovering that the one purpose of lager was to refresh, came up with the famous campaign about Heineken 'refreshing the parts other beers do not reach'.

It was an inspirational talk, only slightly marred by the fact that the speaker went on to discuss a mind-bogglingly confusing array of products and services, some current and some in the pipeline, relating to their own business.

It's challenging inside our own business, when web design isn't a new thing and there are so many new companies barging in on the market.  Do we find a niche, like websites relating to care of aardvarks, or do we stick to what we do best, designing, building, and improving websites?  And where's the USP (unique selling proposition)?  Surely that's what everyone else does - isn't it?

Niches are very important, but it's not necessary to have just one, and at Oxford Web we have been digging fairly deep niches in four main sectors - membership organisations, education, small to medium sized businesses, and public sector - and so we like to think that we have something to talk about in each of those niches, and that we understand the needs of customers in those sectors.

So what's our one simple message?  "Making websites work".

When people ask us for a website, be it "only four pages" or "hugely complex" (our customers' own words, which were turned on their heads) we help them think about who they're aiming at, and how to say it on the home page with a simple message, leaving the "inner" pages of the website to explain everything in more depth.

What's your one simple message?

© Alberon Ltd 2017

8 Standingford House
26 Cave Street
Oxford
OX4 1BA

01865 596 144

Oxford Web is a trading name of Alberon Ltd, registered company no. 5765707 (England & Wales).