People are using new tools and technologies to promote their business and organisations which this can be daunting for many as not only is it a new world for some, it is also a constantly changing world.
Websites, Search engines, social media, messaging platforms, digital advertising and review sites are all tools that can be very effective, but also can be hard to understand.
In this blog we will aim to explore some effective tools and offer some advice on how to use them.
In 2018 almost all businesses have a website, but just having a web presence is probably not enough.
Does your website accurately represent your business? Older sites can often be detrimental to a business and the trend now is simple, modern designs. The good news is websites don’t cost as much as they once did, so a simple redesign can be cost effective if outsourced. Also, sites like Wix and Squarespace offer solutions so that you can design your own site using simple “drag and drop tools”.
Information and a strong “Call to Action”
When designing your site consider what information people are looking for and make sure the paths to this are easy. Not sure what information people want? A free tool such as Google Analytics will give information on what pages on your site people visit most often, spend the most time on and where they leave your site. This information can then be used to help design your site so that the most important information is easily found and accessed.
Another question to ask is what action do I want people to take? Do you want people to call your organisation, download a brochure or sign up to a course? Whatever you decide make sure this call to action is prominent on not only your home page but all your pages.
Having a website is one thing, but unless people can find it it will be somewhat useless.
There are two ways people find a website, firstly you publish your website on business cards, literature, on your social media channels and in your advertising. Secondly, people will search via search engines such as Google or Bing. The latter is what we will focus on here. Another caveat here is that people who are aware of your business including customers/learners will also use a search engine to find your business. (URLs are not always easy to remember!)
The people we are focusing on here is the people that are not looking for your business but at services you provide. For example, Leadership courses. Most people aim to be on page 1 of the search engine results pages (SERPS) and there are two ways you can achieve this, organic search engine optimisation (SEO) and paid search.
Whilst organic SEO can be done for free, it is a very specialised skill and might require an experts help. Reaching the pinnacle of page 1 can be more difficult depending on the level of competition for important keywords (the word or combination of words people use to find websites like yours) the advantage in organic SEO is once set up it can be relatively easy to maintain your site to keep its high ranking.
Paid search is where you will bid on the appropriate keywords and this will land you on Page 1 in the sponsored search boxes. The more competitive the keyword the more you will pay. Whilst this can be cheaper than hiring an SEO expert, it is an ongoing cost and you will only appear when you pay.
Social Media is different from traditional forms of marketing as it is very much a two way conversation.
You can engage with customers or learners and use that feedback to improve all aspects of your organisation.
To succeed on social media you must also create content that your audience will engage with. This can come in the form of education, entertainment or information. Generally the more value you give in the content the more successful your social media will be.
We have covered social media for distance learning in much more detail here.
Digital advertising from platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn gives you amazing targeting options due to the amount of information people share with these platforms.
You can target based on job titles and interests which would be good for distance learning companies. The other benefit of these platforms is that you can start with something as little as €5 and then scale up depending on the success.
With advertising on these services the more testing you do the more effective your ads become as you can see what is working. If you get it right, your ads will not look out of place in people’s newsfeeds, they will almost appear as organic content.
Another tactic worth trying is promoting your organic content that performs well with your audience as you can be confident that it will connect with a wider audience.
Reviews and testimonials
Reviews can be a gift and a curse as other than the testimonials that you choose for your website, there will be both positive and negative reviews of your business.
When dealing with negative reviews it is important to take emotion out and respond by apologising and addressing the points made. It is important that you do respond, as negative reviews without a response look a lot worse than those you have taken the time to address. It also gives potential customers confidence that you are open to feedback and to improving.
It is also good to ensure you get more positive than negative reviews and you can do this by making it easy for people to leave reviews by sending direct links via email or even having cards made up so that when you receive positive feedback in person you can direct them online. Most people who have had a positive experience will be more than happy to leave a positive review online.