Have you noticed how briefly and compellingly the best online brands are describing themselves these days? Facebook, Zynga, Toggl, Evernote — visit their sites and you’ll be greeted with concise statements that should be an inspiration to you as you develop your own messaging.
Try this: how do you respond when a potential customer or even just an acquaintance asks, “what do you do?” If you find it difficult to answer this question succinctly, it could be an indication that your messaging needs work. The problem comes most to the fore when you’re trying to develop the words for your website homepage, including your website titles. Clear messaging is vital for all your marketing, but nowhere moreso than for your online marketing.
Messaging isn’t just for marketers. If you are in senior management at your company, it’s core to your mission. Miller Mattson correctly describes messaging as “a key part of your company’s marketing infrastructure.” Messaging is simply a concise and memorable description of the value you bring to customers: it should be worded carefully and in such a way that listeners instantly grasp what benefits they’ll see from working with you, and ideally they should feel inspired to get in touch with you.
That’s a lot to ask for a few sentences, but your messaging can have long, short, and very short (think Twitter-length) versions. The shortest versions are ideal for your website, while longer ones will come in useful in everything from HR advertisements to tender documents. Remember, this is core, descriptive information that should serve you online, in print or even in person when speaking to targets, so it’s well worth investing the time to get it right…and it will take some time.
Here are four things to keep in mind as you develop your messaging:
1. Take the customer’s perspective
What is your company really good at? There’s no one more qualified to answer this question than your existing, loyal customers. Interview them to understand why they chose you over the competition, how they see you as different from other providers in the market, and the competencies you offer that they cherish most. The answers customers give you might surprise you, and may differ significantly from what you thought your key strengths were. This primary research will allow you to take the customer’s perspective, letting you make the best start on your messaging development.
A great example of customer-focussed messaging is the text on the homepage of Toggl.com, an online time tracker popular with freelancers and consultants. Toggl.com simply states, “Insanely simple time tracking. Toggl kills timesheets.” That’s messaging that makes it clear the people behind Toggl understand the frustration its potential customers have probably experienced in using other solutions.
2. What are the actual words customers use to describe you?
There’s a well-worn anecdote about a customer who wanted to buy a jumper on an e-commerce website which didn’t use the word “jumper”. This is a perfect example of a messaging quandary in microcosm. Think of how many different words people use to describe that item of clothing – gansy, jumper, pullover, sweater… there are probably others. You must always ask yourself whether you are using your customers’ own words to describe your company and your products. If you’re selling “unified communications services” but your target buyers are actually googling for “videoconferencing”, your messaging must take account of that. Tools like Google’s free Keyword Research Tool can be helpful, but there’s really no substitute for directly interviewing your own customers.
3. Have you properly localised your content for international markets?
Native speakers and in-country experts will be invaluable as you create foreign-language versions of your online marketing materials for overseas locations – a cute YouTube video that works for the German market may fall flat in Asia. If you can’t find a reliable resource locally to advise you on suitable localised content, Ireland’s diaspora can be helpful: use LinkedIn.com to source Irish marketing experts working abroad, either freelance or as part of agencies, who can help quality-check the communications you intend to roll out in international markets.
4. What devices are customers using to read your website?
There’s no point in developing great messaging if your target market can’t access it. You may have heard about the need for websites to offer “responsive design,” which simply means that your website effortlessly reformats itself to be easily read on a mobile phone, tablet or other non-PC device. Research from Accenture shows 77% of internet users in Ireland are using a mobile device, such as a tablet, to access the web. This trend isn’t unique to Ireland: other key international markets such as Brazil, South Africa and Russia also favour mobile internet access. Speak to your web developer to ensure visibility and usability of your website on mobile devices; website development tools like WordPress offer a number of responsive themes for developing a web presence.
A final thought about developing your messaging: remember that the rise of social media has changed the marketing landscape, and target customers now demand clear, jargon-free descriptions of what your company does. Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation is probably one of the best books about the need to ‘keep it real’ in marketing. As Joel notes, fluffy marketing speak doesn’t cut it today. Customers expect that your company will speak in a real voice, not least because they just can’t spare the time to figure out what your densely-worded marketing materials mean; they’ll simply find themselves drawn to a more plain-speaking competitor.
Sheila Averbuch is a former business journalist and managing director for the content services agency ENNClick .
Guest blog from Paula Connor, Digital Marketing Manager, Dara Creative.
Enterprise Ireland work with many clients who are exporting to develop and implement their digital marketing strategies to help them expand globally. One of the main methods that can be used is email marketing.
Recent research from the Marketing Institute of Ireland into email marketing revealed that 84% of businesses surveyed consider it an important or very important component of their overall marketing strategy. The study also revealed “80% of respondents expect that spend on email marketing will either stay the same (42.7%) or increase (37.1%) over the next 12 months. This reflects the positive sentiments being shown towards email by Irish marketers today”.
But why are these businesses so keen?
Let’s examine the benefits of email marketing for exporting your business and hear from Auxilion who recently worked with Dara Creative and are seeing great success from their email marketing campaigns.
Benefits of Email Marketing for Exporters:
- It drives sales - pushing the customer to buy your product through strong calls to action. And you can send a message to a huge database of people all at once.
- Showcases your brand powerfully – it builds brand awareness, maintains customer relationships and encourages loyalty as well as repeat business.
- It will drive traffic to your website through strong calls to action and it nurtures leads (helps encourage prospects become customers).
- Cost effective - there’s a great return on investment with the initial cost of sending a campaign only $5 and then 1 cent per recipient. Your company doesn’t need to have a local office to get in touch with prospects in any country.
- Instantly trackable results - your email marketing software will allow you to see clicks from customers based all over the world in real time. Don’t forget email is also viral – it’s so easy for people to forward your message on to others, spreading your message further than you could alone.
- Send in any timezone - Take full control over when your subscribers will receive your campaigns.
- Integrates with your online marketing strategy - you can include links to your social media and blog posts. You can also offer your customers reasons to return to you as a trusted expert by prompting them to avail of white paper downloads. Don’t forget customers will often do research online before picking up the phone or coming into your business to buy in person and email marketing will trigger this process.
- You can personalise the content you send out – The more information you collect, the more messages can be tailored and personalised. Email also has the ability to segment, meaning you can split people off into smaller targeted lists.
- Likewise it’s easy to build up a strong database and keep your database up to date - manage your unsubscribes / bouncebacks. Opt in and Opt out facilities mean you will have a very targeted database, people who are genuinely interested in your offer.
- You can run A/B Split testing - test different headlines and different email designs and content to see which is more effective for each market you are targeting. You don’t get to do that with a traditional print ad for example!
Export Client Success with Email Marketing
Auxilion is an Irish company delivering outsourced IT Support Services, Customer Support Services and Project Support Services for companies across Ireland, the UK and the globe. They are a cloud computing support spin-out from I.T. Alliance Group and have been using email marketing since the launch of their newly designed website with great success. Auxilion have initially targeted the Irish and UK markets and email marketing is helping them by driving traffic to their website and with their business development.
This email marketing campaign was particularly successful with a conversion rate of 10% into genuine leads that the sales team can exploit.
The team at Auxilion are delighted with the results they are seeing so far as a result of their email marketing efforts:
“With email marketing consultancy services from Dara Creative, we have generated a number of great sales leads into targeted accounts for our Virtual Service Desk and IT support service solutions. We have benefited from skills transfer from their team of email marketing experts, helping us to leverage this low-cost marketing tool to full effect in 2013.”
– John Paul O’Keeffe, Marketing Specialist, Auxilion
If you are a client company of Enterprise Ireland and are interested in getting more information on our eMarketing Support, please contact your Development Advisor.
This article was written by Paula Connor, Dara Creative for Enterprise Ireland’s Internet Marketing Unit.
Few marketing techniques give you more impact than video content. In the US 183 million people watched more than 37 billion online videos in September 2012 — and that’s just one of a host of compelling statistics about the power of video you can see here .
Most tellingly, B2B companies using video have experienced in annual sales increase of up to 36%, according to Brightcove.
Where do you start if you want to tell your story through video? In the Irish market here are the three main options to choose from, in increasing order of cost:
Option 1: Screen capture €
Screen capture is the most cost-effective way to get some video content onto your company’s YouTube channel. Using a free tool like www.screenr.com and a microphone-equipped headset, you can talk your way through a presentation on your desktop, recording your voice as if you were giving the presentation to a roomful of people. Your voice and what’s showing on your desktop will be recorded as video. Screenr allows you to resize the area of your desktop that is captured, letting you frame out anything you don’t want to show, like other open tabs on your browser or your bookmarks. Once you’ve finished, you can download the recording; or if you already have a YouTube account, click “publish to YouTube.” YouTube will then give you code to let you embed your video as a blog post on your website. While Screenr is free, your time is money, and it could take you one to two hours to create a finished product you are happy with.
Option 2: Customer success stories on video €€
You can have a finished corporate video for between €1500 and €5000, but filming your M.D. talking about your products isn’t the way to go. Instead, work with a video production company to capture your customer success stories. Video your happiest customers talking to camera about the problem you solved for them, and how you’re different from other providers they’ve worked with. A scriptwriter or director typically pre-interviews the person to be filmed, then pieces together a narrative and a rough shot list, for use on the day of filming.
Option 3: Animation €€
This is at the high end of budget, in the €5,000 to €10,000 range, but the impact can be impressive, at a price point not dissimilar to the cost of printing and distributing a traditional glossy brochure. If you have a complex product or service to explain, like the software that Drogheda-based Armac Systems sells to the global aviation sector, animation in particular does a great job at helping your target market grasp what you do. The usual process is to work with an agency or scriptwriter to develop the concept and the voiceover, and then move into production. A typical way to approach an explanatory animation is to show the old and problematic way of doing things, followed by the new way, ending with a clear call to action. Animations can easily be localised for international markets: when recording the voiceover artist’s script in studio, a second artist and translated script in your target market language can be recorded for a small incremental cost.
When you post your video onto YouTube, please don’t omit the essential step of writing relevant descriptive information — this is vital for helping your service to be found through YouTube search or another search engine. A detailed description of your video allows potential buyers to zero in on your video, no matter how niche your product or service. Hubspot has created a good guide to optimising your video descriptions on YouTube for search engine visibility.
If you have your eye on a range of international markets, it’s possible to set up a dedicated YouTube channel for each, as retail giant Lidl has done for territories like Spain, Poland, Germany and so on. YouTube is localised in 43 countries and available in 60 languages, so there is ample opportunity to reach the market you’re looking to penetrate.
What are your experiences of online video? Are there good examples of business-to-business video marketing you could share?
Sheila Averbuch is a former business journalist and managing director for the content services agency ENNclick .
Extensive keyword research has helped asset protection firm Netwatch successfully expand its brand into new markets.
Taking a focused approach to its online marketing efforts, including detailed analysis of end-user search trends, has reaped rewards for rapidly growing Carlow company Netwatch, allowing it to enhance its brand recognition globally.
Online a key ingredient in the marketing mix
Over the past year, with Netwatch expanding rapidly outside of its home market, online has become an increasingly important part of its marketing mix. A website re-design prompted the firm to think about how it portrayed itself online. Though the company was well known in Ireland, it needed to educate the UK and US markets and ensure its message was clear. “We knew we wanted to project our ethos as a customer-focused, high-level service for our new markets; it was important to us that our online presence reflected our growing company,” explains Therese Cullen, Communications Manager at Netwatch.
Keyword research drives success Google AdWords campaign
Key for Netwatch is educating the marketplace on visual asset management and ensuring that people could find the company website. Conscious that its technology and service was relatively new on the market, Netwatch had to think carefully about how people would find its site online. “People weren’t typing in keywords specific to our service; in fact, the volume of searches for keywords in our area was low. So we had to be clever about our keywords,” says Therese. “We did extensive research into what areas we should be targeting and what people were actually searching for.”
Based on its research, Netwatch’s Google AdWords campaign focused on keywords related to what people would type in if they were looking for a new security service. “We were essentially intercepting people who were thinking about or researching alternative security systems,” explains Therese. Netwatch monitors and analyses its AdWords keywords regularly, allowing it to tweak the keywords if necessary to reflect searching trends.
Focus on content enhances organic SEO
Netwatch also used this invaluable keyword research to shape its website content in order to improve its ranking in Google’s organic search results. “Sometimes we speak our own language, but through our research we realised the terminology or words we use were not what people were familiar with so we brought our web copy into language that people would be searching for,” explains Therese. “We have three websites: our Irish site, and sites focusing specifically on the UK and US markets. We’ve done a lot of work in terms of our messaging in these local markets, and as a result we’re ranking well in search results and increasing our site traffic.”
In September 2012, almost 2,500 people visited the Netwatch site, clocking up 7,950 pageviews, an average of 3.3 pages per visit. This represents a significant 35% increase in visitors from the same period in 2011.
Leading the conversation through social media
In other efforts to boost its organic search ranking, Netwatch introduced an individual blog to its three sites. The blogs focus on key trends and developments in each of the markets. Importantly, Therese said management have bought in to the blog and it is regularly updated on each of the sites. “We’ve had great buy-in from our management team for our online strategy. We’ve even provided internal training to ensure everyone who needs to be is up to speed on online and developing our content strategy.”
The company’s online strategy also includes a well-developed social media presence. Having analysed the different social media platforms Netwatch decided to focus on Twitter and LinkedIn. “Our end users are predominantly business owners, so we see Twitter and LinkedIn as perfect mediums for us,” explains Therese.
Netwatch has a company page on LinkedIn where it posts status updates and lists available jobs. Netwatch employees also have individual LinkedIn profiles from where they interact with contacts and build up their network. The company also makes use of LinkedIn Groups, which Therese says is a useful way to keep up to date with what’s happening in their particular sector.
Netwatch primarily uses Twitter to interact with people. “We monitor searches and ‘mentions’ so we can identify if people are having conversations about Netwatch. If these conversations are happening we need to be there and get involved with the conversation,” says Therese.
Integrated campaigns pay dividends
“We’ve developed a solid online marketing strategy that continues to evolve. Online fits in well with our overall marketing approach – and we’ve run some very successful integrated campaigns that involve billboard, direct mail, online competition, QR codes and a Google AdWords campaign – this approach ensures a broad reach. With online in the mix, the potential of what we could be doing is limitless.”
Watch the Dublin Web Summit ‘Live’ here on Wednesday 17th & Thursday 18th October 2012.
Over 200 international speakers and 3,000 plus attendees from 50+ countries will descend on Dublin. This event is sponsored by Enterprise Ireland. There are 5 concurrent sessions which you can watch live from 9:15am - Main Event, Cloud Session, Digital Marketing Stream, Developer Stream and Interviews.
For the first time there will be a dedicated Digital Marketing Stream .
Digital Marketing Stream Schedule
09:15 – Cillian Kieran, Founder & CEO of Folio & CKSK
09:30 – Alan Coleman, CEO of Wolfgang Digital
09:45 – Andrzej Moyseowicz, Strategy & Innovation Director at Saatchi & Saatchi
10:00 - Ronan Harris, Senior Director at Google
10:15 - Joshua March, Co-founder & CEO of Conversocial
10:30 – Hubert Grealish, Global Head of Brand Communications at Diageo
10:45 – Mark Henderson, General Manager of LivingSocial Ireland
11:00 - BREAK
11:30 - Niall Harbison, Co-founder of Simply Zesty
11:45 - Dharmesh Shah, Co- founder & CTO of Hubspot
12:00 - Stephen O’Leary, O’Leary Analytics
12:15 - Joe Stepniewski, Co-Founder of Skimlinks
12:30 - Jon Myers, Commercial Director at Marin Software
12:45: Silje Vallestad, CEO & Founder of Bipper
13:00 - LUNCH
14:00 – Gregor Poynton, Political Director (UK) at Blue State Digital
14:15 – Alexis Dormandy, Founder & CEO of LoveThis
14:30 – Mark Dewings, Brand & Marketing Communications for SoundCloud
14:45 – Aubrey Sabala, VP of Marketing & Communications at Sailthru
15:00 – Scott Belsky, Founder & CEO of Behance
15:15 – Mark Kornfilt, Co-founder of Livestream
09:15 - Joanna Lord, VP of Growth Marketing at SEOmoz
09:30 - Caroline Ghosn, Founder & CEO of The Levo League
09:45 - Maya Baratz, Senior Product Manager at ABC News
10:00 - Bas Van Den Beld, Founder & Chief Editor of State of Search
10:15 - Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite
10:30 - BREAK
11:00 – Sarah Wood, Co-founder & COO of Unruly Media
11:15 - Rachel Tipograph, Director, Global Digital & Social Media at Gap Inc.
11:30 - Kathryn Parsons, Co-founder of Decoded
11:45 - Jan Rezab, CEO of SocialBakers
12:00 - Cindy Gallop, Founder of Make Love Not Porn & IfWeRanTheWorld
12:15 - Brian Wong, Co-founder & CEO of Kiip
12:30 - Omid Ashtari, Director of Business Development at Foursquare
Getting your messaging right is one of the hardest tasks facing any business owner/manager. Have you thought about asking your customers for their view? By Sheila Averbuch, ENNclick.
When I first started writing about the internet as a journalist in 1995, it wasn’t unusual for a corporate website to be a plain page with a door you could “click to enter”, leading you to a “welcome from our CEO”. Thankfully design styles have changed, but surprisingly, many companies still take this 1990s approach when developing their messaging.
Your messaging is the way you describe yourself; you use it in your sales presentation, website, brochure, LinkedIn profile – you get the idea. Have a quick look at your website homepage. If your messaging is focussed on you, rather than on the impact your services have on customers, your homepage probably emphasises things like how long you’ve been in business, or how comprehensive your services set is.
To describe yourself in a way that’s more relevant to your customers, here’s what we always recommend when we are helping companies with their messaging:
- Get an impartial third party to interview your customers. Ideally you’d like your customer’s agreement to take part in a case study – one which mentions your customer by name, describes your work for them and explains what they value about you. If you feel you can’t ask your customers for a case study, explain that you’re working on your marketing messages, and that you’d like those messages to be based in fact (you may even share an amusing back-and-forth in which you both ponder how insincere and fluffy most marketing bumf is). Most people like to be asked for their opinion; and if they’re a happy customer, chances are they’ll agree to take a call from a writer about your services.
- Focus the interview questions on value: What has been the impact on their organisation from working with your company? What do they value most about your company? These questions often tease out strengths that you should be emphasising in your messaging.
- How do you compare to the competition? It’s possible your customers have used other suppliers similar to you in the past. Could they describe what’s different about your service compared to other suppliers?
- Which of your services does the customer use now, and do they know about your other services? It’s shocking how frequently loyal customers may be unaware of all the services you offer. Be sure the writer captures the services your customer is aware of, and asks whether the customer would like to receive email updates about new services or other news from your company. The writer may even pick up some key language here that explains the vocabulary customers use when describing your services – this could be important as you develop the keywords you want to incorporate into your website’s page titles and website copy.
It’s hard to think of a compelling reason not to include your customers when you’re working on your messaging. Even if the service you offer is confidential — perhaps your customers consider you a “secret weapon” and want to keep you to themselves – it’s likely that satisfied customers will agree to help, as long as their names aren’t used.
What do your customers say about you? The answer to that question is the foundation for marketing messages that show your strengths, position you against the competition, and – best of all — are grounded in the truth.
Sheila Averbuch is the founder of ENNclick content services (http://ennclick.com/blog), which provides messaging workshops, social media training and professional writing services in Ireland and the UK.
A website re-launch has seen Mergon Group significantly enhance its online profile and generate qualified leads.
Technical plastics moulding manufacturer Mergon Group has recently kickstarted its online presence, which is spearheaded by a website that is now working hard for the company.
Wanted: a hard-working website
In 2011, following an assessment of its existing website, Mergon was prompted to re-design its site in a bid to raise its profile online. “While our website compared favourably with our competitors, we felt we needed to bring it up to the level of our customers’ sites,” explained Caolan Bushell, business development manager at Mergon. “Our clients are mainly high-profile, blue-chip companies including BMW,Toyota, Xerox and Abbott. Our site simply needed to be better.”
Not only did the site’s appearance need to improve, Mergon was also keen to get more from the website, make it work harder for the company. The company partnered with Doherty White on the development of the new website, and Caolan was impressed from the start by the technology marketing firm’s suggestion that the site could be used to generate business.
According to Caolan, Doherty White approached the site re-vamp with a clear strategy: to maximise the potential of the website. “The aim was to drive more traffic to the site, make relevant content available for download, and use that content to generate targeted leads,” explained Caolan.
Relevant content creates leads
Launched in February 2012, the new-look Mergon website features topical whitepapers, customer case studies and a company newsletter. The content is focused on the interests of Mergon’s customers; Doherty White interviewed several clients and identified their particular interests, tailoring the content appropriately. Traffic to the site has increased threefold since the launch of the new website, and a number of leads have been developed.
Each time someone downloads content from the site, they enter their name and email address. This information is automatically entered into a back end system developed by Doherty White that works to analyse that data, adding more intelligence to it and generating a profile of the site visitor. Caolan receives an email with this relevant data: IP address, location, how long the visitor stayed on the site, what content they downloaded, what pages they visited, and the keyword they used to reach the site. “From this data I can gauge the level of interest this visitor has in our business and follow up with them if appropriate. There’s no doubt these leads are quite targeted and relevant,” he said.
Website reinforces the Mergon brand
Since launch, client feedback about the website has been positive. According to Caolan, the site has also emerged as a key validation tool. “Anecdotally, we’ve been told that the website has been a good starting point for companies who may be researching our credentials and experience with a view to working with us. Our website stands up to that research now: visitors are provided with relevant content including customer case studies, which showcase the work we’ve done.”
Google AdWords drives targeted traffic to the site
Thanks to a targeted approach to its Google AdWords campaigns, Mergon is confident that the majority of visitors coming to its website have an interest in the company’s products. “We identified the specific keywords our customers were typing into Google to find us so we are confident that the traffic we’re getting is extremely relevant. With each new campaign we run on AdWords we typically see a fourfold spike in traffic, a sign that our strategy is working,” says Caolan.
Mergon consistently appears on the first page of Google search results for its focus keywords, which Caolan says is important for the firm’s online visibility. “We need to be on the first page; if we were coming up on page three or four of the search results, we might as well be invisible.”
Social media enhances Mergon’s online presence
Supplementing its website, Mergon has also created a Twitter profile (@MergonGroup) through which it communicates with customers. Caolan said he aims to tweet at least once a week, usually tweeting about some relevant article or re-tweeting an interesting industry tweet. “Our customers have responded well to our Twitter profile. We’re always looking for relevant things to tweet about and we have received positive feedback. We’ve even received calls on the back of some of our tweets.”
Twitter has also proven useful as an industry news feed. “We follow all our customers on Twitter. This makes sure we are always up-to-speed on what they’re doing and any announcements. I make sure to fill my colleagues in on any relevant developments, which ensures they can always talk knowledgeably with our customers,” said Caolan.
Website takes a key role in Mergon business
Mergon plans to continue developing its website: refreshing its content regularly, publishing whitepapers on Slideshare, as well as establishing a blogging strategy.
“Working with Doherty White on our new website has given us a whole new level of consciousness of the internet as a marketing and sales tool,” Caolan said. “We have seen for ourselves how a solid strategy has helped to drive traffic to our site and generate sales leads.”
Reflecting Mergon’s commitment to its website, Caolan explained that website traffic and leads generated online have been added to the firm’s key performance indicators. “There is more visibility around the website within the company. More of an understanding of the benefits it can deliver.”
An eMarketing event focusing on how companies can utilise the Internet to more successfully trade their products and services in international markets is taking place in the Radisson Hotel, Ennis Road, Limerick, on Thursday 8th of March. Hosted by Enterprise Ireland’s Internet Marketing Unit, attendees will learn about the online strategies and processes needed to identify, reach and retain new customers.
The event is specifically targeted at those who work in international marketing and sales, or those responsible for their company’s online marketing strategy. Leading experts in their fields will cover topics such as:
- Developing an Online Marketing Strategy;
- Online Localisation for International Markets;
- Search Engine Optimisation and Pay Per Click Marketing;
- Managing your Digital Investment;
- Branding & Getting the Web Site Content Right.
Speakers attending the event include Fiachra Ó Marcaigh, Director, AMAS, a consultancy specialising in online channels; Niall McKeown, MD, iON, a digital consultancy and online marketing business; John Coburn, MD, PraxisNow, a specialist SEO and search marketing service provider; Ed Field, MD, Digino, one of Ireland’s longest established, largest and most respected digital marketing services companies; and Anton Mannering, Partner at Primary Position, an Internet marketing and SEO consultancy.
The cost of this half-day event is €65 per person, and further details can be obtained from the event website. Please note that this event is strictly for existing clients of Enterprise Ireland.
In order to book and confirm your participation, register and make payment online here.