Author: Xavier Tan

Digital marketing in Singapore is changing very fast. If you are in touch with what your competitors are doing online, you will notice that some of your more savvy competitors pick up new digital marketing strategies every now and then. One of the up and coming aspects of digital marketing is marketing automation. 

Marketing automation is the bread and butter of any modern marketing, but for various reasons, many businesses in Singapore are not using it. The potential for marketing automation to change your business positively is huge. Among the many benefits, marketing automation can produce up to 451% of increase in qualified leads, and improve sales productivity by up to 14.5%.

In this article, we’ll cover how marketing automation can be relevant for different types of business, the benefits of marketing automation, the key to marketing automation success, and factors to consider when implementing it.

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation has been in the market since 2005. There are many different definitions of marketing automation. But to put it simply, marketing automation refers to using software to help automate marketing tasks. These tasks are generally related to engaging with your customers or prospects, social media, email. Marketing automation software helps you do these tasks at scale, hence, it’s becoming more important for digital marketers.

Benefits of marketing automation

#1 Scale

Any business that requires you to engage with your customers at scale, will benefit from marketing automation. Regardless of whether you’re a B2B, B2C, small brick and mortar business, or an eCommerce shop, you will benefit from marketing automation as long as you need to engage with your customers.

Have you ever experienced the pain of copying and pasting a text message template to each customer, replacing the (name) text with your customer’s name? Marketing automation software allows you to do such things within a few clicks.

#2 Personalized messages

Personalized messages

Whether you’re creating email content, social media content, digital marketing ads, or any follow-up messages, it’s important that content is personalized and speaks to your customers, because personalized and highly relevant content generates huge ROI. 

Some statistics report a 20% increase in sales due to personalized content. Personalized email marketing campaigns have a 26% higher open-rate than generic email content. Some digital marketing campaigns even have 700% increase in ROI from segmented campaigns.

#3 Segmentation

Not all leads are the same. Some leads are easier to close, some leads need more nurturing before you can close the sale. That’s the idea of segmenting your customer database. You can set various permutations so that your leads can see content that triggers their interest in your service/product. 

#4 Holistic view of your customers

Marketing automation software allows you to see the full picture of how your customers from each marketing channel are engaging with you. Whether it’s Google ads, social media marketing, events, email marketing etc, you will benefit from seeing the full picture of how customers are engaging with you at various marketing touch points.

#5 Productivity and reliability

Because we are using technology to do repetitive tasks, human errors can be reduced. Recently, a client told me that he hired a new staff to follow up on new leads that came through Facebook marketing. They get a few hundred leads a month, so it’s difficult to manage the leads by themselves, that’s why they got a new staff to do that. Little did they know, a few weeks after, that the new staff forgot to follow up with a BUNCH of new leads.

It’s too late to follow up with the leads by the time they realized. With technology, you won’t have this problem. Marketing automation software follows up with your leads according to the algorithm you set, and the cost of this type of software is definitely cheaper than hiring a staff to do this.

#6 End-to-end customer lifecycle management

Marketing automation allows you to manage the whole customer journey. It begins when a lead first contacts you through your online ads, or through your telemarketing/sales team, then continues through the stage of education, which leads to a trial, then the first actual purchase, followed by retention and loyalty building.

The Key to Success with Marketing Automation

Many companies use marketing automation but see no significant improvement in terms of sales or customer retention. The most common question they ask is: What is the best marketing automation software out there?

That is the wrong question to ask.

Having the right software will not give you success. The key lies in the marketing strategy. But not just a marketing strategy. Most companies’ marketing strategy just involve getting the customers to the door. After that, the process of following up and retaining them is non-existent.

You need to have the right end-to-end marketing strategy to see success. 

Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Software

There are many good marketing automation software out there, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Marketo, Eloqua and etc. Tt can be overwhelming to find the best one for your business. The criteria to based on your decision on depends. It depends on your business requirements, and how your company is structured

Think about how it’s going to sync with other parts of your business, such as:

– CRM system

– Website analytics

– Online booking/payment platform

– Email marketing software

– Telemarketing tools

Does the API integrate with your other tools?

Defining your Processes

What are the processes at the different parts of the marketing funnel? 

How do you handle enquiries? Most customers would ask common questions such as “What’s your price?”, or “Why should I choose you over your competitors?”. Do you have a good standardized answer?

How do you follow up with these leads? What’s the nurturing process? Do you get them to come down for a free trial, or a discounted first-time trial? Do you share with them certain series of content depending on what they are interested in, how they behave, and how they respond to your content? There are multiple scenarios of a customer journey, and you have to think about that. Come up with a nurturing process for each of these common customer journeys.

What’s your digital marketing strategy? How are you ensuring that you are constantly getting streams of new leads enquiring about your services/products everyday? If you are not getting new leads consistently, then your marketing funnel is not growing. One of the main benefits of marketing automation is scale. When we talk about scale, one of the best ways to scale your marketing efforts is through digital marketing.

Getting the right digital marketing team in place. Getting the right digital marketing team in place is not easy. There are many digital marketing strategies, and each requires different skillsets. SEM, SEO, social media marketing, content marketing, and etc. If you are hiring a digital marketer, you will need to ensure that he/she has enough experience to advise you on what are the digital marketing strategies to implement. Depending on the strategies, the digital marketer needs to be good at designing, writing social media content, copywriting, analyzing and optimising digital marketing campaigns, to name a few. It’s almost impossible to find someone who can do all that, that’s why most of the time, it’s better to hire a digital marketing agency. You get a team of experts working for you, from the campaign manager, designer, copywriter, to the account manager.

 

Starting a Facebook business page and getting high quality followers can be challenging, what more turning these followers into customers. Sadly, many small businesses in Singapore are making mistakes on Facebook marketing that are turning people away from their brand.

These common Facebook marketing mistakes must be avoided at all cost if your business intends on getting more fans and customers from Facebook.

#1 Too much promotional content

I’ve seen many Facebook pages of companies in Singapore making this mistake. Small business owners think that Facebook is some sort of a Straits Times Classified section where they just spam all their promotional banners and offers.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. We live in a world of excessive advertising – there are adverts everywhere we look. There is enough advertising in the traditional space that overwhelms us, but talk of the online environment? Dealing with online adverts is one of the daily annoyances that customers have become accustomed to and as a result people tend to switch their minds off when presented with an advert. It’s a turnoff.

Facebook audience will not come back to these kind of pages. But how much is too much and just how often should you be posting purely promotional content? There’s no short answer to this. The idea is you have to educate, entertain, and engage an emotional response from your customers. The Triple E method as we call it. When you implement the Triple E method, you’ll find that you’ll stand out from the social media clutter of noise.

I’ll give you some examples.

Educate

educational facebook post
Blinds vs curtains. Which is better? Your customers would love to find out. This post is for a furniture business that sells blinds, wallpapers, and flooring. When you educate your customers, you’re positioning yourself as an expert. People buy from experts. Experts can sell their products at higher prices.

Entertain

entertaining facebook post
Entertain your audience with interesting posts that are related to your business. This post is for a business that does baking classes. Good visuals definitely helps, just look at the number of shares and likes 😉

Engage people emotionally

facebook post engage emotionally

A high quality image and a description like this triggers an emotional response in your Facebook audience. This is for a furniture company that predominantly sells Italian-made sofas. You don’t have to post heavy content on your Facebook everytime. Content like this triggers an emotional response in your customers.

They view your products differently, and would certainly cement yourself in their minds as a company that sells high quality sofas. Don’t forget that Facebook is a social platform, where people share things they find funny, interesting, and informative. Social media users logon to the various platforms to discover new stuff.

So think about the kind of content that your customers would like.

#2 Lack of content marketing strategy

One main reason why companies are just posting promotional content on their Facebook page is because of a lack of knowledge on what to post. They usually post random content that has no clear direction.

What can a TGIF post, or a Happy New Year post do to your business?

Nothing.

Your Facebook activity is all over the place and you’re probably just trying to ensure that you have some kind of activity. After all, something is better than nothing right? Well, if you want to see profitable results from your Facebook efforts then this statement is wrong. What better way to chase customers away than to offer them boring and irrelevant content? There is enough boring in the world and people don’t need any more from your brand.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and understand what kind of content they need. Give your audience what they want and need. If you remain mediocre and boring, your customers will not find you relevant in their lives and will not engage with your brand. Posting boring and irrelevant content on your Facebook page is a way of de-marketing your brand – you’re encouraging your audience not to engage with you. Be exciting and always aim to offer value to your audience.

Results on Facebook don’t just happen by accident, every single activity is planned and deliberate – even the unplanned content, that should have a plan too. In the social media space, content is everything. According to Content Marketing Institute, 70% of surveyed marketers say they are creating more content than they did a year ago.

That means for your company to stand out, you need to have a content marketing strategy. An effective content marketing plan consists of asking yourself the following:

  • Who is your target market? Demographics, habits, interests, etc
  • What are their problems/wants/needs?
  • What are the popular content that your competitors have?
  • What unique value does your business add to your target market? What are your solutions to your target market’s problems?

Understanding your target audience thoroughly will assist you creating and delivering content that is relevant to their needs. Also, knowing your brand story will help you create an appropriate personality that will give character to your messaging.

Other than asking yourself these questions, you could find more content ideas through Facebook (use the search tool), Pinterest, Google images, Buzzsumo and Twitter. See what’s working out there, what kind of posts have the most engagements. Aim to post around twice a week. That’s the ideal frequency for typical small businesses.

Too much content would annoy your fans. Too little, would make customers think that your Facebook page is outdated, and hence, think that you might have gone out of business.

#3 Not responding quickly

When customers go on to a business’ Facebook page to communicate with you, they expect an immediate response from the company. We live in a world where we expect instant response.

Customers may feel the need to contact your business through Facebook for any enquiries. Facebook is a tool that can be used for multiple uses, one of them as a customer service platform. Many clients of ours receive 20-40 messages on their Facebook in one weekend. People are using Facebook to contact you.

Not responding fast enough to users’ messages can give a negative impression and most importantly it can negatively affect your sales. Facebook has realized how important it is that businesses with Facebook pages respond to user posts and messages that they have created a tab on every page that shows the response time.

facebook page response time

Imagine coming to a Facebook page and seeing that your respond time is fast. There would be a higher percentage of people enquiring about your products/services.

#4 No Facebook marketing sales funnel

Facebook has so many features that you can use to grow your business. But herein lies the problem. Many businesses do not know how to use those features in a proper, coherent manner that drives sales.

What works and what doesn’t? What’s the best way?

In offline sales, companies typically have a sales funnel. It can be something like: Have a roadshow, give people free gifts to entice them and get their contacts, follow up on these contacts, offer them a free consultation or free sample of your product, and ultimately sell them. So if there’s an offline sales funnel, there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a sales funnel for online marketing.

Without a proper sales funnel, you’re wasting your time and money on Facebook marketing. Before I go into what an effective Facebook sales funnel looks like, I’ll talk about the state of mind when people use Facebook, and why marketing messages on Facebook needs to be different than messages on other marketing channels.

People go to Facebook to discover new things 95% of Facebook users aren’t in a purchase mood.

They don’t log on to Facebook with an intent. They log on to Facebook purely to discover new and interesting stuff, and connect with friends. People go to Google with an intent, to search for something, that’s the main difference between Google and Facebook marketing. So if you’re selling something to people directly on Facebook, that might not be the most effective method.

You might find that many people engaged with your ads, have a volume of people clicking to your website, but conversion to sales is very low. That’s the problem.

When you sell something directly to people who are not in a purchasing mood, most of them simply ignore your ads. It’s a big jump to get Facebook users to buy your stuff immediately when they’re not in the mood. And when 95% of them exit from your ad, you simply wasted your Facebook ad budget.

It’s either a yes or no, and most of the time, it’s a no from your prospects. So what’s a better way to do Facebook marketing? You need to nurture your prospects, and get them to say an easy “yes”. To get them to say an easy “yes”, give them an offer that is attractive and easy to say yes to. It can be something like: 10% one-time discount coupon, a free gift if you purchase above $xxx, a free consultation etc.

Now that you’ve had a brief understanding of Facebook users, let’s go back to the sales funnel. Typically, the sales funnel that we use for our clients’ Facebook marketing looks something like that:

  • Drive Facebook traffic to landing page
  • Give an attractive offer to consumers in exchange for their email address
  • Nurture these leads using email marketing
  • Do remarketing to people who visited your landing page but didn’t become a lead

Reason why we want to collect email addresses is because by doing so, you can reach out to these people who are interested in your services/products in two ways: emails and Facebook.

If you don’t collect their email addresses, there’s no way you can reach out to these people again who have shown a slight interest (when they click on your Facebook ad to your landing page) in your products/services.

Frequently communicating and educating with these leads will allow you to stay top of mind in your customers eyes. When these customers want to buy your products/services, you’ll most likely be the first one they think of and go to.

#5 Poor visuals

Our world is becoming more visual. 10% of photos taken by humans happened in the past year. The most popular social media platforms are image centric – Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest.

Our attention is also becoming shorter. From blogging (where people had to write long blog articles), to Facebook, and then Twitter (where you can only communicate within 140 characters), to Instagram (one picture).

The best way to stand out and capture people’s short attention span in this day and age is through a picture. A picture is worth a thousand words. People are also more likely to buy and engage with your content if it has quality images.

Visuals can work both ways. Your visuals can speak either a thousand good or a thousand bad words depending on your presentation. How would you judge someone in an interview that came dressed dirty and scruffy?

Certainly not in their favor. Customers will judge your business based on the Facebook appearance displayed through the quality of your visuals. Poor quality and low resolution images should be avoided completely as it gives a negative impression to your customers. Many small business owners in Singapore think that they can save money on visuals by taking photos from their catalogue or suppliers, but that usually doesn’t cut it. Those photos are either low res, or dull.

It doesn’t stand out.

The most popular Facebook pages have stunning images. Our clients who took the effort to take high quality photos of their products are doing significantly better on Facebook marketing than businesses who don’t dare to fork out some money to hire a decent photographer to take photos.

#6 Expecting a miracle with little resources

Too many times, when I meet potential clients, they tell me that Facebook marketing doesn’t work for them. When I probe further and ask what have they tried on Facebook, they would say something like, “I’ve tried boosting a Facebook post with $50”, “I’ve tried posting some content on Facebook, but nobody likes it.

There’s no sales coming from my Facebook.” Really?

You expect a miracle from a $50 ad? You expect sales from random and useless Facebook posts? Getting sales from Facebook is not easy. If you’re planning to manage Facebook marketing by yourself, then you need to set aside time to do research on the kind of content that works. Look at my point above on how to plan for a content marketing strategy.

Good content involves understanding your target market, and expertise in your industry. It takes time and effort to develop good content that can generate sales.

With a $50 ad spend, do you think the conclusion that you draw is accurate? There are many factors that affect the effectiveness of Facebook ads. Your target audience, your ad creative, message, visuals, timing and etc. Don’t rule out Facebook advertising as a viable marketing channel. Test with a bigger budget, and test smartly.

Now that you are more informed about the common Facebook marketing mistakes that small businesses make, remember that your Facebook page is your 24/7 salesman. Invest in areas where you need to, be it design, or content. Focus on activities that will drive your brand towards positive engagements with your customers.

The idea of selling your products or services on Facebook may seem like a very exciting marketing tactic considering there are around 3 million users in Singapore who are on Facebook.

This is a whopping 55% of Singapore’s population! Reaching more than half of Singapore’s population is a marketing method that’s too good for you to miss. Many businesses in Singapore are using or have tried using Facebook marketing.

Unfortunately, many of them say that they’re not getting much sales from the platform. No worries, all is not lost and there is something you can do to get sales rolling in through Facebook.

We’ve helped clients generate $250,000 in sales consistently every month from Facebook marketing alone, so we’re gonna show you 11 scientific reasons why you’re not getting customer enquiries or sales from Facebook marketing.

1. Poor visuals

poor facebook visual

Source: https://goo.gl/90hPtl

Which is more appealing? The picture above, or the picture below?

good facebook visuals

Source: https://www.facebook.com/contemposg

Obviously the picture below, right? Having attractive images and videos as part of your social media marketing plan is an ever growing trend but the importance of good quality visuals on your Facebook page is too great to ignore.

Communicating on Facebook with poor visuals is a representation of the product or service potential customers can expect to experience. In fact, in certain industries, customers regard visuals of products/services higher than they do reviews or ratings. Good visual posts are three times more likely to be clicked on than just ordinary text.

High quality images and videos have been proven to increase conversions by over 80%. They will also make your brand stand out from the noisy online crowd and is a great way of making a memorable impression.

If you’re still not convinced, take a look at the direction Facebook is going in. They have advertising policies like not having more than 20% text in your ads. This shows you that Facebook wants to keep it’s platform visual. Another reason why good visuals are better is because we live in a cluttered world. We are bombarded with information every minute. Users don’t have much attention to pay to your boring visuals or long text posts.

As the adage goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. How true.

2. You’re overselling

Overselling on your Facebook page is criminal.

Customers dislike having to be constantly marketed at; after all they have to deal with this throughout their day and you certainly don’t want to add to their irritations. There’s a research that found we are bombarded by an average of 3,000 ads per day. That’s a hell lot of ads. We don’t have that much attention.

We are becoming blind to ads. Instead, your brand should embrace inbound marketing strategies to attract customers in by providing value to them. Providing value in the form of education and even entertainment is an effective way to grab their attention and keep them engaged enough to want to buy from you.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t sell to your customers. I’m just saying that in this day and age, when we are bombarded with so much ads every moment, you need to focus more on educating your customers. Your customers are getting smarter. They compare products before deciding on what to buy.

Consumers need to be educated, not sold to.

You have expert knowledge in your industry. Leverage on this. Use your knowledge to educate and engage your customers. When you educate, you conquer. You build trust. You’ll have your customers’ attention and they will value your business and the products and services you have to offer.

3. You’re not engaging with your audience

engaging facebook post

Just as with any relationship, communication is a two-way street. It’s not all about your business and what you have to say, but the voices of your customers are just as important.

Making your customers feel important, valued as well as making them feel that your business has an interest in them is an important engagement objective. Engagement on Facebook is in the form of likes, shares, and comments. All three are different ways to get your Facebook fans to interact with your brand.

The objective of Facebook comments would be to hear what your fans have to say, while likes and shares will help your brand increase your organic reach and visibility. In order to create engagement with your Facebook fans, your business should consider engagement tactics such as contests, questions or surveys as well as sharing content on current affairs and news that is relevant to your line of business.

4. Your Facebook page lacks a likeable personality

likeable facebook post

The reality is that people relate to people. They don’t relate to cold, impersonal businesses. Look at the big brands. From Ikea, to Nike, they all have a likeable personality that connects with consumers on an emotional level.

Creating a likeable personality on your Facebook page is critical in getting your customers to remember you. Staying top of mind in your customers’ head is the first step to selling them. People enjoy brands that are real, authentic and are relatable. Boring is not enjoyable and neither is it memorable.

People want to be empathized with. How does your business empathize with your customers? Knowing the needs/problems of your customers will help you to create a brand personality that they need in their lives, just like a friend. Once customers remember your brand, you will have their loyalty. Their loyalty is what will generate the sales you need from them.

5. Your products/services are simply not good enough

Sometimes, no matter how well you do your Facebook page and ads, the sales just doesn’t come.

The truth is that your products/services might not be good. People don’t need them, or your competitors have better products/services. Are you offering stuff better than your competitors? Are you giving more value to your customers compared to your competitors? *Note: Even though your products might be cheaper than your competitors, it doesn’t mean that you’re offering more value to your customers.

Customers want value for money, not cheapest products.

Does your product/service solve a problem? Great products/services solve a problem. If your products/services don’t solve a problem, it’s harder to sell to consumers. They don’t need it now. It’s a want, not a need. Even if your products/services solve a problem, are you actively communicating that on your Facebook page?

Even if your business offers the best priced products or services, as long as you’re not communicating this key message, then it’s difficult to get sales from any marketing efforts. You can communicate this key message on your Facebook page in two simple ways:

  • Cover photo
  • Pinned post

These two areas are areas where customers will look at immediately when they come to your Facebook page.

6. You’re not conveying your unique selling point (USP)

Chances are, your business has many competitors and you can’t stand out from the crowd. Having your USP conveyed will set you apart from your competitors and help your audience to make the decision to buy from you and not your competitors. Your USP should fulfil 3 criteria:

  • True – is your USP true? For e.g. cheapest furniture store in town. Is this claim true?
  • Relevant – is it relevant to your target market? Does it matter to them?
  • Provable – is it provable?

Customers don’t have the time to search high and low for your company’s USP. Make it prominent on your Facebook page.

7. There’s no proof

When customers land on your Facebook page, they only have a limited attention span of 15 seconds to look at it. Within that time frame, you need to show customers why you have a credible product.

That credibility is built from proof. Advertising has a bad name in Singapore. Many people get cheated. Singaporeans are becoming more skeptical. Without proof, people will surely not buy from you. We see your Facebook page as your 24/7 salesman. Salesmen need proof to sell, what more, a salesman that works for you 24/7.

People can come to your Facebook page anytime. They might not call you to enquire about your products/services. They might not give you a chance to explain. So, make sure that your Facebook posts, graphics, content, included some sort of proof that shows customers why they should trust you and buy from you.

Proof can come in the form of customer’s testimonials, before/after photos, celebrity endorsements, research backing, demonstration of how your product works, and many more.

8. Boring headlines

What is the first thing you notice when you scroll down your news feed either on Facebook or any other platform, other than a striking image? A great headline! Most Facebook users will just keep scrolling down their newsfeed if your headline doesn’t capture their attention. Spend some time brainstorming headlines before you post your content.

Keep your headlines curiosity-centered, so that customers will want to know more by clicking on your post. Check out this post on how to write great headlines.

9. Your competitors are doing it better

Consumers are getting more and more informed. With review sites like HungryGoWhere, TripAdvisor, Hardwarezone, Facebook pages, tons of websites in your niches etc, information is more transparent than ever. Consumers can find out what they want to find. Pricing of products, credibility of company, quality of products and many more.

Consumers do their research before buying. They will always go with what they feel is best. If customers are not buying from you regardless of what you do, the hard truth might be your products are not better than your competitors’. Spy on your competitors and follow what they are doing. Are they offering a better deal than you are?

What can you do to offer your customers better? Always stay on top of your competitors to remain competitive to ensure you are always offering better value to your customers.

10. Your product or service is not something anyone would buy online

While we live in a fast moving technology world where almost anything can be bought online, there are some cases where selling a particular product or service online is not practical.

Here’s an example: a man is looking for an engagement ring online, as he want to propose to his girlfriend. His budget is $5,000. While he may do a lot of online browsing, there is little chance he may make an online purchase of that value without seeing the ring in person first. There are many similar cases of scenarios where an online purchase is unlikely.

If your products or services fall under this umbrella then instead of expecting online sales, you should focus on driving the leads to your retail outlet. Think of ways to drive people down to your store, e.g. have an one-time discount coupon if they present it at your counter.

11. You’re not doing Facebook advertising

You thought you could get sales rolling in without paying a dollar for it? While this may be the most profitable scenario, unfortunately it may not be realistic. Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform.

Facebook organic reach is dead.

Organic reach has been shown to only reach 2% of your fans. That’s a hell lot of fans, not. It’s not even a significant number for Facebook pages with fans upwards of 100,000, what more small businesses with fans around 1,000? Spending money on Facebook advertising is a must. And most importantly, it has high positive ROI.

Facebook advertising allows you to target the people who’re interested in your kind of products/services at an extremely cheap price. Take a look at one of our client’s Facebook marketing results.

client facebook results With an ad spend of $1,500, he was able to reach 227,135 people. The cost per click was only $0.12. Guess what was the sales result for this local retailer? $37,000.

What’s the ROI? A whopping 2466%. An ROI of 2466% is not a figure you can achieve with most other marketing channels. This particular client achieved an average ROI of only 153% on search engine marketing.

Of course, we’re not saying all clients will achieve this kind of results. It depends on many factors. But most of our clients achieve a significant positive ROI from Facebook marketing campaigns. After considering the reasons why people are not buying what you’re selling on Facebook, take a look at what you can improve and change.

We guarantee that you’ll see improvements in sales, based on our consistent track record of running profitable Facebook campaigns for our clients.

Want to know how we do it? I invite you to attend our flagship course that shows you how: www.canny.com.sg/seminar

When small businesses create a company Facebook page, the first thing they worry about is where to get the fans? How do I get them to like my page? Force my customers to like it? Tell my family and friends to support me by liking my page?

We all know that at the end of the day, that doesn’t cut it. The likes are fake. They’re not real fans who’re interested in my services/products.

Many small businesses face this issue. They can’t get high engagements on their Facebook page. At the heart of all marketing, be it social media marketing, or any other marketing methods, one of the most important elements to stand out from the crowd and be remembered is to create a likeable brand

Building a likeable Facebook page starts from building a likeable brand, which is something many small businesses overlook. Maybe some people get it a little. They design a nice website, nice font, cool photography, amazing graphics and etc.

These nice physical graphics and what nots are like a person’s looks and dress sense. But we all know that some people can look good, but have an ugly personality. That’s where the personality of the brand comes into play. Many small businesses haven’t quite nailed down on their brand, what more building a likeable brand.

So in this post, we’re gonna show you some of the traits of a likeable brand. But before that, what is a brand?

(Related: Think that branding is expensive? Read this)

What is a brand?

A brand is more than just a logo. It is also more than just a tagline. A company’s brand is so much more. In fact, if a brand is a person, then a brand is equivalent to a person’s personality. To make your brand likeable, ask yourself, who are the likeable people in your life? What personality traits do they share?

What are the traits of a likeable brand?

They are genuine.

They make you feel important.

They make you proud to know them.

They are humble.

They support a cause.

They are not self-centered; they are givers and generous.

They are positive and cheerful.

They speak your language.

They share similar beliefs.

They are secure.

They follow through on their promises.

They accept you for who you are.

They genuinely listen to you.

They want the best for you.

They are happy when they see you.

Brands are personifications of people. We can take a look at personality traits of likeable people and apply that to our brand building. So take a look at this list of traits and decide what you want to do. Building a likeable brand, or likeable Facebook page for this matter, shouldn’t be the end goal. You want sales at the end of the day. So if you’re doing social media marketing, you’d be interested in our article on: How to sell anything on Facebook.

Online marketing, also known as digital marketing or internet marketing, is mostly about getting visitors to your website or landing page, and most importantly, converting them into customers. By getting as many targeted traffic to your site, chances are you’ll get more phone calls, email enquiries, store visits, purchases, bookings, and many other ‘action’ identified as your goal for the campaign. It’s important to have goal(s) for your campaign, otherwise it’ll just be an awareness campaign. By having goals, you’ll know what to measure and identify which element helps to convert higher and bring more sales. Before we dive into the ocean, let’s start from the shore.

Why You Should Start Digital Marketing

A big part of online marketing consists of content marketing. What is online marketing? It’s creating relevant and valuable content through a variety of channels.

This usually involves providing people with relevant industry information that offers an insight to audiences. This allows your business to steadily build a rapport with your key target demographic and develop a loyal community. Content marketing is one of the main methods that businesses use to secure market authority and dominance, and gaining of consumer trust. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the top Business to Business [B2B] content marketing strategies involves the social media, articles on a business’ website, eNewsletters, case studies, videos and articles on other websites.

By using one of these channels, say, articles on your business website, you can build a positive reputation within your industry. This trend also suggests that [traditional] interruption marketing to the masses like television ads, radio ads, or even ads in magazines are becoming less effective. They typically have a low conversion rate anyway. Instead, it’s better to focus on permission or inbound marketing by producing valuable, relevant and engaging content designed for your specific audience.

What You Need to Start One

Check out the various forms of delivery methods of Online Marketing. They include:

  • Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the use of online social platforms to conduct commercial promotion [as opposed to personal]. Many companies have already started doing this by posting frequent updates on sales and providing special offers through the social media profile such as ‘members only coupons’. Facebook and Twitter are examples of the most common social media marketing platform.

  • Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising involves an ad copy delivered through wireless mobile devices such as your smartphones, mobile phones, or tablet computers. These usually take on the form of a simple short message [SMS] text, or even multimedia messages [MMS]. Mobile advertising has been growing rapidly for several reasons. There are more mobile devices in the field, connectivity speeds have improved in many places, screens have become bigger with colours, screen resolutions have become more advanced, and then there is the fact that consumers are using mobile devices more extensively.

  • Email Advertisements

Email advertisements are similar to the mobile ads. Email is an online communication tool between you and your consumers. By having email accounts, you will be able to generate and send emails, eNewsletters, White papers, etc. to your consumers without having to wait for them to come to you physically [in your brick and mortar shop] or virtually [or online website/shop].

  • Content Marketing

Once you think of creating your business website or an online blog, you are entering the territory of content marketing. It’s any marketing that involves the creation and the subsequent sharing of published contents and media in order to acquire and retain customers. The information can be presented in a wide variety of formats, including news, videos, e-books, infographics, case studies and how-to guides. Considering that most marketing now involves some form of published media, it’s the case that content marketing is sometimes synonymous with online marketing, or even just ‘marketing’. Having a website or a blog can be an infinitely useful content marketing channel. You can easily be found on the internet, where your potential consumers will be able to find out about your products and services, your policies, your prices, and how to contact you.

  • Online Classified Ads

Online classified ads are the advertising of specific products and services in a platform with categorical listings. This would include online job boards, online auction-based listings such as eBay and Craigslist, online real estate listings, online yellow pages and so on.

  • Display Advert

Display advertising usually conveys its advertising message virtually on your consumer’s computer monitor by using text, logos, animations, videos, photos, or other infographics. Such advertisements frequently target users with particular traits and profile to increase the ad’s effect. For example, cookies can track whether an online user has left the shopping page without buying anything, so that the advertiser can later retarget the user with ads from the website the user previously visited.

  • Search Engine Marketing [SEM]

SEM is a form of digital marketing that involves the promotion of your website by increasing its visibility in search engine results pages through advertising and search engine optimization [SEO]. To avoid any confusion, SEM can be seen as a wider discipline that incorporates SEO. SEM can include the paid means of improving the ranking of your website in the search results, using tools such as Google AdWords, or Bing Ads. It can also include the use of SEO for organic search results.

Leveraging on Digital Marketing

There are many benefits that online marketing confers of course, hence your consideration of it in the first place. Here’s a list of them:

  • Costs

The lower costs of online marketing comes as a consequence of the lower costs of electronic communication, and this reduce the costs of displaying online ads as compared to offline ads. Online advertising, such as social media marketing and a business website provide a low-cost channel for advertisers to engage with large, yet dispersed, communities. Studies show that advertising online offers better returns than in other media.

  • Measurability

Online marketing also offers a form of measurability. You can collect data on your ads’ effectiveness, such as the size of potential audience vs actual audience response, how visitors react and respond to the ads. You can even run regressions on how your advertising output [expenditure, number of actual audience response, actual ads sent out, number of new members, etc.] has affected your sales. Measurability allows you to analyse, review, and importantly, to improve your ad campaigns in the long run.

  • Targeting

Through online marketing, publishers have the added ability to reach an intended and very narrow market segment for targeted advertising. Online marketing has the advantage of using geo-targeting to display relevant advertisements to the user’s geography. This means that if you know the interests and preferences of your target consumers well enough, you can customize each individual ad to a particular user profile based on their previous preferences. You can also track whether your target consumer has already seen a particular ad in order to reduce unwanted repetitious exposures [again useful for regression analysis] and provide adequate time period between exposures to the same ad.

  • Speed

Speed is another benefit since online ads can be deployed almost immediately once the backroom work with the ad design is completed. The delivery of online ads do not need to be linked to any publisher’s publication schedule, and not queuing and bidding involved such as those in television marketing. It is also worth noting that in case a glaring mistake was made [touchwood!], you will be able to modify or replace the ad copy more swiftly than advertisements offline.

  • Coverage

Of course, the advantage of online market marketing on the World Wide Web, means just that. You can potentially target pretty much anyone in nearly every global market, without being bounded by geographical constraints. Potential Concerns and Pitfalls A disciplined thinking disposition, useful to have for businesses, is to keep in mind both sides of the coin. Given the benefits, there are also potential concerns that should be noted.

  • Banner Blindness

Eye-tracking studies published in the Review of Marketing Research Journal has shown that internet users often ignore [or become cognitively blinded] by web pages that likely to contain the display ads, and this problem is worse online than offline. Then again, studies also suggest that even with ‘banner blindness’, users may still be subconsciously influenced by the display ads.

  • Fraud

There are certain paid means that you can adopt; one of them is the Cost per Click [CPC]. Such means can leave you vulnerable to fraud. For example, a click fraud occurs when a third party click [manually or through certain automated means] on a CPC ad with no legitimate buying intent. This could be done for numerous reasons, one of which is to deplete your advertising budget, or when third party publishers want to artificially manufacture revenue.

  • Ad-blocking

Worth noting is that many ad-blocking or ad-filtering applications are available out there on the market, many free, that allows users to block out things such as pop-out ads by default. There are also software programs or browser add-ons that block the loading of ads, or block elements on a page with behaviours characteristic of ads such as HTML auto playing of audio or video.

  • Privacy concerns

The collection of user information by publishers and advertisers has raised consumer concerns about their own privacy according to the Wall Street Journal. Some internet users even go to the extent of using Do Not Track technology to block all collection of information if it were in their means. According to USA Today, Gallup finds more than half of all Google and Facebook users concerned about their privacy when using Google and Facebook. It is true that tracking your users’ online activities allows you to understand their interests and preferences better, but consumers have reservations about such data mining and online behavioural targeting.

  • Spam

Since online marketing is heading into a all-time high, it is unsurprising that the number of spam would increase too. The internet’s low cost of disseminating advertisements contributes to the spam as well, especially by large-scale spammers. This means that while you are busy designing your online ad copies and distributing them honestly, there are others who have committed to combating spam, ranging from blacklists to regulatory-required labelling to content filters. Some of these can have adverse collateral effects on your online advertisements, such as mistaken filtering.

  • Trustworthiness of Mobile and Email Advertisements

Finally, the scammers themselves could take advantage of your consumers’ difficulties in verifying the source of their online ads. These can lead to artifices like phishing, where scam emails are generated to your consumers’ inbox that look identical to those from the original source and a well-known brand owner [like you]. According to the year 2012 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Centre has received over 250,000 complaints in 2012 alone, totalling over half a billion dollars in losses, most of which originated with scam emails and scam ads. Note that even though the Adware software is actually a delivery method of online marketing through ads, if they are installed without the user’s permission, it becomes a type of malware. Consumers needless to say, face also malware risks when interacting with online advertising.

Choose Wisely

You should have an idea on what online advertising is by now, what options you have for delivery methods, the benefits and potential pitfalls [if any] that goes with it. There is no one option where we would say that it is categorically ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. You may settle and focus on one option, or you may even go with all of them. Which option[s] you choose to go with really depends on where your preference is, what goal you have in mind, the budget and target consumers you have. Check out our other articles if you need for more information on [Marketing through blogs] or [Beginner’s Guide to SEO].

 

Think that SEO (search engine optimization) is complicated and don’t know where to start? Then this article is for you. It’ll give you a good overview of what SEO is.

SEO essentially is a service to boost your website up the rankings on keywords that you want to rank for. For example, if you run a dental clinic, you might wanna go for keywords like “dentist singapore, “best dentist in singapore” etc.

How do you know what keywords to go for? You decide based on 2 factors:

  1. Search volume – you want keywords that have high search volume. There’s no point in ranking for keywords with little or no search volume. How do you find the search volume of keywords? There are some good tools out there, but the most basic (it’s enough for most people) and free tool is Google Keyword Planner
  2. Buyer intent – compare the these two keywords: “what do dentists do” and “best dentist in Singapore”. Which do you think have a higher buyer intent? Obviously the keyword “best dentist in Singapore”. People who search for this keyword are more likely to be looking for a good dentist that they can trust with polishing/washing their teeth or for some dental surgery. These people are more likely to buy from the websites that they visit from the first page of Google compared to people searching for “what do dentists do”. These people are more likely researching the profession of dentists, the career prospects, how much they earn etc.

Okay, so that’s a brief explanation of how to choose keywords for your SEO campaign.

SEO basically consists of 2 components:

  1. On page
  2. Off page

On Page SEO

Like what the name suggests, is whatever happens on the web page. This is about how relevant your website is to Google. Google have bots that crawl your website to determine the relevancy of your site.

Google determines the relevancy of your website based on various factors:

  1. Content – the content you put on your website. The title, headings, meta tags (meta title, meta description, meta keywords), bolded words, alt tags for media files (i.e. pictures and videos).
  2. Domain age – how old your domain is. The older your domain, the more trustworthy your site is, and hence more relevant to whatever you have on your site. Google doesn’t really like new websites. Everyday, there’s thousands or even millions of new websites popping up. Many of these websites are just created by solopreneurs, your average Joe etc. Google don’t trust that these sites provide relevant and accurate information for their users
  3. Site load speed – how fast your web page loads (each web page will have different loading times. Because some web pages have more media content than the others, hence causing a longer loading time)
  4. Number of social shares – the more social shares your content garner, obviously the more relevant it is for that keyword term/phrase
  5. Time on site – how much time visitors spend on your website. You can optimize your site for those factors mentioned above. Whereas for this factor – time on site – you got to write exceptionally high quality content so that visitors stay and read. If visitors come and go in a very short time, this is telling Google that your content is not relevant to what users are searching for. Remember, Google’s main purpose is to provide highly relevant search results for it’s users. That’s Google’s strength, and that’s how they dethrone Yahoo. Yahoo doesn’t have complicated algorithms to provide very relevant results to its users, unlike Google.
  6. Number of pages visitors click to on your website – once a visitor lands on one of your articles, does he/she read another article? And another? The more he/she reads, the better it is. That’s why when you read sites like Mashable, in the middle of the content, they will have a related post link that they encourage you to read. Having that link in the middle of the article will make visitors interested and click on it. See the example below

seo example

  • Site structure – is your URL structure SEO friendly?

Is it like www.xavier.com/blog/post1, or is it more like www.xavier.com/blog/how-to-do-seo-singapore-business.

By site structure, it can also mean this. Let’s say your website is a Sports news site. Is your URL structure more like www.sportsnews.com/post=1, www.sportsnews.com/123, or is it more like

  1. www.sportsnews.com/football/manchester-united-just-signed-ronaldo
  2. www.sportsnews.com/rugby/all-black-just-won-the-world-cup
  3. www.sportsnews.com/tennis/rafael-nadal-knocked-out-of-wimbledon-first-roundthe

second URL structure is alot clearer for Google to understand what your website is about. When Google Bot comes and crawl your site, it’ll know that your website is about 3 things: Football, Rugby, Tennis. Knowing that, you’ll have a higher chance of ranking for football, tennis, and rugby related keywords on Google.

Whereas for the first URL structure. It’s messy. And doesn’t really tell Google anything. Many traditional websites have unfriendly URL structure.

So, as you can deduce from the On Page SEO factors that, the higher the quality of your content, the better. The more relevant your content will be, the more shareable your content, the more social shares you’ll get, the more links you’ll get from other websites, the longer people will stay – all these will increase your SEO rankings.

Off Page SEO

The second component of SEO is Off Page SEO. This means what happens outside of your website. So On Page SEO is about how relevant your website is to Google. Off Page SEO is about how much of an authority you are in the eyes of Google.

How to increase authority? Get more links (hyperlinks) from other websites/social media platforms. When one website links to your website, in the eyes of Google, that means that website is casting one vote for you, for that keyword. Take a look at the screenshot below.

linkbuilding example

You see the red link, Paper Bags? Clicking on that link will lead you to, let’s say, paperbag.com.

That means, having an anchor text, in this case, “paper bags”, linking to your website, in the eyes of Google, that means one vote for you as an authority in the field of “Paper Bags”.

That means, if you get 1000 links with the anchor text “paper bags” pointing to your website, there’s a high chance that when I Google “paper bags”, I’ll find you at the top few spot of Google.

So that’s a brief summary of what SEO is about. If you want to read more in depth articles on SEO, you can read these 2 guides:

Read those 2 articles, and you’re more or less ready to do SEO for your website.

 

Businessmen are busy people. Especially those who run small businesses. They wear many hats. Sometimes, they have to handle sales, accounting, operations, customer service, and EVEN as a chauffeur. And now, in the digital marketing age, business owners still need to do content marketing. Small businesses owners are often caught in the trap of working IN their business, instead of working ON their business. Content marketing is one way to work ON your business. It gives you long term rewards. If you’re still thinking whether you should spend the time and resources maintaining a blog, take a look at the latest content marketing statistics. You don’t need to spend hours coming up with a content development strategy, wrecking your brains to come up with content ideas, planning your infographics and all that. Even if you’re strapped for time, there are ways to make writing blog posts a breeze. Here are some tips for the busy business owners:

New website

Did your web design company just launched your new site? Announce it to the world! Brag. Show off. Write about how and why you decided to go with a new website design.

Look at your customers’ complaints

Received a complaint like that?

Turn it into something good by writing about the kind of music you’re going to play next. Talk about how the meaning of the song lyrics tie into your brand/business (this way you can cheekily slot in some marketing messages ;)). You can find out your customer complaints through social media, emails, your receptionist, surveying your customers, and also using live chat function on your website. Check out zopim if you want to implement live chat.

Ask your receptionist

Your receptionist is the first point of contact between your prospects/customers and your business. Ask her what is the common feedback that customers give. What are the frequently asked questions? Those are some topics for you to blog about.

Take ideas from recent news

Example: You sell air purifiers and everyone is complaining about the haze. Blog about how your air purifier cleans up the air in the office/room and how it can help prevent allergies to dust mites even during non hazy periods.

haze

Social media milestones

Your facebook page reached a milestone? Buy some food, props, take a picture, and celebrate with your followers! Jayesslee reached 1 million subscribers and they posted a video about it.

jayesslee

Take notes

Take notes as you go about your daily life. Think about random things. Let your thoughts go while. You’ll naturally find ideas worth writing about. Here’s one of my notes at the end of a day.

blog post ideas

Interview influencers

Are there any influencers in your niche? Drop them an email or message. Get them to be interviewed. It’s a win win situation. You get valuable content from a pro, and he gets more exposure.

Curate content

Find topics that are already buzzing in your niche. Try Buzzsumo, niche related forums, Reddit, and Quora. These are some places to start.

Share about your experience

You don’t need to write big, significant ideas every time. Blog posts can be about your daily experience. That’ll give your brand a more personal touch. Take a look at Fipin.

 

SEO for SAAS (Software As A Service) is not as easy and straight-forward as you might think. There are unique challenges associated to doing SEO for an SAAS business. Doing SEO for SAAS is totally different from doing SEO for traditional markets like consumer products, traditional software products, and even for B2B businesses. But before we talk about the technical aspects, let’s talk about what’s going on behind the scenes, how to look at the big picture and so on.

Understanding SEO and How to Measure Results

First thing. What we want to achieve with SEO is not rankings. Being ranked first on Google doesn’t mean anything. We want conversions, as many as possible. The way to achieve conversions is described by this equation: Total search volume * Your share * Average conversion rate For example: 10,000 searches per month * 20% share * 3% clickthrough rate = 60 conversions If you have a total of 10,000 searches per month for all your keywords, and you currently have 20% share of the traffic, with an average clickthrough rate of 3% (this means 3% of the traffic that comes to your site will convert into something that makes sense for your business – i.e. phone enquiries, contact form fill ups), you’ll get 60 new conversions every month for your SEO activity.

saas seo

For the searches per month, which in this case is 10,000, you can’t do much about it in the short term. In the long term, you can educate the market, build up the awareness for your sort of thing and hence increase the search volume. But short term wise, we treat this is a fixed number. The 20% share here, is the main number here that we could increase by doing SEO. This is the reason why we do SEO, to increase the percentage share of the traffic that comes to our website from the keyword volume.

As for the conversion rate, if you’re doing SEO correctly, targeting the right keywords (not all keywords with high search volume are good) and the right people, you should be able to have a decent conversion rate. How you increase this part is by optimising your website design and content, saying relevant things, having your main call-to-action buttons prominent on the site, and split testing between different aspects of your website (this is called conversion rate optimisation, which is for another time). And then at the end of the equation, you end up with your conversions. This can be your free trial sign ups, number of purchases for your product, number of phone enquiries etc depending on whatever your businesses is interested in now.

Total Search Volume

How to define search volume?

  • how many people are searching for things relevant to your business?
  • the answer is total search volume (TSV) in your market. This is measured in total number of searches per month for all your keywords. You can use Google’s free keyword tool to find your TSV.
  • your TSV limits the maximum potential for your SEO campaign.

Now here’s the thing about SEO for SAAS businesses. For the SAAS/technology market, the TSV is typically smaller than your total market because:

  1. Most of the people are not searching for your subject. They might be using other offline channels to search for your kind of product/service. Or they might be using other online channels like LinkedIn, Techcrunch etc.
  2. If your business is a new field, there might not be many people searching for keywords that are relevant to your business, and hence, SEO might not be suitable for you.
  3. You might just be a small player in the market. There are the IBMs and Oracles of the world. You might not have much chance of winning the keywords competition

Your Share of Searches

Now we move on to the next part of the equation. Typically, if you’re ranked number one on Google, you can expect about 20-35% of the clicks. If you’re second, you can expect around 10-15% of the click. If you’re third, around 7%. The lower you are, less percentage of the share you’ll get. In most cases, you want to be in the top 3, otherwise, it might not be worth your while to do SEO. To increase your share of the market through Google organic searches, you have to do SEO. There are various factors that affect your SEO rank. Take a look at Moz’s blog for a list of factors that affect your SEO score. Having gone through the elements of the equation, let’s talk about how SEO for SAAS businesses is different from SEO for normal businesses. Below is a table that summarises the differences.

SEO for SAAS
Consumer Products SAAS Products
1-5 Keywords 50-150 Keywords
High search volume

  • cheap laptops: 100,000 searches per month
  • portable speakers: 123,000/month
  • leather bags: 410,000/month
Low search volume

  • Customer A: 112 keywords, TSV: 21,000/month
  • Customer B: 50 keywords, TSV: 7,000/month
  • Customer C: 73 keywords, TSV: 13,000/month
Highly competitive organic results Organic results are not so competitive
High chance of intent to buy Low chance of intent to buy

 

In mainstream consumer product businesses, typically you only have 1-5 keywords for each product. But for an SAAS product, you have between 50-150 keywords. To do SEO for that number of keywords is not practical. That is not to say you can’t, you just have to find the highly converting keywords and do SEO for those. Mainstream consumer products like laptops, portable speakers etc have higher search volume per keyword. However, for an SAAS product, you can have about 100 keywords for each product yet the TSV is only in the tens of thousands range as you can see from the above examples. The upside to doing SEO for SAAS products/services is that the keywords are not as competitive to rank compared to mainstream products/services. But SAAS related keywords have a low chance of intent to buy.

Think about it. People who are searching for cheap laptops, there’s a high chance that they are looking for a laptop with a reasonable price. To summarise the unique challenges of SEO for SAAS businesses:

  1. Many keywords, many niches, complex campaigns. You’ll run out of money soon if you target all the keywords in your SEO campaign.
  2. You need to focus on conversion rate optimization. Targeted traffic is more difficult to come by, and when they come by, you have to make sure they convert into customers. The only way is to test and increase the conversion of your website.
  3. A big plus is that keywords are often not competitive.

 

If you are at the stage where you are thinking about how to hire the right type of search engine optimization [SEO] agency, then you may already be convinced by how important SEO is for your online market positioning. There are various types of SEO agencies. This is perhaps one of the first things you need to understand as a potential SEO client. Even though SEO is only the beginning of your business’s overall online marketing strategy, organic search optimization is not a ‘one size fits all’, by far.

Hence the conundrum of how you go about selecting the right one for you. Organic or ‘natural’ SEO refers to the means you use to obtain a naturally high placement in the organic search engine results pages [SERPs]. Some of these include using keyword analysis, publishing relevant contents, and improving link popularity. It’s also important to understand that just because your search engine is optimized, it may not necessarily attract visitors [do not forget it merely gets your ranking up on the SERPs], and even if you do, the visitors may not necessarily convert [into sales or business leads].

So knowing that, you still want to focus on choosing the right type of SEO agency to begin with. Here’s a list of the common questions people usually ask about SEO agencies and what they do.

1. What analysis do SEO agencies use to determine what keywords to focus on?

They should obviously have some sort of research programme or keyword analysis. This is a crucial element in the process of SEO. If it’s reasonable, you may want them to show you what kind of approach and methodology they adopt.

2. Will the SEO agency be writing your content?

Where the discrete selection of keywords is involved, you have to ask how much influence they have on the writing of your content. It will be good if the SEO agency has people who specialize in SEO copywriting. It’s the art of writing copies that would rank well in SERPs.

3. Will the SEO agency also analyse your competitors?

A good SEO agency should be able to pick out your competitors, and determine what sites in your area are performing well and why. If they can do that, they will know how to target your main competitors online.

4. What is the scope of analysis?

This is a very general question. A good SEO agency will be able to include a wide scope of analysis, including your web design, ease of navigation, coding, content and incoming links. They will be able to provide you with recommendations on improving other areas of your website that either affects your SERPs placement or even the online visitor’s experience on using the website’s interface. Website coding, your content, and the incoming/outgoing links DO have some degree of bearing on where your website place in SERPs.

5. What is their Focus?

Does the SEO firm specializes in working only with your area of business, or is it a generalist agency that works with a heterogeneous client base. Depending on the business area you compete in, how specialized and established the business industry is, you may want to lean towards one over the other. If you work in a well-established industry where there is a high level of similarity between your competitors and you, then you may want to go with a specialist firm that focuses mainly on your industry. Of course, there are exceptions, as always. Your business may be so specialized that you are not able to find an SEO agency that specializes in your area. In that case, you will have to engage a generalist SEO agency.

6. What is their level of service?

One way to think of the vast amount of SEO agencies is to segment by their cost/service level. The two are used interchangeably assuming some sort of correlation between service and cost. Like many things, you tend to get what you pay for, but that does not mean that you need to get the best one. You may want need car, but you are not going to go out and buy a Lamborghini Roadster. If you’re starting a small local business for example, and wish to target mainly the local demographic [at least for now], then there is no need for you to go out and hire the best [and costliest] SEO agency to get the results you want.

An entry level firm however, may provide fewer services, and even choose to automate most of them. This is not an issue if your industry has low competition and it can achieve SEO success. If the SEO process is more challenging however, you can still have the option of upgrading to a higher end SEO agency that can customize the strategy and execution for you as needed. After all, you have a budget to think about.

Once you home in on one or two potential SEO agencies that you want to actually engage, you can start to ask specific questions.

  1. Ask For Their References – Don’t just look at their website, or even their website’s SERPs ranking. Ask them how about previous projects, the approach they take, how they solved problems, and their line of thinking. Get them to show you their client list [if possible]. It’s important that they can do more than just the technical side of SEO, that they also have an intuition for marketing, and understand what it’s like to be a consumer.
  1. Similarly, ask for samples of successful SERPs ranking of their SEO projects for clients, in the major search engines, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
  1. How long they have been in the SEO business, and what experience they have in online marketing in Singapore?
  1. How will they be charging you? How many pages will they be optimizing for the price that you/they have quoted?
  1. Will they continue to monitor and maintain your website after the initial phase, if so, how will they do that?
  1. What kind of feedback and report you will receive to measure the success of the SEO project?
  1. Do they have any strategies beyond SEO? Do they offer things like traffic generation, or conversion rate optimization?

Remember again that SEO does not guarantee more visitors [traffic], nor does it guarantee an automatic increase in sales or leads [conversion]. These questions are only a guide on what to ask, and they need not be exhaustive. Feel free to come up with questions for your potential SEO agency in order to help you decide on the correct match.

Identify and Engage Your Potential Match

Signing up with an incompetent SEO agency can do your business considerably more harm than you may expect. If you’re not familiar with SEO and its basics, then identifying the right SEO agency can be a very challenging task indeed. Having a bad SEO agency may not only fail to improve your SERPs standings significantly, it can make your site’s standing go down. There are no doubt conflicts about the advice on choosing your right SEO agency, but asking the above questions can go a long way in eliminating the confusion. A simple recommendation is to rely on networking or word of mouth. Maybe your entrepreneurial partners, your business associates, or friends can help you out with their own past experience with SEO agencies. With information, it should be easy to tell what kind of agency they are.

Challenges aside, SEO is still one of the most important elements of online marketing right now, and in the future. If you understand your own business and industry well, and the different types of SEO agencies out there, you will be much closer to SEO success.

 

Are you looking for substantial resources, inspiration and tips that will give you an advantage in your entrepreneurial journey? The market of business books is so large it may seem intimidating to plunge in and take a swipe at any single one. Many of you have the desire to improve yourselves, your strengths, knowledge, and as a person. In this article, we took the opportunity to come up with 10 selected business books that will not only gets you thinking, but could also spark some creativity.

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“When I went to school, teachers asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down, ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” This was one story of the famed John Lennon. Where some people grew up wanting to be doctors or lawyers or CEOs, Lennon knew that to be happy is just as important, if not more. Even though Flow is not an entirely new concept, Csikszentmihalyi, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University, gave the concept its name today. Csikszentmihalyi is noted for his works in happiness and creativity, and in this book, argues that Flow can increase the happiness and achievement of employees. As a useful note, his name is probably not the easiest to pronounce, but as a guide, if you are indeed searching for his book physically, try “mi-hy Czech-sent-mi-hyee”

Never Give In!: The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches by Winston Churchill

From sayings of Sir Winston Churchill’s abnormal poly=phasic sleep habits to the power of his oration, it is clear that Churchill is one of the biggest political figures in history, and remains the only British Prime Minister to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. In the book Never Give in!, grandson Winston S. Churchill has put together a personal selection of Sir Churchill’s speeches. It covers the whole of Sir Churchill’s life, from the very first speech he made to those of his last days. Sir Churchill is revered as an indomitable public figure, his spirt and wisdom can be called upon to move and inspire.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B Cialdini, Ph.D.

Influence was Dr. Cialdini’s seminal book, based on 3 ‘undercover’ years applying for, and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion. The book has since sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into twenty-six languages. Harvard Business Review lists the Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University in “Breakthrough Ideas for Today’s Business Agenda”. Influence posits and explains the 6 psychological principles that drive the human impulse. It reveals not only ways to nudge others into complying to you, but also to defend yourself against subtle coercion and manipulation. For people in marketing and business, this may well be among the most important books to be written in the past years.

How Google Works by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg

We are know that Google’s unique culture and working arrangement has put itself in its own class, but how much do we know of what really goes in within. The problem is compounded by Google being one of those organisations that is notoriously hard to go into. How Google Works is an entertaining, page-turning primer that contains lessons and explanations about how technology has shifted the balance of power from companies to consumers. Google’s solution to succeed in the ever-changing landscape is to create superior products, and the attraction of a new breed of multifaceted employees dubbed the smart creatives’. Schmidt, once a CEO himself, and Rosenberg, offer insights on corporate culture, strategy, talent management, decision-making, communication, innovation and so on, with numerous insider anecdotes from Google’s history.

Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles Wheelan

With notions in macroeconomics that there is such as a thing as an unemployment rate that is ‘too low’, suggesting that the economy is inefficient in its use of its resources, it is no wonder that Economics has been labelled with the humorous tag of being a ‘dismal science’. Naked Economics by American economist and author Wheelan strips down the economic jargon and demystifies nomenclature, to allow the general reader to engage with pleasure and confidence, the not so dismal science. The book covers hotly debated and thought provoking topics into the 21th century such as the globalization, information economics, the unavoidable interdisciplinary nature of economics and politics, as well as the Federal Reserve. Wheelan has since published a sequel called Naked Statistics, also worth checking out.

Losing my Virginity: The Autobiography by Richard Branson

The book Losing my Virginity features Sir Richard Branson, best known as the founder of Virgin Group, and his inspiring story of rags to riches. “Oh screw it, let’s do it”. That attitude and has allowed Branson to run hundreds of companies through Virgin Group, and become one of the wealthiest man alive with an estimated net worth of US$4.9 billion. The Autobiography covers Branson’s journey, as he starts out with his friends and the outrageous idea of deciding on the name Virgin, since they were ‘complete virgins in the business’, through the forging of his own rules of success, to a new model to compete in today’s stressed out and overworked generation. You may want to pick this one up before the adaptation of the Branson biopic by David Mirkin is done on the big screen.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

American sports and cultures are built on long standing traditions and conventions. When MLB’s Oakland Athletics larger than life General Manager Billy Beane was facing low budgets and the public pressure to win games, he turned to an analytical, empirically based sabermetric approach to assemble a competitive baseball team. Despite a disadvantaged revenue position and the conventional believe that young, big and athletic hard hitters were tickets to success, Beane defied both tradition and his own scouts in his quest for success. Even for non-baseball enthusiasts, Moneyball shows that sometimes, wisdom is in the questioning of the conventions and beliefs we hold dear and take for granted.

Economics: User Guide by Ha-Joon Chang

Once again, the dismal science is rendered in an intelligent, lively, readily accessible, and a not so dismal manner. University of Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang offers a whirlwind crash course through economic history that explains the strengths and weaknesses of different schools of thoughts, from the classical to the Keynesian to Neo Keynesian Economics. Being a heterodox economist, Chang has a disregard for conventional economic pieties. Economics: The User’s Guide offers a non-mainstream lens through which the layman can easily look through. From the future of the Euro, inequality in China, or the condition of the American manufacturing industry in the United States, the book is a concise and expertly written guide to economic rudiments that offers a clear and precise snapshot of the global socio-politco-economic landscape and how it affects our lives.

Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen

Probably the best known written work of Harvard Business School Professor Christensen is The Innovator’s dilemma. In Innovator’s Dilemma, Christensen articulated his theory of disruptive innovation and its importance in today’s ever changing landscape and consumer preferences. As stated in the title, the dilemma stems from the idea that businesses and firms tend to reject innovation and new insights since the current consumers cannot use them now. It shows how the ‘successful’ companies can do everything right in adhering to the current needs of their consumer base, adopting new technology and competing with rivals, but still ended up losing market dominance. The book offers many examples of successes and failures from the perspective of the dilemma of innovation and the anticipation of future needs.

Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

We cap this list with another book by Csikszentmihalyi. How did Einstein came up with his Theories of relativity? What process did J. M. Keynes went through in writing the seminal work The Theory of Employment, Interest and Money? Creativity aims to unravel the mystery behind the geniuses of people such as Keynes and Albert Einstein, among others. We can all try to quantify levels of intelligence through standardised tests and IQ tests, from convergence tests to divergent tests. There are many theories of the creative process but it remains unknown what the traits of creative genius really are and where they come from. Creativity uses the concept of flow, and draws from 91 interviews with the truly exceptional academics, musicians, artists, outstanding politicians and business figures. Csikszentmihalyi explores the creative process behind the genius, including 14 Nobel Prize winners, and learn that many of them were not even stars in school.

Although the benefits of such an insight and empirical approach to scholars and academics are clear, the thought-provoking mixture of scholarly and colloquial will enlighten even the inquisitive general readers as well.

 

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