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What content should you include on your accommodation website?

If you have a website for your accommodation business, you’re off to a good start. If your slice of the web is responsive and easy to access via multiple gadgets, you’re off to an even better start. But aside from download speeds and the overall functionality of your site, it’s important to think carefully about the type of content your accommodation website should include.

The written word can be extremely powerful when used correctly, so here are some useful tips about what to display on your site.

1. Your business name and location

It sounds simple, but your business name and location should be at the forefront of all key information you provide. If possible, both should appear in meta tags and descriptions, titles, and headings. Also include them throughout the rest of your text, where appropriate. It’s important to remember that the language you use is clear and concise; simply stuffing these location terms into your copy in a way that it ‘spammy’ should be avoided at all costs.

Firstly it’s good for local SEO, helping you rank for specific location-based keywords. Secondly, it ensures your website ranks highly for direct searches for your company name. A keyword strategy will help you come up with a list of short and long-tail terms you want to focus on; this will enable you to take a logical and methodical approach to SEO.

2. The rooms/facilities you offer

Whether you run a traditional hotel overlooking the beach or a quirky countryside B&B, it’s important to describe the type of accommodation you offer. While hotels can talk about everything from room service to a 24-hour concierge service, a self-catering apartment complex may boast an exceptional outside space with a beautiful outdoor swimming pool.

Promoting your unique selling points is a must, but also be sure to talk about general room facilities. These might include a coffee machine in every room or a Jacuzzi bath in the Master Suites. To avoid customer confusion, always identify rooms clearly and point out any differences if necessary.

If your accommodation is family-friendly, state whether or not you provide baby equipment such as cots or monitors and whether you offer a babysitting service.

Make sure your marketing messages are clear and your booking engine works smoothly.

3. Prices and offers

Visitors to your site don’t want to hunt for prices. Therefore, make sure your marketing messages are clear and your booking engine works smoothly. If you’ve any offers or promotional packages, it’s a good idea to mention these on your landing page as well as in a separate offers tab. You can always interlink to enhance user experience.

4. Nearby attractions

If your guests are on holiday, they will probably want to explore the wider area. With this in mind, why not have a page on your website dedicated to top attractions? Use locally sourced imagery and quality video production to show exactly what’s on offer and point out everything from family-friendly attractions to adventure trails and sports centres.

5. Events

An events page can include events taking place at your accommodation or information about things going on locally. By providing key details, you’ll keep people on your site longer and give them a chance to delve deeper into what’s on offer. In addition, adding the latest events to your website is a great way to offer new and fresh content to both your users and search engines, helping boost your appearance and success in search engines.

Your website needs to make a great first impression if you want people to book with you.

Your website needs to make a great first impression if you want people to book with you. Good content, presented in an interesting way, provides your users with everything they need. It’s essential if you don’t want to lose them to other sites.

To find out more about developing a new website for your accommodation business, contact Minerva Creative today. We provide a complete design and web-build service at a price that is affordable for all. Plus, with our team of experience copywriters and content marketing experts, we can help you craft the perfect messages to engage your audience. Contact us today on 0800 180 4085 for more details.

Why your accommodation business needs its own website

Is a website really necessary when third-party sites like Airbnb and Owners Direct are available? Do I need to spend time and money developing an online presence?

It’s perfectly natural to ask questions when considering your marketing strategy, but here’s why having your own website could be great for business.

Travel sites are highly influential

According to a 2017 Travel Website Behaviour Study by Fuel and Flip.to, leisure travellers are highly influenced by a hotel’s individual website when it comes to researching and booking somewhere to stay. Indeed, a quality website can be more influential than word of mouth, third-party agents (OTAs), search engines and review sites, indicating how important it is to develop your own personalised site.

Leisure travellers crave information

The Fuel and Flip.to travel study of over 2,000 travellers also revealed how people spend an average of 29.8 minutes on a hotel website they like before making a booking. Since research is such an essential part of the travel shopping journey, why not use this to your advantage by creating an informative, detailed website?

Interesting text and beautiful imagery can capture your target audience without the restrictions that come with advertising on a third-party site.

People spend an average of 29.8 minutes on a hotel website they like before making a booking.

Websites showcase your individuality

Having your own site is a wonderful way to showcase your individuality and present your accommodation in a positive and innovative manner. Not only can you make sure all relevant content is included, but you can tell your own story with a series of enticing photographs. Believe it or not, 90% of information processed by the brain is visual, so go ahead and get creative with imagery and graphics.

When deciding what to put on you site, be sure to include any ‘unique selling points’, or USPs. Maybe you’re open all year round, or have a swimming pool; perhaps you’re close to the best Michelin-star restaurant in town – whatever it is, make sure your customers know about it!

Hotel web design enables you to showcase your individuality

Improve SEO with an independent site

If you’re part of a franchise, you may feel satisfied being featured on the official brand site. While this is great start, you could be missing out on a huge amount of traffic. With an independent site, you’ll be able to implement an SEO strategy that’ll help you to rank for many more keywords and reach a wider audience.

From updating meta tags to refreshing content, there are many ways you can optimise your site away from the restraints of a brand website. You’ll also be able to interlink pages and accept external links which in turn should improve your SEO performance.

You can amplify your accommodation’s location

Rather than relying on your customers being able to find your location with a series of clicks, why not make it completely clear about where you are and why someone should visit? You can do this by sourcing imagery from the surrounding area and describing local activities/entertainment that people may enjoy.

Competition is fierce, so whether you’ve a hotel in the heart of the city or a countryside B&B, give yourself the best chance of success by effectively tapping into the online market.

If you’re near the Peak District, for instance, a few snaps of rolling hills and beautiful cycle tracks could attract adventurers. If you’re close to the beach, include some scenic seaside shots to entice future holidaymakers. Moreover, you could create an events page which focuses on specific location-based keywords, as this will improve local SEO.

To conclude, having your own website is one of the best ways to promote what you do. Competition is fierce, so whether you’ve a hotel in the heart of the city or a countryside B&B, give yourself the best chance of success by effectively tapping into the online market.

At Minerva Creative, we work hard to provide independent accommodation providers with affordable, responsive websites to help promote their business. From B&Bs to complete hotel web design, we can help you achieve greater online success for your business. Get in touch today on 0800 180 4085 for more details.

5 signs you need a new marketing agency

Taking an active role in the way your agency handles your marketing activity is essential to maintaining a good relationship with them. As an extended part of your team, it’s their job to work towards achieving your business goals and spend your budget in the wisest way.

But sometimes, your agency can get a little comfortable, or changing priorities for both your company and theirs can mean a shift in focus. Whatever the reason, it’s not unusual to find that after a few years with an agency it may be time to move on. Here are five tell-tale signs you’ve reached that point.

Reviews and reports have dropped off

Regular reviews and reports are essential for staying on track and ensuring that the agency is working towards your objectives. At the beginning of a relationship, agencies bend over backwards to ensure everything is ‘transparent’, i.e. you’re seeing regular reports and having frequent meetings, but if this has tailed off and you find yourself chasing for monthly reports or dissatisfied with the review meetings, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Reviews should cover the latest results, what work has been done, what has worked and what hasn’t, any alterations in strategy and what is planned for the next quarter. Your agency should also be making recommendations about how and where to spend your budget. Of course, for them to do this you have to acknowledge their expertise and follow their advice. If you are missing any of the above from your reviews, ask your agency to include it at the next meeting before deciding whether to open up for new pitches.

Conducting regular meetings is vital

Lack of adequate information

Following on from the above point, if your agency begins to withhold information or doesn’t offer it up without being asked it’s time to start asking questions. Handing over hundreds or even thousands of pounds each month requires a basic level of trust that your money is being spent well, so if your agency is reluctant to give you, say, a quarterly breakdown of how they’re spending your budget, or access to your analytics dashboards, it suggests there’s something to hide.

Handing over hundreds or even thousands of pounds each month requires a basic level of trust that your money is being spent well.

Your strategy or results aren’t changing

Part of the reason for using an external marketing agency is to support your in-house team with tasks they may not have time for. The agency may take on strategy planning, aspects of digital marketing or execution of print campaigns – whatever their role, you would expect the strategy to change as your organisation and its objectives change. In line with this, a good agency will make recommendations for the budget, moving money from SEO into PPC if needed, for example, or scaling back PPC when relevant to put money into a video or social campaign.

You would also expect to see a long term improvement in results as campaigns become more effective – by which we mean year on year improvements as opposed to the weekly peaks and troughs that are inevitable in a fluctuating market. If one or both of these things are beginning to stagnate, or your results have been trending downwards for a significant period of time, it might be time for a fresh pair of eyes on the marketing. A new agency can bring different ideas and skillsets to the table, giving your strategy and campaigns a much needed boost.

High turnover of staff

If the staff at the agency are changing frequently and you find yourself with a new account manager or team member more than once a year, it could be a clue that something untoward is going on behind the scenes. Agencies have a reasonably high turnover rate in general – most employees stay for around two years – but if the team on your account is changing more often it could be that they are dissatisfied, or that redundancies are being made for financial reasons.

If the agency isn’t treating its own employees very well, you’re right to question how seriously it’s taking your business.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about team changes – after all, it is in your interests for the staff on your account to feel valued and to remain aware of any restructures that might affect the work being done for you. If the agency isn’t treating its own employees very well, you’re right to question how seriously it’s taking your business.

Ask your agency questions

No questions asked

Obviously a relationship is a two-way thing, so your agency should be taking an interest in how your business is performing as a result of their work. That means asking for information such as what kind of conversions your PPC is driving (are you getting good leads or poor quality ones, for example?) or average order values. If this kind of detail isn’t available in the marketing dashboards they have access to, or they’re not probing deeper, it could mean their interest lies in simply doing what’s necessary to keep collecting their monthly fee, rather than whether their activity is actually impacting your business. Perhaps it’s time to find an agency that will ask the right questions.

What to do if you think you need a new marketing agency

How long you stay with your agency is really up to you. If you don’t feel you’re getting the results or the communication you expect, address it with them and give them a chance to remedy it. If, however, things don’t improve (or improve briefly and then revert back), dig out your contract and see what the notice period is, and if there are any terms surrounding it.

Here comes the pitch!

You may want to notify your agency that you are opening the pitch process before terminating a contract. Re-pitching keeps an agency on its toes and reminds them that they can’t rest on their laurels when it comes to your business. Invite them and a few others that you’ve carefully researched to pitch, and then make a decision based on the needs of your team and your business.

8 WordPress Plugins to Increase Traffic

Website traffic is a little bit like cake: you can never have too much. But getting people to visit your website is far from simple. Not only are you competing against countless other websites, trying to stay ahead of the game in terms of SEO and social media marketing in order to expose articles and blog posts to a captive audience is time consuming, expensive and, for the most part, having little-to-no effect. Needless to say, any help you can get will be duly appreciated.

For those with a blog, website, or even an ecommerce platform running on WordPress – and, let’s face it, a lot of us do – help is at hand. You doubtless trawled through the many thousands of plugins available for WordPress, trying to identify those which will help gain you more visitors, attract audiences, and gather great social media traction. You doubtless found that even that is an arduous task!

As such, we at Minerva Creative – staunch advocates of WordPress that we are – have taken on some of the hard work for you and found 8 WordPress plugins to increase traffic to your website. Take a look at the recommendations below and leave suggestions for your own in the comments.

WordPress plugins to increase traffic - Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

Where else can we begin to recommend WordPress plugins but with Yoast SEO? Arguably the most well-known WordPress plugin available, if you’ve not installed this on your website, drop whatever you’re doing and do so now!

It’s in no way hyperbolic to claim that Yoast SEO is the best WordPress SEO plugin available. Offering everything you need to fully optimise your website – such as meta descriptions, title tags, XML sitemaps, the option to integrate Google Search Console, and much more – Yoast SEO even provides the opportunity to optimise individual posts for social sharing.

Find out more about how Yoast SEO can help create webpages built on best practice, giving you the chance to achieve better search engine performance and increase traffic to your WordPress website.

OptinMonster

OptinMonster

Never underestimate the value of repeat visitors. If you’re able to develop a loyal audience that comes back time and again, you’re in a position of developing a lasting relationship that will only serve to benefit your business and your website.

OptinMonster is a WordPress plugin that has the ability to support the conversion of a solitary visitor into a loyal subscriber. By monitoring the behaviour of your users, then sending a targeted message at the precise moment they’re about to leave your site, the opportunity to turn the loss of a visitor into a permanent user is maxmised.

Discover how OptinMonster can help you develop a mailing list that helps promote repeat website traffic and develop a valuable email subscription list.

Click to Tweet

Click to Tweet

Social media is one of the best ways in which to generate traffic to your website; if you’re able to get traction on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, the potential audience can grow exponentially. Developing this engagement, however, isn’t easy.

Click to Tweet simplifies the process of getting your content into the Twittersphere (which is apparently an acceptable term to use!). By strategically placing ‘click to tweet’ buttons within your own quotes, quickly sharing snippets of your articles to Twitter couldn’t be simpler. As such, you can expect to generate more shares and more Twitter users visiting your website, increase the level of traffic you can enjoy.

You can find out more about the benefits of Click to Tweet and how to drive more engaged traffic to your WordPress blog or website by visiting the plugin’s own page today.

Revive Old Posts

Revive Old Posts

It can be time consuming to schedule social media posts, particularly when you’re busy managing other elements of your website and your business. Plus, when it comes to getting coverage for your blog posts and articles, the need to repost and reshare following publication is vital. So, how can you make the process more efficient?

With Revive Old Posts – formerly known as Tweet Old Post – being able to automate the act of promoting articles both new and old is hugely simplified. Revive Old Posts does exactly what the name promises: reshares blog posts to both Twitter and Facebook, all without you having to lift a finger. Being able to capture the attention of social media audiences couldn’t be easier.

For more information on the service provided by the Revive Old Posts plugin, visit its plugin page today. With minimal effort, you can get to work republishing your articles and attracting the traffic your website deserves.

Inline Related Posts

Inline Related Posts

Making the most of the traffic you have is essential to the success of your website. You don’t want visitors simply paying a visit to one page and then heading off elsewhere. Instead, keeping them on your website for longer means better engagement and greater traffic. But how can you effectively help visitors navigate to other articles?

It goes without saying that having an effective internal linking structure is fundamental – both to user experience and also for SEO – but with Inline Related Posts, you can suggest related articles to those readers already engaged in longer content on your website.

Try Inline Related Posts on your WordPress site today and see how you can boost the number of pageviews from your visitors as well as their overall time on site.

WordPress Popular Posts

WordPress Popular Posts

Let’s be honest, we all like to follow the latest trends and keep our finger on the pulse of activity. Helping visitors to your website clearly see which content on your website is most engaging and popular not only helps them keep us with the others, but also boosts the time spent on your website and the overall number of pages viewed.

The WordPress Popular Posts plugin enables you to highlight the best content on your website. With the option to filter according to the number of comments or pageviews, website users have the opportunity to clearly learn for themselves precisely why some pages are ranking higher than others.

Install the WordPress Popular Posts plugin today and help highlight the most popular and engaging content currently residing on your site.

Share Buttons by AddThis

Share Buttons by AddThis

As already identified above, sharing your website’s posts on social media is not simply a great way to increase awareness and drive traffic, but it is essential. After all, just think how often you find yourself tempted to view an article based upon seeing the link in your Facebook or Twitter feeds?

With Share Buttons by AddThis, you can make the act of sharing your articles across an array of social media websites – as well as by email – easy. Plus, there is the opportunity to customise the appearance of the share buttons in order to best complement the design of your current WordPress website.

Discover more about the benefits of Share Buttons by AddThis by visiting the plugin page on WordPress. Installing on your website is simple, and will help your existing audience share your quality content with more people.

SEO Friendly Images

SEO Friendly Images

Search engine optimisation is essential to driving traffic to your website and, with Yoast SEO installed (you have installed it by now, right? No? Well get on it!) you can ensure that all the necessary meta information, etc. is ready to expose your website to the world. But there is still more you can do, not least with imagery.

Installing SEO Friendly Image onto your WordPress website makes the process of optimising images quick and easy – and ensures that you’re covering an essential part of on-page optimisation that can often be overlooking. The plugin automatically optimises all images by adding appropriate alt tags and title attributes, thereby ensuring the chance of appearing higher in the search engines is maximised.

Add SEO Friendly Images to your WordPress plugin selection today to ensure that you’ve optimised your images effectively.

More WordPress plugins to increase traffic

So there you have it. Our selection of WordPress plugins to increase traffic to your website. Perhaps you have some recommendations of your own, or have had success – or even, no success – with those listed. Let us know in the comments below.

At Minerva Creative, we aim to provide affordable web design services as well as comprehensive SEO in Kent. With our team of experience copywriters, SEO professionals, and designers, you can take advantage of industry leading expertise. Contact us today to find out more.

Google Penguin 4.0

Another year, another Penguin announcement from Google. For many online businesses, the dreaded penalties of Google’s Penguin updates have caused many a sleepless night, with the hopes that the marketing and SEO teams employed to optimise web performance have been working ‘above board’ often little more than an exercise in blind faith. The good news, however, is that this latest update – Penguin 4.0 – is set to be the last of its kind issued by Google.

But what does Google Penguin 4.0 entail, and what does it mean for your online presence? We at Minerva Creative take a look at the finer points of Penguin 4.0 and the likely impact you can experience.

Google’s key requirements

When it comes to search engine rankings, Google’s search engine takes into consider more than 200 ranking factors. Identifying the effects and weighting of each individual factor is a closely guarded secret (think the Colonel’s famed KFC recipe or the precise ingredients that make up the perfect glass of Coca Cola). What we do know, however, is that Google places the utmost emphasis on developing high-quality, authoritative content. With great content come great links, great engagement, great social impact, and, ultimately, great search engine rankings.

The impact of Google’s two most significant algorithm updates – Panda and Penguin – over the past few years has seen websites that develop lesser quality content, spammy links, etc., penalised and suffer significant falls in the search engines. As such, recovery has been as much a part of modern SEO work as developing new channels of success. Unfortunately, it could often take weeks, months, or even years for Google to recrawl and reindex every page, link, and ranking signal in order to achieve complete recovery.

This is where Penguin 4.0 changes the game.

What is Penguin 4.0?

The recent announcement from Google highlights two key points:

  • Penguin is now running in real time
  • Penguin is operating on a more granular level

Both facets of this announcement represent great news for website owners and SEO professionals. In particular, the fact that Penguin is running in real time is a boon for digital marketing professionals.

Why real time matters

It’s not unusual for even the most diligent of marketing and SEO experts to have fallen foul of some ‘quick wins’ and low-quality SEO tricks over the years. After all, the goalposts have shifted so often and with such speed, it would be almost impossible to have not cut a few corners here or there, right?

Paying the price for a simple mistake should not mean your website has to suffer in the mire for eternity (ok, maybe eternity is a SLIGHT exaggeration). The simple fact is, it’s often taken far too long to recover even after removing or disavowing spammy links that caused the problem. The real time nature of Penguin 4.0 means that waiting is no longer a burden you should bear. If you made a mistake, make the correction, and achieve the redemption you deserve.

There will undoubtedly be those that will spend their lives looking at ways to manipulate this system, but for those of us that believe in best practice and maintaining websites to the best quality possible, the opportunity to recover in the event of a mistake no longer means sleepless nights waiting for the thumbs up from Google.

What of ‘granularity’?

Slightly more vague, however, is the claim that Penguin 4.0 will operate on a more granular level. At first look, this seems to say that no longer will entire sites be penalised for spammy inbound links to a solitary page. Once again, this is music to the ears of SEO experts who may have taken over management of an account that had been mishandled, and are tasked with rectifying the mistakes of the previous company.

It remains to be seen, though, precisely how this granularity will operate; it may be based around individual pages, or whole sections of a website. Alternatively, individual links may be given consideration over the aggregated approach seen in previous Penguin updates. Regardless, it will be interesting to follow how such a level of detail operates and interlinks with the real time nature of Penguin 4.0.

How to approach SEO following Penguin 4.0

Achieving optimum performance in Google’s search engine demands that SEO professionals adhere to the key principle that ‘quality is everything’. When it comes to content creation, reputation management, link building and outreach services, and even PR, it’s essential that investing the time and resources necessary for a quality website are followed.

As such, the approach to SEO following the announcement of Penguin 4.0 doesn’t really change much at all. For those SEO experts that have been adhering to best practice, not investing in cheap links, not investing in poor quality content providers, etc., there is almost no need to change the approach. For others, meanwhile, it is time to change.

The importance of links

With each new announcement from Google, there comes fresh hope that the importance of link building and establishing relationships with those within your business’ industry will diminish. Of course, if this were the case, SEO and website management would be a great deal easier. With Penguin 4.0, there is no sign of this changing (sorry, folks).

Links have always been, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, of the utmost significance in achieving quality rankings in Google results. And, just as it is for developing content, quality is the operative word.

Sure, you may be able to create a handful of great content pages and achieve 1,000 backlinks. But what about consistently generating content according to a well-planned content marketing strategy? Having 100 pages of high-quality content that only attracts 250 backlinks may seem like harder work for less reward, but the value of those links and the authoritative nature of your site will set you apart. This will be natural. No alarm bells will be ringing. And no penalties from Google will be forthcoming.

This is how SEO should be, and how SEO must be, from now on. If you’re not following best practice and providing what Google wants, how can you expect to NOT be penalised?

Embrace common sense

The introduction of Penguin 4.0 presents great opportunities for SEO professionals, small businesses, and website owners to achieve more online. But it’s essential you listen to your common sense. All too often, settling for the cheapest option for SEO services, copywriting services, and link building means sacrificing quality and putting the integrity of your website at risk.

By embracing common sense and working alongside SEO providers that embrace best practice and conduct work that adheres to the needs of Google’s search engines and fulfils the requirements of users, you can anticipate greater success online.

It will undoubtedly prove a fascinating time in the coming weeks and months as Penguin 4.0 takes hold. To find out more how the impact of the algorithm update can affect you, contact the team at Minerva Creative today.

Mastering Content Promotion: 7 Things You Must Do

All too often, content creation, distribution and promotion is seen as an afterthought – something that can be done once all the other ‘important’ jobs have been completed. This mindset can have a negative impact on business, however, as without an effective content strategy in place in can be hard get your name out there and give your company the boost it really needs.

In fact, the right content promotion strategy can improve conversion rates, increase leads and assist brand awareness campaigns. It’s also a cost-effective way to market products, advertise jobs, network with other businesses/prospective employees, and provide industry-specific information that could gain you much-needed respect within the entrepreneurial world.

In short, mastering content promotion is of paramount importance, so here are seven things you must do to avoid getting lost in the ever-changing sea of content tactics:

1. Devise a thorough content-promotion plan

Worryingly, many business owners think that anyone can write gripping copy. This is often reflected in their hiring strategy in which highly-trained copywriters are ignored in favour of budding marketing experts who are only able to knock up a bit of average sales copy here and there.

The reality is, content is an extremely important part of business, and if you want your strategy to be a success it’s not only important to hire trained writers, but to also think carefully about what you’re going to say and when. The needs of customers are forever changing as are their wants, so try to:

  • Devise a content promotion plan with highly-defined goals.
  • Set monthly deadlines and benchmarks for success.
  • Have short-term and long-term strategies in place that can be easily adapted.

2. Give your audience a reason to care

If you see someone on the street, you might not care too much about them, as you know little about their life. Start speaking to them, however, learn about their story and you’ll probably find your become much more emotionally attached.

The same applies to business.

Companies with a strong brand and a compelling history are much easier to warm to than faceless firms which give their audience no reason to care or react. Many well-known organisations even become household names touching the hearts, minds and souls of people all over the world, which is why it’s essential to develop your own brand’s story. This can then inform you content promotion strategy and allow for ongoing marketing ideas that your customers can connect with.

3. Stand out from the crowd with free content

When it comes to content creation, producing top-notch copy that’s informative, factual and helpful is key – but that’s not all. While it can be tempting to charge for your best articles, blogs, whitepapers, etc., it can actually be better to offer up epic content for free.

Think about it: if your audience knows they have to splash out for every word your business writes, they might be tempted to look elsewhere – even if what you’ve produced is wonderful. On the other hand, if you post content for free, you’ll not only stand out from the crowd as a go-to resource, but you should develop a loyal following which is fantastic for brand awareness and hopefully sales.

Stand out from the crowd

4. Select the right promotional channels

These days, there are many promotional channels for content including social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Before you spread your latest musings across the web, however, it is really important to select the right promotional channels from the start. To do this, find out where your ideal clients are already hanging out on a regular basis.

Are they Facebook addicts who respond happily to Facebook ads or are they more up for retweets here and there? Perhaps they want to avoid these somewhat casual platforms and stick to networking through LinkedIn? A little bit of research will go a long way in this case and save you lots of time, money and effort placing content where it’s not needed or wanted.

5. Cross-promote your best content

While you don’t want to be splashing your content over any social site you come across, there are many ways you can cross-promote your material without spamming or annoying people. When you know which platforms prospective customers are using, you can then devise a plan to link all your marketing efforts together. For example, you could drive your LinkedIn followers to a webinar. You could then post the webinar to YouTube and direct followers back to LinkedIn to give their feedback.

6. Engage with and listen to your audience

Having a content strategy is one thing, but it’s not set in stone. To keep your audience engaged, you must learn to listen and react to what is being said. If you don’t, there’s a high chance they will switch off and go elsewhere. With goals and targets to meet it can be easy to throw content at people in the hope you will get your leads or conversions, but by forming loyal bonds with prospective clients you’re sure to have much better long-term success. While your content strategy plan should guide your actions, it must be tweaked to ensure you stay on point.

Analyse your results

7. Keep a close eye on results

Finally, you must always keep a close eye on what’s working and what’s not. There are many tools available out there such as HubSpot which can help you figure out how many page views, followers or social shares you’ve earned, so keep a close eye on results – and if you don’t know how, employ someone who does. Don’t forget to give your campaigns time to work, however, and avoid putting a stop to certain strategies based on early results.

Content promotion is an important part of business and one that’s often overlooked. It can help with everything from brand awareness to annual turnover, so make sure you’ve a well thought out strategy in place. Contact the team at Minerva Creative today to discuss how we can help support you in disseminating your content to right audience at the right time.

How to Locate your Target Audience in Social Media

Clare Hardin – digital marketing strategist associated with ‘The Digital Vibes’ – takes a look at audience targeting with social media. Clare has years of experience in writing articles, blog posts, ebooks, and creating digital marketing strategy, running social media campaigns, helping in SEO activities for large businesses and professionals.

Social media is no-longer mere networking platforms. The truth is, these platforms have moved way beyond than just being that nice-to-network platforms. From being an integral part of any digital strategy to being the preferred platforms for marketers to find their target audience, connect and engage with them – social media has changed the face of marketing over the last decade. Today, marketers use social platforms to build their brand, spread good word-of-mouth and generate leads that convert to sales.

The fast-paced growth witnessed by these platforms in terms of their users is quite over-whelming. However, for any business – old or new, planning to do digital marketing, locating their target audience is easy said than done. Well, here we try to help you with ways to find your target audience on these platforms.

Define your Target Market

The key to any business success depends on how well you define your target market. Now, this statement sounds so simple. However, if it was so easy, perhaps, every business endeavor would have been a success to this date. The biggest challenge lies in how well you define your customer. To get started, the best way to define your customer is to follow the simple rule – three Ws.

Who: Put yourself the question – “who is my target market for my business?” Based on your product or service, try to identity if it is a male in his late 30’s or a teenager or is it married women in her early 40’s or working women in her late 20s.

Where: Now, when you have clearly defined whom you need to target, go about defining the geographical location – America, Europe, or any locality or is it across the globe. Defining your region depends purely on your serviceability factors. Hence, do keep in mind your business operation limitations and then work on defining your location.

What: While you go about defining the ‘who’ and the ‘where’, the next pertinent question would be what exactly are the likes and dislikes of this target market? What are the psychological factors that affect buying decisions? What are their preferences etc.?

Define your target market in detail. Try to jot down relevant information about your target market. This gives you a clear picture of who would to be talking to.

Develop Virtual Personas of your Target Market

Based on the initial information that your gather about you target market, it is time you develop a virtual personas of your target market. For example, if you are targeting a short term online program on interior décor for home-makers and students, then you could develop two virtual personas for your target market – a home-maker in her early 30s who spends time engaging in some kind of online learning and living in tier-2 cities; while the second virtual persona could be the student in the age group of 18-23 years living anywhere across the country and interested in skills to add to her profile that could provide the necessary foundation for advanced learning.

The more you define your target market at a granular level, the more personalised could you make your marketing in the social media. Perhaps the biggest advantage of social media marketing is that you can initiate marketing strategies, test them on your target audience, monitor and analyse the results and re-implement the strategy with necessary changes. This is the most cost-effective and speedy way to check for the efficiency of your digital marketing strategies.

Choose the Right Social Media Channel

Choose the Right Social Media Channel that Suits your Target Market

Although there has been an increase in the number of social media users on various platforms, it is incorrect to say that every user uses the all the platforms to connect and share. The general tendency is to use those platforms that you feel comfortable or where you can find similar users or groups. So, as a business owner you need to be cautious while you choose the social platform in order to connect with your target market.

Here are a few popular channels and tips to help you choose the right social media channel.

Facebook: The growing number of users undoubtedly pegs Facebook in the top positon as the leader among social media channels. With over 1.1 billion people using Facebook, its reach is simply massive. This platform is basically where people connect with their family and friends, leave messages, comments, browse for products and share anything found worthy of sharing. If your product or service is related to health, food, fitness, travel or anything related to this target audience, and then your marketing efforts should concentrate more on here.

Twitter: This platform is where you could connect with others apart from family and friends. In other words, this platform is not used for networking with one’s family or friends; rather, it is used to share your thoughts with and listen to the others. The 140 character count limitation has proved not be a deterrent on this platform which has an estimated 215 million active users. With hashtags you could be a part of the trending news and connect with your customers.

Google Plus: This platform could be viewed as a combination of both Facebook and Twitter. Since this is part of Google, with the use of right hashtags and Hangouts, you could reap benefits in terms of search rankings of your business.

LinkedIn: This is the largest professional network platform where you connect with industry people, experts, professionals and those from the business fraternity. If you are a small business owner, it is important to have your business page on LinkedIn to be a part of your industry.

Pinterest: Basically an image sharing platform, this channel suits businesses that would like to share good images related to their business. Example: real estate, interior décor, food, restaurant, fashion, jewelry etc.

Instagram: This is a photo-sharing platform. It is a free app and could be downloaded on to any phone. It has various filters that make it easy to edit and share photos. Especially when you are talking of business and the people behind it, Instagram is the best platform to share them with your target audience and connect.

YouTube: This is a video-sharing platform and requires dedicated monetary and skilled resources to develop good, engaging and creative videos. Hence, be prudent enough before to pick as it the channel of choice for your social media marketing activities.

Connect with Your Audience with the Right Message

Now that you have decided which social channels you would be using for your marketing activities, work on the content that you would like to share with them. It could be anything from images, links, infographics, short videos, contests or surveys – you could come up with the right mix of interesting and original content that puts across the intended message and leads to a two-way conversation with your target audience. Do note that only when your audience is able to connect with your message will you be able create that engagement.

Conclusion

For businesses that have been in the digital space for some time now, they certainly have an edge over those businesses just making their start or small businesses which are taking their first-steps online. Social media marketing is all about personalised marketing – you share information based on the likes, dislikes and preferences of your customer. Hence, be wise; choose right the channel; find your target market and connect right.

7 Reasons Your Conversation Sucks

pretty woman waking up and yawning

Marketing is an important part of business, but all too often promotional materials such as leaflets and brochures end up in the bin while company emails get sent straight to the trash folder. The questions is, why? On the whole, marketing messages are characterless, bland and generic. They make us cringe, lack any kind of personality or charm and could, quite frankly, have been written by robots trained to string words together in the most soul destroying way possible.

This is a great shame, however, as readers enjoy copy that’s engaging, uplifting, and connects with them on a one-to-one level. They want to feel valued, appreciated, and respected while simultaneously holding onto the belief that you’re talking with no other customer than them – and that’s where conversational writing skills come into play.

Now, writing in a conversational manner doesn’t simply involve recording yourself and typing what you said – after all, people rarely speak proper English when they talk. In fact, most conversations are littered with grammatical mistakes, nonsensical or vague words, and unfinished sentences. The key to conversational text is editing it so it no longer sounds like writing.

Confused? Check out the following unmissable tips:

1. Don’t make it sound like you’re writing to everyone

As a company, you probably don’t have time to write a personal email to every single client. Mass email sends are common, but it’s important to not to sound like you’re addressing a crowd as this is what makes most marketing messages sound monotonous and unoriginal.

So how can you nail that conversational tone?

Firstly, imagine you’re speaking to your favourite subscriber rather than 100,000 faceless individuals on your email list. Speak to them casually, yet professionally and in an upbeat manner. For instance, rather than saying: “thank you to those of you who’ve donated to our charity,” you might prefer to say something like “donated to our charity already? Thank you so much.”

2. Make sure your marketing materials are easy to read

Highly sophisticated sentences packed with industry-related jargon is far from conversational. Complicated, unfamiliar words can make people feel intimidated, so make sure your marketing materials are straightforward and easy to read. Leave out anything that can only be found in a degree-level book and instead write to engage and help.

3. Forget self-importance: make it a two-way conversation

If a person talks on and on about themselves without letting you speak, how does it make you feel? Bored? Frustrated? Angry? Well, remember this when writing marketing copy. Readers will quickly switch off if you literature is self-important gobbledygook, so try to have a two-way conversation – talking a little about “me” or “us” and a little about “you”. You can look out for self-centred sentenced by searching for words such as “I” and “we”, but don’t feel like you’ve to edit all these out as you still want to make your mark on the reader – it’s a fine balance.

4. Don’t hide your personality

Before you begin writing any kind of marketing material, think carefully about your friends. This may sound a little odd, but ask yourself why you like them. What makes you want to hang out together time and time again? And what sort of conversations do you have? Chances are, you discuss a wide range of topics and don’t just stick to one subject matter. This makes life more interesting and allows for some pretty fun and unique conversations, so why not learn from this and make your content equally as engaging?

You can do this by:

  • Using personal anecdotes to illustrate a point
  • Sharing stories and past mistakes with readers
  • Creating your own style of metaphors
  • Talking about wider business-related issues (perhaps in an email, or on your blog), not just about company-specific matters
  • Sharing interesting content such as infographics that will get people interested and talking

5. Ask your reader a host of questions

One of your main goals when writing content is to keep your reader interested. While there are many stylistic things you can do to engage with your audience such as spacing out copy, bolding text, using italics and making the most of bullet points, you should also ask your reader a host of questions. Not only will this get them thinking about the subject at hand and what they really want or need, but it’ll actively involve them with the content helping them to stay focussed.

6. Avoid using long, complicated sentences

Long sentences can be tiring for someone to read. So, try to write shorter sentences. This will make your content more manageable to digest. Breaking copy down in such a way can be more difficult than you might think, however, as all through school and university we are rewarded for expressing ourselves in an in-depth way using big, clever words. To write simply and for the reader is often a foreign concept, but it’s one that works.

7. Be a rebel when it comes to grammar

We all know that good grammar is important helping us to communicate in an accurate and respectable way. That said, certain grammar rules can sometimes hamper readability, so don’t be afraid to break them now and again for content clarity.

For example, you could perhaps:

  • Use broken sentences to make your content more readable
  • Start a sentence with “and,” “but,” or “or” to prevent your work from becoming monotonous
  • Create a one-sentence paragraph to stress a particular point
  • Use colloquial language here and there (don’t overdo it) to help make your writing more relaxed and conversational. Note, this is best done in a humorous manner

Conversational writing is not always easy. It’s somewhere between professionalism and casual chatter, but the above tips will help you find the perfect tone. Contact Minerva Copywriting today to learn more or to take advantage of professional copywriting services to support your business.

10 Editing Secrets Professional Writers Don’t Want You to Know

Expressing yourself with words is a wonderful ability, but it can also be highly frustrating – particularly if you experience a bout of writer’s block or simply struggle to see obvious mistakes time and time again. It’s not always easy to spot errors in your own work, but thankfully there are many things you can do to not only improve your overall writing skills, but to continuously communicate in the most articulate way possible.

Concentration, alongside a selection of super-specific editing tricks, will stand you in good stead to write poetry, novels, web copy, articles, blog posts, and many other kinds of literature, so take a look at the following tips:

1. Get the reader onside and ask questions which make them say “yes”

First impressions count, so be sure to draw the reader in from the start by asking questions which make them say “yes.” The more they say “yes”, the more your product or service will be relevant to their needs, meaning they’ll be more likely to invest. This kind of persuasive and emotive writing is a call-to-action and is particularly important if you’re trying to market a product, as what you are offering needs to appeal to your target audience – instantly.

This kind of persuasive and emotive writing is a call-to-action and is particularly important

Unfortunately, it’s a rather dog-eat-dog world and, if the consumer can’t see what you’re offering straight away, they might close your brochure, throw your leaflet in the bin, bounce of your webpage, and simply go elsewhere. Sound harsh? Well, it’s reality, so make them feel like you know what they need and help them.

2. Space your content out

In order to catch and maintain the interest of readers, you need to make your content as easy to absorb as possible. Large blocks of text can seem intimidating and overwhelming, so be sure to tap the enter button every one-to-three sentences. This is particularly important when writing for the web, as users spend an average of 15 seconds on a webpage so there isn’t long to keep them engaged.

Negative – or blank – space is a common trick used by both photographers and designers to create a focal point, but it can also be used by writers to draw attention to something important. It also gives readers a time to digest what they’ve read, gather their thoughts, and take a breath before carrying on the reading process.

3. Make the most of in-text formatting

To prevent all words from running into one another and to ensure a reader doesn’t miss anything important, why not make the most if in-text formatting? Everything from italicising and CAPITALISING, to backlinking and bolding your key benefits will help capture a reader’s attention and make certain points stand out. As humans, we are wired to detect things that are different or new, so stylistic changes can help people to focus.

4. Help your readers out by using bullet points

After a hard day at work, would you rather scan a large block of text for the information you’re looking for, or casually browse a list of bullet points containing all the essential text you need? The latter is, of course, more appealing, as not only are bullet points easy to read but they can help to:

  • Organise your text and make it more readable
  • Highlight key points and things you really shouldn’t miss
  • Summarise surrounding text in a clear, concise way
  • Offer a stylistic change encouraging readers to focus

5. Start sentences with trigger words

No matter what you write, try to keep the magic of literature alive

People download books to their Kindle or flick through pages of a novel because the stories they read excite them in many different ways. Reading is, ultimately, an enjoyable experience, so no matter what you write, try to keep the magic of literature alive. In other words, don’t just drone on and on, but instead think carefully about how your copy is arranged, and start sentences with trigger words which will evoke feelings of nostalgia or spark the imagination.

Words such as “imagine”, “remember”, or “picture this” let readers know that you’re about to tell them a story or jog their memory in some way, and this will encourage them to read on and find out more about what you have to say.

6. Try to use the word “because” as often as you can – without sounding strange

Think carefully and you’ll see that the word “because” is used to justify an action. It explains why you should (or shouldn’t) be doing something, and is an excellent word to incorporate into all kinds of persuasive copy (particularly sales related) as it gives people a reason to act.

Imagine you’re a mum looking to buy the latest computer game for her son, for instance. You might not be overly convinced that your boy needs another distraction, but that important word “because” in the sales copy might just tempt you and convince you to do so.

7. Speak confidently in the active voice

As mentioned above, you’ve mere seconds to catch people’s attention, so it’s a good idea to speak in the active voice rather than the passive. This will make your statements sound more lively and confident, helping readers stay alert.

  • Active voice = the subject is doing the action
  • Passive voice = the subject is receiving the action

Example:

  • Mo Farah won the 5,000m gold medal in 2012 – active
  • The 5,000m gold medal was won by Mo Farah in 2012 – passive

In order to spice up your copy, you can press CTRL-F to find passive words like “by” and work to make the sentence more interesting.

8. Rewrite your copy using the second person

One of the best ways to connect with a reader on a personal level is to use pronouns like “you”, “your”, and “yours” as this instantly makes people feel like you are talking to them on a one-to-one basis. Getting into the hearts and minds of people you’ve never met before is an incredibly difficult thing to do, but by knowing your target audience and simply writing in the second person will make it a whole lot easier.

9. Make the most of punchy verbs rather than adverbs

Want your writing to be outstanding rather than average?

Want your writing to be outstanding rather than average? Avoid the wishy-washy adverb-verb combo and instead opt for a punchy verb. For example, instead of writing, “She’s very cross”, you could write, “she’s irate” as this gets to the point quicker and is sharper. It’s far too easy to bulk your copy out with unnecessary adverbs, so scan what you’ve written and make the relevant tweaks.

10. Make sure your call to action is up to scratch

Before you print a batch of leaflets or do a mass email send, make sure your call-to-action is up to scratch. Not only should it be worded properly (and spelt correctly), but it must also be clear, concise, bold, visible, urgent, and compelling. In other words, it should not be generic or boring such as “call now to find out more”, but engaging and exciting such as “make a booking now for an adventure you’ll never forget.”

Writing is one thing, but ordering words in such a way that they are interesting, intriguing and inspiring is a more challenging prospect altogether, but the above ten tips should certainly help. To find out more about effective copywriting, you can speak to the team at Minerva Copywriting today. Simply submit an online enquiry or call FREE on 0800 180 4085 to transform the effectiveness of your content and boost online success.

Advertising That Sells (Part 4) – Big Ideas

David Ogilvy

4. Big ideas.

Unless your advertising is built on a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. It takes a big idea to jolt the consumer out of his indifference – to make him notice your advertising, remember it and take action.

Big ideas are usually simple ideas. Said Charles Kettering, the great General Motors inventor: “this problem, when solved, will be simple.” Big, simple ideas are not easy to come by. They require genius – and midnight oil. A truly big one can be continued for 20 years – like our eye patch for Hathaway shirts.

Previous entries

View previous entries in the ‘How to create advertising that sells’ series from David Ogilvy on the Minerva Copywriting website:

Discover more

Find out more about David Ogilvy’s acclaimed tenets of advertising across the Minerva Copywriting website, starting at the beginning of ‘How to create advertising that sells‘.

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You can even contact our friendly team today by submitting an online enquiry form or by calling FREE on 0800 180 4085. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free sample of work, and also quote you on any content or copywriting requirements you may have.

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