Welcome to LinkedIn

Love it or hate it, Linkedin is the best social media platform to use if your business wants to connect with other businesses.  Some people may think it is not as exciting or entertaining as Facebook or Instagram but it’s an extremely important business development tool in the B2B marketplace and it is vital to engage in it regularly.  In this blog, we will share with you our LinkedIn top tips so that you can make better use of this platform.

LinkedIn is a social media platform so you need to be sociable.

Just like all the social media platforms, your posts should not be all about “me, me, me”. Yes I get it that you want to use social media to drum up new business contacts but you also need to engage in conversations with other people on Linkedin ie to be sociable.  Like other people’s posts, comment on them and even share another person’s post too. When someone asks you for a recommendation, take a few minutes to write it – War and Peace is not required but even a few lines can make all the difference to someone.

Try applying the Pareto Rule to your Linkedin posts – 80% about others and 20% about yourself or your business.  

14 content ideas for LinkedIn posts

  1. Products/services – pick one product/service per post and explain why people would want it.  Link to the equivalent product page on your website too.
  2. Blog posts from your website – some content is “evergreen” so it can be shared now even if you wrote it last year.  For example, our blog post “What are backlinks?” could be shared on LinkedIn whenever it is updated with new online directories.
  3. Top Tips – you are an expert in your industry so what advice can you give to others.
  4. Case studies – perhaps these are already on your website but you could also write a short case study about a recent customer.
  5. Your staff – on a Company Page, you could include a mini biography about a member of staff.  Add some interesting details too eg about their dog, sporting interests or anything unique.
  6. Why is your business called what it is?  Is there an interesting back story that people would be interested in?
  7. Testimonials – have any of your happy customers written a glowing testimonial about your business?  Then share this will your LinkedIn followers too with a link to the customer’s Linkedin page too.
  8. National news – have you got an opinion or an angle on a national news story?  For example, Portadown’s Bann Mobility shared a story about Captain Tom Moore’s use of a rollator to walk 100 laps of his garden to raise millions for the NHS during the COVID-19 lockdown in  Spring 2020.  
  9. Special offers – perhaps you could have a special offer just for your Linkedin followers.
  10. Industry news – an article from your professional body eg from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
  11. Attending events – state that you are planning to attend, at the event and after the event.  Tag the event organiser and speakers too.  
  12. Business news from your area – especially success stories. Congratulate the business on their good news.
  13. Celebrate achievements – a member of staff with long service, a significant birthday or the anniversary of the business opening up.
  14. A thank you – if another organisation has helped you recently to overcome a problem very quickly, it is good to publicly thank them for their support.

LinkedIn Top Tips

All posts should have a visual – this could be a link from your website, a photograph, an infographic or a video.

Check that your basic profile is complete and update it regularly – both for the company and your own personal page.  Also make sure that you have a custom url for your personal profile eg https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyndawillis/

Use relevant hashtags with your posts.  LinkedIn even gives you suggestions for hashtags to use.

When you have posted on the company page, advise your colleagues so they can share it on their own personal pages too.

Write articles on your personal page – these are really mini blogs but they have a longer lifetime than a post as they are easier to locate.

Give recommendations to other people that you have worked with or received a service from that impressed you.

Request recommendations too from people that you have done work for.  They may not always write a recommendation for you but many people do so it is worthwhile asking.

Hopefully you will find our LinkedIn top tips useful and you can start to try them out for yourself on LinkedIn.  

To see some of our recent posts on Linkedin, please click the button below.

Customer Care, Coronavirus and a Cherry Scone

As we slowly emerge out of the COVID-19 lockdown, have our needs and expectations as customers changed?  I believe they definitely have and in many different ways.  The customer care challenge for businesses is now to adapt to the new COVID-19 customer who demands safety and speed as well as courtesy.

Customer care in coffee shops

Most business owners have made a jolly good effort to install signage, social distancing footprints, screens, contactless payments and hand sanitising stations.  Even one way systems have been introduced in some shops to ensure customers don’t meet another customer on entry or exit. But unfortunately, tiny details are being overlooked. 

I visited a coffee shop recently to get a takeaway cherry scone and coffee.  The customer route was clearly signposted and there were impressive screens at the counter.  All was looking very positive until I asked for my scone to be buttered as I was going to eat it in the car.  The answer was “We don’t butter scones here but here is a portion of butter for you.  There are plastic knives on that table.”  To my horror, there were plastic knifes, forks and spoons on the table but they were not wrapped up.  I reluctantly lifted a knife and thought that anyone could have touched that knife previously to me using it and they could have Coronavirus!  I mentioned this to a member of staff and got a shrug of the shoulders.  She then walked past me, well within the two metre threshold and in the opposite direction of the one-way system.

Will I return to this coffee shop?  Absolutely not.  Hygiene levels should be at 110% now and there is no excuse for having unwrapped cutlery for other customers to touch.  Staff members did not really care about my customer needs and it would not have been too much of an inconvenience to butter a scone for me. 

Customer Care in Shops

How is the retail sector adapting to the new Coronavirus rules?  Well again, it is clear that the business owners are doing their best with signage, screens and hand sanitiser as well as limiting the number of people to enter a shop.  Many retailers are encouraging their teams to engage in elearning programmes such as WorldHost 2020 which are designed to remind people of the new protocols to follow.  

Small shops face the largest challenge as they don’t have much space for staff and customers to adhere to the social distancing rules.  But it is not impossible and I had a very positive experience in a local greengrocer’s recently.

This greengrocer’s had clear signage outside stating the number of customers allowed in store at a time.  Staff at the till invited customers to enter when it was safe to do so.  Before entry, there was a small sink installed for customers to wash their hands.  Paper towels and anti-bacterial soap were available too.  Then beside the baskets, there was antibacterial spray and paper towels with a notice inviting customers to sanitise the basket handle before picking it up. Finally staff were positioned behind screens at the till but were more than happy to carry purchases out to the car while maintaining the social distancing rules. Ten out of ten for their customer care skills!

Shopping online

Many customers have moved to shopping online for absolutely anything.  Amazon delivery drivers have never been busier and the major supermarkets are struggling to get enough delivery slots for customers. 

Many smaller businesses have entered the online shopping world for the first time.  Even our local butcher now has a facility to order meat online and they make a call to obtain card payment before collection.  He is getting more business as I am reluctant to queue outside a busy shop. 

Nobody wants to wait for a product once we have ordered it so businesses need to jump when an order is received and get it despatched to a customer within a few hours.  A simple message to say that the goods are on the way is essential to keep the customer informed that their order should be with them soon.  A personal handwritten message in the parcel is an extra bonus and makes the customer feel valued.

Making deliveries

The major supermarkets are excellent at making deliveries while following the new rules.  The drivers don’t enter your home and definitely follow the two metre social distancing rule but at the same time, they are polite and chatty as they realise that their face may be the only one the homeowner may see that day especially if they are self-isolating.

For some businesses, deliveries require entering a home eg delivery of a new bed.  Keeping the two metre distance is essential as is using hand sanitiser.  The customer may feel happier if you wear a mask too.  

Customer care on social media

As customers are spending more time on social media, they are expecting quicker and more personalised responses.  Businesses cannot afford to ignore Facebook, Twitter and Instagram messages at this time but instead need to respond to all private messages before the customer gets impatient and starts to rant publicly about the dreadful service received.

Customer reviews

As many people are furloughed or are working from home, they have more time to check out reviews before making a purchase on your online shop especially if your business is new to them.  According to a Trustpilot UK Consumer Survey conducted in March 2020, there was a 22% decrease of trust in companies since Coronavirus. It also showed that 27.5% of consumers are checking more reviews.  So it is more important than ever to ask your customers to write a review but once they have written a review, thank them for taking the time to do it. 

Life in June 2020 is very different to life in June 2019.  Business owners are adapting well but their staff need to be constantly reminded that they need to follow the new rules to the letter otherwise nervous customers will simply visit another business who do care about the new 2020 customer emerging after the COVID-19 lockdown.

For details about the WorldHost 2020 Keeping Customers Safe online course, please click the button below.

What are backlinks?

Spiders web

Why is it important to have backlinks to your website from other external websites?

In this blog post, we will discuss this important subject and how backlinks can help you to drive more customers to your website.

Backlinks help SEO

As the Google spiders search the internet for new information, they travel through backlinks to get from one site to another.  If there are lots of  incoming links to your website, then it is easier for the spiders to find your site, search for new content and then index it.  This will help your website to have a higher position on the the Search Engine Results Page so more potential customers will find your business. With fewer backlinks, it will be harder for the spiders to find and index your website so your position on the Search Engine Results Page will be further down. 

Backlinks help you get more customers

Backlinks are not just good for the Google spiders but they are a really good way to drive more customers to your website and hopefully generate more sales if they like what they see when they get there.  For example, someone may use Yell.com when looking for a beauty salon as they want to see the reviews that have been written about the business from previous customers. They spot your business listing with seven excellent reviews and they click on the link on your website to find out more about your business. 

The bottom line is that a backlink from another site is actually a vote of confidence in your business which both Google spiders and customers respond to.

Business owners therefore need to actively engage in building links from other reputable websites on an ongoing basis.

But it isn’t easy.

How do I find out if I already have any backlinks to my website?

There are many free backlink checkers which you can use.  These include:

The Hoth

Neil Patel

Small SEO Tools

How do I get more backlinks to my website?

  1. Make sure all your social media channels include your website url within the bio or about us section.  Think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even the company page on Linkedin.  You “own” these sites so this is a quick win.
  2. Claim your Google My Business profile and add your website to the profile.
  3. Write testimonials for other businesses that you have used but ask the business to include your website url with the testimonial.
  4. Comment on blog posts – frequently there is an option available to include a link to your website here too.
  5. Offer to write a guest blog on another website.  Many people will be delighted to receive new content on a plate but your reward is a link back to your website.  For example, a few years ago I wrote a blog on the Love Lough Neagh website about the coffee shops in my local village as long as I got a backlink to my website.
  6. Create listings on other sites who have a directory of businesses.  Sometimes you have to pay for these listings (ie they are really a form of advertising) but there are many free listings which are available too.  Listing opportunities will vary by industry sector and what’s available in your local area.

Which online directories can I list my business in?

Here are a list of some of the online directories that currently exist.  Some will be applicable to all businesses whereas others are more relevant to some industry sectors than others. 

Northern Ireland Online Directories

Northern Ireland Trade Federation – https://www.nifed.co.uk

4NI – https://www.4ni.co.uk/

Northern Ireland Info Directory – https://www.northern-ireland-info.co.uk/

Northern Ireland Facebook Business Group – this was set up during COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 – https://esriireland.maps.arcgis.com/

Support ABC – only for businesses located in the Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area – https://www.supportabc.co.uk/

Made in Northern Ireland – a directory allowing makers from across Northern Ireland to easily be found by people looking for a unique gift or who wish to support local businesses.  https://madeinnorthernireland.co.uk/

Irish Online Directories

Irish Trade Federation – https://www.irishtrade.ie

UK Online Directories

Yell.com – paid and free listings are available – https://www.yell.com/

Cylex – paid and free listings are available – https://www.cylex-uk.co.uk/

Small Business Saturday – this is for small businesses across UK – https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/

Free Index – https://www.freeindex.co.uk/

Smart Business Directory – https://www.smartbusinessdirectory.co.uk/

Trust Pilot – this is an online review site – https://uk.business.trustpilot.com/

B2B Business Directory – https://www.b2b-directory-uk.co.uk/

Purple Tuesday – an organisation who works to improve the customer experience for disabled people – https://purpletuesday.org.uk/

The UK Small Business Directory – https://www.uksmallbusinessdirectory.co.uk/

My Local Services – https://www.mylocalservices.co.uk/

Yelp for Business – https://biz.yelp.co.uk/

Bark –  https://www.bark.com/en/gb/

Next Door – https://nextdoor.co.uk/

Scoot – https://www.scoot.co.uk/ 

Touch Local – https://www.touchlocal.com/ 

Tourism and Hospitality Online Directories

Discover Northern Ireland – free listings for accommodation, restaurants, activities and events – https://discovernorthernireland.com/

Trip Advisor – https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/

Wedding Online Directories

Getting Married in Northern Ireland – https://gettingmarried-ni.co.uk/

Weddings Online – https://www.weddingsonline.ie/

Ireland’s Wedding Journal – https://www.weddingjournalonline.com/

Wedding Wire – https://www.weddingwire.co.uk/

The Happy Bride Guide –  https://www.happybrideguide.co.uk/

The Ideal Venue – https://theidealvenue.com/

Wedding Related – http://www.weddingrelated.co.uk/

The Wedding Planner – https://www.theweddingplanner.co.uk/

Weddified –  https://www.weddified.co.uk/

Quirky Weddings –  http://quirkyweddings.co.uk/

Wedding Day Angel –  https://www.weddingdayangel.com/

One Fab Day –  https://www.onefabday.com/uk/

If there are any online directories which should be listed here, please click on the button to send us a message about them.

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How Coronavirus has impacted a Digital Marketing Consultant in Northern Ireland

Digital marketing consultant meetings changed after Coronavirus

In the first six months of 2020, we have all experienced enormous changes in the way we live and work due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Kicking and screaming we have had to embrace the “new normal”. But are there any benefits to the new way of working for a digital marketing consultant?

I’ve been mentoring businesses since 2007 and I have to say that I always find it really enjoyable.  Over the years, I have had the pleasure of meeting many business owners from a very diverse range of organisations. From  drain cleaning companies, artists, cafes, hotels, photographers, florists, fitness instructors, gardeners, b&b owners and many many more.

How Coronavirus has impacted role of digital marketing consultant
How Coronavirus has impacted role of digital marketing consultant

What happened before Coronavirus?

Once a date and time had been agreed with the business, my day started with a drive to the business or a nearby coffee shop.  As I have been working with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council on their Amplify Business Support Programme over the last few years, I could be travelling to Larne, Carrickfergus or Ballymena to see a business. So I could spend an hour travelling from Aghalee while listening to  BBC Radio 2 and enjoying our beautiful County Antrim countryside.  (By the way, I also deliver mentoring for Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council as well as Lisburn City and Castlereagh Council.)

Talking is thirsty work so coffee and scones was how the digital marketing mentoring session usually started. Then the challenge was to log on to the wifi so we could have a look at how to help the business with marketing on digital channels.  After the meeting was over and action points agreed upon, I started to drive back home.  Of course there had to be another coffee shop stop to catch up on emails and missed calls as well as writing up my report.

Sometimes the meeting venues were lovely and cosy but other venues were absolutely freezing!  I have very fond memories of mentoring Brendan McKay at the Glensway Tavern in Martinstown (near Ballymena) and sitting at a cosy fire in the corner of the bar (pictured above).  Visiting the premises did allow you to get a very good understanding of the actual business and its products.  Plus sometimes I had the pleasure of chatting to customers too.

Working as a digital marketing consultant after the coronavirus peak

On 23 March 2020, Boris Johnson announced the start of the Coronavirus lockdown . With this announcement, the days of travelling to meet business owners ended and initially I thought it was the end of the mentoring work too. But I was pleasantly surprised in mid April to hear that the councils were introducing online mentoring with the businesses.  

The new normal for a mentor is now meeting the business owner by Zoom but does it actually work?

In a word, yes.  Although you can’t actually shake hands with the business owner, you can still have a very productive meeting by Zoom once they have got to grips with using the technology! As I am helping businesses with making changes to their WordPress websites, helping to set up events on Eventbrite, creating new backlinks  or writing targeted Facebook advertisements, it is very easy to show how to do these things by sharing my screen. 

Online Customer Service Training Courses

What are the pros and cons of digital marketing mentoring by Zoom?

The Pros

With good planning in advance of what you have to cover, time flies.  It is very easy to share information by sharing your screen with the business owner.

No time is spent ordering refreshments so more time is spent on discussing the business needs.

Extra people from the business can join the meeting as the need arises.

No diesel costs or no time spent in travelling to see the business owner.

Sometimes it can be hard to get good wifi at business locations or coffee shops.  It is very hard to demonstrate digital marketing without wifi so the wifi at home is usually good.

It is safer for both the mentor and the business owner as we are not in the same place.

The Cons

As you can’t actually see the business, meet personnel in the flesh, it is harder to get a grasp of  the real issues facing the business.

I have to make my own tea and toast!  But sometimes my husband will pop in with refreshments during the meeting.  

From time to time, I can get interrupted by other family members who forget that mum is on Zoom.

So what do business owners think about talking to a digital marketing consultant by Zoom?

For everyone, the Coronavirus pandemic has led to huge changes to the way in which businesses had previously received mentoring support.  Some business owners were very experienced in using Zoom.  But for others, it was a completely new world to them and they needed some help to get cameras and microphones sorted out. 

We asked two businesses for their thoughts and this is what they had to say.

Although I would probably prefer a face to face meeting, Lynda has more information at her fingerprints.  By sharing her screen, it is easy to see what is being discussed and to bounce ideas off the mentor.

Owner, D & J Drain Services

I found it very strange at the start but I have got used to it now.  It is easier talking to the mentor on a 1: 1 basis rather than in a larger group.

Business Development ManageR

Government guidelines during COVID-19 meant I could not receive business mentoring face to face. Lynda Willis, however, mentored me via Zoom, providing amazing advice as well as sharing readily available resources with me. By pointing me in the right direction and spending time on research specific to my business, Customer Sense Training has magnified the online platform of my business.

Owner


If you would like to have some digital marketing mentoring for your business, please click the button below to send us a message.

Back to work after COVID-19 lockdown

On 23 March 2020,  the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping across the United Kingdom and the death toll was starting to climb.  That evening Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, addressed the nation and told us to “Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives”.  And so, the coronavirus lockdown started and we all were […]