All posts in Time Management

You know your site could be doing more every single day. From a higher traffic volume to better CTRs, it could be working harder for you, right? Wondering how to make sure it gets there? Many look to an SEO audit, but if the concept alone seems confusing, you’re certainly not alone.

What is an SEO Audit?

Every process of your business is examined and evaluated periodically, right? It’s the only way to make certain that your business is moving forward. When was the last time  you offered the same careful evaluation to your website? Some businesses build it then just sit back and wait for the visitors to come. Sites just don’t work that way anymore, and if yours isn’t well optimised, easy to navigate, and offering the level of content visitors want to see, you’re missing out. An SEO audit looks at all of those factors and more.

SEO Audits 101

So, what exactly does an SEO audit look at? It takes a closer look at your tag optimisation, both on and off page. It also looks at broken links and dead pages. Additionally, it ensures your site can be indexed by the search engines, factors in the link profile compared to your competitors, and tests your site’s speed.

Can I Handle It?

An SEO audit isn’t necessarily hard, unless you’re (a) pressed for time, or (b) SEO challenged. If you’re not sure what any of the terms mean or even how to begin checking for dead links on site, it’s probably time to enlist a bit of professional help. This is particularly true if you think you have much bigger problems, because you may need someone to handle a custom audit that’s a bit tough to tackle on your own.

Ye Old Typewriter 2

Writing great content can be a challenge. Writing great content day after day after day is most certainly a feat. Content tools are not designed to write content for us; we want to leave that for the humans. What they do, however, is help us map out what we need to cover, when, and how. They can help give us a spark of inspiration when the muse has cut out early or when a meeting has left us dull. What are the best ones to use?

Ubersuggest. Sometimes all you need is an idea, especially on a slow news day. Ubersuggest allows you to enter in a word or phrase and troll through Google Suggestions for trending and related topics. You can find ideas, resources, and other content-starters on topics that are of interest to your audience.

Scrapebox. Ok, we know. This one does not have a sterling reputation. It is often connected with those spammy comments you see on blogs, and it can be used for that purpose, to be sure. It can also be used completely legitimately, white hat-approved, as a content tool. Much like Ubersuggest, it scrapes content and can help you find related topics on which to create content. Some even say it is more powerful. Just don’t use the spam-comment feature. If you’re concerned, there are a number of great articles from reputable sources on using it this way. Again, do not use the spam or link features.

Audacity. This is a free recording/editing tool that will help you create audio content. It is important to have a mix of content (text, images, video, audio) to appeal to your audience’s diverse learning styles. Record your thoughts on a topic, or interview an industry authority. Get “man on the street” feedback or do an audio Q&A. There is a lot of possibility here.

Evernote. With this program, you can keep track of notes, recordings, images, webpages, etc., and access it via the cloud from any device. This is great when the inspiration strikes on the train and you only have your phone. It can be a repository for content ideas, and best of all, it is collaborative. Share it with colleagues so they can add to it or use it themselves.

Feedly. This is a Google Reader successor. The magazine-style reader allows you to access, organize, and read content from across the web easily and efficiently.

Slideshare. Surprised? Don’t be. Slideshare can be a powerful tool for building your authority and visibility. Slide decks are informative, sharable, and great for appealing to a variety of users.

As always, you can use resources like Quora, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other news aggregators to find topics on which to create. The key is to keep it organized with a program like Evernote and then create a content calendar so you can keep on top of your game and deliver fresh, relevant, strategic content.

Social Media is the addiction of our era, weather you use it for personal reasons or for business purposes. The good news is that, as opposed to many other offline addictions, using Social Media doesn’t affect your health (unless you tweet about a fire before your escape the building) and it can be rather beneficial for your bank account. If you can put it to its good use!

Social Media time managementThis being said, it is hard to imagine a business today that is not keen on increasing its web presence. And that means optimizing their content for search engines, posting, streaming, creating, updating and monitoring social media accounts, submitting social bookmarking profiles, following industry and competition news. And the list can go on forever.

But time is money. And time is becoming such a precious commodity, that we cannot afford to squander without serious consequences for the business. Social Media marketing is only part of your online marketing effort, and online marketing is only part of your overall marketing.

The question that rises is this: What is the optimum time you should allocate to Social Media, in order to achieve its maximum potential and still be able to focus on your core business?

The correct answer can be found only after you spend enough time (yes, time!) to effectively define your Social Media goals. Resist the temptation to run for the most popular on the web position! It takes way too much effort and it hardly brings benefits. Engage with your present and potential customers and you may have something going for you. Your consumer insights studies are some of your best allies here.

  • Schedule your social media. Allocate a number of hours weekly for all social media activities. Depending on your audience, it can be divided in a smaller number of hours everyday of the week or by selecting „activity” days, where you can spend alternatively an afternoon or a morning, to be able to engage within as many time zones as possible.
  • Develop your social date book. Implement and stick to a social media activity calendar. The biggest Social Media marketing sin is to set up pages and then abandon them. The second biggest is to update them irregularity. This is not cool with search engines and alienates your followers. You can use free online calendars, like Google Calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, or Mozilla Lightning to plan your activity and sync it with a larger team.
  • Disperse responsibilities. Build a team with specific tasks to implement your Social Media plan. In some cases, it is not only useful, but also necessary. For example, you need multiple employees to leverage a LinkedIn profile for B2B reasons.
  • Hire experts. On a long run, it can be cost-effective, and easier to handle than doing it all yourself. You need professionals in order to present yourself professionally and to ride the wave of the digital revolution. Experts can get you started by establishing a model for your staff to follow or you may want to hire them for long-term tasks, such as writing and editing your blogs for consistency.

 

History has a funny way of repeating itself. The good old days when the grocer knew every customer’s name, culinary preferences and marital escapades were quickly replaced by the detachment and stiffness of the industrial era. Big scales, automation, and the commercial marketing techniques brutally cut the warm-hearted connection between the retailer and its customers.

eCommerce

Today, the eRetailers are making significant efforts to re-enact that special bond with their clients, as part of their odyssey to gain trust, loyalty, appreciation, and naturally, bigger sales.

The advent of the Social Media turned the wheel in favour of the consumers. Its exponential growth over the last few years triggered the frenetic chase for eCustomers, right where they like to hang out the most: on the social networks.

By now, pretty much all online and offline retailers know they cannot continue treating customers as masses. And those who don’t … are probably learning it the hard way. People’s voluntary submission to social media made it possible for everything to become personalised. And thus, companies and brands came to learn their names, culinary preferences and, if they don’t cover their online traces well, even their marital escapades.

Oh well!

 

Make Social Media Matter to your Business

Let’s say you are an Online Communications Manager. As the one responsible for Social Media in your company, you have a hot potato in your hands. If you still think in terms of B2C, switch to P2P! Person to person, that is.

You get a carte blanche to dodge the rigid corporate identity rules and to connect in a more friendly, more direct and more entertaining manner. But does it mean you should be experimenting with rhetoric and hope for the best? We don’t think your CEO would like it. And you might give a bad name to all those content editors out there.

Instead, make Social Media “matter”, and by this I mean make it contribute to the company’s objectives.  One way to demonstrate its efficiency is to keep track of the business metric ‘return on investment’, or ROI.

Let’s go through the ROI formula:

Return on investment calculation

Here are three things you need to check on your list in order to make sure your Social Media activity is influent and you are actually bringing revenue in for your company.

 

1.    Tie Social Media to Business Performance

It all starts with defining your objectives clearly. Now, having fuzzy goals is pretty much one of the most common mistakes in business. People invest a lot of time and money in their companies, but when the time comes to measuring their results, everything becomes uncertain. It’s like throwing darts into a white wall.

Reaching business goals

“We want to increase our number of clients” is the perfect example of fuzzy goal. Does it mean that one more client would do? Or maybe ten thousand? The correct formulation would be, for instance: “We want to increase our number of clients by 20%”. Thank you, this is much clearer!

When it comes to Social Media objectives, things get even more complicated. Contrary to popular belief, Social Media does not have self-standing objectives. Remember! Being popular on web is not a business objective.

Social Media activities offer support to other business functions of the company, which already have their own goals. So you just have to plug in!

Voilà!

 

Basically, your task is to translate into company revenues your recently acquired, let’s say, ten thousand followers on Facebook. If 20% of them make an acquisition on your website, than you contributed to the sales objectives. If the customer support costs are reduced by 20% because more clients benefit from largely broadcasted online support, then you’re doing great here.

With LinkedIn, you can help the HR team to hire top professionals without having to pay a fortune in head-hunters fee’s. Checking out your competitors’ Social Media pages can give you instant access to valuable business intelligence. For Marketing and PR, Social Media input is the most obvious: instant direct dissemination and online reputation management. The golden rule stays the same:

Marketing golden rule

2.    Measuring the true cost of Social Media

You know there is no such thing as a free lunch, right? Then you know very well that Social Media, even if it runs on free online platforms, is not really free. In fact, there are a lot of costs involved.

Time. Ask yourself how much time you spend on Social Media. Is it worth it? Do you find yourself spending many hours every day posting updates, making comments, responding to messages, checking out competition and answering everyone’s comment and remarks? Try to find equilibrium between giving followers a close, personalised approach and managing your time efficiently. Put a time limit on every activity and stick to it, no matter what!

Time management

Human resources. If your company is bigger, you need to grow and manage a team of communication specialists. That means your department has to budget salaries for these people, taxes, benefits, and whatever HR costs it may imply.

Specialists. Whether you do it for a single project or for ongoing support, you most likely benefit from the input of SEO specialised agencies, web designers, advertising professionals and all those people that can make you look good online. Some of them may have substantial fees. However, nowadays competition is quite tough, which gives you a good hand to negotiate costs in your favour. And since they are good at what they’re doing, the return can be generous.

Equipment. There are countless gadgets that are launched ever so often, and you have to keep up with the technology, right? Laptops, tablets, smart phones … who can work without them? And they don’t come cheap. To these, you can add, of course, connection fees.

Productions costs. There has been a rampant increase in the visual content on Social Media in the last few years. Quite frankly, if you don’t have good quality photos, video, presentations, animations, applications and other such visual materials, your message gets washed out in the see of colourfulness and effervescence that Social Media has become.

Subscription web tools. In order to monitor and manage your workload, you probably use several web tools that offer a free or paid version. You may want to upgrade your HubSpot, Batchbook, Earlyimpact, MailChimp, HootSuite, NetVibes, or any other solution you embraced, to the Pro version. They usually offer valuable analytics for a reasonable fee and they help tremendously with time management.

 

3.    Measuring the effect of your campaign

Remember, if you can’t count it, it’s fuzzy. That’s why, when it comes to measuring performance, business professionals use the Key Performance Indicators, or KPI’s. Basically, it relates to hitting a specific target and it depends, naturally, on what you want to measure. Clicks, visits, fans, likes, followers, tweets, registrations to webinars, newsletter subscriptions, they are all potential Social Media KPIs.

Key Performance Indicator

So, as a direct consequence of our first two recommendations, you know by now that you should measure only what is relevant to your activity objectives. Otherwise, there are so many internet measuring tools out there, that you can spend the rest of your life measuring things that are neither critical, nor relevant to your campaign.

Let’s say your company sells shoes. And the Sales goal is to increase the volume by 20%. That translates into selling 1,000 pairs of shoes from the Spring – Summer ‘13 collection, known as “La Vampe”.

What would be the Social Media KPIs in regards to the sales objectives, for the period?

For example, something like this:

  • 10 000 likes on Facebook on the “La Vampe” fan page
  • 500 re-Pins of the shoes picture on Pinterest
  • 10 000 new click-throughs of links leading to “La Vampe” web content
  • 100 redeemed discount codes for “La Vampe” on the eStore.

It is important that you establish before you begin a Social Media campaign what data you want to track. It is equally important to have the means to correctly correlate it with the respective sales statistics. Now, this could be quite tricky if you don’t have access to data, which, depending on the company, can fall under the task of Sales, IT or Accounting departments.

In order to establish your Social Media activity contribution to Sales, here are some important numbers you should be able to track:

  • transactions per month
  • new customers
  • number of customers returns
  • amount spent per transaction
  • use of promo codes, vouchers
  • data from the same period in the past, to compare against.

Sales represent the most tangible business function, therefore the most obvious one to measure. But don’t let other functions, such as HR, Customer Support, Marketing & PR, go off your radar. Your activity can have a positive impact and you want to add it to your achievements. Make sure you collect and compare data from these departments and measure the difference your campaign makes.

 

Can you think of anything else I may have missed when measuring the effect of a social media campaign?