Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Cyber Monday – What’s it all About?

Hold on a moment do I hear you say?  Wasn’t that………a few days ago?  Well yes it was if you’re in the US, where ‘Cyber Monday’ is traditionally the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend, when shoppers go for broke online.

This year, according to Mashable/IBM, Cyber Monday sales in the US increased by 30% on the previous year and 18% of shoppers used a mobile device, up 70% from the previous year.

So how does that affect us in the UK?  Our ‘Cyber Monday’ is anticipated to be Monday 3rd December, and the start of a two week online shopping bonanza with shoppers expected to spend over 4.6bn pounds.  The day itself has been predicted by Experian Hitwise to be ‘the busiest day ever in online retail history’ with visits expected to be up 36% on last year.

Those who are the most likely to be in a position to take advantage of this online shopping bonanza will have honed their offer over the past year, speeded up the customer journey and reinforced brand values with a clear well marketed and competitive multichannel offer and regardless of whether shoppers use PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Those who have spent the year wondering how to improve their websites, and why customers visit and leave without buying will be left far behind. It’s time to take action, if only to benefit in 2013.  With online taking over sales from traditional outlets it’s time to join in the game.  And it may be too late for this year, but there’s more growth to come in the next.

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Friday, 23 November 2012

Successful Email Marketing – When to Use Images

If you’re anything like me, you’re flooded with emails trying to sell to you.  Most of the time, when you take a quick look, all you see is the headline and blank spaces where the images will go should you choose to download them.

You will give yourself approximately two seconds to decide if you want to take a look at the images offered, and that decision will be completely based on the strength of the headline and the first couple of lines of content.

There’s a huge danger in designers making images the heroes of email newsletters because frequently they’re never seen.  The most successful newsletters I have ever sent for clients have a strong headline, a simple but engaging graphic that is not too deep and content with lots of links through to best selling product areas.

The next time you design an email campaign, imagine that whoever looks at it will not do the following:
a)  Open your images
b)  Scroll down
c)  Do anything other than read your headline and the first couple of lines of your content (if you haven’t pushed it too far down the page with a large image).
And decide if you would open it if it was sent to you.  If not, stop trying so hard and start again.  Simple is frequently best.
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Saturday, 17 November 2012

The 5 Rules to having a great LinkedIn Profile - Updated

Linkedin LogoIf Facebook and Twitter face towards your customer base, then LinkedIn faces towards your colleagues, suppliers, would-be employers and business contacts in any field and your LinkedIn Profile is becoming more and more important.

On Linked in you can connect with people you may be working with now, contacts you may make in the future, and people who you know, if they knew more about you, would most likely want to do business with you.  LinkedIn is also a great way of re-connecting with those you have worked with in the past.

Think of your LinkedIn profile as showing your face to the business world, who you are, where you’re working, your past experience, references and connections.  You wouldn’t send out a resume half finished or badly presented, so your LinkedIn profile, which can act as an adjunct to your resume, needs to be up-to-date, well presented and inviting to those who happen upon it.

1.   Your LinkedIn profile picture – and yes you do need one, needs to be both professional and friendly.  It’s the face you show to the online business world.  Don’t try and be too clever with this one – you don’t have to have a professionally taken picture, but a really clear picture of your face, preferably with a smile.  

You can be formally or casually dressed but the picture has to be of you, looking at the camera. Ask yourself.  Would I want to do business with me if I saw this pic? If the answer is no, then change it.  And don't think for a second you can get away without a profile picture.  You simply can't, as people will think that you're trying to hide something.

2.    Your History and Experience – Get it all up there and keep it updated.  Think of it as your resume (again).  Anyone could see it.  If it’s not informative and updated visitors to your page will think you can’t be bothered….and leave.

3.     Your Summary – This is where you write the most about yourself.  Keep it relevant, concise and informative.  If you’re not sure about writing about yourself then draft something out and ask someone to read it and edit if necessary.  Not everyone can or likes to write, let alone about themselves, but your information is essential and it needs to be very readable.

4.     List your Skills and Specialities – Not only does this tell people about you, but it gives you the opportunity to show your voice and tell visitors more about you.  Don’t be bashful, list them all in a professional way.

5.     Network and Connect – Find people you’ve done business with, you are doing business with, or you’d like to work with.  Look for colleagues past and present.  Join Groups that interest you, and where you think you may find like-minded people.  You never know when you will have the opportunity to travel or meet up and being part of the same LinkedIn Group can give you an introduction where otherwise you might not have one, to someone, somewhere you would like to connect with.

Look at LinkedIn as a business opportunity, which it is.  It’s waiting to be utilised.  And best of all it’s free.

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Friday, 16 November 2012

The Easiest Way to Write Hero Headlines – 6 Tips to Getting Read

Whatever your subject, If you don’t get someone to open/click or read your headline in the first few seconds you might as well have left a blank page, as your content will never be read, whether it be blog, newsletter or article.  You only have a very few seconds to grab the attention of your would-be reader and if you don’t get it instantly you’ve had it.

As an average, 80% of those who receive your communication will scan or skim your headline, but only 20% will read your copy.  It’s a scary thought, particularly if writing isn’t your strong point.

So what this boils down to is that you can’t just write the first headline that comes into your head, unless you’re already excellent at hero headlines. 

You Need To:

1   Decide on your topic and be sure that people are going to be interested in it, not just because you are.

2.  Fix on your keywords that go with that topic and use the Google Keyword Tool to make sure that its being searched for.  Don’t just assume, as so many do, that someone is searching for what you want to write about it.  Substantiate your assumption before you put ‘pen to paper’.

3.  Don’t just start writing.  Go away and really think about what’s going to make your article/blog/newsletter arresting.  What is going to make someone sit up and say ‘yes I want to know about that’?  You won’t get it by hunching in front of your computer and racking your brain, you’re far more likely to get inspiration elsewhere.

4.  Make it obvious that you’re offering a benefit, and that you’re not going to waste your reader’s time.

5.  List headlines frequently work (ie, those that use numbers) as they make a specific promise.

6.  Make it interesting.  Anyone can write boring headlines – make yours irresistible.

I come across a lot of people who don’t like putting pen to paper and when they do they don’t really know what they’re doing, so that write pieces that don’t get read and wonder why.  As with most things, writing great headlines comes down to creating a successful formula and then sticking to it.  And by being relevant, compelling and interesting.  From headline to full stop.
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Friday, 2 November 2012

Meta Keywords for SEO – Should you or Shouldn’t You?

Working with a client on her SEO on an about to be launched website I checked on the automated Meta tags that had been set up and saw that the default included Meta Keywords.  Now just in case you’re not sure you frequently have the option of completing the following Meta information:
Title Tag – The top line of your browser that everyone sees from visitor to Google.  Essential optimisation and don’t think you can get away with what you were doing a year ago.  The structure has changed.

Meta Description – The snippet of text that encourages people who find you on Search to visit your website………or not, and that can be written by you or taken from your site by Google.

Meta Keywords – The space you can stuff with every relevant or near to relevant keyword related (or not)  to the page that you’re optimising.

Google, via Matt Cutts, of the Google Search Quality Team has quite clearly stated that it does not use Meta Keywords ‘Google doesn't use the "keywords" meta tag in our web search ranking.’ See the whole post above and ignore any conflicting current rumours you may read with regards to News Keywords (and I won’t go on to confuse you) as they don’t apply to you.

Google has the lion’s share of the UK search market, in August at 91% so whatever Google says you want to follow, whether you agree or not.  And watch out as Google is quite capable of changing its mind, just not today.  You cannot just ‘optimise’ your website, sit back and relax, you have to constantly work at it.

So whatever you are doing with your SEO lose the Meta Keywords.  The only thing that may happen is that you get penalized, by someone, some day, for keyword stuffing or use of page irrelevant keywords.  And if you spot a developer putting them in point him at this post.  And ask him why he’s doing it.
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