5 things you might like to consider when starting a website

5 things you might like to consider when starting a website

1). Firstly a website is just the start of your online presence. So many people rock up to a project thinking about their budget in terms of the capital outlay on their website. They often don’t consider the marketing and comms resource they’re going to need to put into getting it off the ground. The website you create for your business/service/product should really be the start of your online journey so make sure you’re ready to budget just as much (and probably a lot more) on what happens next.

2). Is Google important to you? Goole drives around 90% of all UK web searches. In industry terms that’s a ‘bucket load’ and can’t really be ignored. If you want your website to show up in search then there are a number of things you need to consider and to be perfectly honest although there are a number of things you can play with yourself (I wrote about this topic a while ago here), it’s probably an area that you want to talk to an agency that specialise in if these results are critical to your success.

3). Where does Social Media play a role? Unless you’ve been blanketed from the world for the last few years you can’t help but notice that we live in a far more connected world than we used to. Our lives are being dominated by the large social networks – the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest seek our attention and allow us to feel more connected than ever before. As a business you need to consider your audience profile and then work out where they hang out. If Facebook’s not right for your business then don’t worry about it – spend your time wisely, you don’t have much of it.

4). Get clever. In the world of email marketing we have these things called auto responders. They are essentially automated emails, triggered on an event. When you create a website consider bringing these into play (most web agencies won’t recommend these unless you ask by the way). Set them up for when people fill out your contact form, signup to your newsletter or download your latest whitepaper. Oh really? You don’t have a whitepaper?

5). Create compelling content. If you want to be found/shared/loved/evangelised/bought from you need to be better than the rest and one way to start this process is by creating compelling content. Things like whitepapers, ebooks, blog articles, infographics, videos all help to get you out there. Your mission however is to try and create things others aren’t. By the way, a by-product of this point is also more success with point 2.

The guys over at Optix Solutions (a digital marketing agency I co-founded) are mustard at the web projects – give them a call if you want any advice on 01392 667766. If you’re after email marketing help connect with @olyharisson on twitter who heads up OptixMail – he’s the master.

Now Your Thoughts

  • What essentials do you think you need to take into a web project?
  • Have you got a few tricks in your locker you’d like to share with us?

Photo courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/striatic/

 

 

 

6 things that changed my life in 2012

6 things that changed my life in 2012

Well hello there people. A very Happy New Year to you all.

As has become customary on this blog (see previous years: 2009, 2010 & 2011) its my time to have a little fun and go off script. So here we go, here are the top things that changed my life in 2012.

1). Pinterest – I’ll admit, it took me a while to get going with Pinterest. For some months I just couldn’t get my head around it, either personally or for business. The last few months of the year have seen a huge change in my view – here’s what I’ve been upto over there. Here are just a few of the reasons I use it. Remembering things I want to buy at some point (I have a hopeless memory), sharing a board with my partner Lizz (we keep things that we both need/want) and we collaborate on ideas for the house, garden and wedding. Possibly my most important use for it is to keep pictures which represent my goals. These are a visual stimulant for me. If your goals aren’t in front of you regularly you’re far less likely to achieve them. I use Pinterest to give me the kick I need. I love it and feel its going to be around for  long time. If you’ve not done so already, you should take a look around.

2). OptixMail – After a very successful year in 2011 with Envirosend, our email marketing product, we decided that ‘email marketing’ could work as a business itself. We re-branded & recruited in Olly Harrison to run the business for us and boy has it taken off. Olly has landed some great new clients and its looking to be even bigger this year. Many said we were crazy to create a new business in an economic downturn. My feeling is its these kind of moves which define whether you’ve got the kahunnas to grow, even in times of adversity .

3). Lizz – Yes, she makes this list again and this year its because we’ve had a lot of fun organising our wedding together (which I’m sure will feature next year)! A tough year for her personally, she always bounces back and is the rock I need away from work.

4). Buying our first house – Lizz and I rented for years so we finally made the move to buy in 2012. Back in March we moved into our first home just outside Exeter and are currently working hard to give it that ‘Lizz and Al touch’. There is something very special about sitting on your sofa, looking around your house, knowing that you can do whatever you want to it. I can heartily recommend it to anyone considering making the jump.

5). Our team at Optix – Ok so not exactly a specific point in time but I honestly feel that we have the best team we’ve ever had (see what some of the guys had to say about working for Optix earlier this year). People are pulling together & working for each other. Some of the guys that have been in the business for a long time are maturing into great managers and adding value to the business in more ways than just through the skills they joined for originally. Optix grew over 20% last year and looks set to do the same again this coming year. Office moves and new staff are all on the cards early in Jan. An exciting year ahead no doubt.

6). Creating our Vision Statement – I know, I know, it’s embarrassing that we’ve been motoring along without one for so long (well we did have some fag packet stuff but it’s not quite the same). This year James and I sat down and wrote our vision statement in the form of a story set in 2015. After reading it out at one of our team meetings I’ve already noticed more solidarity in the business and have had the story quoted back at me a number of times. I’m looking forward to working this vision out with the amazing team I mentioned above. We all have a place to point towards and decisions can be made with this in mind. Creating a vision statement/story is something I’d recommend you do if you don’t have one for your business already.

So there we go again, another year passes and we look to 2013 for even bigger and better things. I hope you enjoyed my bit of fun, it would be good to hear yours now.

Now Your Thoughts

  • So what changed your life this year?
  • Who and what made an impact on your 2012?

[Read more…]

2011 – 7 Things that changed my life….

2011 – 7 Things that changed my life….

Hey folks, firstly a very happy New Year to you all. I wish you the very best for 2012.

If you do one thing this year make it your objective to go out of your way to help others succeed with their goals and yours will follow on.

So in the now great tradition, here is my summary post of the last year and the things both in and out of work that changed my life for the better. Remember this isn’t just about me telling you how great 2011 was for me, it’s written because if just one of the things that had a huge impact on my life, could affect yours in the same way then it will have served its purpose.

By the way, if you’re interested – here were 2010 and 2009‘s lists.

1). Having made it onto the list two years on the trot but not made the top spot (there is no order in this list unless you’re my partner by the way) – its Lizz again. This year was very special for us as we recently got engaged. I finally started to feel that settling down and building a family was what I wanted to do and I can’t think of anyone better to do that with than Lizz. For risk of sounding corny, I do actually believe we were made for each other. We were both so overwhelmed by the support and congratulations we got back from everyone when they heard – it was my number one high point of the year.

2). Tilly Talking – My niece is now talking and turning into a proper little human being. There is something you can’t put into words about the feeling you get when a little person bounds up to you with a beaming smile and full of happiness. It’s a shame we lose some of this as adults – we need to do all we can to regain it – it’s going to be on my list for 2012.

As Will Ferrell in Elf says, “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favourite.” – let’s all try a bit more of that this year.

3). OK onto the less personal ones now. Having signed up for it a couple of years ago, I re-found Evernote and now it organises my life. Evernote is a fantastic program which has mobile, desktop & web versions and also sits on any device you might have. You can keep notes/files etc all categorised for easy recall and as it’s across devices you can be pretty much anywhere with all your stuff available to you. I use it for work and home. Here’s a great tip – as people tell you things they like/want through the year, make notes in evernote, take pictures if you can and email them in and then when it gets to Christmas/Birthdays you have a ready made list of things people actually want :)

4). Nudgemail – I have a pretty bad memory. Well in fact I don’t think that’s entirely true, I just have an awful lot to remember so some of it slips through. No more though! Nope, I use a fantastic tool called Nudgemail which simply emails me on the date I ask it to – either with a cc of an original email I sent it, or just a reminder. Anything I delegate now gets nudged so I can forget about it and move on. An awesome tool folks.

5). Business Away Days – We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day goings on in a business but it can be crippling for you if you don’t take time out to think, plan, innovate and consult others. I do this quarterly for a whole day, with two of my best friends (and local business owners) and monthly for a meal where we work on goal setting and holding each other accountable to these targets. The latter is in more of a  bitesize format (3 small goals a month) where as the former is much bigger picture. If you don’t have a group like this already, I heartily recommend it for 2012.

6). Cooking – Sunday is now MY cooking day and I love it. I regularly spend the afternoon considering what crazy concoction I can dream up, then going out to buy the ingredients and finally preparing and cooking it for Lizz and I. Running a business can be quite stressful, afterall you have to be a boss, a friend, a colleague an advisor, an inspirer and you have to make sure that at the end of the month, you have enough work coming in to meet the outgoings (and hopefully a bit more for some profit!) – oh and all that happens every single month. All these challenges can take their toll on you, however successful your business is. It’s extremely hard to turn off (many would say you never do). I’ve found that cooking is something that helps me to relax, unwind and put aside the challenges of the moment. It’s got to be one of the most therapeutic things you can do.

7). Envirosend Email Marketing – We launched our email marketing product, Envirosend, this year and it’s flying. We have loads of clients using it very effectively to reach out to their prospects and clients on a regular basis. All businesses should have some sort of email marketing system in place. It is a very low cost, very effective medium for marketing. If you’re not talking to your database regularly, perhaps today is as good a day as any to start. The guys at Optix can help you with a demo if you’re interested in seeing this product.

So there you have it, just a few of the things that changed my life this year for the better. I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into 2012 – lets make it a cracking year folks.

Now Your Thoughts

  • So what changed your life this year?
  • Who and what made an impact on your 2011?

Feeling Festive

So I’ve woken up this morning and I’m feeling quite festive. The tree went up yesterday and as I opened our sitting room door, that wonderful smell of pine needles flooded out. You just can’t beat that.

Some of you might know that I have a brand called Envirosend, which is awesome email marketing software. You can find out more here: http://www.envirosend.co.uk

For this week only I’m going to offer the complete upfront costs off this system for 3 people who write to me at alastair@iambanksy.co.uk with the reason they should have the system in their business and how they plan to use it to build their business. I’ll draw the names out of a hat if I get an influx of people who are interested.

That’s a saving of just under £600 and includes: Setup/Training (phone) and 1 designed template.

There are just two stipulations:

1). You must agree to pay the £50 we normally give to Devon Wildlife Trust. We don’t want them missing out so this will be your only upfront cost.
2). Let us know how much data you have (must have given you permission to send to them – we don’t do spam at Envirosend)

I look forward to hearing your suggestions and hopefully getting to work with you soon,

Alastair

8 Simple Steps to Email Marketing Loveliness

8 Simple Steps to Email Marketing Loveliness

Some of you might be wondering why I’m writing about email marketing today – it’s old hat isn’t it? With all this new social media buzz, there is surely no place in the world for email marketing is there? Well I believe there is and I intend to tell you why and how you can use it to grow your client base today.

Let’s settle one thing quickly – if you’re reading this, thinking about buying a database from someone on a street corner (or even  a more reputable source) then this article probably isn’t for you. I’m focusing today on using your own valuable data, built up over years possibly.

I want to start with a story. About a year ago a guy approached Optix having met me 6 years ago at a networking event. I’d agreed with him to receive the Optix newsletter and we both went our separate ways. Optix kept in touch with him by way of our monthly newsletter and recently he became one of our largest clients. He’d watched the business grow and liked what he’d seen.

Here are a few sure fire ways to use email marketing to help your business grow:

1). All about the data – A good email marketing campaign revolves around good data. Make sure yours is clean or you’ll just be throwing money away.

2). Build your data – what can you give away to build a database of leads/contacts/prospects? This year we launched our free social media policy generator: http://www.optixsolutions.co.uk/free-social-media-policy-generator/ – A tool of real value which also helps us build leads – true ‘Inbound Marketing’.

3). Split Test your email subject lines – A good email marketing system will split test campaigns for you. It will take 50% of your database and send two different subject lines, content variants or from names and then track the most successful delivery rate, then send the winner to the other 50% – using this will give you better open and click through rates.

4). Spam & Client Testing – Emails show up differently in different email clients. Now email is consumed more and more on mobile devices you need to make sure your email is designed and developed for all these variants. This again is something a good system should be able to do for you. If not, make sure you ask your designers to consider this.

5). Deal with bounces – If an email bounces (doesn’t reach its destination) it can be for a couple of reasons. A soft bounce may infer a problem with the routing of an email to someones email box/server and is likely to be ok next time round. A hard bounce means that email doesn’t exist any longer and should be cleaned from the database – no point spending money on people that won’t ever answer!

6). Use Autoresponders – When you signup to something on a site have you ever received an email a few days later which follows it up…and then again a week or so after that? You’re part of an autoresponder system. Clever marketers know that it takes a few ‘touches’ to get to a sale but tracking and sending emails to everyone that signs up with your site manually would be far too inefficient to deal with so autoresponders help to do this for you. Used cleverly, these are extremely powerful tools

7). Segment your data – If you’re blasting everyone in your database in one go you’re probably not getting the most from it. Segment your data into interests/purchases made if you’re running an ecommerce shop or even simple things like male/female if this makes a difference to your customer. For example, I’m not hugely interested in the latest dresses from Reiss (a favourite shop of mine) but they don’t send me that because I’m segmented in their database.

8). Tie into your Social Profiles – If you have a fantastic Facebook page and a tremendous Twitter presence then make the most of them. Ask people to sign up for your updates – if you don’t ask you don’t get after all. Don’t bombard them but a few calls to action every now and again is fine.

It’s time to get clever with your email marketing – it’s still one of the most powerful tools in the online marketing toolbox.

Oh and if you’re looking for a provider, we have our own that you can find out more about over at http://www.envirosend.co.uk

Image courtesy Ramberg Media Images

Now Your Thoughts

  • What’s worked or not worked for you when you’ve marketed by email?
  • Got any tips for the other readers?

Secrets for Super Successful Business Owners – Nigel Botterill

Secrets for Super Successful Business Owners – Nigel Botterill

On Wednesday night I had the privilege of watching Nigel Botterill, UK Entrepreneur and CEO of thebestof Franchise group present to 100 businesses in my hometown of Exeter. The tour of the country is called “18 Secrets that Super Successful Business Owners Know and Do…” – you can follow the conversation about the tour on the hashtag we created with thebestofexeter at #18secrets.

I’ve met Nigel a couple of times now but this time I was lucky enough to get an hour with him before the big event, discussing ideas and thoughts on business. I’ve written before about how important it is to ditch the negative people in your life and surround yourself with positivity and success – When you chat to someone successful like Nigel you can’t help but be lifted and ideas immediately start to flow – I was at the venue at 5ish and didn’t leave until 9:30pm – it felt like about an hour!

Now i’m not going to simply copy and paste Nigel’s points – that wouldn’t be cricket. However, from the 18 secrets, I’m going to share my big 3 takeaways from the night.

1). “Making the jump from ordinary income to big income business means you need to make the jump from ‘doer’ of the business to ‘marketer’ of the business.” How true – if you’re stuck in the business doing the work on a daily basis, how can you be out promoting it and taking it to the next level? I’ve focused on this quite a lot in my own business in the last year and we’ve certainly reaped the rewards. I’ve built a great team around me who are able to deliver the product, while I market the business. A friend of mine (Richard Carpenter) uses the analogy of driving a car being like running a business: You start by driving the car yourself, taking it in whichever direction you want. The key is to move yourself from the front seat to the back seat and be driven around while you simply direct where you want to go. :) Although I’m being a bit sneaky by putting two tips into one, Nigel also pointed out that we should all concentrate on our marketing first thing in the morning (pref before anyone else gets into work) – a great piece of advice in my opinion and something I’m going to try and focus on over the next few months.

2). Your most valuable asset in business is your database! Your database is critical to your success if you’re going to make it big. Build it at every opportunity, get in contact with your customers regularly, send them something, make them an offer, give them a reason for coming over or for you to go and see them. There are loads of studies about how much easier it is to sell to your current client base than a new one yet many of us get caught in the trap of trying to pour more and more in the top of our funnels while not looking after the people who have already shown they trust us and are willing to spend their hard-earned with us! Absurd when you think about it! Your database makes it easy to keep in contact – go back and work out a plan for it today. (*If it’s email marketing then get in touch with my team at Optix because they offer an amazing service there – plug over*) I particularly loved this sentence from the presentation:

“It’s not your customer’s job to remember to do business with you….it’s your job to remind them”

3). Commit to learning. No successful businessperson got to where they are sitting on their backside watching TV. Many of these people are continually learning, all day everyday. They have huge libraries of business books, they are like sponges for information. Are you? Do you go home and put the TV on or do you read a business book and learn something new about your industry, competitors or other successful people? This last year I’ve spent time building my library of books, especially in the areas of business success and sales. Here are a few that I’ve read recently which I’d recommend hugely (affiliate links):

The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness

Think & Grow Rich

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

What Would Google Do?

Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude: How to Find, Build and Keep a Yes! Attitude for a Lifetime of Success

Little Black Book of Connections: 6.5 Assets for Networking Your Way to Rich Relationships

And thanks to a friend Julian Summerhayes who kindly gave me the following book which I can’t wait to read this week:

The Go-giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea

By the way, here’s the great news for any of you who hate reading (I actually fall into that bracket myself believe it or not) – Check out http://www.audible.co.uk/ – A great site which you can subscribe to and download new audio books/mp3s to your ipod/iphone/mp3 player and catchup with all the great stuff above while on the move :)

So those were the three big take aways from my night at 18secrets – do you agree with these? Do you have some killer tips to share? Let’s discuss…

click me