SMEs Online – Sales & Marketing Automation for Small Business
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Interactive Video – a more engaging approach

We all know that  Video is engaging, but I want to talk about interactive video today something that is even more engaging !  Before I show you, let me explain what interactive video means – briefly as you ask the viewer questions in the video,  the viewer then clicks on a button, a hot spot or an image  to answer and then depending on the answer the viewer is shown a new video segment.  For example imagine you are a letting agent who has one set of messages for tenants and another for landlords – that’s your first question in the video on your home page.  In this example showing my limited skills in front and behind the camera (and even more limited sense of humour),  an imaginary restaurant is trying to attract frequent diners who eat our for business  to use the restaurant.

If you’re interested in an interactive video to promote your business or the business of one of your customers, then please get in touch

To Churn or Retain ?

Many web marketers are really good at generating traffic and bringing total strangers to a website.  if that’s your strategy, you’ll probably have to be content with single figure percentages of your visitors becoming customers. But what if you were to  try another way – help your loyal customers to order more often ?    Well you might find two things:

  • Your systems aren’t doing as well as you might think.  Typically, while SMEs believe that 80% of their customers are regulars, the true figure is less than30%
  • Keeping customers loyal is easier said than done !    Why ?

High Customer Churn

Do your customers constantly churn, buying once  and moving on, never to be seen again ?

Retaining Customers

Or do you have a system for retaining customers ?

Think back a few years – perhaps in 1995 local businesses were listed in the Yellow Pages; people who needed a local business would ask a friend or look in the Yellow Pages and would eventually find the category where a business was listed.  And then they’d ring the biggest advertisement or the first listing (eg A1 Window Cleaners, so named to be the first in the book).  Over time, businesses put up websites and tried SEO, then local search, then Pay Per Click advertising.  After that it was social media and now video and advertising on these sites.  While people used to ring a business and leave a message, now they just move from website to website and its hard to know they were even there.  Nor is it easy to know where leads and sales have come from.  If you buy leads from a directory site, they keep the customer’s contact details.  With all these methods of reaching the customer, is it surprising that few small businesses have the time and resources to organise it all and plan a campaign.    (If that why you’re not campaigning to your existing customers, let me know in a comment below?)

Lets do some simple sums to remind ourselves why repeat business or loyalty programmes can drive revenue and profitability.    Here’s the first part of the Customer Churn calculation:

Number of customers 750
Average Revenue per purchase 100
Average Annual purchases 2
Annual Churn (%) 80
Customer Acquisition Cost 40
Revenue 150,000
Cost of Sales 60,000
Cost of Delivery 60,000
Profit 30,000

Let’s suppose you get better at retaining your customers which means that

  • your customer acquisition cost decreases to £30
  • some customers order more than twice  (say the average becomes 2.5 orders per year

Revenue becomes  187,500, cost of sales becomes 45,000  and and profit becomes £82,500 – a respectable improvement !

Or look at it from the customer profitability angle:

Job 1 Job 2 Total
Income 200 200 400
Cost of Sales 100 0 100
Cost of Delivery 50 50 100
Profit 50 150 200

We all know that retaining customers is more profitable, but it used to be easier said than done.   Gathering all your orders and receipts and working out where each customer came from (PPC, SEO, Yellow Pages, Social Media or whatever) isn’t a small task. Keeping track of all that, whilst you and your team are busy delivering the work also takes massive effort.  But what if you could get this work done automatically and someone would get all your paper into a system and advise you what campaigns to run  ?  If your business works on regular service to clients and customers then perhaps you should consider using this approach.  These businesses are typical of the kind that can benefit from a retention campaign.,

HVAC & Plumbing Hair/Beauty Salon / Spas / Massage / Tanning Cleaning Services
Pet Care Lawncare / Garden Services Pest Control
Personal Trainers / Sports Coaches Taxis & Limousines Appliance Repairs

so If you’re spending three figure sums on Pay Per Click advertising every month then please talk to James Gunn about reducing your advertising expenses and increasing your repeat business and income.   You may be surprised how easy it s and you’ll probably like our guarantee of 3 x ROI.




Which half of your online marketing is working?

We all know that web marketing is important and can bring lots of leads if we do it right. Like the guy who didn’t know which half of his advertising was working, it is hard to know which half of your web marketing is working, at least without getting embroiled with a web marketing guy.

Well that used to be true, because you can now use SMEsOnline’s Website Self Check tool to have a good look at your website. All you need to do is enter your website’s URL and a report will be generated for you in a few seconds. If you’re not sure what the report means, there’s more explanation available just a click away and of course we can provide advice or help if you wish.



Coupon Campaigns

Groupon seems to have a way of gathering up all the undesirable customers in the world and dumping them at your door; these customers hang around Groupon looking for things that seem like bargains.  They buy stuff they don’t really want and don’t understand; they then become a support burden for a while, before leaving poor feedback about your business.  If such a campaign goes viral you can expect to have hundreds of these people turning up for months.  Oh, and I almost forgot – Groupon then gouges a large lump out  of the low price paid leaving your business selling at a loss or worse and keeps their email address.  Sounds like A Win-Win-Lose deal to me!

There is a better way – run your own coupon scheme for your own customers.

  • Design your offer – Is it attractive ?  Is it timely ?
  • Choose your target customer / audience – New customers ?  Pensioners ? Students ?
  • Design a coupon with clear terms and condition and clear instructions on how to redeem it
  • Promote widely on all your social media and blogs

Coupon offers may include

  • Discounts – percentage or fixed amount
  • Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF)
  • Bonus Loyalty points
  • Free item with purchase

Protect yourself from the following

  • Customers arriving with several coupons and wanting several times 5%/ £5 off – limit the discount to one coupon  per purchase
  • Customers using coupons for things that they would have bought anyway.  Add terms such as New customers only  or one per moth/ customer / household
  • A viral response to your offer – if it is too good an offer, you could have lots of customers and lose a  lot of money in redeeming the coupons
  • Too many coupons – you’ll run out of stock or go bust on cashflow
  • Losing money –require a minimum purchase

Make your coupon more effective by

  • Using a deadline – people will lose the coupon, if they don’t use it
  • Requiring them to share the coupon via Facebook, Twitter or email or to Follow you / optin to your email list
  • Requiring a referral of a new customer to redeem the coupon
  • Using Social Media to share the coupon
  • Making it mobile friendly

How can we help?

For a low monthly charge, SMEsOnline offers clients a Facebook coupon posting dashboard – clients can set up their own coupons on Facebook Pages, which are compatible with mobile devices (Facebook currently turns away mobile browsers, but not those using our service).  You can create and manage as many coupon campaigns as you wish from here and gather ’Likes’ and  optins to your email list as well as promoting the coupon campaign.

Mobile Apps

A mobile app is a fantastic way to engage with your customers. Almost everyone carries a mobile phone and nearly 60% carry a smartphone and this figure is even higher for younger customers.  An app has several features which make it different from your website:

  • Click to call/text – users can call or text you directly with one tap of a button
  • A camera – the camera can be used by the app to scan QR codes or simply to take pictures of people enjoying themselves at your business
  • GPS / geo-location – users can get directions to where you are
  • Social media sharing – users can share from their social media accounts easily.
  • Push notifications – 98+% of push notifications are opened – how does that compare to your emails ?

Our mobile apps also offer:

  • Information pages – text pages
  • Map pages – Google Maps showing the location(s) of your business
  • Video pages – Youtube videos
  • Optin forms – build your mailing list
  • RSS feed pages – automatically updating content from your website or social media pages – keeps the app up to date and relevant
  • Appointment forms – customers can book an appointment via the app
  • Contact forms / Email Us forms
  • Loyalty Reward schemes
  • Social Media integration

SMEsOnline can design and develop mobile applications for smartphones and advise how to use them to market your business.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

To optimize a site for search engines, it is worth thinking about the problem from their point of view for a moment.  They need advertising revenue, which means the need lots of visitors, who are happy with the pages they find when they click through from the Search Results.  The search engines must look through as many sites as they can, indexing every word, determine the subject of the page, and then assess whether visitors think the visit was worthwhile.

How do they do this ?  At regular intervals driven by your sites popularity, the search engines send a bot to “crawl” through the site and index all the important words and the links to your pages (internal and external).  The bot also looks at what techies call metadata which is the code your browser uses to display /format the page. You can see this stuff by right clicking on a Web page and clicking on “View Page Source”. Only a handful of people know how the search engines really work, but the experts run lots of tests to see what factors are statistically likely to be influencing rankings.  Here are the main ones:

On-Page Factors

Much the most important is your content; if visitors like it and share it and backlink to it, the search engines will rank it.  Content is King !  they say and it is true.  This is what search engines are looking for on behalf of their users.  What can we do to make our content better:

Keywords – sometimes experts use jargon – we have to speak the language of the searcher – doctors might talk about “myocardial infarction”, but their patients will search for “heart attack”.  Having selected keyword, we need to use it in the prose so the search engines know what the page is about. Search engines are now penalising too much of your keyword, so try to use related terms too; the search engines are getting better at synonyms !

Engagement – does thee visitor return directly to the search engine results ?  (That’s a bounce) Do they bookmark or share the page ? Do they comment?  Ask visitors for interaction and engage them if they do.

Recent material – Search engines like up to date material and if you publish regularly and consistently, you will rank higher.  Updating posts is a good thing to do; comments also make the search engines have another look and if you feed your Twitter or Facebook  page to the page, that will also look like an update to the search engines

After content, we need to think about HyperText Markup Language (HTML) – this is the computer language used to format web pages.  The four most important are the Title, the Meta Description (there’s that meta word again), the Header Tags and Structured Data.

  • The Title is clearly a good steer as to the subject of the page – make sure it includes the search term
  • Header Tags – headings are scattered around the page and are used by readers and search engines to determine the subject of each section – know this and  keep them relevant to your search term
  • Meta Description – This is where you can describe your page and it will show up as the excerpt in the search engine results – again make it relevant to the search term and attractive to visitors
  • Structured Data – if HTML describes the format, Structured Data is about describing meaning.  Structured Data allows you to define the meaning of certain terms.  For example the term iPhone might be labelled as a Product on Apple’s site.  This gives the search engine lots of context and means that they can rank it with much less processing effort. Less than 1 % of sites use Structured Data, but our Silver and Gold users have the facility built in – see Advanced SEO below.  SEO experts predict Structured Data will rise in influence as it is adopted more widely.

Whether on-page or on-site, you can help search engines to rank your site by making the  site’s structure simple and clear using internal links and Sitemaps.  Group your content into categories and put the pages / posts into “silos”.  The search engines can see their mutual relevance and know which search term they correspond to.  Avoid duplicate content whether republishing someone else’s content or through some technical peculiarity that produces pages and pages of similar search results.  Users and search engines hate this !  Visitors also hate slow sites and this can reduce engagement and conversion, so search engines detune your ranking.  Make your page URL relevant to the search term you’re targeting too.

Done in moderation, all these things are helpful to search engines and will improve your ranking.  It is the off page factors where the “bad guys” try to manipulate the search engine rankings by breaking the terms of conditions.  Naturally search engines de-index such sites and eventually all the sites of such people.  So don’t become one of them – it isn’t cool explaining to customers why your business has no Facebook or no Google+ Page.  (Yes, Facebook is getting aggressive too! And some especially bad guys are getting sued)

Off-Page Factors

Links are treated as votes by search engines, except that some people’s votes are more important than others.  Links from sites with Authority (see below) count more, sometimes a great deal more.  As usual quality is not well defined, but the influence of the link also depends on the relevance of the two pages.  Provided that your links are not obviously automatically generated, more links is better !

Search engines have recently worked out how to punish automated link building ; it seems that sites with lots of similar links (links from same kind of sites, same anchor text, all built at 9am, the same number every day) are likely to be built.  This is one of the reasons why Google now favours sites with Social Sharing (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and bookmarks (Digg, Reddit, etc).  Once again the number of Shares, ‘Likes’ and comments and the authority of the Sharer matter

Authority, Trust and Identity are related.  Authority is about how search engines and users regard your site – in the same way that an expert is regarded as the authority, so a site may be the Authority in its field.  Trust is similar, do people regard the site as reliable and honest – it is probable that customer reviews play a part on growing trust.  Identity is about ‘Are you really who you say you are ?’ whether you’re claiming to be a celebrity, an expert, a qualified professional or a spokesman for someone else.  Google’s Authorship programme is about verifying who is who and which Page is official or not.  Social profiles can also be verified and Gravatar, Disqus and are examples of sites which link together all your sites, pages, profiles and channels.  For companies, business listings also serve to authenticate identity.  Trust, Authority and Identity are linked.  It is believed by some experts that your History is also examined by Google, both in terms of what/when you publish, where you publish it and how you promote it and if there are any significant changes in that.

Many people do not realise that no one sees the same results from a search.  The results are influenced significantly by where you are (country and location) and your recent search history.  Sites you have visited a lot or sites where you have shared posts or commented are also favoured in the search results.


There are some things which search engines will punish and ultimately can lead to sites or site owners being de-indexed.  Remember it is their ball and they can take it away.  Here are some of them:

  • “Thin content” hits all the keywords and that good stuff without actually saying anything important or useful.
  • Too many ads means that visitors can’t find the content; especially if your visitor can’t find the content without scrolling down you can expect a penalty
  • Hidden text is visible to search engines, but not to visitors so don’t use it !  (Text can be hidden in a number of ways including white text on a white background or the display:none command
  • Cloaking means showing search engines and visitors completely different pages.  You may remember some fuss about Google banning itself a couple of years ago – it was for link cloaking
  • Paid links are what they say on the tin; if you pay for links, search engines hate this
  • Link spam – automatically posting in forums and on blogs with links to your product is all too common and is now penalised by search engines – your page ranking will be lower.
  • Anchor text – if all your anchor text uses the same keyword, search engines will penalise this
  • DMCA takedown notices – Copyright violations will damage your rankings.  When Google places one of these notices into your Webmaster Central Tools account, then it needs to be dealt with.

Advanced SEO – Semantic Markup

Structured Data is about labelling terms or keywords with their meaning.  Sometimes a word may have many meanings depending on context – stock can mean cows, an old fashioned tie, inventory, company equity, the butt of a rifle and about 25 more things depending on the dictionary you choose.  The search engine can work this out by looking at all the other words on the page, but if the page is Semantically Marked Up, then the search engine can use that to determine the context and since this means that it uses much less processing a higher ranking is the reward. .Since search engines use about 2% of the world’s processing capacity, Iwe expect that these techniques will become practically mandatory.

If your business needs some help optimising your website for the search engines, then get in touch with us via the contact form of +44 (0)7855 406652

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