Did you know that non-profit organisations get access to great discounts and tools from companies like Google, Salesforce and Facebook?

Let me show you some of the best digital tools that are available for your charity.

Book a no-obligation consultation

Google Ad Grants

The Google Ad Grants programme gives you £7,000 per month to spend on Google Search Ads. That’s a whopping £84,000 per year of digital ad spending, for free.

There are some limitations. It’s only on search ads, so if you’ll need a second Google Ads account to run display ads through Google’s ad network or video ads on Youtube.

I’ve also found Google to be quite strict about the search terms you can run ads against. For most non-profits this shouldn’t be a problem, but for non-profits who earn revenue delivering the same services offered by private sector there may be some appeals to complete.

One nice problem to have with Google Ad Grants is apathy. It seems amazing, but when an organisation gets given an £84,000 asset for free, they often have no idea what to do with it. I regularly see ads and campaigns that haven’t been updated or reviewed since day one.

Google has a number of online courses to help you get to grips with Google Ads. Alternatively, hiring a professional to look after your £84,000 per year asset will pay for itself several times over.

Saving = £84,000 per year

Salesforce Power of Us

Salesforce is a powerful business platform that helps you run your non-profit more efficiently. It collects and manages your data, and helps connect staff, volunteers and everyone impacted by your work.

The Power of Us program gives non-profits access to ten free licences for Salesforce’s Sales & Service Cloud Enterprise Edition, as well as their Nonprofit Success Pack. The success pack is a ready-to-go set up that you can use straight away, and includes revenue management tools, analytics and reports.

Salesforce allows you to use your data better. Whether it’s more accurate donor records, service user logs or managing income generation, Salesforce keeps all your information in one place and turns it into actionable insights.

Salesforce can be accessed remotely through its mobile app or a browser. So work-from-homers have exactly the same insights as they would in the office. Salesforce’s data controls are second to none, with the ability to lock access to sensitive data to individuals or locations.

Despite what some actors may claim, you don’t have to hire an expensive specialist agency to set up your Salesforce instance. The Trailhead training programme is free and contains almost everything you could possibly need to know when you start using Salesforce.

Saving = £16,800 per year

Office Essentials

Whatever your non-profit does, you’ll be needing spreadsheets, word processing and emails.

And as a charity you don’t need to pay a penny for these essentials. Both Google and Microsoft supply non-profits with a free suite of in-browser office programmes, plus storage, calendars that synchronise across all of your devices, and email hosting with your web domain’s address. Which means there’s no excuse to be using a free Gmail or Hotmail account!

Microsoft also offer non-profits ten free licences for their Microsoft 365 Business Premium level subscription, with additional licences available for £3.80 per month.

Whether you decide to use Microsoft’s Office 365 or Google’s Workspace for Nonprofits depends on your organisation’s needs and the other services you use. Google’s Workspace integrates with other services better than Office, but most of your people will probably be more at home with Office.

If you’re looking to upgrade to a cloud office suite, consider auditing your present and future digital requirements. Some extra time spent now could save a fortune in the future.

Saving (Microsoft’s ten free licences) = £1,812 per year

Creative Heavyweights

Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite of products includes market leading apps like Photoshop, Premiere Pro and After Effects.

These enterprise level apps have everything you need to make your work pop! Whilst the learning curve with Adobe’s products is quite steep they provide a number of tutorials. They’re also well supported by their user community who actively answer questions and produce their own tutorials on YouTube.

Adobe’s charity pricing isn’t publically available, but it tends to be equivalent to their Student and Teacher pricing, which is over 65% off for the first year and half price after that.

Saving = £404.40 first year, £299.52 per year after

Email Marketing

Keep your supporters close with regular email communications. These free plans are available to everyone, but mean your non-profit has no excuse not to use email marketing to raise funds, and more importantly sharing what you achieve with these donations.

 Twilio SendGridMailchimp
Contact limit2,0002,000
Email sends per month6,000 marketing emails per month plus 100 automated emails per day10,000
BrandingNoneIncludes ‘Sent with Mailchimp’ banner at the bottom of each email.
Perfect forOrganisations who want more control over their email’s design, organisations who need onboarding sequences at free level.Organisations with WordPress websites, people who just want to send emails, not learn how to use lots of functions.

Both SendGrid and Mailchimp have built-in tools to help you stay the right side of GDPR and data protection rules.

Deciding between the two should depend on your non-profit’s skills and priorities. Mailchimp is the more user friendly of the two, and also has a mobile app where you can create emails on the go. SendGrid has more advanced features, and lets you send cleaner, more professional emails, as well as integrating more closely with your website.

Make more out of Facebook

Unfortunately Mark Zuckerburg isn’t as generous with advertising grants as Google is. If you want to run ads on Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp you’ll have to pay Mr Zuckerburg full price.

However, Facebook does still have some useful tools for charities.

One is the Donate button. This lets people donate to your organisation directly from your page or post. You can also allow your supporters to create fundraisers for your non-profit (Facebook prompts people to create these around their birthdays). Unlike other services like justgiving, you’ll receive 100% of the donation as Facebook covers all processing costs.

A unique tool Facebook provides for non-profits is Mentorship. A Facebook Group with Mentorship activated can foster one-to-one mentorships between group members, with members creating a profile and sharing what they’re offering or looking for in a mentorship.

Another free tool is Business Manager. This tool helps you manage all of the messages, comments and interactions people make with your page, and has a powerful post and story scheduling tool.

But the best asset your charity has on Facebook is its supporters. From creating the content you post to boosting your reach through sharing, your supporters are your secret weapon!

Charity Digital Exchange

Before you buy any software or service for your non-profit, check Charity Digital first. They work with loads of firms to deliver discounted or donated products to charities, as well as putting on events to help introduce you to the options available.

At time of writing the Charity Digital Exchange site is terrible to view and use, but persevere and you can make big savings on loads of products for your non-profit.

Power Up Your Non-Profit

Getting over £100,000 of top tier digital spending for free makes a real difference to cash-strapped non-profits. But having it available won’t be enough if you can’t claim or use it.

That’s why it’s worth finding a partner to help you maximise the impact of these digital tools.

Book a no-obligation consultation

Welcome to DumDum’s DigiDigest. Yes, it’s a lot of D’s.

The DigiDigest is home to all the news from the digital marketing and tech worlds that you need to grow your business.

Need to know

Core Web Vitals are Google’s big thing for 2021. From May these three metrics (largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift (CLS)) will be added to Google’s algorithm as a ranking factor.

There’s a lot of technical bits in there, so what does it all mean?

Core Web Vitals is a measure of how well a site performs for real people.

The majority of Google’s algorithm comprises signals and measures gathered by crawlers – small pieces of code that visit pages to see what’s on them.

That’s fine for gathering information on the words and pictures on the web page. But it’s less useful for learning how visitors experience the page.

So Core Web Vitals will use field data – information from Google Analytics and the Chrome web browser – to learn how your web pages perform in real life.

Google places equal importance on each web vital. Score well on all three of them and you’ll get a ranking boost. Only hit one or two of them, and you’ll get nothing.

The Core Web Vitals

The standards for Core Web Vitals

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This is what most people think of when someone says website speed: how long it takes to load. Specifically, LCP is how long it takes to load the main content in the viewport, so everything on screen before you do any scrolling down.

Google’s used a lot of load time indicators in the past, but LCP is the best representative of what a real person experiences, and it’s harder to cheat.

First Input Delay (FID)

This isn’t relevant to a lot of sites (meaning you might automatically score well). It’s a measure of how long it takes before a person can perform an interaction.

For e-commerce sites this includes things like variation selections, add to cart buttons, and login and checkout forms.

For sites without e-commerce this affects contact forms, lead magnet pages and login pages.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

One of the most annoying pieces of poor web development is layout shift. This is where things move around as new parts of the page are loaded. An example is where you try to click on a link, but because an image has just loaded your link just shot down the screen.

Super annoying, and pretty unforgivable nowadays. Google’s tolerance for CLS is very low, and owners of older websites will have big issues trying to score well on this.

What do I need to do?

Core Web Vitals goes live in May. Google say they won’t apply a penalty for sites and pages that don’t hit all three, but they will give a boost to those who do. Which is basically the same thing.

Including CLS as one of the vitals means switching to a faster hosting service won’t get you the SEO ranking boost on its own, and you may need to invest in some development work. You can see your current Core Web Vitals performance in Google Search Console.

Interesting

It’s time for Facebook vs Australia.

Facebook has just blocked all media content in and from Australia in response to new legislation. The new law requires online platforms to licence the content they show from media websites.

Whilst Google has agreed deals with most of the affected media groups (after threatening to pull its whole search function out of Australia), Facebook has pressed the big red button and called the Aussie Government’s bluff.

It’s the latest stage in the battle between old media and new media. It’s also part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp’s battle for survival.

And Facebook’s position makes a lot of sense when you remember they’re not a public service, but an advertising platform.

Facebook’s business model is one where organisations pay it to place content in front of the huge Facebook user audience. Australia wants Facebook to pay News Corp for the content that News Corp is placing on Facebook.

It makes even less sense when you remember that the News Corp business model is to lure visitors from Facebook onto their sites so they can slam people with adverts.

It’s a case of old-school advertising platform versus new-school advertising platform, enabled by technologically illiterate politicians who have no idea why they’re able to use Facebook and Google for free.

What next?

This is a story that’s already been told, but with a different cast. The music industry of the early noughties faced the same problem. Its customers weren’t prepared to pay for its content anymore.

That created a situation where individuals were choosing to download thousands of pounds worth of music for free via LimeWire and BitTorrent because it was quicker, easier and cheaper than legitimate services.

So Spotify and Apple introduced subscription streaming services which were quick, easy and low cost, with the added benefit of quality. You could still download for free, but to be honest, it was harder work than searching and clicking ‘add to playlist’.

The same has happened to news media. Why buy a physical newspaper when the same story is available for free? Old media always relied on advertising, but now they’ve created a monster of barely usable sites cluttered with ads (I’m looking at you, local news sites!)

The answer, again, will be subscription, propped up with low quality, high ad space, free offerings. We’re halfway there already. Some new services are already coming through.

But unlike the music industry, the news media has a much closer relationship with politicians, so they’re able to use the law to drag out their demise and avoid change. It’s no coincidence that News Corp’s homeland is the scene of the first battle.

Why does it matter to me?

Your industry might not have changed yet, but it will. The Four (Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon) have the cash and the will to enter and disrupt any market.

The key thing is their tendency to bundle products and service into a subscription. Apple’s already doing so with news. Amazon Prime is another example.

Between a third and half of UK households have Prime membership. It wouldn’t be a huge stretch for Amazon Prime to offer or include a home maintenance subscription.

Overnight, the UK’s plumbers, electricians and decorators would have to become Amazon subcontractors or lose half their potential client base.

Want to know how tech companies could wipe out your business model?

Ask me

Tool of the Week

Stock photos are awful. The good ones are extortionately priced and the decent free ones are overused.

They’re also big on white people. And if you’re doing your buyer persona work right, you might find that’s a problem.

Diversity in images is a massive problem for clothing e-commerce, where customers aren’t buying your product, they’re buying a picture of it.

But that’s easily solvable with a small investment in an influencer or two.

It’s less easy to solve for businesses which rely on stock photography to decorate their service pages. So I’m a big fan of nappy.co, which has, in their words, beautiful photos of Black and Brown people, for free.

All Nappy photos are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero licence, so you’re free to use them for anything. Best of all, all the Nappy photos I’ve seen so far look like real people doing real things, unlike most stock photos!

That’s it for this week

If you enjoyed this, please let me know why, and if you didn’t, then please, also let me know why!

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You measure your employee performance, but what about website performance?

One of your sales team hasn’t made a sale in three months. Do you sack them?

That’s a stupid question. Unless there’s a pretty good mitigating factor, they’re already on a performance management programme or have been told to clear their desk.

But are you managing your website’s performance? Is the online side of your business being given a free ride?

Setting targets

Your website should be doing one of two things: collecting leads and enquiries, or taking sales.

That’s its purpose. It’s what you’re paying for.

You’ve invested time and money into your website. That investment needs to make a return.

So you need to set it targets, just as you would with any other member of your sales team.

If you’re paying your salespeople £3,000 each month, you’re expecting them to bring in many times that. I like simple maths so we’ll say 10 times; a target of £30k per month.

Your salespeople are converting 20% of their leads into sales. So they need to be working £150k of leads each month.

And your average sale is £5k. Which means working 30 leads each month, resulting in six sales.

So you each month, you pay your salesperson £3k, they work 30 leads, turning six of them into sales, and make your business £30k revenue.

Now, most websites haven’t got their sales patter down yet. They need to hand leads off to a real person.

But if this business is putting £3k per month into their website, to match the sales team it should generate at least 30 good leads per month.

That’s your starting target.

Subscribe to DumDum’s DigiDigest

No investment, no return

We need to stop and talk money. If you don’t pay a salesperson’s wages, they won’t be making any sales.

If the only money you’re putting into your online operations is the cost of your domain name and your website hosting fee, I’d genuinely like to know, what are you expecting? Let me know: email me.

Managing website performance

So we’re investing £3k each month into our website, expecting 30 leads per month.

That £3k is mainly going to two places: advertising and labour. Whether that labour is an in-house employee or an agency’s fee doesn’t matter – it’s still part of your website’s wages.

Like our salespeople, our website should be getting better at its job over time.

Unlike our salespeople, any extra money put into existing online activity should have a proportionate increase in sales and leads. You’re doing the same thing, just more of it.

But we can also be more efficient. If we hone and refine our advertising campaigns they can work harder per pound spent.

And let’s be honest, when was the last time you reviewed your website performance?

If a salesperson is only converting 15% of their leads instead of the average 20%, you’d be having a word.

But the chances are you’ve no idea what your digital conversion rates are.

Which is pretty ironic, seeing as you’ll actually have more information from your website than your sales team.

Online KPIs

What gets measured gets managed, and luckily your website can measure everything.

But to get the best out of online you need to measure the right things.

And you also need to beware your website’s labour. They have a vested interest in making your website’s performance look great, because website performance is also one of their KPIs.

Having so much information means agencies and marketers can dazzle you with great stats. Even though they’re making no difference to your sales.

It’s like sitting down with your worst performing salesperson, and them telling you they make the tea faster than anyone else.

That’s cool, and it’s a stat, but it’s not relevant.

So these are the website performance KPIs you need to be watching.

Leads/Revenue

Your website should be providing a minimum number of leads or sales each day, week and month.

No ifs, no buts.

If your site isn’t doing that, someone needs to be explaining why. And what’s being done to hit the target.

Email sign-ups

The first marketing email was sent in 1978. Email marketing took off in 1996 – over 25 years ago. Sending emails to potential and existing customers advertising your stuff isn’t new fangled magic.

And yet…

Email marketing is the cheapest, most effective, and most underused digital strategy going.

I hear different excuses – GDPR, not enough interesting content. Someone even said they don’t send any emails in case people unsubscribe from their list.

So you need to send emails, and that means you need to collect email addresses from potential customers so you can send them emails.

So how much did your email list grow by last month?

ROAS

ROAS stands for Return On Ad Spend.

What defines a good ROAS depends on your industry, product and customers.

But ROAS improvement is one of the most important digital KPIs. Your agency or marketers should be optimising and refining to drive down the cost of acquiring new business through ads.

A happy ROAS is one that looks like this:

Graph Trending up

Not to be confused with CPC (Cost Per Click) or CPA (cost per acquisition), two other ad metrics which should be trending downwards.

Time for the sack

Sometimes we have to fire our website. Like an employee, we’ve invested time and money into it, but it’s just not improving.

Sometimes it’s no-ones fault. Your website was built for a different world, and your customers have changed.

They’ve changed the way they want to interact with your brand, and they’ve changed how they buy your product.

But choosing to sack your website isn’t easy.

You need to know what its replacement needs to do differently.

You need to understand what your business and industry looks like in five years time.

And you need to know how you’re going to measure its success.

Is your website under performing?

Welcome to DumDum’s DigiDigest. Yes, it’s a lot of D’s.

The DigiDigest is home to all the news from the digital marketing and tech worlds that you need to grow your business.

FLoCs

First off, FLoCs. What the FLoC is a FLoC, you ask?

Well, the writing’s on the wall for third-party cookies. These are the ones that businesses use to follow you around the web with adverts.

Websites and marketers have spent 25 years using them to track user behaviour. But they aren’t great for privacy.

And privacy’s the next big battleground between Facebook, Google and Apple. Apple have made the first move. Their next IOS version will give all users the opportunity to opt out of tracking.

So Google are throwing their weight behind a new method of ad delivery called Federated Learning of Cohorts.

A FLoC is a group of several thousand people who share the same characteristics.

Tracking code will only identify which FLoC a user belongs to. It won’t be a unique identifier anymore. Which preserves user privacy – advertisers won’t know what YOU have been doing. Just what the FLoC as a whole has been up to.

Google believe FLoC technology is good enough to capture 95% of the revenue you’d earn using interest-based audiences generated from cookies.

What does it mean?

Well, the big announcement from Google was completely schtum on one thing: remarketing. You know, where after visiting a website you then get hammered by their adverts on every other site you go to.

So we can assume traditional remarketing will be dead in a post-cookie world.

The other big change is toward first party data. Most digital advertising involves us paying big tech companies for their data.

It looks like the future will involve businesses using their own data to identify ad recipients.

So if you want to contact your web visitors, you’ll need to collect their details yourself.

My View

It’s always been better to own your own data. Having an email database (your data) is better than having a large following of Facebook users (Facebook’s data).

FLoCs will make other people’s data less accurate. It’ll increase advertising costs. But it will make the web a better place.

You now need to check your owned data. Are your email lists growing? Is your website capturing leads for your mailing list? Do you know your churn and conversion rates?

If the answer to any of these is no, now’s the time to start work.

Rebranding

I came across this great article by Radek Sienkiewicz earlier this week.

One of the things I often hear is “Can we make this look like what xxx competitor has just done?”

Usually straight after we’ve agreed on a style. I’ve even been asked to rebuild an email in a competitor’s brand colours.

But Radek’s article shows that the lemming effect is a problem for even the most iconic brands.

My view

My daughter isn’t quite old enough for the “if everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you?” speech. She’s 18 months old, and tries to throw herself down the stairs daily.

But you’re not a toddler. The whole point of branding is to stand out from the competion. If you’re trying to grow market share, making it easier for customers to confuse you for a competitor seems odd.

Following the crowd often seems safer than trying something different. But taking the ‘safe’ option and copying the competition might mean you’re following the wrong lemming.

What I’m reading

Photo of Scott Galloway's book Post Corona

Post Corona by Scott Galloway

I’m about a third of the way through. Slow going for me, but I’m snatching pages whilst the tiny shouty one is watching Paw Patrol.

The themes wont be new to anyone who subscribes to Prof Galloway’s No Mercy, No Malice blog. Indeed, some of the book feels like it’s lifted straight from the blog.

So far there are two important takeaways. The first is the Great Leap Forward. The idea the pandemic has pushed people’s behaviours 10 years forward overnight.

The second takeaway is the two privacy based business models that are emerging. You can either pay nothing or little for a product, but pay the difference in privacy and data, (think Facebook, or as Galloway suggests, low cost airlines).

Or you can pay a premium for the product, confident that your data remains private. That’s the approach Apple are taking, and why Google is investing so much into FLoCs.

Post Corona is very focused on the bigger economic picture in the US, and tech/media in particular. But there’s still a lot of good stuff in here for anyone who’s trying to envision where their business needs to be in 2025 and beyond.

Tool of the Week

You know how sometimes you click on a email link and it prepopulates stuff like the subject? Mailtolink.me is a nice little tool to generate the linking code automatically.

It’s a bit of a niche tool, but using different subject lines is a good trick to track where people are finding your email address.

Rather than try to explain, here’s one I prepared earlier:

Click me

That’s it for this week

If you enjoyed this, please let me know why, and if you didn’t, then please, also let me know why!

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You know the box which pops up on Google when you search for your business? Did you know you can control it, for free? It’s part of a Google service called Google My Business.

Believe it or not, it’s also completely free. Which means there’s no excuse for the information being wrong.

Why bother with Google My Business

One: it means customers can find the right information about you, fast. Not Google’s guesses.

Two: It makes it easier for people to contact you. Which means more leads and sales.

Three: It improves your local SEO. People nearby are more likely to find you.

You know how Google often throws up a map with three businesses when you search for a service? 25% of the signals Google uses to do this come from Google My Business profiles..

Activating your listing gives you control over what the search engine knows about you and your business. Crucially, it also gives you the means to update that information yourself. Google My Business is also part of Google Maps, meaning you’re more likely to show up in searches made near your business location. It really is a free SEO boost from Google.

How to setup Google My Business

Claiming and setting up your listing takes fewer than 10 minutes. You’ll need a Google account first, which can be created with your business email address and gives you access to loads of other free tools.

Start by going to google.com/business. Login, then enter the name of your business. Next, your business location – this must match the address on your website. Then drag the Google Maps arrow to your actual location. The arrow defaults to the middle of the postcode you entered, so doing this helps customers find you.

Google then wants to know what kind of business you are. Again, try to match this with information on your website. If you’re a bank and don’t mention anything about banking, there’ll be a penalty.

The next stage, ‘Make connections’, is optional, but one of the most useful. It’s where you connect your listing to your website and submit your phone number.

Finally, you have to verify that you’re who, and where, you claim to be. You can choose to receive a postcard at your business address with a code inside. Enter the code and you have full control over your listing.

How to update Google My Business

Well done. You’ve set up your profile, added your info and some pictures. Now you can leave it forever, right?

Afraid not. There’s a few reasons you should check back regularly. The first is that anyone can suggest a change to the information you’ve entered. Somebody suggests you sell a product which you actually don’t? Google may add that to your profile.

Which is really annoying for you, and the people who are ringing you about something you can’t help with.

So accuracy is one reason. Another is reviews.

Reviews on Google My Business

Now, you might not be reliant on reviews in the same way service businesses like restaurants are. But they still contribute to how potential clients and customers see you.

Imagine looking up a potential supplier and seeing this:

One Star Google review: "Cut up by one of there operatives driving one of their vans, a display of dangerous driving at its best. If that’s their attitude to other road users I would hate to think what their attitude is towards customers. Do these people realise that when they are driving sign written vans they are advertising ambassadors to the company they work for."

Of course, we’ll never know if ‘reviewer was cut up’ or ‘reviewer was in the wrong lane’. But your response can give clients a good indication of what you’re like as a business.

Ignoring the review may cause you to be seen as a business who’ll ignore customer problems further down the line.

Replying with “Dashcam shows you were in the wrong lane and nearly caused an accident” shows you’re prepared to look into it and respond honestly. There’s nothing wrong with backing your business and staff when you’re in the right.

Alternatively, use “We’re unable to confirm that this incident took place, but we’ve reminded our drivers about what we expect from our drivers” to cast doubt on the initial claim, whilst demonstrating you take the issue seriously.

Posting on Google My Business

Ever heard of Google+? It was Google’s attempt to take on Facebook, but it was terrible and they closed it down. Which tells us that even the giants aren’t perfect. But I digress…

A horse resting its head on a fence post, with the text "I love this post".

Google have recently stuck some of their Google+ tech into My Business. Initially, that means they’re pushing for businesses to post updates through My Business, not just social media.

At the moment each post lasts a week from publishing. They haven’t really explained why they want businesses to do this, but some people in the industry are suggesting these posts could be displayed before the search result list.

This is obviously a really good place to be, but adding any content to Google’s ecosystem usually has some form of SEO benefit for your site, which is also nice.

We’ve got four different post types to play with.

  • Offer
  • What’s New
  • Event
  • Product

All quite self explanatory. Want to promote an upcoming event? Create an event post. Just want to share a generic update (like new contenting on your site)? Use What’s New (yes, the lack of question mark is upsetting me too).

You can (and should) add image to any of your Google My Business posts. Use a 4:3 aspect ratio, or the image will be cropped to fit. Google also gives you a call to action button on all posts except Offers.

Managing multiple locations

Does your business operate from more than one place? Well I’ve got just the Google My Business feature for you!

With location groups you can access all of your business locations through one account. Which is good. And you can delegate permissions to individual users; so each of your store managers could look after the Google My Business profile for their store.

However (and it’s a big however), there’s no way to post an update to all of your profiles at once. Which is a big flaw. But perhaps it’s for the best; it means smaller businesses are more likely to post and get visits than bigger chains.

So, no more excuses. Get your My Business profile sorted!

Does your local SEO need a hand?

I know how it is. You’ve got amazing product pages on your website. Top photography, all the specs, and you’ve even paid some geek to SEO it for you.

But you’re still not getting enough leads. And that means you’re not getting enough sales.

It’s not necessarily because your site’s shit. I mean, it might be, but there are other reasons.

It’s far more likely that you’re just not talking to your customers at the right time.

Understanding the customer journey

At the start of a project we always review or create your customer journey and buyer persona. It means everything else we do is built around your actual customers.

That seems obvious, but you’d be amazed how often businesses start talking to themselves. They start creating stuff that they need and want, rather than what their customers want.

So we put together the persona of a typical buyer of your product, who we’ll call Customer Clive. Clive’s persona includes a lot of detail. We’ll look at what his job is, how much he has to spend and where he procrastinates.

We also need to know what Clive worries about, what he wants to do this year, and what he already knows about things.

Once we’ve painted a picture of Clive, we can use the persona to create his customer journey. This starts from the moment Clive realises he has a problem all the way through to you resolving his problem.

However, not all of Clive’s problems are equal, so the customer journey can be quite different.

For example, the customer journey for Clive’s wedding anniversary might start at lunchtime when he finally realises why Mrs Clive had the hump with him this morning.

In Clive’s infinite wisdom, he has a quick web search for flowers. He promptly decides they’re too expensive and buys some from a petrol station on the way home.

Clive sleeps on the sofa that night.

Fortunately, Clive puts a lot more effort in when he’s looking for your product. He does loads of research on different solutions, gets a number of quotes and eventually buys from one of your competitors. And never speaks to you.

Right place, right time

So why didn’t your business get a chance to speak to Clive? Well, it’s all about information, and timing.

The early stages of the customer journey are all about the customer understanding their problem. They’re not looking for a solution. In fact, they’re probably trying to work out how to get rid of the problem without spending money.

Clive’s not ready to buy anything yet. He’s going to be mightily pissed off if he gets a call from you selling your thing.

But he does want to find out if other people have had this problem, and what they did about it.

Once he’s discovered that other people pay to solve this problem, Clive starts working out a budget. But he also wants to know the minimum amount of action he can get away with.

This is the point where Clive begins to look at options. But this is an area he knows nothing about, so he needs to learn what’s important, and what’s unnecessary.

He starts downloading a guide which tells him what he needs to look for in his solution. He downloads a checklist which tells him what to prioritise. Clive even finds a useful little blog post which explains all the jargon, so he doesn’t have to ask a salesperson what the acronyms mean.

Clive’s now established a relationship with three different suppliers. He knows they supply a solution to his problem, and he trusts them because they’ve helped him.

So when he gets a phone call from the business he got the checklist from, he’s more than happy to talk about his problem.

First impressions count

Chances are that Clive knows all about your business. He’ll have found you when he was doing his initial research. He knows you have a product that solves his problem.

But he doesn’t really know you. He’s got a good feeling about these other businesses who’ve already helped him, and he likes them. So even if your product specs are better than everyone elses, he just doesn’t trust you.

By giving Clive what he needs in the early stages of the customer journey, your competitors have given themselves a big headstart when in comes to relationship building.

Which is why we swear by proper customer journey documentation. It tells us exactly what Clive needs to make his decision, and also tells us what he already knows.

So when Clive comes onto your site he can find the information he needs in return for a few contact details.

Your sales team can see where Clive is on his customer journey by what he’s downloaded. And that means the first conversation they have with him is appropriate to how close he is to making a buying decision.

Content = leads

I can’t stress this enough: if you provide useful content you will open a relationship with your potential customer.

If the purpose of your website is to generate leads and enquiries then you can’t rely on a contact form. People know that as soon as they press send you’ll be jumping in with your finest sales spiel. And everyone hates that.

In today’s world we need to start working with our customers well before they’re ready to buy. Great content means we can do all of the early relationship building at the customer’s pace, without picking up the phone until they’re ready.

That relationship means they’re happy to share their information in return for more content.

And when they answer your call, they’ll already feel like they know and trust your business.

Want better leads from your website?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

I’ve really got into gardening during Covid. Monty Don’s on record, I’ve knocked up some raised beds and we’ve started growing seeds rescued from the chopping board.

And as often happens, the mixed results of my new greenery fascination got me thinking up a new analogy.

Websites are like gardens

It sounds ridiculous, but it’s my new favourite way to explain how digital growth works.

When someone first delivers your brand new shiny website, you love it. You show it off to your mates and your family. You’re well chuffed with it.

Which is just like having your garden done. It’s all planted, they’ve knocked up a little water feature, Charlie Dimmock’s mowed the lawn. It’s great. Let’s do a barbecue.

But now its three months down the line, and you haven’t done any gardening. The plants have died of thirst. There’s a dead pigeon floating in the pond.

It’s slightly different with websites. It’ll still look the same even if you don’t touch it for months. But it’ll still be dead. Nobody will be coming to look at it. It’ll be sliding slowly down those Google rankings until it hits Google Graveyard (page 2 of the search results).

Digital Gardening

If you want to keep your garden growing , you’ve got to shuffle about with a watering can and some shears.

And if you want to keep your website generating leads and sales, you’ve got to do some digital gardening.

The most important thing is to keep watering. For a garden, that means getting the hose out. For a website, it means getting people onto your site through your digital marketing channels.

There’s a few different ways to digitally water your website. Organic search traffic is everyone’s favourite. This is essentially rain. It’s free and it comes along even if you don’t do anything.

Which is all well and good, but if it ain’t raining, plants are dying. Relying on rain means putting your fate in the sky’s hands.

Same with organic traffic. You’re putting your business in Google’s hands.

But we can do some SEO. We can optimise our website, which is a bit like installing a big sky funnel over our garden. So we can think about Search Engine Optimisation as a way to collect more rain.

But that still only helps IF it rains.

Watering

What we need to keep our garden lush is a hose. That way we can turn the tap on when we need to give everything a good soaking.

If we need leads and sales, we need to turn on some of our hoses.

There are three main digital hoses:

  • Email
  • Social
  • Ads

Email is a bit like connecting a hose to a water butt. You’ve collected email addresses, put them in the water butt, and you can encourage them to come to your site with an email every now and again.

But if you keep soaking the lawn with your water butt, you’ll run out of water. Same with your email list. You need to look after it. Use it too much and people unsubscribe or stop opening your messages.

Social media is like rigging up a hose to your neighbours tap. Old Mr Facebook might let you have some water for free, but it depends on what his algorithm feels like today.

But, Mr Facebook does know everyone. And he’ll put you in touch with the right people, for a price. So slip him a few quid for ads and he’ll turn on the tap.

Finally there’s digital advertising, which is like running a hose from your own tap. You know you’re on a meter, so every time you start watering it’s going to cost you.

However, it’s good quality stuff that you can turn on and off when you need it.

Planting

Everything’s watered, and you’ve got traffic coming to your site. Some of that traffic is converting into leads or sales. Most of it isn’t.

But watering isn’t the only thing we need to do in the garden. We need to weed it, cut shrubs back and replant our annuals. The more jazzy and blooming your garden is, the more work you need to do.

Which is why most businesses see crap results from their websites. Your competitor next door has been putting the hours in all Spring. He’s getting loads of lovely bees visit, his begonias are banging and his roses are a sight to behold. You’ve still got dead daffodils in the borders from March.

Like a garden, a website is always a work in progress.

We keep adding new plants every season to replace the old ones that look tired, or have gone over. And it should be the same with our site’s content.

The whole purpose of the internet is the sharing of information. And because of that, every algorithm on the web favours those who share their knowledge.

That means our content strategy is quite as important as a gardener’s planting strategy. Our gardener knows that their tulips will be gone before the summer and has already planned what plants will take their place.

A steady stream of new content is essential for attracting the leads and sales our website needs to be successful. How often you produce new stuff depends on your industry and audience, just as the amount of replanting you need to do depends on the plants in your garden.

Remember, your business has a finite number of potential customers. And there’s only so many of them that need your product now. And if they’ve already seen all your content, there’s no reason to come back if they haven’t already bought.

Trimming

But planting’s not the only bit of gardening we have to do. We also have to cut things back, trim them, or even move them, to get the best results.

We should be doing this all the time with our websites. You know what you want your site to achieve, so we need to make changes if it doesn’t.

If we want to sell more products, we should be changing and testing each stage on the buying process. If we want more leads, then we have to test different calls to action to learn what works best.

And trust me, that’s a constant process. Like the gardener who’s always tinkering with their flower beds, a website can always be improved.

Enjoying

But that’s not to say a website should be a financial black hole; sucking up. infinite amounts of money. Like your garden, the priority is being happy.

Yes, we may be able to squeeze out a few extra sales or leads if we change the font spacing very slightly. But that doesn’t mean we should.

Perfection is the enemy of good, and this is as true for our websites as it is for our gardens. When you’re happy with the leads and sales you’re getting from your website then it’s time to pull out the deckchair, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your hard work.

Well, at least until the lawn needs mowing again.

Need a digital gardener?