Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK team. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

While the use of marketing automation is increasing in terms of the number of businesses using automation and the level to which those businesses are using it, what we do know if that adoption is faster among larger businesses.

A recent Raab Report found that 60 percent of those with revenues exceeding $500 million have already implemented marketing automation, but just 3 percent of small businesses with fewer than $5 million in revenue have invested in it.

Having said that, marketing automation presents many opportunities for small business to benefit from — including generating more leads and increasing customer value, making it an extremely important strategy for them to consider.

Consultant, Philip Storey, is adamant that SMEs embrace automation:

“Many of the SMEs that look into marketing automation in detail are driving a significant portion of their revenue from email marketing through automated strategies. They’re the ones that are really winning.”

Recent Gleanster analysis shows that the best performing small businesses start out simple by using email templates and out-of-the-box settings. The key is to improve these efforts over time. This approach was echoed by our webinar participants when we posed the question: ‘How should SME’s get started with marketing automation?’

Digital marketing consultant, Gemma Went, suggested a simple process of connecting up your existing marketing channels and tools:

“If you already have an email platform, start to connect it up with your other online activities. If you have a Facebook Page, change your ‘Call to action’ button to ‘Sign up’ and direct them to your email list. Similarly, if you’re using Twitter, use the free Twitter cards and use the ‘Sign up’ card in the same way. If you don’t have a list, you need to start one.”

For best results, thinking about automation should extend beyond marketing. If small businesses are already automating emails and social media, the next logical step is to connect up their email list with their invoicing software.

Constant Contact integrates with tools like Xero, Freshbooks, FreeAgent and others. Start to create your own automated ecosystem and take the weight off your feet.

Philip Storey of Enchant extolled the virtue of website analytics to help you focus your attention on your most valuable automation opportunities:

“Look at your website and analyse the most common behaviours that could present you with opportunities to improve the customer experience. You might find that beyond basket abandonment, you can start to categorise types of browsing behaviours and create highly personalised automated responses to these situations.”

Whichever marketing automation approach you decide to start with, our panel were unanimous in their recommendation that you start with ‘baby steps’ and prove your case before automating further interactions.

Given that every business is different, this process of learning and iteration should be the defining strategy that underpins your initial forays into this innovative new marketing arena.

This whitepaper is free to download and features expert guidance about how small businesses can get started with marketing automation on a shoestring budget. 

Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK team. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

In this expert interview, we ask mobile marketing specialist, Franco Beschizza, how businesses can get started with mobile marketing.

There are lots of examples of big brands doing big things with mobile marketing, but what about small businesses and agencies? Is the opportunity there?

Absolutely. As consumers move towards a more mobile ecosphere, and new low-cost cloud-based marketing platforms for mobile are becoming available, it will in effect level the playing field for small businesses and agencies.

Mobile is changing the way that the majority of purchasing decisions are made and opens up a real opportunity just by starting to think and employ some simple mobile strategies and tactics.

What is the biggest challenge preventing companies from getting serious about mobile marketing?

One of the great benefits of mobile marketing is that it can actually make your other marketing initiatives more effective. Linking it to social is a key benefit. Keeping up with all that is happening and developing in this area can be daunting and confusing.

The mobile industry has tended to think and talk in terms that mobile is different and needs to stand alone as an approach to marketing. Referring to mobile marketing as different and stand-alone means it just gets placed further down the priority list for businesses, especial for small businesses and agencies who tend to find themselves juggling several activities at once. The good news is that mobile is not different nor is it difficult, you just need to think it through to see effective results.

Are there any steps that you feel are particularly helpful in overcoming this challenge?

Knowledge is key and an understanding of what role mobile can play within your company. This will require a clear strategy that can be taken in small steps, quick wins, gaining confidence in what mobile can deliver.

To my mind, and research studies supports this, there is no doubt that a connection exists between what happens digitally before, during, and after a shopping experience.

In a recent report by Deloitte, digital channels accounted for some 33 percent of influence of in-store retail sales within the UK, equivalent to almost £100bn in 2014. The influence of mobile on in-store purchases increased rapidly by the uptake of customers to nearly four times for the same period and it now accounts for over half of digitally influenced sale.

To take advantage of this rather than trying to deliver the whole nine yards experience just focus on what you can do well and test and learn to start with and build on this over time.

What’s your top tip for businesses looking to implement a mobile marketing strategy on a small budget?

The biggest step any small business or agency can take is to think of mobile as an enabler, fully integrated and supporting the other digital channels to purchase.

Mobile is about making your customers’ lives easier and establishing how you can support them at the key mobile moments in their customer journey. For this, you need to start thinking about what role mobile has within your business, whether you are a B2B or B2C.

 

Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK team. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Be honest. Is your small business really wowing your customers and clients? Every professional knows that customer service is important. So why is it that the small businesses getting it right are in the minority?

Forgive us for stating the obvious, but customer service is kind of a big deal. You know it. Your competitors know it. Almost every small business knows it. The thing is, knowing that customer service is important only takes you so far. There comes a point when good intentions must turn into action; when knowing is replaced by doing.

Lots of small businesses fall short, without even realising it. The need to provide great customer service is so obvious that you can fall into the trap of taking it for granted. Yet without explicit focus on how — specifically — you are going to wow your customers, customer service falls through the cracks. The challenge is keeping customer service front and centre. Day in, day out.

Reputation is everything

People talk. Not only does great service turn one-off customers into repeat purchasers, it improves the chances of your customers recommending your business to friends, family and colleagues. Or to put it another way, provide dynamite service and your customers do your marketing for you. How do you get people talking? Well in the truest sense of the word, your customer service should be remarkable.

It works the other way too. Remarkably bad customer service will also get people talking — about how terrible you are. It might be a stretch to say that your public reputation can make or break your small business. But it’s not too far wide of the mark — especially in the age of online reviews and social media slurs.

You don’t need us to tell you how to provide great customer service. But here are some tips for making sure your offline customer service is reflected in the digital world.

Mirror your offline communication style

Your communication style can be a real differentiator. So it pays to keep things consistent. The way you speak to customers and clients online should be broadly similar to the way you speak to them on the telephone.

Don’t leave customers in limbo

Ten years ago some customers might have expected to wait a few days for you to reply to their email. That’s not the case anymore. 24 hours is about the limit, but the sooner you can reply the better. You should strongly consider designing at automated email that is triggered whenever someone emails your contact@ email address, informing them that their email has been received and specifying when they can expect a reply.

As for social media interactions, aim to respond as soon as possible to both good and bad comments.

You need to monitor your online reputation

88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In short: it matters what people are saying about you online. Websites such as TripAdvisor, Checkatrade and Trustpilot are influential when consumers are choosing where to spend their cash. Responding to customer reviews — both good and bad — shows you take customer welfare seriously and allows you to offer the mitigating circumstances against any unduly snarky reviews.

Of course, working at the sharp end of a small business, you don’t have time to sit and refresh the various review websites in the hope of catching every message that’s written about your business. That’s where services like Talkwalker come in, scanning the www and sending you an alert every time you are mentioned.

Use social proof

If you have a great reputation, make sure your customers know about it. As we have noted, people are influenced by people. If you can show your network how much your existing customers trust you, you increase the chances of nudging your prospects down the sales funnel. One way of adding social proof to your online persona is by including testimonials on your website. You could also share things like your Trustpilot score or TripAdvisor rating in your emails.

Over to you!

With customer service, it’s often the little things that make the biggest difference. Think about the finer points of your customer’s relationship with your business. You can’t go far wrong if you aim to be genuinely helpful at every customer touchpoint. And when you get it right, your customers are more likely to recommend your business. Great customer service could become your most potent marketing tool.

To review:

  • Be remarkable: great customer service gets people talking
  • Be consistent: use the same communication style across your offline and online channels
  • Be timely: respond to emails and social media interactions as soon as is practical
  • Be alert: use services like Talkwalker to monitor what’s being said about your business online
  • Be social: if you have a great customer reputation, make sure you share it with your prospects

How does your business use customer service to stand out from the competition and build relationships? Leave us a comment with your advice!

Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK team. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

You know about Twitter. But what about its lesser-known Direct Messages feature — the self-professed “private side of Twitter”? Well it turns out you can win some serious brownie points with your audience when you use Direct Messages correctly.

Great social marketing is about feeding the conversation around your business. Yet it’s amazing how many businesses forget that conversation is a two-way thing. Sure, publishing your own content and watching the clickthroughs is lots of fun. But it’s important to listen too. A positive back-and-forth over the digital ether can leave a lasting impression on your audience: turning a prospect into a customer and a customer into a repeat purchaser.

Here are five ways to use Direct Messages to build bonds and break boundaries.

Personalised support

It’s the age of the Twitter complaint. If a customer is venting at you over Twitter, you want to make that interaction private as soon as possible to preserve your reputation. You know what they say. Never wash your dirty laundry in public.

Even if someone isn’t effing and jeffing and simply needs some support or has a few questions about your service, it’s best to make the conversation private. Most people don’t want their Twitter feed clogged up with one-to-one conversations between people they have never met.

You can start a private conversation with anyone who follows you.

Behold! Limitless group chat….

There are two super-cool things about Direct Messages. One: there’s no character-limit, liberating you from the shackles of 140 characters. Two: you can exchange messages with multiple people at once. Yep, Twitter does group chat. Some neat uses of group chat are to introduce people or to exchange thoughts and ideas following a networking event. You can probably think of a thousand other uses.

Again, you can start a group message with anyone who follows you.

Arrange your meetings

Sharing real-world plans publicly on Twitter has some fairly glaring privacy issues. But what happens when you want to try and arrange a meeting between a group of prospects or potential partners but don’t have their email addresses? Just hop to the Direct Messages function and type away.

Solicit your next testimonials

Authentic testimonials are a powerful marketing tool. But for some businesses they are incredibly hard to come by. Adopt a mindset of don’t ask, don’t get. If you notice one of your followers talking about your service or one of your products, send a private message asking them to elaborate by sending you their honest thoughts — good or bad.

Check-in with your brand evangelists

It’s the little things that make the difference when it comes to customer service. Sending your most loyal customers timely, thoughtful updates will help to make sure they keep coming back to you — again and again.

It could be anything from a short message to let them know their order has been dispatched to a well-timed update about your bank holiday opening times. Be natural. Be helpful. Avoid slick sales patter or obsequious ingratiation. People know when they are being sold to and you could lose a valuable customer forever.

Ready to get started?

Direct Messages can be a really useful way to build bonds with your target audience and break down the traditional boundaries between business and customer. More than anything else, great marketing is a conversation between you and your prospects. So get personal and have one. The folks behind Twitter have written a short guide to getting started with Direct Messages.

Go forth and converse!

Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Does marketing automation work? It’s a question plenty of small businesses are asking as they look to get more bang for their buck from their marketing campaigns. So we set about finding out. Our research is neatly displayed in the infographic below. As you will see, the case for marketing automation is pretty darn compelling.

Marketing doesn’t have to be such a gamble

For lots of small businesses, marketing is a hit-and-hope kind of a thing. Some businesses don’t think they have the expertise to create a successful campaign. Others simply lack the time. It needn’t be like that for you.

Marketing automation gives you a way to find out more about your audience. That way you can create targeted, personalised campaigns that are more likely to get results. And with analytics capturing the all-important numbers, your marketing becomes accountable. You build a picture of what works, what doesn’t work, and how to tweak it.

Automation means more personalisation, not less

Some people fear that marketing automation will mean their campaigns lose the personal touch.

They worry about losing control.

The opposite is true.

Marketing automation doesn’t mean your online marketing gets done automatically. It’s not going to do your marketing exec out of a job. Rather it’s software that makes it easier to schedule, prioritise, and execute your campaigns. It also allows you to build a profile of the different personas in your target audience, so you can target your prospects on a more personal level.

And that’s important.

Successful marketing requires tapping in to the needs, fears, desires, and ambitions of your target audience. The more you know about them, the better. So when you nurture a relationship based on what you know about your prospects, you stand a far better chance of turning them into paying customers. The upshot is a more personalised relationship with your audience, a better opportunity to drive revenue and more time to spend on the non-marketing aspects of your business.

But does marketing automation get results?

Yup.

According to our research, 74 percent of marketers who use data-driven marketing say they have benefited from a competitive advantage. Meanwhile 55 percent of businesses using marketing automation have reported increased revenues. Dive into more numbers with our infographic below.

Marketing automation FINAL

Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is coming.

You can almost smell the Chanel. That means it’s time for your small business to think of ways to piggyback on the occasion.

You already have a direct route into your target audience’s world — the email inbox. Your mission is to figure out how you can help your subscribers create a suitably earth-shattering Valentine’s Day for their objet d’amour. No pressure.

Here are six ideas.

Send a voucher

Roses are red, violets are blue. And if you’re a florist or flower shop, it’s good news for you.

Of course it’s not just florists getting ready to hear the cash register ring at this time of year. If you sell anything that can be given as a Valentine’s gift — perfume, chocolates, jewellery — it’s time to amp up your marketing strategy.

You can extend your bumper sales period with discount vouchers for your subscribers in the week or so before Valentine’s Day. Or you could run a post-Valentine’s campaign for single customers in need of a pick-me-up. Either way, discount vouchers are a fast, easy and effective way to use email marketing. Bloomin’ marvellous.

Provide the backdrop for the perfect date

A candlelit dinner is just the ticket for many doe-eyed duos. Or how about a helicopter ride at sunset? Or perhaps an evening wine tasting event? If your business provides a service that could set the scene for Valentine’s couples, you need to make sure people know about it. And that’s where email marketing comes in.

Design an email with details of your promotion. That could be a Valentine’s themed menu. Free champagne at your restaurant. Money off helicopter rides. You name it.

The point is to theme your offer around Valentine’s and create something different from your regular service offering. You’re basically doing Cupid’s job for him. So make it extra special.

You can tell a man by his shoes…

There are lots of products and services that — at first glance — don’t seem to relate to Valentine’s Day. But with a bit of lateral thinking you can link anything to the day of love.

Example? You might think there’s nothing romantic about shoes. But The Proclaimers and Bryan Adams would surely disagree. So whether you are helping your subscribers walk 500 miles to their special someone, or they are gaily promising “I’m gonna run to you”, a voucher for a new pair of brogues is going to make the journey a lot easier. Besides, don’t they say you can tell a man by his shoes?

More abstract? Okay, so you run SaaS time management software. How do you tie that in to Valentine’s Day? Well, everybody knows a good date requires shrewd planning. Send out an email with your top Valentine’s planning tips, tricks and hacks. You can make it as funny or tongue-in-cheek as you like. The point is that you are doing something different.

And that’s half the battle of keeping your subscribers engaged.

Competition time

People say they don’t like playing games when it comes to love. But those people haven’t seen your competition to win a romantic break for two. Consider running a contest, and promoting it to your email list and social media following, to spark interest and engagement.

Speaking of getting away from it all…

If your products or services have anything to do with travel or escapism, why not create a short piece of content that you email to your subscribers? Think along the lines of ’10 of Europe’s most romantic hotels’ or ‘The 10 most beautiful walks in England’. You can be as niche or as generalised as you like. But remember, it’s all about helping your subscribers enjoy a memorable Valentine’s celebration.

Anti-Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day isn’t for everyone. Especially if they are single. That means there’s potentially a lot of mileage in creating an anti-Valentine’s event. There’s lots of fun to be had with your email marketing here, both visually and with your copy. It’s unexpected and will help you stand out in a crowded inbox.

Over to you…!

Creating a Valentine’s marketing campaign is a good way to help boost engagement with your audience. It shows you are current. It shows you are imaginative. And it shows you are thinking about the needs, fears, ambitions, and desires of your target audience. Put your prospect’s needs before your own and you are sure to reap rewards.

Want to show your audience some love on social media as well? Try out these 7 ideas!

Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Email marketing is about nurturing a connection with your audience. Personalising your emails gives you a cracking shortcut. How? Well, think about your own email habits. Given the choice between a generic email sent to every subscriber and an email that has been curated for your specific interests, which would you rather read?

The stats fuel the case for personalisation. 56 percent of consumers say they would be more inclined to use a retailer if it offered a good personalised experience, according to O2’s Rise of Me-tail study. And Experian’s transactional email report states that personalised emails are six times more effective at lifting transaction rates and revenue than bulk email.

So what is email personalisation? And how can small businesses like yours get the best out of it?

Ask the right questions

Personalisation goes beyond just knowing the names of your email subscribers. It’s about tailoring your email content based on what you know about your subscribers’ interests, buying habits, gender, location and more. In fact the more you know about each of your subscribers, the better. So don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Every time someone registers with your service or subscribes to your newsletter, you have an opportunity to begin building a profile of your users. What are their reasons for registering? Why have they subscribed to your newsletter? What products are they looking for? How frequently would they prefer their emails? Don’t ask, don’t get.

Observe

Asking the right type of questions is a great start. But you also need to observe how your email subscribers are interacting with your website. That means diving into email reports and analytics. Pay attention to the links your subscribers click in your emails. It will give you a better idea of the types of content that each of your subscribers prefer, allowing you to send more targeted emails in the future.

Okay, so you’ve got some of the theory about email personalisation. Let’s look at how it works in practice.

Here are five ideas.

Personalised discounts

Online shoppers love a personalised experience. Amazon reckon personalised product recommendations account for a whopping 35 percent of conversions. Sending a time-limited discount for a product that you know a particular segment of your subscribers has been looking at is likely to bump conversions.

But you don’t have to be an online retailer to benefit. Let’s say you’ve noticed one of your subscribers has been spending a lot of time on one of your service pages. It’s likely they are interested in your skills in that particular niche. Offering an introductory discount on your fees may give them the incentive they need to convert.

Show you are an expert by recommending new content

You run a garden centre and send a weekly email with news, offers, and links to the latest gardening tips on your blog. After looking at your email reports, you notice patterns in the types of content that different subscribers are clicking through to. One user, for example, always clicks through to articles about healthy lawns.

This is your opportunity to send that reader an email with links to your best lawn-related content. You already know they are interested — and for bonus points you could throw in a discount on a bottle of weed killer. Perfect.

Not producing your own content yet? No problem. Perhaps you could put together a small list of books that will allow your subscribers to bone up on the topics they are interested in. It cements your credibility and deepens the relationship you have with your subscribers on a one-to-one level.

Location-based personalisation

When you know where your audience is based, you can use segmentation to get more creative with your email content. For example, you could tie in with the latest regional news. Or, if you are running a regional event, you could invite local subscribers without cluttering the inboxes of people who live elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to ask for your readers location at the signup stage!

Time of day

You may have subscribers in different time zones. Worth keeping in mind if you publish email content that is time dependent — a morning bulletin, for example.

Automated behaviour-triggered emails

Automated behaviour-triggered emails are pre-designed emails that are automatically sent once a certain action is completed. The most obvious example is a thank you email sent after an online purchase. But with the right email software you can design automated emails for almost any kind of action. And it’s worth the creative thought. Triggered emails tend to perform exceptionally well, with 152 percent higher open rates than traditional emails. 

Ready to get started?

The more you know about your subscribers, the easier it will be to use segmentation and automation to create emails that resonate with your audience on a personal level. Whether it’s tapping in to local news stories, signposting content based on your reader’s interests or simply offering a discount on a product that your prospect has been lingering on, making it personal has never been more rewarding.

Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

What do you mean? I am focused!

It’s a new year and time to give your business renewed focus. You’ve set your business goals for 2016, so why not give your business a boost and really achieve them? To help you do that, I want to share with you one of my own best business tips: FOCUS.

Yeah, yeah. You’re probably thinking that you are focused. And who am I to tell you any different? As a marketing consultant or an agency, you focus really hard on providing your clients with great service that helps them achieve their business goals. They rely on you as the marketing expert, but when was the last time you applied that expertise to your own business?

Why focus matters for you

If you don’t focus on achieving one thing at a time, your marketing business will suffer. I understand that everyone has many things to do in the course of a day, but we need to give one thing the most attention at any one time, and it shouldn’t be the thing that has become an emergency — it should be the thing that is going to help us the most.

Someone once asked me ‘what happens if you try to chase two rabbits at the same time?’ Of course the answer is that you don’t catch either of them. That’s what can happen with our businesses as well — we try to do too many things at once and end up not doing anything well or effectively.

If we focus on one thing at a time, we actually get things done more quickly.

Multi-tasking is really a fallacy, as it means switching mental states between tasks and we just can’t do that rapidly. So, what actually happens is not that we’re doing many things at the same time, we’re just switching tasks after very short bursts of attention, and it doesn’t work.

It’s much better to concentrate on one thing for a set period of time or until the job is done. Then you’ve achieved something, rather than trying to do too much at once and not finishing anything.

Focusing on one thing at a time also gives you as sense of achievement (which we could all do with more of!) Because you are doing one thing, you get it finished more quickly, and you can look back with a happy glow and tick that thing of your too-long to-do list!

How to create focus in three easy steps:

1. Set goals

You can’t create focus unless you know what you should be focused ON, so pick something that you want to achieve (it should be something that will move you forward in your business), and set a goal around it.

A good goal is something that is measurable and time-bound, i.e. you need to quantify it and have a deadline. For example, ‘I want more prospects’ is not a proper goal, but ‘I want to gain an additional 250 small business client leads by adding them to my marketing tips newsletter by the end of April’ is a great goal. If you’re at all confused about that, ask yourself ‘will I know when I’m done?’ If you answer ‘yes’, then it’s probably a good goal.

2. Have a current project

I picked up this tip from a great book by Mark Forster called ‘Do It Tomorrow’ (isn’t that a brilliant title?), and it’s very simple. All you have to do is designate one thing that you want to achieve as your ‘current project’, and the rule is that you dedicate the first 15 minutes of every day working on it.

Yep, that’s it — 15 minutes. You can do more if you want to, but you only need to set aside 15 minutes.

However, this only works if you do it before anything else, e.g. no ‘just quickly checking email’, no ‘wondering what’s on Facebook’, no ‘just catching up with the industry news’. You can’t do anything else at all until you’ve done your 15 minute project.

It sounds silly, but I promise that this works. It’s amazing what you can achieve in 15 minute chunks. Think about how much your consultancy or agency would benefit from 15 minutes’ focus on your sales funnel every day. How many more potential clients would that be?

3. Keep to a schedule

In addition to your current project, I want you to set aside time in your calendar to do specific jobs. This will ensure that your whole day doesn’t get eaten away by ‘busy-work’, because ‘doing things’ is not the same as ‘getting things done’.

For me, this means not having my whole day eaten up by reading and responding to email — you might be the same, or it might be something else that swallows your time but doesn’t really get you anywhere.

The truth is that work will expand to fit the time available, so if you limit the time available for individual tasks, then you can usually get the required work done in that time.

So, all you need to do is block out a chunk of time in your calendar to write your marketing tips newsletter, for example, and make sure that you do it in the time allowed.

Not part of the Solution Provider Program? Find out more here. 

Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Another day.

Another marketing platform.

Another way for you to connect with your target audience.

Facebook Live is the new extension to Facebook that, pretty soon, you will be hearing a lot about. But what is Facebook Live? And — more to the point — how can small businesses like yours use it to supercharge your marketing?

On 30th September 1929, British media changed forever. It was the day the BBC aired the world’s first live television broadcast. The operational feat of sharing live sound and vision with the nation in real-time was enormous and incredibly technical.

Today all you need is a smartphone. Facebook Live will do the rest for you.

A (micro) introduction to Facebook Live

Facebook Live is a tool for sharing real-time video, straight from your smartphone. What your phone camera sees, anyone tuned in on Facebook sees. Think of it as your own live television channel — albeit one where you can broadcast as frequently or infrequently as you like.

The technology works as seamlessly as a video call. The main difference? You can’t see or hear the people on the other end of the line. (Although they can type messages — more on that in a bit.) Select Facebook accounts were given access to the Live extension in August 2015. But Facebook is in the process of rolling out Live to all users.

So what should you broadcast?

If you are interested in live broadcast, it makes sense to fetch a fresh pot of coffee, pull up a chair and spend some time considering how to create video features that suit your business, your target audience and your desired ambitions. The best starting point is to think about your audience’s needs, desires, ambitions, fears, and doubts in relation to your products or services. Then work outwards.

To stoke your creative fires, here are five different types of live broadcast you could incorporate into your marketing arsenal.

1. Behind the curtain. Under the hood.

Whatever you call it, there will always be people interested in taking a behind-the-scenes look at your business — especially if they are already familiar with your products or services. This is your opportunity to break down the traditional boundaries between business and customer and show some personality. It’s not about selling; it’s about sharing what makes you, you.

Some examples? If you run a restaurant you could give viewers a quick glimpse at where the magic happens in the kitchen. (Best ask the chef first, hey?) Design agency? A tour of the office. Brewery? A quick run through of how all that machinery makes your lovely, lovely beer. The great thing about behind the scenes videos is they are uniquely yours — and can never be imitated.

2. Get interactive with live Q&As

Facebook Live isn’t just a one-way channel. Anyone tuned in to your broadcast can type a message that will appear on your screen. That makes Facebook Live a great channel for question and answer sessions. Your audience get their queries resolved — and the live element of the feature reinforces the connection between you and your audience.

The learning goes both ways too. Q&A sessions can teach you a lot about your audience and how they think. Hey, you might even stumble across the idea for your next marketing campaign.

3. Showcase your latest and greatest…

Got a hot new product? Show it in action! A well written product description will never go out of fashion. But a live product demonstration gives your audience the kind of insight into your wares that a product description simply can’t rival. Offer services rather than products? It’s still possible to show off your handiwork — with live case studies and testimonials with existing clients, for example.

4. Fetch your professor’s hat

Some products are easier to get to grips with than others. For the latter, tutorials can go a long way to helping your customers get the best from their new purchase. Of course, your videos don’t have to be product orientated. Let’s say you have a design agency. You could run a series on the most influential figures in design through the ages. A knowledge database beckons.

5. Your take on developing news

It might not be the most fun job in the world, but it’s necessary to stay on top of the latest developments in your industry. You could make that job a lot easier (and, whisper it, fun) for your clients and customers by providing weekly or monthly news summaries that give them everything they need to know in a bite-size format. It establishes your authority on your area of expertise and adds extra weight to your credibility.

Ready to get started?

With a little planning and a splash of creativity, you will be streets ahead of the competition when it comes to Facebook Live. It’s important to note that there’s no obligation to use it. If it doesn’t sit right with your business, that’s fine. But there’s a big chance to engage with your audience in a whole new way with Facebook Live.

Once you get into the swing of things, it can become a key part of your content marketing strategy. Product demos can be repurposed on your website or YouTube. Q&As can be written up as blog posts. Your news summaries can be distributed through email bulletins and social media. You are limited only by your imagination. So what are you waiting for?

You can find more social media marketing tips on our Social Media Quickstarter Page

Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

During our ‘Growing your digital marketing agency: solving the measurement puzzle’ webinar we conducted a poll, asking which digital marketing activity our viewers (agencies and consultants) found the hardest to measure. The results were as follows:

measuring content

According to the results of this poll, content marketing and social media are the top activities agencies and consultants find most difficult to evaluate. We asked our webinar speakers for their opinion on these results. Sean Clark offered guidance for those who endeavour to measure the impact of content on their website:

“You should have it categorised so you can easily identify it — and then you can easily, segment it within your analytics. You can look at page value, time on site and, depending what your objective is, leads, click-through or bounce rate.”

For off-site content promoted via social media, however, Sean acknowledged there are still challenges: “I think a lot of agencies are scared to measure stuff like that, because it takes a long time for it to take hold and to get any returns. I think part of that is being unsure if you really want to show the client they’re not getting any sales off their content”.

Tamara Baranova was more positive about measuring the effectiveness of social media content, she suggested:

“Hootsuite is one of those tools that provides reporting across several social media platforms, so it’s easy to see how your social media content is improving your results”.

The best tools for digital measurement?

While there is an abundance of digital marketing tools available online, during the course of our webinar we asked our panellists to tells us their preferred tools. Here’s what they recommended:

Research: Facebook Audience Insights and MOZ

SEO: MOZ (also good for competitive analysis)

Website: Google Analytics, AdWords and Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools)

Social media analytics: Social network’s own analytics/ insights packages, Hootsuite or Socialbakers

Social media monitoring: Brandwatch, Engagor or Sysomos

Influencer marketing: Traackr, PeerIndex

Email: Constant Contact

Reporting: Raven Tools

What was abundantly clear from our webinar discussion and audience feedback is that measurement remains a tricky subject for marketing agencies and consultants.

Whether this is down to the sheer scale of the challenge, with scores of shifting, overlapping metrics available to us, the difficulty of meeting inflated client expectations, or a simple lack of analytical skills within the marketing profession, the importace of rising to this challenge is hard to overstate. If you can’t evaluate your client’s investment in digital marketing, at best you are doing them a grave disservice, at worst you may be negligent.

When you first take on a client you will need to make the business case for digital marketing. This is likely to involve demonstrating what good looks like, setting realistic expectations, explaining when ROI is (and isn’t) measurable and identifying a set of relevant metrics, based on the desired outcomes.

One of the most powerful take-aways from our webinar was the need for client education. Agencies and marketing consultant should always be seeking opportunities to coach their clients about measurement.

  • Ask yourself where you can be providing more value: do they understand the full range of metrics available?
  • Are they aware of how important demographic targeting is?
  • Do they know about influencer analysis and marketing?
  • Do they realise the impact their content marketing is having on their wider brand reputation?

By involving the client in the process of measurement, rather than simply sending them a monthly report, you will be helping them to develop a more sophisticated, better informed marketing strategy. This will enable you to deliver stronger results and, with luck, help us all collectively dispel the myth that measuring digital marketing is difficult.

This whitepaper is free to download and features expert guidance about how a digital marketing business should approach measurement.