How Small Businesses can Optimise Digital Marketing – A Recent Seminar Hosted by NovaUCD

NovaUCD courtesy of ucd.ie

Last Thursday saw the opening of NovaUCD’s doors for a seminar entitled How Small Businesses can Optimise Digital Marketing. NovaUCD is UCD Belfield’s Innovation and research centre dedicated to inspiring creative graduates, putting knowledge to work and growing and supporting new business in Ireland. This seminar was organised by the NovaUCD Client Social Media Working Group. This group is comprised of members of the various start-ups at the institute and they meet monthly to share social media strategies and experiences. The seminar was moderated by Nicole Nelson @NNelsonic  who holds BA degrees in both Anthropology and Linguistics.

The first speaker, Laurynas Binderas @tunelis , works in Marketing Operations in Talentevo – a provider of performance management software which allows employers to make better strategic decisions. His speech entitled Successful Social Media Strategies for Startups and Small Businesses was an interesting overview of the current digital marketing landscape and a great introductory piece.  The main message here was that using social media for brand awareness does not fully optimise online value creation. The model proposed by Laurynas was to first develop a social media strategy that will engage online influencers, learn audience behaviour, measure this influence, use it to dictate future strategies and above all – produce content.

Lee Kelly @leekelly works as a Digital Marketing Specialist in Tethras and holds a master’s degree in Cyberpsychology. Lee started by addressing the often overlooked area of email marketing. Comparing this format to the ‘ugly duckling’ of digital marketing, Lee produced a highly convincing argument that, through eliciting an emotive response in the customer, email marketing could double the income return of social media.  The key was finding goals which business and consumer could achieve mutually. For example – find something that the consumer is tired of, express an understanding of this frustration, position your business as the answer to this problem and then provide the consumer with a ‘call to action’ ie a sign up/download/purchase.

The second part of Lee’s lecture was about the automation of social media and the importance of consistency with a business’s online presence.  His main focus was not on ad hoc content such as blog entries or bespoke videos (although he stressed how essential these are) but on the curation of shared content. The key is consistency – not to flood the online social sphere with content at certain hours while sharing nothing at others. A valuable tool for achieving this is the Buffer app for Google Reader. This allows users to buffer content which they wish to share across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This buffered content is then automatically posted at assigned intervals throughout the coming day or week.

Next up was Abhinav Chugh @abhichugh, founder and CEO of VideoCrisp and Waybiz.com. Abhinav’s focus was on video marketing. Video is the most engaged with of all online social content – youtube being the second largest search engine after Google. Users are 4 times more likely to engage with a video than with written text when given the option – video drastically increases a site’s click-through rate.  For search engine optimisation, video is 53 times more likely to appear on Google’s first page.  When it comes to the average time spent on a site, video increases this by over 5 minutes. In terms of converting clicks to sales, visitors who view videos are 85% more likely to buy a product. Also, the information retention rate when engaging with audio-visual media is almost 95% – compared with 65% with purely visual or a paltry 10% with textual information.

Ways to get videos include Video Production Companies, Web Design or Marketing firms or utilising some of the do-it-yourself tool such as VideoCrisp, Animoto or XtraNormal – all of which are available online.  Don’t forget to know your target audience before choosing a format, though.

Garry Cleere @GarryCleere, Head of Certification Programmes ECDL Foundation Dublin, works as the Managing Director at Q-Validus and has been developing training and certification programmes for awarding bodies for more than 12 years. Garry’s lecture was on the importance of blogging and not only how it has the power to educate prospects through articulating and answering problems, but also to establish domain expertise by engaging users through content.

Finally, addressing the pitfalls of social media was Karen Reilly @cernamkaren – operations lead with Cernam, a specialist digital investigations firm with a focus on online evidence and investigations. The level of immediacy and the sheer international scope of social media is what makes it so exciting, but online trending and the possibility of going viral can work against you as well as in your favour. This was the key lesson of Karen’s speech – Customers  can comment positively or negatively, they can recommend, score, vote and refer; they can share anything they feel or experience about a product or service – good or bad. It is important to know who is in charge of updating the company facebook or twitter. Is it someone you trust or have you outsourced this responsibility to a third party? Some major marques have fallen victim to rogue status updaters who have posted inappropriate, humorous or downright obscene content in the company’s name. Employees have been fired for posting content on their own personal accounts which the company did not wish to align themselves with. Some companies, in a bid to ‘piggyback,’ generate tweets from randomly trending hash tags. Kenneth Cole, a British fashion line once tweeted “Millions in uproar in #Cairo. Rumour is they heard our new spring collection is online.”   This can be detrimental to the company’s image especially when relating to sensitive events. Also addressed by Karen is the problem of spam – no one wants to be inundated with different iterations of the same content. Keep your contact with the twitterverse exciting, unique and consistent – but avoid being overbearing.

You can follow NovaUCD on twitter via @UCDinnovation

Conor Hughes @chughesvm is a marketing executive at Vertical Markets which incorporates Life Science Recruitment and Capital Markets Executive Search

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