Important announcement

Hello to our valued clients, colleagues and suppliers.

From all of us at Milestone-Belanova, we sincerely hope you and your families are all healthy and doing well. It is certainly a strange and unpredictable world we are now living in but hopefully we will get back to a safer, more familiar world before too long.

Until then, we have taken the Government’s advice and as from tomorrow, every member of our team will be working from home.

We are fortunate that we have a high level of communications technology in our office which will help us to continue servicing you with minimal interruptions.

Our office hours will continue to be Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and we commit to being available to assist you during these times.

Due to an error in our telephone system that our provider has not been able to fix, we have been required to set up a new phone number that allows call forwarding. We apologise with this inconvenience but ask that you now call us on 1300 788 572. Our phone lines will then still be answered by our friendly office manager, Janice Wells who will be able to divert your call to the relevant team member.

If you forget our new phone number, you will be able to find it on our email signatures, website (www.milestone-belanova.com.au) and on our telephone answering message.

As we won’t be able to partake in face to face meetings for a while, we have the following ways that you will be able to communicate with our team in addition to normal phone calls and emails:

1. Call a team member direct on Slack – please let us know if you have Slack and we will add you to our network. We will be able to share files via Slack as well as run conference calls.

2. Arrange a Skype meeting – You may find our staff on Skype by searching their email addresses.

3. Arrange a Zoom meeting. We will be able to show you how to screen share on Zoom so that we can discuss briefs or work in progress. Again, you may find our staff on Zoom via their email addresses.

If you have another preference for video conferencing such as Microsoft Teams, you can of course set up the call and we can join in.

There is no doubt that this will be a challenging time for most businesses but with some adaptions and new thinking, we hope we will all get through with as little impact on our businesses and families as possible. If there is anything we can do to assist you, please don’t hesitate to call us.

To help support our clients and all other local businesses, we are offering a complementary strategy meeting with our Director and Marketing Specialist, Barbara Ketley (via video call) to discuss your options and put a plan of attack in place. Please contact us on 1300 788 572 if you would like to arrange a video meeting to help you keep your business afloat during this tough time.

We are all in this together and wish you all the very best of luck in navigating through these difficult times.

Kind regards,

Barbara Ketley  – Director and Marketing Specialist

What is a brand?

The definition of a brand has come a long way from the days when cattle ranchers used ‘branding irons’ to identify which cattle belonged to who. A century and a half later, the definition has become significantly more complex and, unfortunately has therefore become a lot harder to understand!

To address some common misconceptions, a brand is not just your ‘brand name’ and it’s not just your ‘logo’, although both of these attributes contribute toward your brand.

Your brand is a perception; it exists inside someone’s mind. It’s how people perceive your company, products, services and experience, in both a rational and an emotive sense. ‘Branding’ is the process of defining, maintaining, strengthening or changing that perception to positively influence their buying decisions.

So why are brands important? Brands differentiate your offering, build loyalty and improve recall and recognition over your competition’s products. You can see this in the baked beans category, for example where Heinz is by far the best selling baked beans product in the UK (where they sell more baked beans than the rest of the world combined – over 1.5 million cans a day!). However, as far as the product is concerned, it has come in just third in taste testing on multiple occasions (see for example https://www.village-bakery.com/best-canned-baked-beans/) demonstrating the power of a brand over the quality of a product.

Furthermore, when people connect meaningfully with a brand, trust, loyalty and emotive engagement will increase which will build protection from negative influences such as competitive activity, pricing disadvantages and poor media exposure. Take the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall in 2016, for example. The high profile event wiped out 98% of the profits in the mobile division and dragged company profits down by 30%. However, it did little to damage Samsung’s brand loyalty. A poll later that year found that Samsung’s customers were still fiercely loyal to the brand with 91% of current Samsung users saying they would be likely to purchase another Samsung smartphone, and 92% of current users saying they would probably buy another Samsung product in general. Despite a disastrous product failure, the company was forgiven by its customers, thanks to the value of its brand.

To successfully build a brand, it must be communicated consistently across all touchpoints a company or product has with its customers. If the brand message and experience are not consistent across all touchpoints and interactions, your unique brand advantage will be diminished. Within your marketing collateral, this means consistent messaging, visual styling, tone of voice and brand personality across your proposals, brochures, website, social media, business stationery, office or shop interior, customer service style, staff uniforms, advertising and even non-marketing communications such as invoicing. Every touchpoint should tell the same story.

A well thought-out brand will effectively portray what your business stands for and what makes it unique and appealing to your customers. It expresses the qualities, strengths and personality of your business and if strategised well, it will appeal directly to your target market, drawing them in like a moth to a flame.

What is involved in developing a successful brand?

The process in creating a powerful brand involves thorough market research to profile your customers, understand their motivations, map their buying journey and substantiate why they should be attracted to your business.

A unique brand essence, or company/product DNA, can then be defined which will provide the framework for all brand communications. This is the emotional heart of your brand, combining rationale and emotive reasons to buy with the clarity of a defined and relatable personality and brand archetype. This is the core upon which your brand purpose, positioning, value proposition and other elements of your brand strategy will be built.

Ultimately, your brand strategy will be translated into brand standards including your logo, tone of voice, brand visuals and other tangible brand elements.

An investment for business growth

The typical mindset many people face when starting up a small to medium business may be to save as many pennies as possible until the profits roll in. This unfortunately means some businesses will miss the window in creating the correct foundation required for a successful and sustainable business. It may be hard to appreciate that part of your marketing budget should put aside for brand development and that taking the leap and hiring a professional to build your brand may in fact prove to be one of your most valuable investments for long term business success.

So how much does it cost to build a unique brand strategy for your business? Well, if you are BHP, the answer would be in the $millions! But for an SME, it is really an affordable proposition that should return the investment many times over in the future. If you’d like a firm quotation and proposal for your business, simply give us a call.

SOURCE:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4548674/Heinz-left-trailing-place-blind-taste-test.html
https://fortune.com/2016/11/21/galaxy-note-7-recall-samsung-brand/
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/samsung-galaxy-note-7-recall-exploding-phones-profits-a7382786.html

Changes to Mailchimp

For many years, we have advocated Mailchimp to our clients as one of the best value options for managing emarketing programs (amongst a few others we also recommend). With the free version offering a competitively high mailing volume of 2,000 subscribers, great analytics and the opportunity to customise eDMs, it has proven to be one of the best free platforms around.

However, earlier this year Mailchimp made some significant changes to its plans which have impacted both pricing and available functionality. If you are currently on a Mailchimp platform, we don’t necessarily suggest changing to an alternative provider but you should be aware of the following:

1. Every contact in your list now counts towards your contact total – this includes unsubscribes, subscribes and non-subscribes. Free accounts still allow up to 2000 contacts but to keep within this total, you should now go into your mailing lists and clean them up regularly, deleting unsubscribes and non-subscribes so they won’t be added to your total.

2. You now only get one audience (list) with the free plan. If you have maintained different lists for customers v prospects v VIPs, for example, you may now want to look at upgrading to the Essentials Plan from $14.64 a month as this level allows for 3 audiences.

3. Importantly, for most clients who have had an eNewsletter or eDM template designed by us, the free version no longer allows new templates to be custom -coded, leaving you with the only option of basic templates. If you want to take advantage of more interactive features and a better user experience, you will now have to subscribe to the Essentials Plan as a minimum.

4. Multi-step automations are no longer available unless you are on the Standard Plan or above which starts at $21.97 per month.

5. Insights and analytics have been limited to the basic level and don’t include A/B or multivariate testing.

On the positive side, Mailchimp has expanded its services recently to now offer retargeting through Google, Facebook and Instagram, enabling you to integrate your marketing campaigns within one platform. If you haven’t explored the power of retargeting, why not ask us to provide a marketing proposal for you. According to Google, combining retargeting with other advertising programs can increase your conversions by as much as 50%!

Improve your business in 2020

As we race towards the finishing line for 2019, it’s bewildering to realise just how fast the year seems to have gone! For some sectors, it was a slow start with various state and federal elections destabilising market confidence but we have been delighted to see that, for many of our clients, business is now on the rise and they are looking forward to a stronger 2020.

Despite the tough year, it has been a time of growth and improvement for many businesses; for others, it’s been a time of change and a chance to get ready to take advantage of better conditions ahead.

If your business is going through the latter, here are some simple tips for achieving growth even in slow times:

1. Look after your existing customers well – they are invaluable in both good and bad times and very costly to replace.

2. Reduce your risk by diversifying your customer base if you are reliant on too few customers.

3. Be proactive in your marketing – while your competitors are quiet, you have a great opportunity to be heard.

4. Take the time to improve your service and operations so that you are well-positioned to cope with the influx of business when the good times return.

5. Use quiet times to train your staff so that your customer service is a key competitive advantage.

6. Keep staff motivation high – show your staff they are valued as it costs a lot to replace well-trained, quality staff.

7. Keep a tight grasp on your finances – know how you are progressing, protect your cashflow and maybe pay a few extra visits to your accountant.

8. Think innovatively about the products you sell, the services you deliver and future market needs. A quiet period is a chance to think differently about your business and, as long as you research and test well, it can be time to make beneficial changes for a more sustainable future.

We’re very proud of our clients who have done so well against the odds this year – see our story below on how many of our clients who have won much coveted awards, for example! If you are looking to take advantage of improved market conditions in 2020, come and have a chat with our Director, Barbara Ketley. She has worked on growing hundreds of brands across a diverse range of sectors for over 25 years and would be delighted to help you to jump-start your business growth for the new year!

Instagram. A modern marketer’s toolbox

Instagram

By now we should all be familiar with social media giant, Facebook and you’ve no doubt discovered what a beneficial tool it can be to effectively market your business…but have you familiarised yourself with Instagram for business as yet? If not, you should know this.

Instagram, officially owned by Facebook, is now an extremely popular channel that is one of the best social media platforms for business in 2019. With approximately 9,000,000 monthly users in Australia, it sits behind just behind Facebook and YouTube as Australia’s 3rd most popular platform and can provide some powerful benefits for your business.

Instagram is constantly evolving whilst taking the title as the perfect modern marketer’s business toolbox, with new features being introduced to get the right amount of exposure and interaction with your target market. For example, it now allows you to tell your brand’s story with unique and engaging visual content.

Is Instagram the perfect tool for your business? When you look at the recent 2019 user demographic results, the profile breakdown is as follows:

Who is using Instagram?

Gender: 39% Female and 30% male

Age: 64% 18-29 yrs, 40% 30-49 yrs, 21% 50-64 and 10% 65+yrs

Location: 42% Urban Residents, 34% Suburban Residents and 25% Rural Residents

Income: 42% of people on 30K-40,999K, 30% of people on 50K-$74,999 and 42% of people on 75k+

Once you’ve determined whether Instagram is the right tool to target your ideal demographic, there are other factors to consider. For example, the right hashtags to include, the best day of the week to post and the right time of day to ensure your audience is online to instantly view your content.

When to post is heavily influenced by the habits of your target market and you can discover when they are most active on the platform by utilising the very handy tool, Instagram Analytics. Looking at Instagram Analytics will help you understand how the platform is operating as part of your overall marketing strategy.

If you’re not evaluating your Instagram Analytics on a regular basis, then you could be:

Targeting the wrong audience.

Posting too frequently (or not frequently enough).

Driving irrelevant visitors to your website.

Posting during non-optimal hours of the day or days of the week.

Missing opportunities for brand engagement in your comments or stories.

If this all sounds a little complicated and time consuming the good news is you can always engage a professional social media strategist to help get it right or try utilising an analytics site such as:

Hootsuite

Squarelovin

Socialbakers

SocialRank

With regard to hashtags, we find this is somewhat of a grey area for some of our clients. But to those who choose to avoid them like the plague, we can’t stress enough how beneficial hashtags are to help you widen the spread of your posts. Recent research has found that posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than those without. More specifically, other research has found that the optimum number of hashtags on Instagram is 9 per post but don’t follow this number blindly – some posts will warrant less. The key to Instagram hashtag usage is to include plenty of relevant hashtags that will help your fellow Instagrammers. If you use unrelated hashtags, you are spamming the system and placing yourself in danger of receiving an Instagram ban.

So how do you find out what the best hashtags are to use? Well, firstly you can use Instagram’s search bar (ie the Explore feature). If you select the Tags tab, Instagram will generate a list of hashtags that are associated with that keyword and also show you how popular they are based on the number of posts with those tags. To stand out more, you may also want to consider using hashtags that are more specific to the content you are posting or niche hashtags that are referred to as ‘related’ hashtags on Instagram.

Perhaps also look at what your competitors are using and try to find something different so you’re not competing in the same space. Or look at what the influencers in your industry are using and learn from them – if a hashtag is working for them, it may be worth trialing.

If you need more advice about how to get your head around the forever changing, forever evolving world of social media marketing, please do not hesitate to drop us a line here at Milestone-Belanova.

To engage with us on Instagram and take the opportunity to view our recent projects and news, whilst getting to know us behind the scenes click, on the link below. We look forward to meeting you there!

https://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics-australia-september-2019/

https://trackmaven.com/blog/how-to-use-hashtags/

 

 

Welcome to the New Year!

Where did 2018 go? It definitely seemed to speed by and all of a sudden we are into February 2019 with a fresh canvas for another exciting year!

For us, 2018 was a year when we put a lot of focus into training and rewarding our staff to increase engagement and to bring new, talented team members on board, including an office puppy named Archie! We were fortunate to work with a wonderful HR consultant, Jo Hanlon of Mind Your P’s throughout our employee program and were very proud to ultimately win the Employer of Choice Award at the 2018 Central Coast Business Chamber Awards!

This year, our focus is on revitalising our customer service and ensuring all aspects of our business are customer-centric. To help us in this process, we have engaged business consultant Mark Cleary of The Big Paddle. Mark has been contacting a diverse selection of our current clients to confidentially gather feedback on what we are delivering and what our customers really want. Many thanks to our clients who are taking part in this process! If you haven’t been contacted but would like to provide your feedback to us, please let us know. We would welcome all feedback and ideas in our quest to become better at delivering outstanding service to our clients.

If you’ve come back invigorated after the Christmas break and are excited about strengthening and growing your business, we may be able to help! Certainly we’d love the chance to hear your story and offer constructive feedback and ideas on your marketing strategy and implementation. Just let us know if you would like an obligation-free meeting to discuss.

We have been very lucky over the last year to have worked with some exceptional clients on some amazing projects. We have showcased a few of these projects in this newsletter including websites, television commercials, branding and marketing projects. In addition, we have shared important information on changes to WordPress, social media strategies, web and design trends for 2019, useful facts on SEO, a guide to today’s consumer buying process and highlights of Infusionsoft as a powerful CRM.

We hope you find our content both interesting and useful!

Kind regards and best wishes for a hugely successful 2019,

Barbara Ketley and the Milestone-Belanova team.

Complete Your Customer Journey with Infusionsoft

Do you make the most of every touchpoint your prospects or customers have into your organisation? We have recently been working in conjunction with Infusionsoft to build a complete digital customer communications program for one of our clients, mapping their customer journey from start to finish. Infusionsoft is an all-in-one sales and marketing tool which allows businesses to manage everything from a customer enquiry through a business’ website to post-sale customer surveys. It also allows a business to manage marketing, leads, payments and coupons as well as create automated campaigns and provide real-time customer updates for sales, all from the one convenient platform.

Infusionsoft is capable of managing every aspect of the customer journey to ensure that your customers are given the best service possible. Importantly, it allows you to optimise every opportunity to convert, upsell and build relationships with your customers.

You can use Infusionsoft to obtain more information on your customers for segmentation, get more likes on social media, send tailored content and promotions, encourage signups to eNewsletters, cross-sell relevant products and services, provide and follow up quotes, conduct surveys and more.

If you want to know how Infusionsoft can benefit your business, we have a fully trained Infusionsoft expert here at Milestone-Belanova to help you make the most of your customer journey. Contact us today and ask for an appointment with Karl to see how Infusionsoft can help your business!

Your Guide to Social Media in 2019

Social media is more popular than ever and remains a crucial tool at your disposal when advertising your business. Here is a snapshot of the trends dominating social media in 2019.

Live video is continuing to increase in popularity amongst social media users. It encourages engagement between the business and the customer which can make customers feel more involved with the content and the company.

The majority of social media users are using their mobile phones to access content. This has led to vertical videos and images seeing a dramatic increase in popularity in recent years as viewers are wanting more content suited to the native orientation of their phone screens.

Shoppable posts have become a highly effective way for businesses to promote their products to their viewers. Instagram allows businesses to create shoppable posts and stories, which provide links to products posted on Instagram. Snapchat has also adopted this trend, partnering with Amazon to allow users to scan the barcode of a product in Snapchat and have the item displayed on Amazon to review or purchase.

Facebook has changed its algorithm to favour content that generates conversation with its users and reduced the amount of organic posts that users will see. This has made community engagement more important than ever in order for businesses to reach the maximum number of users possible. Content which encourages users to be involved with the company will see a higher reach than those that are not engaging with the users. Posting user generated content is one way businesses can become more engaging with their audience.

Augmented reality is becoming increasingly popular as users want to virtually try before they buy products. Being able to see that pair of sunnies you want on, or that sofa you want to see in your room before you buy, is a big deal for many users. Facebook has recognised this and has been investing greatly in augmented reality in order to become the market leader in this area. It also generates engagement between the business and users which can boost your posts reach. Although the significant cost of developing augmented reality tools places them far out of reach of many businesses at the moment, the cost is always falling, so it is an important feature to keep an eye on.

Introducing the Non-linear Consumer Buying Process of Today

The introduction of the internet has revolutionised how consumers make decisions when purchasing an item. Consumers no longer follow a linear path of seeing an advertisement for a product, contacting the seller, getting a quote and deciding whether they are going to purchase the product or not. Today’s buying process is a lot more complicated and non-linear. It involves consumers sourcing information on the internet from a vast array of locations before making an educated decision as to whether they wish to purchase the product or not. Research has shown that up to 67 percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews, with nearly one third of consumers rating online reviews as very important or higher.

Social media is one of the most dominant sources consumers turn to when researching a product. Studies have shown that as much as 83 percent of consumers discover brands, products and services through the use of social media, and 55 percent of consumers trust reviews they read on social media. Facebook is a key area where reviews can influence whether a consumer will purchase a product or not. Consumers are able to post reviews of a business on the business’ page or ‘Place’, or comment on any post for a product with their review. All of these reviews are easy to locate for anyone wanting to know more about a company or their product.

Video is another avenue consumers are looking towards today to get an informed opinion on a product before deciding whether to purchase it or not. Today, one third of activity on the internet is spent watching videos, and it is predicted that by 2020, 82 percent of all web consumer traffic will be video. Studies have also found that two thirds of consumers looking for online reviews on a product will look at videos, and consumers who do view videos on a product are 1.81 times more likely to purchase the product than consumers who do not view videos on the product.

Of course, you can’t talk about online reviews without mentioning review services such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and Amazon, all of which have dedicated channels for consumers to review products, services and businesses. These three services are just a few of the many services which offer reviews on products, but their impact on consumers should not be understated. Research has shown that 90 percent of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and nearly 60 percent of consumers will decide to not buy a product after viewing between one and three negative reviews about the product or service in question.

Regardless of where a consumer sources their information, it is clear that the reputation of the product or service in question is more crucial than ever in order for a consumer to purchase it. The introduction of the internet has meant that consumer opinions are now more highly regarded and easily accessible than ever before.

SEO Won’t be Dying Anytime Soon – Here’s Why

There have been many proponents over the years who have claimed that SEO is either dead, dying or ineffective. What these proponents fail to consider is the everchanging nature of SEO as it is developed. What may have been considered effective a year ago may not provide the same results today. Google is the major driving force in the evolution of SEO as it constantly reviews and makes changes to the algorithm used to determine which websites get the top spot in web searches.

The change in effective SEO over the years has been dramatic to say the least. In the early 2000s, link spamming was an effective way to help your website rank highly in web searches. The quality of the link did not matter, which led to many websites creating links back to the home page in order to increase the websites ranking. Today, spamming your website with unhelpful links severely damages the ranking of your website.

The evolution of SEO can most easily be seen with changes Google introduced in 2014, which meant that well-optimised websites were given a significantly higher ranking than poorly-optimised websites, and more recently in 2018, where Google made changes which made websites that are optimised for mobile viewing rank higher than those that are not.

SEO has arguably become more prevalent than ever before, with social media platforms such as Facebook using detailed algorithms to determine which pages get the top result in searches. This can be the defining factor in whether you, or your competitor, are featured in the top spot for searches on your industry.

So, here’s a quick guide to maximise your SEO today:

  1. Optimise your website for mobile viewing – since 2018, Google has given greater weight to websites which have a good mobile site than those that have a good desktop site. The speed pages load at, how user friendly the navigation is and the size of the buttons are some of the considerations Google uses to rank websites.
  2. Optimise the loading time for your website’s pages – Google considers the loading speed of website pages more important than ever when ranking websites.
  3. Optimise content to be suitable for featured snippets – featured snippets are the text boxes Google places at the top of a search page with a paragraph of information on the topic being searched. They are typically used when users have Googled a question, extracting information from the selected website to provide the desired answer to the question. You can optimise your content towards being featured in snippets by anticipating what questions users may ask and tailoring your content to provide a brief 40-60 word answer to the question.
  4. Update your website to HTTPS security – in July 2018, Google introduced an update which makes websites with HTTP rank lower than those which have HTTPS.
  5. Optimise your content for voice searches – with the increase in popularity of voice searches through home automation devices such as Google Home, optimising your content for voice searches can mean the difference between your content being viewed or not. This can be achieved by tailoring content to reflecting how a person would speak out a question, similar to how featured snippets are optimised.

If you would like a complimentary SEO report run on your website to identify any issues, please give us a call.