CIM South East Region Unsung Hero Award 2020

Well done to Evolve’s founding Director, Sharon French, for (jointly) winning the CIM South East Region Unsung Hero Award 2020 – sound recognition of her ongoing voluntary contribution to the local marketing community.

‘….Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) announced the winners of their annual regional Volunteer of the Year Awards. Local business owners, Sharon French from Towcester and Justin Willett from Buckingham, have been jointly named as the 2020 Unsung Hero of the Year for the South East region. This win is driven by Sharon and Justin’s enthusiastic delivery of the CIM South East’s events strategy, which has seen the delivery of a bespoke events programme for the #MiltonKeynes and #Buckingham area since they took over the group’s leadership in 2011.

As volunteers, they have worked tirelessly alongside their day jobs to deliver quarterly marketing events which have provided engagement, networking and learning opportunities for the broader North Buckinghamshire marketing community.

Sharon French, Director at Evolve Marketing says’ ‘A lovely surprise – it’s fantastic to have our behind the scenes efforts recognised by this award.’

To find out more about the CIM events in Milton Keynes visit the events page at https://www.cim.co.uk/events/

Free B2B Website Review

B2B website review serviceYour website is the key to your marketing success. It needs to be found, load quickly, be mobile-friendly, engender trust, generate enquiries and help to build sales.

Find out if your organisation’s website could be more effective with our popular B2B website review. Our expert analysis of your website will give you a good starting point to:

  • assess where your organisation is in terms of its digital marketing journey
  • compare your offering to 3 online competitors
  • identifies specific actions you need to take improve the performance of your website
  • generally, improve your digital marketing so you can drive more traffic to your site with the ultimate goal of converting these visitors into sales.

This free, no-obligation website review looks at the brand consistency, website content, user journey, call to actions, links, trust indicators and keyword focus.

To find out more or claim your website review click here or call Sharon on 01327 810003

Covid-19 – situation update

These are challenging times, and here at Evolve Marketing, we are carefully monitoring the ongoing development of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Our business is open and running, as usual, delivering marketing services. However, for the foreseeable future, all work events and face-to-face meetings have been postponed until the situation improves.

Our focus is to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees and maintain service continuity to our clients. Our continuity plans are under regular review to mitigate against possible disruptions over the coming weeks as much as possible.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss any issue raised, please do get in touch.

Schema Markup for B2B… is it time to talk Google’s language?

Schema markup has been in the news a lot recently. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s a quick overview to help you decide whether you should start talking the language search engines understand – by adding schema markup to your B2B website.

 

What is Schema Markup?

schema markup originsSchema markup, or structured data, is code you put on your website which tells search engines what your data means, not just what it says.

It’s like a rulebook on the vocabulary to use to be understood by search engines. It uses 800 definitions, 20 properties and numerous extensions to try to make data elements on websites as unambiguous as possible for search engines.

It is a collaborative effort, born in 2011, by among others Google, Yahoo, Yandex and Microsoft. They wanted to develop a universal language to enable search engines to display helpful information to their users. The website schema.org details this de-facto standard for defining things on the web.

 

Why add Schema Markup or Structured Data to your website?

Even though the use of structured data is not a Google ranking factor, it is important for SEO because it enables search engines to deliver better, more specific, and more relevant results to searchers thus generating more eyes on your site (click-throughs) with searchers staying longer (lower bounce rate).

And although at first glance it may seem to be more useful for the B2C market with elements like videos, recipes, jobs and products which dovetail nicely into their website content, a closer look will reveal lots of scope for B2B organisations to also use schema markup.

 

Schema Markup and Rich Snippets

A rich snippet is a Google feature which is an organic search result that is enhanced by schema mark up. A rich snippet is a listing that has extra ‘details’ that enhance a research result. Google currently has 27 different structured data features (or rich results). These features bring your results to life and show up in search as images, stars, and other attractive information that can both help the user find what they’re looking for, and increase their engagement with that content.

Certain queries and content types like videos, FAQs and reviews are a no brainer when deciding whether to implement schema markup. If you want to be found online, you pretty much have to have schema markup. Why? Because rich results take up so much SERP real estate, especially on smaller screens. Examples of rich snippets you may use on a B2B site include:

  • Ratings: Assuming your ratings are positive, this is a great feature for B2B organisations to improve click-throughs and differentiate from competitors. Valid ratings and reviews are eligible for a rich snippet usually in the form of gold stars and sometimes summary info.
  • Articles: you need article schema markup on your news or blog pages if you want to feature in the Top Stories carousel. Also, this markup will enhance your appearance in SERP, so your listing is more impactful.
  • FAQs: a favourite of mine FAQ rich results is relatively new, but it is useful, especially for B2B organisations. It enables answers to your customers’ common questions to come directly from search.
  • Videos: Schema markup not only helps Google understand what your video is about but also helps you rank for and show up for keywords that result in these special video search results.

Another reason to consider using rich snippets that Google uses them to provide search results for voice queries.

 

What is the best format for your Schema Markup?

In case you are wondering there are three supported formats for Schema Markup: JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa.

But really for non-developers JSON-LD is the one to use. It’s Google’s recommended format and can be added or removed relatively easily by non-developers. It can easily be added into pages via Google Tag Manager or plug-ins. Unlike Microdata and RDFa which must be added by a developer.

Where to start with Schema Markup?

Your starting point for adding schema markup to your site should first be to identify which schema.org type and properties are relevant to your website content. See the directory of available options on Schema.org.

Then for non-coder beginners with simple needs, the easiest way to start to add the relevant code is to either get a plug-in or to do it yourself.  For those that want to have a go themselves, check out Google’s structured data markup helper tool. It will help you create the code for you to then copy and paste onto your site (using Google Tag Manager is probably easiest).  Start with the basics and build it up as you go along.

Using these markup templates, you can update the relevant details/info from your business or website.

Next step is to test your code. Google also has a free, useful testing tool – Google’s Structured Data Tool. Pop in the URL, and it’ll highlights any code errors (missing Google required properties) to amend and warnings (missing Google recommended properties). Do note that warnings can’t always be fixed. Sometimes there are attributes available in a particular schema that won’t apply which is okay. Consider them a way to identify additional areas that are available, but they may not be applicable or relevant. Errors, on the other hand, should be remedied.

 

So, to conclude yes or no…

Yes, if you want a way to ‘spoon-feed’ information from your site in a consistent way so Google can interpret it correctly.

And yes use rich snippets if, as a B2B organisation, you want to take advantage of the early mover advantage (currently less than 40% of websites are using schema markup) and enhance your search results listing, so it stands out and gives searchers a better understanding of what they are going to get when they click through to your website.

So yes, add schema markup or structured data to your B2B website even though it isn’t technically a ranking factor, as it helps to improve click-through rates and reduce bounce rates.

 

To discuss any points raised in this article or to find how you can add schema markup to your site call, Sharon, on 01327 810003 or complete the form on the contact page.

Evolve Marketing’s 14th Anniversary

We are delighted to be celebrating our 14th anniversary this month. We have certainly come a long way since we opened our doors in 2006.

We are excited about the future and being able to help our manufacturing and professional services clients develop and grow their businesses during 2020 and beyond.  As the digital world and marketing continue to evolve rapidly, we are well placed to ensure our clients benefit from more direct ways to engage with their prospects and customers.

We would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to our all our wonderful clients, partners, staff, suppliers, friends and family for their ongoing support – much of what we do it a team effort and your input is much very appreciated.

 

The Drum Accredited Again!

 

The Drum accredited-jul-2020Here at Evolve we are delighted to announce that once again we’ve retained our place on The Drum’s recommended agency register (formerly called RAR) until July 2020.

This makes it 5 years in a row! Our inclusion on the register demonstrates our ongoing commitment to customer care and service excellence, as well as our marketing expertise at a both a strategic and tactical level in the B2B professional services arena.

We have been highly rated by our clients for our services in the following areas: B2B Brand Strategy, Content Marketing, Website Development, Copywriting and Social Media Content

RAR until 2020

 

To find our more about our expert marketing services and how we can help your organisation, please call us on 01327 810003 or contact us via our website.

Thinking about a Brand Refresh? Here are some Brand Refresh pointers…

Spring is often a popular time for organisations to consider a brand refresh so their offering looks up-to-date and professional. After all a well-branded business not only attracts more prospects with less effort but also helps fuel self-confidence.

While a brand refresh can really be the equivalent of giving your company a fresh lick of paint, for example a new set of branded images or new corporate brochure. It can also provide a useful opportunity to look at the key elements that make up the foundation of your brand. So, check out our handy pointers below to make the most of your next brand refresh.

 

Brand Refresh Pointers…

So, to ensure that your efforts remain effective and relevant, we suggest as part of your brand refresh you also take time to look at the following:

  • Assess your competitors. Are there new players in the market? Have your existing competitors evolved their offering? And importantly when your company or service is not chosen, who or what is and why is it perceived a better choice?
  • Revisit your target market. Have their needs changed and are you still offering them what they need? Have new customer segments emerged?
  • What’s your story? Are your differentiators positioned, verbally and visually, in a compelling way? Do all your internal stakeholders know how to represent the brand? Is this positioning enforced and reinforced?
  • Brand touchpoint review. Does your brand cascade consistently through every stakeholder touchpoint? Is it consistent with your core brand identity?
  • Marketing channels. Are the channels you use to deliver your brand messages still relevant? Are you where your prospects are?

 

In conclusion…

If you are considering a brand refresh, talk to the brand refresh experts we can help with all your brand requirements.  Call us on 01327 810003 or online via contact us page

Key Learnings from BrightonSEO

It was great to get fresh insights and learnings from BrightonSEO last week. A key take-away for us was the reaffirmation that search is still at the heart of the purchase journey with the emphasis now more than ever on the user in terms of relevancy, speed and device.

This user focus resonated with us at a strategic marketing level, and we found the discussions around speed and website load times particularly useful. As this is an issue we have been grappling with as we try to get to grips with the changing #mobilefirst search landscape.

Phew… it’s Not Just Us

And it is reassuring to know that we aren’t the only ones struggling with site loading speed across the UK. This 2018 research from Google shows that on average UK sites are still fairly slow with none of the sectors hitting the Google 3 second best practice load time recommendation.

UK Google Average Sector Speed Index 2018

The Finance and Media sectors, at 5.1 and 5.5 seconds respectively, are the closest to best practice but still have a way to go. And ironically the Technology lags at 6.8 seconds.

 

Speed Perception…

This is a useful idea to help reduce the bounce rate and enhance the user experience above the fold. It advocates that the actual load-time isn’t as important as what a user perceives the load time to be.  The priority is to give a great first impression.

Whether you adopt a progressive enhancement versus a graceful degradation approach, the important thing is that the elements (text, form, video or image) that brought the user to the page in the first instance are visible above the fold and thus give a good experience. Remembering of cause that above-the-fold may look very different on different devices, so research is needed.

 

Image Optimisation…

A key area for improving speed continues to be image optimisation. The painfully tricky act of balancing form and function with speed savings is a real struggle. And as a brand guardian having to sacrifice online image crispness to speed still makes me slightly queasy.

There were many examples and suggestions to enhance speed but the key one that we’ll be investigating further are newer image file formats, in particular, WebP and Progressive Jpegs.

Take the Test…

There are a lot of different site speed tests available, with a few new ones being touted on Friday, but our current favourite is Lighthouse from Google. It is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages and provides a practical, digestible report with recommendations based on the following areas:

  •          Web Performance (Site Speed)
  •          Progressive Web App (PWA)
  •          Accessibility
  •          Best Practices
  •          Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

So get started and take test.

In Conclusion

Another worthwhile day out at BrightonSEO! Given that SEO is a slow, granular, fairly silo’ed activity in the marketing mix with blurry ‘rules’ and a slowly shifting landscape (unless it’s ‘de-indexing week’ at Google 😊) the networking and learning opportunity that this conference provides is a welcome boon.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article do call me on 0132 810003 or contact us.

How to select the best keywords for your B2B website

In a world of finite resources and constrained budgets, keyword research is a useful starting point to focus your B2B content creation efforts. It helps to ensure that you create relevant content that addresses the issues that matter to your prospects and drive traffic to your site.

First a gentle reminder….

Before I dive into the ‘How to’ I just need to restate the fact that if the search terms that your prospects are googling are NOT on your website, then your website will NOT appear in Google’s organic search results. This means how YOU describe your service or offering is irrelevant. Instead, what your prospective clients call it, and thus what they search for, is key. For example, your ‘CX Learning Burst’ is all well and good but if your prospective clients are looking for a ‘customer experience training course’ your page won’t rank in their search even if what you are offering is exactly what they want.

So, matching your website content to what your prospective customers are searching is key. With this in mind it would make sense to create webpages based on keyword research rather than what you think sounds good.

 

Step 1: Keyword research

Focus list of Keywords

Identify your ‘kernel’ keywords i.e. the ones that broadly define your offering. Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes and think of what words they may use to search for your product or service. If you have multiple offerings go through your website and sub-divide sections into broad topics. Then identify a few ‘kernel’ keywords for each topic. They will be the central tenets of your future keyword infrastructure.

Then see which of your website pages appears for which search term and how many click throughs you are getting to these pages – check Google Console for this information. For each keyword, you can see what the monthly impressions it gets, how many clicks you are getting and what your average position is. From this create a shortlist of keywords you want to focus on and start building website content around these keywords.

So, how else can you find out which keywords your audience are searching for?

A good starting point is in Google Ads, the tools section has the popular Keyword Planner which can help you discover new keywords. Enter your kernel words and hit the Search button and it’ll suggest associated keywords. It gives reliable search volumes i.e. shows how many people are searching for it in an average month plus suggests related keywords, and shows the level of competition in Google Ads for any given keyword. You do need to be running a Google Ads campaign to use Keyword Planner.

Supplement this with Answer the Public a useful free tool which also provides related keywords for any given topic, focusing on questions and prepositions.

And take a look at Autocomplete tools like the ones on Amazon, YouTube or Google. They are useful at providing insight into what people type while searching for info or products and services related to your offering.

Also take a look at the section called “Searches related to…” on Google at the bottom of the page. It can also be useful to find alternative keywords for your list.

Other sources could include your competitors and brainstorming with your key stakeholders

Long-tail keywords

The longer and more specific the keywords are, the higher your chances of ranking for this keyword because there is less competition. Of course, this also means that the search volume for this keyword decreases. Ignore the natural inclination to choose keywords with the highest search volume. These are usually the most competitive so unless you are a market leader with big budgets and a high Domain Authority, you are probably aiming too high.

Instead focus on ‘key phrases’ or ‘long-tail keywords’ which are longer and more specific than the most popular keywords as they are much easier to rank for. See the Google Keyword Planner tool to assess how competitive a keyword is.

Remember to weed out unsuitable or unwanted keywords during this process i.e. those keywords that are least likely to bring you traffic and conversions. Such as keywords which are not unique to your offering, are too competitive or have very low search volumes.

 

Step 2: Keywords grouping and keyword mapping

Once you have your keyword list you need to group or segment your keywords before you can use them to optimise your content and stand out from the competition.

There will undoubtedly be some overlap in the keywords you want to target. So, group keywords and key phrases into “keyword clusters” before assigning a cluster to a particular page.

There are various criteria to group them you can use; these groupings tend to work for us as B2B marketers.

  • Volume and level of competition
  • Semantics (meanings of words)
  • Search intent (where are they at in the buying cycle i.e. are, they still at the gathering information phase, or are they investigating options, or ready to buy)

User Intent Examples

Once you have segmented your list build a keyword map, so you can assign keywords to specific pages of your site. Thus, ensuring your landing pages rank for right keywords.

Suggest assigning more competitive keywords to ‘stronger’ pages like your homepage or section hubs. Buying or transactional keywords should have landing pages that allow customers and prospects to take action (for example buy, register, subscribe etc).

 

Step 3: Start using keywords on your website

Now that you have created a list of the best B2B Keywords for your website, the fun starts.

Begin by drawing up a content plan. Use your new keyword list to devise a plan that states the aim and objectives of your content creation programme detailing a schedule of when the various elements will be developed and what measurement tools, you will use to track the progress of your new keywords (impressions, click throughs and average position).

Then you can start creating content but remember quality counts. So, invest resources in creating relevant, quality content that will appeal to your prospects and reinforce your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

Here are a few content and keyword pointers to get ahead in optimising your website…

  • Write original content and avoid duplicate content on your website. Use http://www.siteliner.com to check how much duplicate content your site has.
  • Write enough content to show Google and your prospects that you are an expert in your field, a few paragraphs about your service won’t cut it.
  • Making the intangible nature of a service tangible is what content excels at …so get cracking on case studies, FAQs, our ethos, how-we-work pages.
  •  Write with your reader in mind not Google. So, no keyword stuffing and try to use your keywords in the Title tag / H1 heading, first paragraph, sub headings, alt tags and the meta description as these placements will all help with your on-page optimisation.
  • Make your text easy to skim-read (bullet points, sub-headings, explanatory images, short paragraphs etc).

 

Good luck and if you want to discuss any of the elements raised in this article please contact us at Evolve Marketing on 01327 810003 or via our online form below.

 

  • The information you have provided above will be used to respond to your query. Submitting your details indicates acknowledgement of our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

How to make your B2B online marketing more effective

To make your B2B online marketing efforts more effective you need to keep up with what is happening in the ever-changing online world.

In the B2B context it is no longer sufficient to just have a web presence. Nowadays to be found online and then to be able to convert that interest into a meaningful brand interaction, you need to be proactive. This means whether you are paying for clicks or not you need to continually be tweaking, testing and refining your online marketing efforts.

 

Search is evolving, your content needs to as well

With regards to organic search, Google has a moving feast of over 200 ranking factors that determine where your site is listed in search results. Things like voice and local search, dynamic SERP features and mobile devices continue to feed into Google’s latest algorithm updates. All of which is basically trying to ascertain how well your site helps the customer and if it is trustworthy, has expertise and authority.

So, your search engine optimisation efforts should focus on delivering this trifecta of trust, expertise and authority via a continuous programme of engagement and improvement.  Use conversion metrics to monitor your progress.

Key trends in B2B online marketing to take note of include:

Mobile First:

In March 2018 Google started rolling out its mobile first indexing. Nicknamed Mobilegeddon by some it means that Google now uses the mobile version of a web page for indexing and ranking, to better help users find what they’re looking for.

Also, FYI research from Google shows B2B buyers are researching using mobile – and thus giving it a key role in their self-directed buyer’s journey. So, prioritise mobile, make sure your B2B content is mobile accessible and delivers a frictionless experience.

Natural Language:

Voice and local search, dynamic SERP features and mobile devices continues to feed into Google’s latest algorithm updates, making the search engine a virtual mirror of human search behaviour. This means that increasingly organic, natural language is going to perform better going forward compared to awkward keyword rich copy.

Questions and Answers:

We are also seeing content that answers questions works well. Revisit the ‘which’, ‘why’ ‘when’, ‘how’ questions your prospects may be asking and frame the answers to include the question in the opening sentence and to add value, not just to flog your product or service.

Multimedia Experiences:

The web is now a multimedia experience with audiences increasingly familiar with visual and auditory forms of content. People spend more and more time-consuming video content and podcasts. So, don’t focus just on traditional text copy. Invest in video. Generally, it ranks well in search engine results and often it’s easier to explain a concept in video rather than in text. In the B2B context product demos, new product introductions, and how-to tutorials are useful to educate and inform your prospects and customers.

Targeted Social:

The trend is for companies to focus their efforts on fewer channels so only go where your customers are – remembering that context is important too. Do they have their business hat on, or are they there to look at cat pictures? ‘Customer intent’ and context are import in determining conversion rates so, consider appropriateness of the social media channel.

Google Reviews:

In May 2018 Google removed all old reviews from anonymous profiles that did not have a profile attached to them. Initial research suggests that this has translated to roughly  3% of reviews across websites. This action highlights the ongoing issue of fake reviews that Google is trying to address by increasing the transparency of the reviewing public.

This removal of reviews should also be a reminder to business owner that you don’t own your Google reviews (or your Google My Business listing). Remember Google owns these assets, and manages them as they see fit which may not align with your interests. So it is worth using a variety of online and offline ways to collect and share reviews and testimonials.

Google Posts:

In July 2018 Google My Business added a ‘Call Now’ button to Google Posts which is good news for local business but the jury is still out on their effectiveness. They haven’t been adopted widely by agencies and business probably because you can’t schedule them and they do not integrate naturally with Google Analytics so it not easy to get any insights beyond the basics provided by Google My Business (although there is now an API out). A recent case study interestingly did show them to have a mild positive impact on ranking concluding that they are a ‘low-impact, low-effort task’. Suggesting that they should be combined with other tasks to help improve Local SEO for a small business.

 

If you would like to discuss any of the B2B online marketing points raised in this article, please contact us or call Sharon French, a Chartered Marketer and B2B marketing expert on 01327 810003.