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Why Your Employees Need A Digital Marketing Diploma

Digital marketing incorporates some of the best ways to target and engage your audience. There are many different aspects to digital marketing; social media being one of the most important with users spending up to four hours daily on various platforms. However, there are also other digital marketing activities and elements to consider and the all important question – who manages your digital marketing endeavours.

Digital marketing is not an easy process. For every success story there is also a failure; these can cost businesses significantly.

Those companies who have a qualified digital marketing team are finding their online marketing activities highly successful and are achieving a high return on their investment. Getting the best digital marketing team does take time and each business needs a different digital marketing strategy. Employing someone new to manage your endeavours may provide benefits in the long term but it will take time for the results to be seen.

A more cost effective method could be to train a member of your current team in the principles and implementation of digital marketing. There are several benefits for this compared to hiring new employees. Here are some of the benefits you can expect for training your current employees as to hiring in someone new.

Cost Effectiveness

The average salary of a Digital Marketing Specialist is £37,500. If you were to hire in someone new for the company you can expect that their productivity would be less than 100% for the first 5-6 months. According to research, for the first three months their productivity could be less than 50%. This can be a significant drain on your financial resources.

Eric Koester of MyHighTechStart-Up estimates that the total costs of hiring a new employee is approximately one and half to three times the cost of their annual wage. Therefore, hiring a new Digital Marketing Specialist could be as high as £112,500.

Training a member of your current workforce is a significantly lower cost with diplomas costing less than £1,000. You’ll also benefit from your staff member having more productivity because they don’t have to go through the on-boarding process a new employee has to. However, there will be some productivity loss as they develop and get used to their new responsibilities.

You’ll also have a limited long term rise in costs; even if you offer your existing employee a pay rise.

Content Is Instantly In The Brand’s Voice

It takes time for a new employee to gain an understanding and appreciation for your brand’s voice. When they start working within your company it is likely the content they develop will lack the experience to portray your brand’s identity.

On the other hand; those who have been with your business for a long time understand the business’ personality intimately. Therefore, they are able to maintain the relationship with your audience better by producing a consistent brand message. This will build trust between you and your audience which is very important in digital marketing for processing new leads and converting them into paying customers.

Current Employees Know What Makes Your Customers Tick

Some of the most profitable online marketing avenues are blogs, social media and email. Creating content for these avenues is very easy; creating content your audience will want to engage with is very difficult.

Whatever method you use to attract your target audience you are likely to rely on keywords and terms. To get the terms right you are going to need to know what your audience are actively searching for.

The majority of internet users don’t search for products directly but rather solutions to problems they are experiencing. For instance: how to fill in a tax form, how to employ a new member of staff, etc. To get the most out of your digital marketing, you need to identify and create content to match this.

A new employee might not have worked in your industry before and therefore will have little understanding about the current needs or problems your customers experience. A new employee would need time to get to know your audience, in order to create the ideal content.

In contrast, an existing employee has interacted with your customers for a long time. Through previous contact, your current staff members will know exactly what the common questions your core audience ask and they are likely to know how to solve them. They can put this to good use in their content and create material which is more tempting for your target audience and yield better results.

Improves Staff Morale

Improving staff morale is beneficial for retention and productivity. One of the best ways of achieving this is to offer your staff opportunities for skill development. The fourth most desired skill in 2013 was digital and online marketing.

Giving your employees these skills will increase their morale, giving you higher productivity and decreasing the likelihood they will leave your organisation.

Digital Marketing Improves Soft Skills

There are many different skills required for digital marketing; not all of these are exclusive to the marketing. Training your staff in this discipline allows you give them a new responsibility and improve their proficiency in other areas of your business.

Here is a list of some of the key soft skills your staff can improve in when they have taken a course in digital marketing:

Communication skills are one of the key requirements employers look for in their staff. Digital marketing is all about delivering the right message to your key audience. By learning the skills and process to talk to your customers, they are also learning the skills to develop better communications with your management team and their peers. Better communications will lead to less confusion and errors being made. This will create a business which is more cost effective.

Writing and editing skills are not often thought of as being a core skill, but more jobs in the current market require staff to complete at least some paperwork. When mistakes are made on paperwork it can be costly for your business. An example of this would the inaccuracies of measurements on the paperwork which cost a French rail network £12.1 billion. An important aspect of digital marketing is ensuring that marketing materials released are free from errors. Digital marketing is another method to train your staff in getting their written work accurate. It can also improve the speed in which they are able to write and edit.

Budgeting is an important skill for any member of your team. Most forms of digital marketing require strong budgeting skills. Pay-per-click is one digital marketing avenue requiring budgeting skills. Daily budget needs to be set and distributed to return the most effective results. If they can learn the necessary skills during their digital marketing diploma they can then employ these in other areas of your business. This will help cut costs and give you better profit margins.

Time management is always difficult; however an individual who manages digital marketing needs to be aware of exactly how long they have to spend on each task. Spending too much time on one task (i.e. social media) is very easy but can be very inefficient and drive costs up. Staff properly trained can learn how to manage their time more effectively and increase their productivity. This can then be implemented in other areas of your business. A more productive workforce will return higher revenues and better profits.

Resourcefulness and creativity are skills required for successful digital marketing. They can also support other business activities. There will be times in your business when you have problems you’ve not experienced before. Traditional and normal crisis management solution might not be able to solve the problem. Having someone who is creative and resourceful can aid your business’ management team to develop solutions for your problems.

Conclusion

Digital marketing is one of the most effective ways for your business to acquire new customers and generate leads and sales. However, it is not an easy process and you need a fully qualified team in order to gain substantial returns on your investment.

Hiring a new employee might seem like a good option but they are likely to cost your business significantly in the hiring process and during their on-boarding process. There would also be concerns they would not be able to match your brand’s voice quick enough and as they continue to create your brand content; your audience may look elsewhere.

However, training your staff to manage your digital marketing activities can be highly successful and not just for your marketing efforts. They can instantly give you a return, speak in your brand’s voice and know exactly what your customers are looking for. They’ll also be more willing to stay with your brand and have a higher productivity as you show your commitment to their professional development.

Finally, the skills that they will learn during a digital marketing diploma can be transferred to other areas of the business. This will make your business sleeker; save you money and improve your profits.

Download a copy of the Diploma in Digital Marketing syllabus or read more about how your business could benefit from enhancing  your teams digital skills through studying a professional marketing qualifications such as the Diploma in Digital Marketing which is accredited by The Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Feel free to air your views and join the discussion below.

Business Consort Launches Online Summer School

Master Online Marketing in less than 60 minutes

How many times have you registered for a webinar – never to attend? 

Well if you are anything like us then it happens a lot – Our best intentions seem to go out the window as we get swept up in a client meeting or something more important crops up.

So we decided to help out busy professionals who are running around like headless chickens like we are but who want to ramp up their knowledge, improve their business success and efficiency – So we have launched an Online Summer School – hosted over 5 weeks in August – and it’s free to sign-up – just register here

The webinars will be hosted by Dawn McGruer FRSA MCIM MIoD – Head Trainer & Director at Business Consort – Digital & Social Media Academy.

The great news is the webinars are only 10 minutes long every Wednesday at 11am.

You will learn about the top 10 digital skills required in business today, you will see how to revolutionise your digital marketing planning and strategy using our Dynamic Digital Marketing Model ™  designed by Dawn who has over 17 years experience working in the digital arena and much more.

We will cover all areas of Digital Marketing across 5 key topics;

  1. Search Marketing & Online Advertising
  2. Content Marketing & Digital Creativity
  3. Email Marketing  & Lead Generation
  4. Social Selling & Social Media Marketing
  5. Digital Marketing Strategy, Planning & Measurement

The webinars start on 2nd August followed by weekly LIVE online classroom sessions on 9th, 16th, 23rd through to the 30th August.

Sign up for the series of free digital marketing webinars now – just register here  

So what happens if you can’t make it? 

Don’t worry we have planned for that – As digital marketing is ever-evolving we will be taking you on a Digital Developer journey to keep you in the loop of new trends, insights and tools – once Summer School starts;

  • Welcome email with details of how to join the session & reminders
  • We will provide access to the entire webinar series through our new state of the art online learning portal
  • You will be able to network and interact with us and fellow students using our support forum too
  • Plus over the next few weeks and months you will also receive digital tips, monthly webinars as well as useful articles to keep you entertained and motivated!

Our SUMMER SCHOOL webinar series will revolutionise your online marketing –10 minutes a week every Wednesday for 5 weeks in August – What are you waiting for it will take you under 60 seconds to sign up and you can get started straight away and see the top 10 digital skills required in business marketing today!

We will be announcing our NEW Pick’n’Mix Learning Library and students will receive exclusive access at no charge with exclusive offers to add courses to their own portal as they wish so each learner has a totally tailored solution – We pride ourselves in Developing Digital Skills for Business so we have a built a Digital Marketing Skills Audit Tool with in our learning library portal allowing every student to easily identify knowledge gaps and match them with the best courses to bridge any skills gaps.

See you soon at Summer Schooljust register here 

How SEO Can Benefit Your Business

SEO report image

SEO can increase your the online awareness for your brand.
Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Up to 80% of all your traffic can be generated from search engines. The position your website has achieved on the search ranks also makes a huge difference. If your website is listed at position 10 on the first page, it can have approximately one tenth of the traffic a website listed at the top receives. This makes optimising your business website for search engines a priority.

There are many different aspects to consider when you are creating a strategy for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). It is not just what goes onto your page which counts; but how your business interacts on social media, your page load time and what links you attract online.

This guide will give you detailed information on what is SEO, how it can benefit your business and some tips.

What Is Search Engine Optimisation?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of making your website match certain criteria search engines use to rank pages. A highly optimised site will appear very high on the search results for specific terms.

Search engines have gone to great lengths to refine their ranking algorithms to determine what order pages should be displayed in. There are numerous different factors in the page rank, with Google reported to use over 200 factors in their ranking algorithms.

One of the major problems for website owners is there are various algorithms to conform to with each one relating to a different search engine. Typically it is advisable to concentrate your efforts on Google, who has the market share of approximately 65-70%. Bing is the next largest used search engine, but only has about 15-20% of the market share.

Google is regularly performing updates on their algorithms to prevent black hat SEO from manipulating their search results.

What Is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is the process where a website owner will use unethical means to obtain a better PageRank. In the past this has included using keyword stuffing and link farms. Over several updates, Google and other search engines have reduced the effect these techniques have. However, every day new black hat techniques are being implemented to manipulate the search engines.

You should never attempt to use black hat techniques for several reasons. Firstly, if caught by Google you will be penalised. This could result in your page being dropped further in the rankings than it would be if you used just white hat techniques. Alternatively, Google could remove your website from the listings completely. With so much traffic from Google and other search engines this could limit your business’ growth.

Secondly, black hat techniques tend to force your website up in irrelevant searches. This can damage your reputation online. One avenue your site could be ‘named and shamed’ on is social media. With word of mouth being such an effective marketing tool, this could damage your long-term reputation and prospects.

What Matters On SEO?

Google and other search engines keep exactly what factors are included in their ranking secret. However, there are certain elements experts know will provide a good rank. Here is a list of those factors and how best to optimise them.

Keywords: Keywords have always been a major factor in SEO and the ranking of a webpage. There are different areas where the keyword for your page needs to be inserted. Firstly it needs to be contained in the page’s title and some of any subtitles on the page. Secondly, you need to include the keyword in the page’s URL and in the meta description. For your URL, don’t use underscores to separate words. Search engines see this as a connection rather than a separator of words; instead use a hyphen.

Finally you’ll want to include the keyword within the body of your content. Creating a keyword density of between 2 and 4% is often recommended for Google. You’ll also want to use a key phrase rather than a keyword. A key phrase will give you more chance to be shown up in various search queries and more users are using long string searches than single words.

Images: While the search engine can’t tell what your image is, the tags for your images are highly important when it comes to your SEO. Ensure your keyword is in the alt description, title, caption and description of your image.

It is also best to optimise your image. There are many different tools available to do this online including WP Smush.it if you are using WordPress. This will help increase your page speed which is an important factor in search engine ranking.

Page Speed: In addition to the optimising of images there are many different things you can do to optimise your websites page speed, the time it takes to load on a browser. Optimising this will not only increase your ranking but also improve customer experiences. It is stated that if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load your site, at least 25% of your customers will abandon your site.

Some of the important aspects of page speed include:

  • Removing query strings from static resources.
  • Minifying JavaScript and CSS.
  • Leveraging browser caching.
  • Minifying HTML.

To know exactly what your website needs you can run several free tests online. The best options are Google’s Insights and GTmetrix. The latter of these options also offers a free detailed report on how you can improve your website’s speed.

Linking: This is one of the most widely known elements of SEO. To benefit you must create several inbound links from authority sites. To obtain these links create relationships and ask the website owner if you can guest post on their blog. This strategy will establish back links to your site. Don’t be determined to build too many links. If you have too many you can suffer from penalties as Google might see this as link spam.

Social Media: This is becoming a big factor when it comes to SEO. Bing uses Facebook interactions to rank sites and Google uses its own platform for the same function. Google is also reported to use Twitter to index pages faster. In addition, YouTube is an important social media platform, with videos having a high preference and prominence on Google’s search rankings. Therefore, it is very important you maintain a strong social media presence across several platforms.

Publishing record: Google likes to reward businesses who regularly publish new content. The more content you publish; the higher in the rankings your site will go. Google also considers quality of the content and is investing significantly into creating algorithms to identify the quality of the writing and usefulness of the content.

Your content should be unique and not copied. Google punishes websites with copied content severely and it can be a struggle to reclaim lost ground once this has happened.

What Is The Best Strategy?

The best strategy is always to start with the fundamentals of SEO. Your first action is to start a blog which publishes high quality content with an optimal keyword density. Include at least one image in the copy which has had its tags optimised. Aim for at least three main keywords on your site and several subsidiary ones. Think carefully about what your target audience will be searching for and use that as the basis for your keywords.

From there you can start to improve your website’s speed. Start by optimising your images so they take up the least space. The best format for images is jpeg as it takes up less memory and therefore less time to download. To help you know what areas you need to improve use the Google Insights and GTMetrix test to analyse your sites. Both indicate what components of your site you can improve for a faster load time, although GTMetrix does offer a more detailed report.

After this, seek to create some guest posts. Tweak Your Biz is a great site to contribute to if you are looking for business clients. They have a large established mailing list, social media following and are readily accepting good writers for their site. Alternatively, you might want to look further afield and ask for blogging opportunities at authority sites within your own industry.

Finally start a social media campaign. Be sure to allow visitors to share your content with their peers with social media buttons on your blog posts. This will help with the page rank. Remember each social media platform has its own unique etiquette. Follow those for the best results.

Conclusion

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an important aspect of your digital marketing campaigns. Without it you will not appear highly on search results and can lose up to 80% of your traffic. This can have serious ramifications for your revenues and profit.

Start building a quality SEO profile by mixing together the important elements that both increase the usefulness of your website’s content and the speed that content loads. If you can provide regular valuable content on a regular basis you will rank highly.

So what now? feel free to join the conversation and ask any questions or post comments about this article – We are here to help!

Plugging The Digital Skills Gap

Digital skills gap image

There is a growing demand for employees with digital skills.

A study by the Digital Marketing Institute has found 83% of those in Britain who have a marketing qualification are not proficient in digital marketing. 622 marketing professional from the British Isles were tested on 54 questions across the core competencies of digital marketing and scored on average 34% less than their international counterparts.

The study further highlighted that 83% of those who took the test would fail a qualification in digital marketing.

This lack of digital skills is set to become a major issue within Britain. According to the Science Council; by 2030 the ICT workforce will increase by 39%. Currently the demand for digital skills is not being met with O2 reporting in 2013 an additional 745,000 digitally skilled workers would be needed for the demand to be met by 2017.

The growth in tech companies continues to rise sharply. In 2013, there was a 7% rise in active companies and 27% of job growth in London is in the tech and digital sector. London is also experiencing the fastest growth of tech and digital companies and employment opportunities in Europe.

Digital skills are one of the most highly sought after by businesses. According to LinkedIn, Social media was one of the top 25 skills employers were looking for in 2013. Another was the general concept of digital and online marketing.

A further study by Capgemini rated social media as one of the top three digital skills essential to the success of a company. Recent job market analysis found there are currently 4,500 jobs in Ireland which cannot be filled because there are not enough talented individuals.

Its not just government organisations and businesses who recognise there is a skills shortage. According to surveys of those working within the digital marketing industry, only 1 in 10 feel they are suitably qualified and skilled.

What Are The Costs For A Lack Of Digital Skills?

The economic cost for businesses if the digital skills gap is not met could be significant. If the 2017 target is not met for instance, UK businesses could lose out on £2 billion annually.

In the US, it is estimated the digital skills gap is already costing their economy $1.3 trillion a year.

According to research in the US, up to 21% of a digital marketers time is wasted because their skills are inadequate. This would equate to US companies who have over 1,000 employees losing about $10 million annually from lost production. Reducing this loss of production is important because of the exponential effect it could have on brand exposure, lead generation and sales.

As the demand for the digital skills increase businesses will face another cost – raising salaries. As the number of jobs available per skilled worker increases, those qualified in digital marketing can demand higher wages. This will mean companies will have to hire lower skilled workers, move their digital work overseas (which has its own problems) or pay the higher salary demands to keep key talent.

Small to medium businesses in particular will be affected by the rise in hiring costs as they often do not have the budgets for excessively high wages.

What Can Be Done For The Digital Skills Market?

There are concerns there want be enough workers with the right digital skills.

There are concerns there want be enough workers with the right digital skills by 2017.

One of the biggest problems with the digital skills market is there are fewer computer science students graduating today than there were 10 years ago. In 2011, there were just 56,025 graduates. This was a reduction of 23.3% from 2001.

Recently the government has introduced a new computing A-level curriculum to address the skills shortage. However, the curriculum doesn’t allow for the training of the teachers to effectively instruct the students. Only 45% of current teachers in ICT have a post A level qualification in a relevant subject.

Teachers are well aware of their digital skill shortages with 60% of secondary teachers believing they do not have the ability to deliver the new curriculum. Primary school teachers are also feeling overwhelmed with the needs to teach computing skills. Currently 73% of primary school teachers think they don’t have adequate resources (including training) to effectively teach their students.

One option to solve this problem is to find digital skilled professionals who are looking to retrain as teachers. However, this in the short run is likely to cause fewer professionals to be available for work and does not address the issues of encouraging students to take this career path.

Also concentrating on the next generation of the workforce fails to consider when they enter the job market; there will be few senior level positions filled. This will cause concerns as junior members of the team will be pushed into roles with high responsibilities which they may not be ready for.

Also education is not everything. Experience is often a significant requirement within the tech sector. According to a small poll conducted by Recruiting Agency Telco Exec, 84% of hiring managers believe experience is more important than qualifications.

Another option would be for current employers to look at their staff’s skills and consider offering them training programmes to improve them. This could bring significant benefits for businesses willing to invest now into the digital marketing skill pool.

Firstly businesses can benefit immediately. Even if the first batch of students undertaking the new A level course moved onto taking a relevant degree and became fully competent, and assuming that these students were enough to meet demand – it would still take between five and seven years to fully train these students. Therefore, some of these students might not enter the jobs market until 2021.

By 2021, the demand for qualified digital marketers will have increased to approximately 834,000. When considering there are roughly only 800,000 students in any one year, it is clear to see even with a massive educational and recruitment drive it is going to take years, if not decades, for supply to catch up with demand.

However, by offering training to the current workforce businesses can instantly benefit from increasing the supply. More supply in the workforce will naturally bring down the salary of the qualified individuals and allow businesses to make further savings. This will also improve the rate of return businesses can achieve on any given marketing campaign.

Secondly businesses can benefit from having a more productive workforce. If statistics mentioned earlier are accurate, then 21% (or an entire day a week) is being lost because staff members do not have the skills required.

Businesses need to realise that by offering training now, they can gain that productivity back. Greater productivity allows businesses to claim more reward.

Thirdly businesses can avoid costly mistakes. A number of businesses have been caught out by amateurish mistakes on the part of their digital marketing team. Some of the classic mistakes which are constantly in the news include:

  • Inappropriate conversations on social media.
  • The wrong hashtag being used – like hijacking one from a disaster / strategy.
  • Not changing scheduled material when breaking news might make the content inappropriate.
  • Poor spelling and grammar.

These mistakes can be very costly to a business and many have had to spend large sums of their budget to correct mistakes or apologise.

Finally businesses can grow with their staff learning several soft skills and other talents that can be applied in other areas of the business. This can improve the business’ productivity and lower the amount of work which has to be redone.

Conclusion

There is a crisis developing on the number of qualified digital workers. The demand for this sector is set to rise significantly over the next decade and beyond with London and the South East of England being a particular focus in Europe.

By 2017, there will be a need for three quarters of a million extra digital skilled workers. By 2030 this could rise to 1 million. With the number of qualified entrants to the market currently decreasing each year it will be difficult for businesses to be able to source enough new hires to be successful.

There is also a significant gap in the needs of the businesses and the education of previous generations. Only in September 2014 did the UK school curriculum take into account the needs of the digital industry and studies align with those needs. Yet teachers feel poorly prepared for the new curriculum and the students from this year’s A level intake might not be ready to enter the job market until 2019 at the earliest and possibly as late as 2021.

On the other hand, businesses can immediately start to increase the number of available skilled workers in the current market by training their own staff. There are ample services available offering digital skills training that can train staff to be fully capable in under six months. The learning doesn’t have to take place during work hours and the benefits to the business are substantial.

Businesses training their staff now will also mean they can gain an advantage over their competitors as their staff learn how and implement more effective digital skills.

If businesses are willing to invest in their staff’s digital skills, they’ll also be investing their own continued success.