The JCH Blog - A right old collection of random musings...

Facebook Where Are We At?

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So I’ve waited a little time, after the fallout from the Facebook data scandal to give my own tuppence worth on this issue.

Obviously, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am an internet marketer; Facebook is amongst my armoury, I’m not against Facebook providing me with all sorts of data around potential leads that I can use (and provide) as part of our marketing efforts.

So therein lies the dilemma. I see it as three things really.
1. People who have given their data to Facebook
2. Facebook’s inability/unwillingness(?) to protect their data
3. Cambridge Analytica’s use or acquisition of that data.

I’m not going to defend Mark Zuckerberg at all, but is all of this not a natural progression? Bearing in mind the way people are targeted by companies from a commercial perspective.
You know how it works, (not just on Facebook, but everywhere) you search for ‘computer screen’ on Google because you want one for your home office, and every website you visit then has ads for computer screens, right?

Cookies are data which tells advertisers which ads to serve you, so surely this what’s been exposed this week is simply an extension – albeit a much more sinister one – of that.
I’m not saying that it is right that it happens like that, but I am saying it’s a world we have all subscribed to, and I’ve been a little curious to see the surprise with which people have reacted.
To me it seems obvious that when you submit so much personal information to a website, and countless third party extensions to that website, that it’s going to be harvested and used. Also, it’s obvious that the people who want to use it will be using it for commercial purposes.

I have no doubt that Facebook haven’t protected the data in the way they should have, and maybe their actions over the last few days see here is a bit like “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted”, as my old grandma used to say.

No doubt Cambridge Analytica took full advantage of what they could lay their hands on, I’m not in a position to say or comment on what or whom were culpable.
One thing that I do know, from my recent visit to the Facebook HQ in San Francisco, is that everyone that works there is committed to providing the best service and the best platform they can. They do truly believe that they are doing a good thing and connecting the world.

Maybe their fault is that they have the latest, craziest most exciting tools at their fingertips. What they are doing there is incredible, but perhaps they’ve not taken an ‘holistic’ view (a phrase you know I like; for good reason). They perhaps have been caught up in all the future potential, and not actually thought about ensuring what they already have works, and is ‘safe’.

Facebook have recently changed the way they operate for publishers, throttling the reach of posts, primarily because they wanted people to pay to ‘boost’ their articles so more people would see them. Recent changes to the way they display news posts in people’s feeds have had a big impact too – in some cases forcing businesses to shut down because they were so dependent on traffic from Facebook.

Clearly it’s a not a great idea to build your business model around traffic from one source. You end up reliant on that source, and if they change the way they operate you end up in trouble! The idea that Facebook would be a free driver of massive amounts of traffic forever was never the right approach to take and thankfully we’ve never been that dependent on them. (We’re very holistic!!)
Nevertheless, people can often get stuck in certain habits online. Facebook has become a kind of online experience where people base everything they see, believe and think entirely on what they get to see in their feeds.

Perhaps I’m the only one who isn’t that bothered about the data I give to Facebook, or any online company really. I’m probably wrong, but I am under no misapprehension that my data is available for people to target me for offers.

My summary is very simple. We never depend too much on one source online. When you’re at someone else’s party, you have to understand it’s up to them when they turn off the lights and ask you to go home. As long as we know we have a VIP invite to another party up the road, we’ll always be dancing!

Crafting Influential Content To Entice New Leads

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Site owners will often sit down and scratch their heads because their content isn’t drawing leads.
Why is this the case?

Content Creation Well, it’s one thing to write words down on paper and another to create magnetizing pieces people want to read.

So, what is the answer then? What do Internet marketers suggest is a must when crafting content to influence and build authority in a given niche?
There are many tips and tricks a person can use and here is advice everyone should be following.

Build Trust With Emotion
Grab a scientific journal and choose any academic article. What will you see? You will notice fantastic writing with immaculate grammar, but is it going to resonate when put on a site?

No, it’s not.

Most people would look at an academic journal and scoff because it’s difficult to read even if it’s well written. Most educational pieces are written to provide facts and target scholars.
The average Joe is not their audience.

However, for the standard marketer, you’re targeting the average Joe even if they’re knowledgeable about the topic. They don’t need academic pieces; they seek emotional pieces, which are trustworthy.

When you build trust through emotion, you get a foot in the door. It’s as simple as this.

Forget Templates
Ever go to a site, and it feels like they’ve followed a template? This gets worse when businesses are involved in the process. Most companies are using set templates to create content, and it leads to abysmal results.

The successful marketing campaigns let creativity flourish.

People know about templates. They might not understand the core features of your template, but they’ll know it right away when they start reading.
You have to break away from this structured approach to captivate. This is what marketing is all about. You want to capture their imagination like never before.

Move away from the template. Toss it in the garbage bin and start afresh.

Do something different and be open to new ideas. This is where marketers can set themselves apart.

Be Human
Yes, this is critical.

Marketing campaigns can turn a real corner when their content is humanized. You want people to feel like a normal person is speaking to them. Don’t make it appear as if a bot crafted the piece and posted it on your site.

You will never win anyone over.

If you want to connect with targets, you need to start by being human.
Want to use “LOL”? Do it.

Want to speak in first person? Do it!

Yes, these things work in the modern age because it makes you distinctive. Of course, you want to stay professional with your content, but mixing things up doesn’t hurt at all.
These are the tips and tricks experts list as being important in the modern age more than ever before. Too many marketing campaigns falter because templates are used to woo leads.
It won’t happen.

You have to change the approach and continue to collect data. This works in all niches, and it begins with a focused mindset on your end.

The Game Of Life

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Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies

Bobby Jones

That quote is one of the best I have heard, but there again I guess I am bias as I love the game of golf!

To me it is without doubt the hardest sport that I have played and that includes, football, cricket, rugby, squash, racquetball, snooker, darts and hockey, all sports that I tried over the years.

There has been times when I have nearly packed it all in and thought why am I putting myself through this torture (Friend of mine did exactly this when he found it impossible to get out of bunkers)

Why can you hit a beautiful executed drive down the middle of the fairway without any effort and on the next tee you hit it straight into the trees and beyond, why is it that you can sink a 20 foot putt on one green and the next green it goes 5 feet wide!!!

It just does not make sense, that you can hit an 80 one round and the next round it is over 100!

The torment, the agony, the anguish over the years has been immense, but I never gave up! And this is the whole point with your business or work…how many times have you thought ‘what is the point of this, it is like flogging a dead horse’ Everything closes in around you, a sense of hopelessness’, that empty feeling in the stomach! I’m not sure I can cope, sleepless nights, anxious moments, self-doubts creep in, can I cope, what can I tell the customer, taxman on your back, rent to be paid, VAT returns, the list is endless!

BUT, you know what, you get through it, over it, round it and do you know why? Because you have to, or what is the alternative, you roll over and let the bastards win or sink you…you have to keep going, you have to roll up the sleeves, small steps will get you there, bit by bit it will turn around and I should know as I have been there several times and one was a near death experience!

6 years ago I was diagnosed with a blocked carotid artery which is the main artery from the heart to the brain and without an immediate operation I could have had a stroke or aneurism at any minute, as it was I had suffered several mini strokes or TIA’s! The operation lasted 4 hours where I was totally conscious as I had to stay awake to communicate with the surgeons, scary stuff! But what was the alternative, of course there wasn’t one, no choice but to carry on and let the experts do their thing, in my case Dominic VALENTI, forever in my gratitude, a brilliant surgeon and a brilliant man, so calm and wonderfully confident, the type of human being that you rarely meet, but when you do you are in awe of his presence and his charisma!

I got over the operation and the years that followed, a change of diet, extra fitness and mind games…would it come back again, could the same thing happen, who knows, but as my dear old Mum used to say you’re here for a good time, not a long time and so we shall see, but you get your bad breaks and your good breaks, but you have to play the ball from where it lies!

More Winds of Change In SEO

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Google Hummingbird

Google Hummingbird

Those of you that have worked with us for any length of time will know that I am always referring to the constant changes that Google make to their algorithms and the implications those have on us as businesses, regardless of whether our business is small or large.

Quite a while ago (end of 2013) I referred to what is called Google Hummingbird, which effectively was a wholesale change for the search engine. It wasn’t one of those updates that affects the work (and effectively declares any past work ‘illicit’) that SEO’s have  been doing on your behalf, (namely Penguin or Panda) but moreover a search system update.

The purpose of this change seemed to me to be made in order to cater for the increased usage of mobile devices when users are browsing the internet, and indeed searching on Google.

I’m told that in 2015 up to 60% of searching will be done on a mobile device! We’ve see that particular ‘train a-comin’ for a while now, and it looks like it’s just going to arrive in the station.

Effectively, search is going semantic (that’s fancy talk for saying that Google is now starting to understand the wording of our questions). So instead of typing “Golf Club”.. you’ll be able to ask (and this also encompasses voice activated searching) “Where is the nearest 18 hole golf club” – magically Google will also be able to analyse your position, based on the geographical locater based on your mobile, and provide you with the most appropriate results.

This sounds very civilized, but Google’s continually changing algorithms (they change them more than once EVERY day, by the way) will cause some concern for ‘some’ SEO’s who have spent much time, effort and money purely building anchor text links (that’s things like articles with the key word as the link like this: JCHCommunications – but they’ve done that at the expense of a more holistic SEO approach.

Fortunately for us at JCH, this will not affect us in the slightest (in fact it will probably help us as the lesser experienced and proficient SEO’d sites will drop away

At JCH we continue to look at the whole picture. We are constantly updating and changing our approach to SEO, we produce content for your site (that the reader wants to read – not for Google), Well written content on reputable sites will continue to rank highy.. We produce Social Content and gain social signals for your site on top of this.

Additionally we build the right kind of links, from relevant, authoritative partners., but using clever techie shortcuts to manipulate your way to the top will get tougher, we don’t participate in this and so our clients can rest assured they are protected from this.

Hats Off

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When did the fun police suck the creativity out of this industry?

Hats OffWhen exactly did everything become about Google rankings, market share, optimise this and that and people who wear hats indoors explaining to other people that ‘It’s all about the stats’?

We’re not having it. It’s not all about the stats, although we’re good at that! A football match is not decided by how many saves a goalkeeper makes, because if a goalkeeper makes 10 saves in a match and they still lose 4-0, they’re still QPR.

Life’s too long to be spending hours of it worrying about margins and shaving off a few quid almost for the sake of it, or worse still throwing extra cash at a project because the indoor hat brigade have made us all believe that if “they must be good if they charge THAT much”. The next time you see someone wearing a hat indoors, ask yourself when that became allowed. The answer is ‘roughly around the time all the fun got sucked out of this industry’.

We are the people who smile, take off our hats and say “How do you do?” when we meet for the first time, because there’s nothing wrong with reclaiming a little bit of what made this industry special in the first place. That’s not to say it was the hats, but it was certainly the civility, the good humour and the care taken to look at each project individually and understand that if a client says to us “I’d just like a simple website” that’s probably what we ought to give them – We listen, learn and act!

‘Hero areas’ and ‘Traffic Funnels’ are great and all that, but if you start trying to sell them to a butcher who just wants to shift a few chops online there’s a good chance he’ll be packing his cleaver and sodding off before you finish explaining why sliders are ‘so 2013’. Sometimes you have to just listen and not foist your designer nonsense onto a client. Smile, take off your hat and say “How do you do?

Not every business has the budget of the BBC. Is it wrong to be up-front about costs and not try to shepherd every last moth from a prospective client’s wallet with spurious suggestions about what might shift them from fourth to third in the Google rankings? We say no.

Obviously if you really want to be third not fourth we’ll do everything in our power to get you there, though don’t blame us if we’d rather do it properly and get you to second or first for the same price, just because we take pride in our work.

All we want is to do right by people who want a bit of genuine work done. We won’t mess you about, we’re too long in the game (aka. experienced) for that. We’re the venerable elder statesmen of the design industry who continue to strive for respect and success in a way that today’s young whippersnappers have no time or patience for, as they cower behind stats about how your small stationery business would benefit from a fully featured mobile app. You know, just in case someone gets bored of Candy Crush Saga and decides to teach themselves to write with an actual pen and paper.

We don’t mess about, we listen to what you want and then use our knowledge and experience to give you exactly what you need. And if you catch us wearing hats indoors you have every right to shy at us like cheeky schoolboys at policemen’s helmets…call us now for a no hold bars, hats off all off and get some common sense marketing!

Ghost Busters…

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HalloweenI was recently sitting in Costa (I managed to escape the office for a while and when I know I have some writing to do, Costa always seems to focus my mind) – maybe it’s the coffee! Maybe it’s Susie the barista.. no it’s probably the coffee! (Believe that and you’ll believe anything!)

Anyway, I was recently there writing an email for a ‘mindset’ marketing promotion (free e-book report – which leads into a funnel collecting email address.. I won’t bore you with it).. Anyway, I was there enjoying my skinny latte (I don’t want Susie to think I’m unhealthy.. so I trade off full fat milk for ‘skinny’ which then means I can have a large chocolate muffin, everyone’s a winner!)  Whilst stopping  a minute for inspiration, I overheard two  girls talking about Halloween. They were deciding which outfits to wear for a party.

I got me to thinking about how times have changed. I mean only a few years ago we didn’t really ‘do’ Halloween (for me “penny for the guy” was a much bigger event!)

Anyway, I started thinking about the commercial opportunities that Halloween provides (not only in the states I might add). Most marketers have embraced (or throttled) the spirit of  “All Hallows” as an opportunity and now it represents big bucks to all concerned.

Almost EVERY large company has produced some marketing led Halloween promotion. Whether it’s a ‘trick or tweet’ promotion or a Halloween video (some of the best, and I concede they do have a large budget) have received literally millions of views.

It got me to further thinking that sometimes as small businesses, we need a good reason to ‘reach out’ to our customers or potential customers, and the usual ‘have you seen how good we are at xyz’ doesn’t really cut it..

Almost everybody loves a clever Halloween (or similar) promotion. We think nothing of contacting our clients and customers with a Christmas message, but we stop short on using various (popular) events and holidays to help our businesses promote our brand or sales message.

I have therefore listed the next  possible events that we could promote together with yourselves. What about an html mailing together with some clever creative and a potential offer to potential new (or existing ) clients?

There is no reason why you can’t jump on the back of other countries’ holidays including Thanksgiving or Chinese New Year.. you could even get creative when doing this, and make it a bit fun.

Nov 5    Guy Fawkes Day
Nov 9    Remembrance Sunday
Nov 27  Thanksgiving – worth a go!
Nov 30  St Andrew’s Day
Dec 21   December Solstice
Dec 25   Christmas Day
Dec 26   Boxing Day
Dec 31   New Year’s Eve
I will provide a list of 2015 events in the New Year, it’s a good chance to do some planning for the forthcoming months and a chance to promote your company and offers (and a good excuse to hit that database)

If you don’t ask you don’t get….Peter Thomas – Purchasepoint MD Circa 1988…

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There we were, sat in a meeting the other day with 3 directors of an SME discussing their marketing budget and working out the return on their investment (ROI).Naturally they were keen to know where they’d spent their money and how it was paying them back.

We proceeded to discuss the last email campaign we ran for them, which had achieved an opening rate & click through of double their industry average…’well we never got any orders from it’ said first Director!

I asked if they had followed it up with an introduction email, letter or even a phone call – silence is golden, blank looks at each other…Bingo! Even though we had discussed this with their marketing executive, nothing had been done to follow it up. So were they expecting said receipts to just pick the phone up & place an order there and then? If only it was that simple to get new business…

The reality is, that if this demographic (CEO’s) is your target market then the best way to reach them online is still by far and away the humble (boring) old email.

Email is how they stay in touch, it’s what gets their attention and it is where they spend most of their time online.

The lesson is that you ignore Email Marketing at your peril.

As a rule the average email campaign will bring you a return, providing you follow it up with a letter or phone call – pick the phone up. As my old boss used to say “have you asked for an order? Because if you don’t ask, you don’t get! “ The likelihood of making a sale increases by 7 times if you make contact by phone!!!

Email marketing and broadcasting may be boring, it may be “old school”, it may be way down the “excitement” index when compared with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like – but it has massive engagement with the largest online audience on the planet.

You already know that staying in touch with prospects and customers is vital to maximising your sales potential.

But, most businesses do NOT stay in touch like they should – and lose sales as a result.

Today, it is cheaper and easier than it has ever been to stay in touch with your database by using email broadcasting.

Used wisely, to a good list (usually your own), with quality content and in combination with other mediums, such as direct mail and telephone – it can unlock the massive sales potential sitting in your database today.

Top 4 Social Networking Sites

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This month we look at the top 4 social media sites and what the business opportunities are with them. You may decide your business needs to focus on one or two areas in particular.

Top 4 Social Networking Sites

If you do a bit of searching around you’ll probably find lists of social networks, and you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number out there. The thing to remember is that most networks have a very small user base and it is not often worth investing any time into them. Of course, if you find a network that specifically targets your ideal customer, they might be worth exploring. But for the purposes of this guide, we are simply going to take a look at the top four social networking sites overall.

#1: Face book

URL:  http://facebook.com

Description: The granddaddy of all social networks, Face book boasts the largest number of users from a wide demographic. Users can post updates, photos and videos. Interaction comes in the form of comments, sharing updates and “Likes” which demonstrate that someone likes the update they just read.

Demographic Data: Face book has 845 million active users, 483 million users of whom are active on a daily basis. Face book is available in over 70 languages. There are slightly more female users on Face book than male users, but their representation is fairly even. The age range of users is broad, but the 20-29 age group is the best represented.

Business Opportunity: Face book allows business to create “Pages.” Users can subscribe to receive updates from your page by clicking a “Like” button to indicate they are a fan of your business. You can post updates about your company, interesting facts, share news, create polls and more. Face book allows customisation for branding your Face book Page.

#2: Twitter

URL:  http://twitter.com

Description: Often described as a micro-blogging network, Twitter allows its users to send short updates of a maximum of 140 characters; referred to as “tweets.” They can post text updates, and while the site also allows the posting of photos, users have to click a link to view the photos. Users can interact with one another by replying to user updates or “retweeting” them – which means rebroadcasting someone else’s tweet to their own followers. Twitter also employs the use of “hashtags,” which are keywords preceded by a “#” character, that make them searchable, so people can follow conversations on specific topics.

Demographic Data: Twitter has 300 million users that post over 300 million tweets per day. 53% of Twitter’s users are female, giving them a slight edge over the male user population. 30% of Twitter’s users are between the ages of 26 and 34 and 27% of them are 35-44. Twitter is currently offered in only a handful of languages, but they are working to expand their offerings.

Business Opportunity: Businesses are allowed to set up Twitter accounts as the service does not distinguish between business and personal accounts. You can post updates about your company, share information, interact with other Twitter users and post photos. Hashtags are an opportunity to share information during events of interest and relating to specific topics. Twitter allows for custom branding of your Twitter profile page

#3 LinkedIn

URL:  http://facebook.com

Description: LinkedIn is focused on connecting professionals, with the purpose of sharing industry-related information, as well as job and other opportunities.

Demographic Data: LinkedIn has over 150 million members and over 2 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages, making it the largest professional social network online. It is available in 200 countries worldwide and is available in 16 languages.

Business Opportunity: LinkedIn provides professionals the opportunity to create profiles and increase their professional contacts and connections. You can also set up a Company Page to share company news, employment opportunities and more. It is a good opportunity to meet other like-minded business owners and professionals for the purpose of sharing information, forming partnerships and more. You can create polls, share files, promote events, share presentations and more. LinkedIn allows for minor customisation in order to brand profile pages.

 #4: Google+

URL:  http://plus.google.com

Description: Google+ is a relatively new social network created by the search giant Google. As Google implements more social results into its search, SEO experts are saying that Google+ is becoming increasingly relevant to your appearance in search results, so it’s definitely a network worth looking at. Users can post updates, and share images and videos. Interactions come in the format of comments, sharing updates and clicking the “+1” to demonstrate that a user likes the update they just read. Google employs the use of “Circles” so that users can categorise the people they are following into different groups such as friends, acquaintances, business connections, etc. There is also integration with YouTube, Picasa and other Google services.

Demographic Data: It is estimated that Google+ has about 90 million users, making it a relatively small social network in comparison to the others mentioned in this guide. Publicly available demographic data is limited, but it is reported that a large percentage of its user base is technologically-oriented men. According to Wikipedia, over 71% of Google+’s users are male and 35% of all their users are between the ages of 25 and 34.

Business Opportunity: Businesses can set up a Google+ Page that allows them to connect with their followers. Businesses are not allowed to set up regular Google+ profiles, although you need to set up a personal profile before you can create a business page. Users can subscribe to your Google+ updates by putting you into their circles. You can share updates, share useful content, photos and videos. You can also create “Hangouts” that allow you to interact your followers via video or audio chat. Google+ allows for minor customisation in order to brand your profile page.

Next month we’ll take a closer look at how you can focus your efforts on social media, and where!

Until then, have a prosperous month!



London Then And Now

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We thought you may find this interesting.

We are always investigating new ways to help market our clients’ websites and businesses. However, sometimes you come across a pure work of genius, something that reflects on the old time values and enhances with a modern day twist.

We really enjoyed watching this video, we think you will do as well.

During the 1920s, cinematographer Claude Friese-Greene travelled across the UK with his new colour film camera. His trip ended in London, with some of his most stunning images, and these were recently revived and restored by the BFI, and shared across social media and video websites – Brings tears to your eyes….aah the good old days!
Since February Simon Smith has attempted to capture every one of his shots, standing in his footsteps, and using modern equivalents of his camera and lenses. This has been a personal study, that has revealed how little London has changed.

Off shore, …are you sure?

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A word to the wise…

We have recently been inundated by off shore companies offering to partner with us in our SEO efforts.

Some of them make a very compelling offer (financially) and on the face of it, look very interesting. More so because we are certain that our clients must be getting the same influx of emails.

We have been working on the internet now for over 10 years, and it would be fair to say that we have seen pretty much most of what is out there and of course it’s our job to keep up to date with the latest and greatest from the world of the internet.

There is so much more to providing a service than just providing the service. We believe our clients buy peace of mind, communication, expertise, local knowledge, experience and so on.

Recently we thought we would try out an Indian company that offered to promote (one of our own) websites. They promised to create a number of links, and provide articles and more. (This particular company was one of the better ones, on the face of it).

The articles they produced were pretty good. We were fairly impressed; they needed a little tweak for some language corrections, but not too bad. Their report told us that our links had been made and that was fine.

We won’t bore you with a running commentary but as time went on, the quality of the work was just awful. The articles needed so much re writing, we may have well written them ourselves. We called their office and to be honest the language barrier made it too stressful to actually achieve anything. We have the distinct advantage of knowing what we are talking about with SEO and could see the problems before they happened.

Naturally we parted company.
Now, we’re not saying that all of these companies are the same, but we can tell you we have tried out around four different companies, from different countries, all to the same ends.
We know SEO, we know what should be done and we know when it’s not being done properly, and still we have little control, as these companies (sometimes in their desire to be helpful) just don’t understand the way we communicate.

What do you want as a client?
A trust worthy partner perhaps? Someone who is there when you need them? Easy to discuss things over the phone? Communication, in a language you can understand? Expertise in the market place and experience you can rely on?
More often than not cheap is expensive, as the famous saying goes. You have to consider how important your business is to you. Are you willing to put your business into the hands of someone you have never met, in a country you know nothing or little about, not knowing what they are doing with your information or how they are representing your company?

We know we wouldn’t be happy doing that!
Of course you’ll make up your own mind, and as they say, in the world of Twitter; I’m… #just saying….