Monthly Archives: January 2015

Questions & Reviews Have Arrived!

We’re pleased to announce the launch two new pieces of functionality for First Directory.

Questions & Answers allows users to ask questions publicly they would normally email directly to the company. This means that when the company answers they can choose to have their response made public as well. Enabling future users with the same question to quickly see the answer they need. Each company has the ability to control the questions that appear on their page through their admin screen so they can ensure questions and answers which are no longer relevant can be removed.

Reviews are probably our most requested piece of functionality and allow a company to really show how highly their product is regarded. Users can add a review to any company as long as their account has been verified. We email a company as soon as a review is posted and give them the right to respond. You can see a lot more information on how reviews are handled here.

We also appreciate some companies are uncertain about the value of reviews.  One perception is that people only write reviews about bad experiences rather than good but ‘The Review of Reviews‘ offers a more balanced view:

  • 75% of Reviews posted on review sites are positive.
  • 95% of unhappy customers will return if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently.

The complexity of the industrial buy cycle can be long and include multiple decision makers.  Amongst others this has been identified by GlobalSpec who state in their ‘Industrial Buy Cycle Survey‘, that the time between identifying a need and making a purchase can be less than one month or as long as nine months or more, with the length of time increasing as the amount of the purchase increases.

  • 81% stated the buy cycle is less than one month for purchases under $1,000,
  • 38% said the buy cycle is five months or longer for purchases greater than $10,000.
  • 63% of purchases under $1,000 involves just one decision maker.
  • 31% have three or more decision makers for purchases between $1,000-$10,000,
  • 66% have three or more decision makers for purchases over $10,000.

With so many people giving an opinion on product selection it is becoming more important to reinforce their judgement with positive reviews of your company.  Put most simply no matter how good or reliable you may say your product or service is, people will be more trusting of  an actual users view.

In addition good quality reviews can have a positive effect on your placement in the search engines and consequently improving the opportunities to be found by these multiple influencers in the first instance.  As SearchEngineLand noted:

Review Signals: Participants noted that the quality, velocity and diversity of online reviews and rankings resulted in 10.3% influence in determining performance.

If you’re worried about the quality or quantity of reviews you’ll receive,  a positive step you can take is to talk to your existing customers, give them a link to your company profile on First Directory and ask them to add their own review to get the ball rolling.

Slowly, Slowly Catchy Monkey

The New Year is often a time to take stock of what happened in 2014 and tweak your marketing strategy to make 2015 as successful as possible.  You probably have your plans in place, so sorry to put a spanner in the works but does in include Lead Nurturing? If so, then fantastic, a big pat on the back for you, but if not grab yourself a cup of something hot and take five minutes to learn more about this marketing tactic that, once implemented, could see your sales team receiving not just an increase in leads, but an increase in better qualified leads.

So what actually is lead nurturing?  Put simply it’s about warming those lukewarm leads up over a period of time until they’re hot enough convert to a sale.  This process starts at initial contact and involves drip feeding informative and relevant information.  Many sales teams contact leads too early and scare them off, or leave them to fester in their sales funnel without any contact.  By nurturing your leads you help to generate an emotional connection with your prospective clients, building a trusting relationship with them until such time as they become sales-ready leads.

It sounds like a win-win situation; prospects are looked after freeing up your sales people so they have adequate time for liaising with hot leads.  But how does it really stack up? You just need to spend ten minutes trawling the web to find some pretty compelling statistics.  I’ve dug out a few to get you started:

  • 79% of marketing leads never convert to sales – Marketing Sherpa
  • 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales, but of those only 27% will be qualified – Marketing Sherpa
  • Companies with a flair for lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost – Forrester Research
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases – The Annuitas Group
  • Nurtured leads produce on average a 20% increase in sales opportunities compared to non-nurtured leads – DemandGen Report
  • The organisations that employ automated lead nurturing enjoy a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months – Gartner Research

With statistics like these it’s surprising to find that Marketing Sherpa established only 65% of B2B organisations actively implement lead nurturing activities, and only an estimated 5% make use of a full-featured automated system (Forester Research).  It’s considered to be a time consuming and costly strategy but the reality is that it’s far more achievable to implement than you think.

There are a wealth of automated ultra intuitive lead nurturing tools on the market to choose from, which can work out to be very cost effective when you consider the potential returns.  The purpose of these tools is to take an extremely keen interest (or ‘stalk’) your prospective clients, allowing you to direct highly targeted and personalised correspondence to them.  Most commonly this is done in the form of an email.  Content is the key here as is confirmed by Jupiter Research who found that emails containing relevant content typically drive eighteen times higher revenue as opposed to broadcast emails.

Next comes timing; you don’t want to bombard your contacts but at the same time you don’t want them to lose interest.  Many automated tools allow A/B testing which can be used to not only test the receptiveness of different messages, but also to check the optimal timings for them to be sent.  Marketing Sherpa conducted research to establish what frequency B2B organisations that employ lead nurturing are touching leads. As you can see the results are incredibly varied but it gives an indication of what other businesses do:

Although typically seen as a marketing activity, you would be wise to employ your sales team’s insight of your current customers when generating content for your lead nurturing activities as they have working knowledge of what makes them tick.

Lead nurturing can be adopted by any size of business; in fact start ups will have the upper hand when it comes to implementation as it’s a fantastic marketing tool to use from the outset.  It will provide invaluable insight into your consumers’ behaviours and preferences from the word go, whilst creating the foundations for a consistent and streamlined communications strategy that can forge strong relationships and establish an early emotional connection.

Whatever size of business though, nothing can beat a simple, personal hand-written note. It shows you have taken the time and the interest in them individually and that can speak volumes.

The Cost of Google AdWords

Google AdWords is a unique advertising product which has revolutionised the way in which businesses direct traffic to their website. The program offers a quick and easy way of skipping the hard work of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and appearing on the first page of  Google’s search results. This being said, AdWords tends to be more expensive than SEO and there are many potential pitfalls which can cost users valuable time and money. The following are just some of the more common and costly AdWords mistakes made by businesses and ways in which to combat these problems.


Not Using the Right Tools

Google Analytics is an invaluable tool when it comes to very specific consumer data. Many businesses will only check their general results, e.g. clicks per ad, conversion per ad etc. but they risk losing out on much more detailed information.

OGoogle Analyticsne of the more useful aspects of Analytics is that it can tell you what customers are doing when they are actually on your website. This can provide a unique insight into your client base and the relationship between them and your overall AdWords campaign.

Setting up Google Analytics couldn’t be easier and the potential consumer information is too good to pass up.


Directing to your homepage

When a potential customer clicks on your advertisement, they want to be directed to the part of your website that is relevant to what they have searched for. Many companies link all of their results to their homepage but this can be frustrating for customers. They then have to seek out the particular product or service they were looking for and many will lose interest in the process or not bother at all. This means that businesses could be receiving a lot of interest from customers but have a low conversion rate due to something as simple as page linking.

To ensure that you aren’t missing out on conversions, make sure to link all of your ads with the specific product or service they are advertising.


Refusing to Change your Copy

The interest you are getting from customers isn’t always proportional with the quality of your copy. Sometimes other factors are more important, for example the type of keywords you are using or the overall clarity of your ad. Some AdWords users refuse to change the copy they have produced, even when it’s not garnering interest and making money for them.

The only way to tackle this problem is through comprehensive and continuous testing. Change single components at first such as the headline or the body and then see what this does to your results. It is worth noting that preferred results will be different for everyone, some will want a higher click rate whilst others will favour a higher conversion rate.


Too Many Keywords

Many companies seem to be under the impression that more is better when it comes to keywords but this isn’t always the case. Utilising a large variety of keywords can create a campaign that is too broad and too general. This can also be a particularly expensive technique and without any revenue coming in, the is just being wasted.

Businesses should instead focus on their more successful keywords and build their advertising strategy around them.


Not Grouping Keywords Together

Google allows users to group specific keywords together in order to create separate ad campaigns. However, some companies don’t utilise this tool and group all of their keywords within a single category. The problem with this is that customers are going to receive general ads for very specific search queries and unlikely to click on your links.

Grouping your keywords together into separate ad groups is quick, easy and could completely transform your AdWords experience.


Clicks vs Conversions

Not every customer that clicks on an ad will then go onto purchase something from the host website. It is for this reason that clicks and conversions can differ greatly across different keywords. For example one keyword could attract a large amount of clicks but very few conversions whereas another keyword might not be clicked on very often but when it does it’s likely to lead to a sale. The ideal situation would be to find a keyword that attracts both clicks and conversions but this can be extremely difficult.

This situation will be different for every company and specific considerations will have to be taken into account when deciding on strategy. The only real way to ascertain which keywords will deliver is through trial and error and the utilisation of tools such as Google Analytics.

5 Common Marketing Mistakes


Some mistakes aren’t as bad as others…

A well informed marketing strategy can be pivotal in the overall success of a business.

Conversely, a flawed approach can be disastrous and unfortunately it can be deceptively easy to make mistakes within this area. Here are just five of the most common marketing mistakes that companies make and how you can avoid these pitfalls…


Planning (Or a lack thereof)

It may sound obvious but a thorough planning stage can make all the difference when it comes to long term marketing success. Many companies fall victim to this particular problem because they are eager to get the ball rolling and would rather make decisions as they go. This level of enthusiasm is commendable but a pragmatic approach is more likely to yield better results. Another reason why companies tend to skip the planning stage is due to them making impulsive decisions. Whether it’s a special offer that can’t be missed or a sudden popularity in viral marketing, many business owners feel the urge to act within the moment but without a proper plan this could prove damaging.

The only way to combat this particular problem is to invest time and effort into a comprehensive plan of your marketing strategy. This should include the overall direction in which you would like to go, your goals, the different tools you would like to utilise and details on the amount of funding you are willing to invest. This would also be the ideal time to look at your potential customer base and ascertain what type of consumer you are aiming your product at. Market research would be useful at this stage and could help you to narrow down your options and streamline your approach.

Failure to Future-proof

Keeping up with the times is essential when it comes to marketing and this applies to every aspect of the business. A failure to implement certain business necessities such as an active website, social media channels and online payment methods can deter customers. This type of problem tends to effect smaller businesses who are just starting out and who may not have the resources or the money to build an online infrastructure immediately. The type of marketing that is utilised is also important and should be relevant to the current climate. For example, in recent years we have seen a shift from traditional paper and TV advertising to methods which utilise smartphone applications and social networking sites.

In order to guarantee that their voices are being heard, businesses should make sure they are looking into every marketing option that is available. This includes traditional and modern methods. Furthermore, it is imperative that companies have a functioning website with a modern payment infrastructure in order to attract custom.

Not Knowing Your Customer

Understanding your customer base is paramount when it comes to marketing. This can include factors such as age range, gender, profession, hobbies and interests, just to name a few. Some companies use a blanket advertising technique that doesn’t focus in on a specific group but this is unlikely to yield substantial results. Another problem that businesses have with their customer base is that they target new customers more than they should. Statistically speaking, approximately 4/5ths of your revenue should come from existing customers. It is also worth noting that it’s actually much more expensive to market to new customers then to repeat customers.

There are many ways to combat this type of issue but it really all comes down to research. There are an array of marketing research techniques that allow companies to learn about their potential customer base in great detail. These techniques should be utilised prior to marketing and during the campaigns themselves, in order to make sure you remain on the right track.

With so much competition out there it can be difficult to hold on to existing customers. The only real way of guaranteeing repeat business is to show your customers that you care, whether through loyalty schemes, special offers or even just regular communication via newsletters or social media.

Not Knowing What Your Customer Wants

Once you have identified exactly who your customer is, the next big step is to find out what they want. This may sound overly simplistic but many companies fail to ascertain exactly what their consumer base wants, instead opting for what they think their customers want. This can be particularly damaging as the marketplace is extremely large and if you’re not delivering a specific product or service, it’s easy to find a company that is.

Gaining a better understanding of your customer’s requirements will involve listening to them. Many companies focus on statistics and quantitative data when it comes to marketing but qualitative data can be just, if not more important. This means communicating with customers as individuals and acquiring information through questionnaires, reviews, social media interaction and even complaints.


The majority of marketing strategies will take time to implement and facilitate before you see any rewards. This can be disheartening and many companies make the mistake of jumping from one campaign to another without giving any of them the time to succeed. Other areas of business which can fall victim to inconsistency include social media and company websites

Being consistent can be difficult, especially when results are few and far between but there are ways to combat this. For example, when planning your marketing campaign try to create a timeline of events, this will help you to appreciate the amount of time and effort that is going to be involved. When it comes to social media and the company website, updates should be informative, interesting and regular. Setting up a schedule that dictates which days that your social media channels are updated will help to create a routine that is easier to stick to.