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How Can Agile Marketing Help my Business?

 

Agile Marketing is an approach which differs from traditional techniques, placing more emphasis on collaboration and incremental improvements. However, it didn’t actually start life in the marketing sphere. The concept began its life in the software development industry, back in the 90’s.

The software development industry was having big issues with their existing structure, known as the Waterfall approach. Basically, it involved a rigid hierarchical system in which managers would collect large amounts of information on the prospective software that was being developed and these would be the “requirements” given to the developers. These techniques led to many different problems, for example the projects would go over time and over budget. Even worse, the final product often didn’t meet consumer requirements and therefore didn’t sell. This continued until a group of seventeen software developers come together to create the very first Agile Manifesto- offering a completely different approach.

The Agile approach incorporates many different techniques as well as an overall change in mindset. To condense the main aspects- it’s a collaborative, top-up system that aims for smaller, more mindful increments along the way. Whilst this revolutionised the software development industry- it has been adopted by the marketing sector, with great success.

Looking more broadly at agile marketing and how it compares to traditional approaches- there are a number of key differences. As we have already mentioned, one of the main differences is the way in which team members interacts, with a greater emphasis on team work and collaboration. This also includes managers, who work with their employees as opposed to imposing strict deadlines within rigid frameworks.

As the name agile suggests- another major difference is the approach to targets. Whereas traditional marketing may include a detailed long-term plan with fixed targets- agile marketing has a greater degree of versatility. For example, instead of a one-year plan- there would be short term targets with regular meetings in order to understand where everyone is at. This technique also means that the overall plan is more fluid and open to change or influence from the market. One of the benefits of this is that companies can adapt to current events and feedback, making it much more likely that the final product is successful and relevant.

In terms of the campaign, there is obviously a push towards what the team knows works well but there is an element of experimentation- which is another hallmark of agile marketing. Many companies using this approach will devote the majority of their time and resources towards tried and tested approaches but will also allow for some risk in the form of more novel techniques or media. This way you are able to try new things with the potential of striking gold but there isn’t much risk involved.

Data and testing is another important aspect of agile marketing. Of course, data is vital across marketing in general but particularly so when companies are utilising this technique of rapid iterations. The use of data can completely change the way in which a campaign is progressing and this is much more useful when the campaign is flexible and open to change, as opposed to a long-term, fixed plan that is forced to remain on the same path.

One of the ways in which the agile approach is particularly successful within the marketing sphere is due to social media. The majority of marketing is now online and social media is one of the most powerful tools that we can use. One of the key aspects of social media is the speed at which is moves- news, events and campaigns can be here today and gone tomorrow. Therefore, an approach that is literally agile and open to rapid change is always going to work better with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

This is something we have seen in recent years as there are many examples of companies using their online presence to respond to current events with media and advertising all ready to go. Those that utilise a more fixed approach to marketing may not be as nimble when it comes to response time.

Although agile marketing is based on a fairly old concept, it’s practically tailor made for our current world, where the ability to adapt and offer something completely relevant to the current conversation has never been more important.

B2B Lead Generation – Does Pay Per Lead Work?

 

Sales leads are a representation of some sort of interest from an individual or organisation. The idea behind these leads is that they could potentially lead to some sort of sale or even long-term business relationship.

The definition of what a lead is can vary but it usually it means some sort of commitment- for example a potential customer’s email address, social media information or agreement to subscribe. Basically, any sort of connection which can allow the company to convert potential customers in to actual customers.

As leads are an avenue to business and the technique of lead generation has become incredibly popular. Many companies have specific employees or even departments which are responsible for securing leads. Other businesses choose to outsource this service and opt for a designated lead generation company. Either way- the general approach is to pay per lead but is this the best way to get results?

One of the main problems with paying per lead is that it fosters an approach which prizes quantity over quality. This can be an issue as securing a lead doesn’t always mean it will progress to a significant relationship with a company. This is where lead nurturing is required- unfortunately many lead generation organisations choose not to go out of their way if they’ve already earned their money from simply identifying the lead. A good example of this would be acquiring emails- which would technically generate leads but how you use those email addresses is just as important. Sending high quality content or personalised adverts would be an example of lead nurturing.

Building upon this idea, many marketing companies will focus much more on achieving leads than converting them. Some companies will even coerce the potential lead in to providing information, even when they know it won’t go any further. Of course, these techniques aren’t beneficial to the business who employs them, who end up wasting time and money chasing after a customer who isn’t interested.

Brand reputation can also be factor when choosing to use pay per lead techniques. When employing a marketing company, it is important to research their practices and their overall approach to business before starting a relationship. These people will be representing you when conducting lead generation and therefore any negative behavior will reflect poorly on your own brand. Make sure to choose a company that are passionate about your business and will work beyond generating leads- into lead nurturing and overall sales.

Although the pay per lead model isn’t a “one size fits all” solution- it is still incredibly popular and for good reason- it does work well in some cases. For example, if you have a product that is easy to sell or you’re aiming at existing customers. Basically, situations in which customers can be convinced of a sale quickly and easily.

One of the ways in which pay per lead is changing is through social media. Networks such as Twitter and Facebook allow for these types of ads and will actually place them directly on to the user’s timelines. This means the ads are easily accessible, customisable and because they utilise personal information that those networks have already collected- people find them more trustworthy. Therefore users are more likely to engage with the ads honestly- providing accurate information.

Lead generation is a powerful tool but most of time it has to be used in conjunction with other tools. Whether that be native advertising, content marketing or traditional advertisements. It’s also worth pointing out that money is key when it comes to service- you get what you pay for. If you are employing an agency to provide leads, you need to keep in mind that going above and beyond simple lead generation will cost more. But this type of investment will ensure that these companies not only generate leads but also nurture them, making it more likely to progress to a long-lasting relationship between you and the customer.

 

How Can Tendering Help My Business?

The tendering process is utilised by many different organisations, both in the private and public sector. When a business, or the government are looking for goods or services, they will use this process in order to choose which company to work with. The tending process can range from relatively simple- to much more formal and complex. However, if businesses progress to the bidding stage and actually win the contract- it can offer a wealth of benefits. Not only will they have a lucrative contract, it can also open doors for a long-term relationship, resulting in further work.

Although beneficial, the tendering process can also be expensive, time consuming and resource heavy for the companies looking to win the contract. This is due to the analysis and submission of a tender, which is basically the way in which a business illustrates how they are ideal for the contract. First a company has to analyse the tender in order to decide whether it’s even worth going any further.

The next step is submission, which may be as simple as a letter however the process can be more complex at times- especially within the public sector. Therefore, some companies will outsource this aspect of the tendering process to specialists. Obviously whether a business chooses to do this will depend on many different factors but it is something to keep in mind.

Before even attempting to search for tenders- it’s important for companies to ascertain whether they are ready to actually submit tenders and eventually submit bids. Organisations that are looking for a vendor will often have very high standards when it comes to who they choose to offer their contract to. The consideration of these factors is vital before sinking any money into the search for tenders or overall tendering process.

The industry has never been more competitive and actively searching for tenders can be the best way to even out the playing field but there are things to keep in mind. For example, it may be tempting to reply to a wide range of tender opportunities but as already mentioned- the process requires time and money. It can make more sense to focus on a few advertisements, choosing quality over quantity.

When searching for tenders, there are many different options to choose from. Obviously the first port of call is online and you can find a wealth of resources in this area- both free and subscription. Companies that are willing and able to put the work in should opt for free resources, many of which focus on public sector contracts. However, businesses can also outsource their tender search. Obviously, this costs money but it does cut down on time and effort and could allow for connections that couldn’t otherwise be made.

Although the internet is the now the main source of opportunities, companies should also look in to newspapers and specialist magazines. These may not offer as many contracts but it could be a fairly untapped resource and one that shouldn’t be ignored.

Another technique which is often ignored is offline networking such as specialist events or seminars. Connecting with other organisations on a personal level is a successful way in which to build strong, long-lasting relationships. These types of events offer a unique opportunity to find out about and express interest in existing or prospective contracts. Obviously, the tendering process is still applicable but building these types of B2B relationships can be significant in searching for tenders.

There are many ways in which to approach a tender search and just the process of actively searching is likely to increase the chance of success. However, winning a contract can require a lot of investment- including time, money and effort and vendors should decide how much they have to invest before they begin their search.

 

Free Resource:

https://1stdirectory.co.uk/contract-finder/

Will Google Mark Your Website as Unsafe?

Many internet users trust Google implicitly and assume they will deliver websites which are safe and secure. Google illustrate this by labelling the site as either secure or not secure, with a padlock icon next to the URL. Over the last few years the company have been changing their approach to how they distinguish between secure and unsecure websites, more specially when it comes to http and https.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP is a way of facilitating communication between systems- for example between a browser and server. Although this protocol has been utilised by the majority of websites, it does have one massive flaw and that is security. HTTP data is not encrypted which means it is incredibly vulnerable to hackers and possible theft of data. HTTPS or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure attempts to fix this problem though the use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. This SSL certificate encrypts the data when it’s moving between the browser and server- securing it against theft or loss.

Google is trying to encourage site owners to make the jump from HTTP to HTTPS but obviously this is a big undertaking and their plan is very much a long term one, with numerous smaller steps involved. At the beginning of 2017, Google started the process specifically with website that collects sensitive data such as passwords or credit card information- marking them as unsecure on Google Chrome if they didn’t have a HTTPS connection. Obviously a “not secure” label on a website can have a negative effect on a company’s reputation and many websites have moved from HTTP to HTTPS as a result.

October of 2017 brought another change in policy with Google warning that any website that used a HTTP connection and allowed for any inputting of data would be labelled as not secure- even if it’s only a search box. Furthermore, it was also at this point that Google labelled all HTTP pages as not secure when people were browsing using their incognito mode on Chrome. The idea behind this being that users expect a certain level of privacy on Incognito and this would place further pressure on HTTP websites to make the change.

The next big move from Google isn’t far off- July 2018 will see the release of Chrome 68 and it is at that point that Google will being marking all HTTP websites as not secure. As this is quite a bold move, it’s expected that many of the remaining sites that haven’t migrated to HTTPS will do so before or at this point in order to avoid the dreaded not secure label.

Considering these changes are coming very soon, any websites that haven’t made the switch to HTTPS should really look in to implementing the change. Not only will you avoid having an “unsafe” website, it has also been shown that Google rewards HTTPS websites in their search ranking- with a modest boost.

There are clearly some issues which are dissuading site owners from migration- most notably cost and the perceived complexity of the process. The actual process itself isn’t as complex as it may seem, it’s basically buying and installing an SSL certificate. Even more surprising is that the cost isn’t substantial- you can get an SSL certificate for a small yearly subscription. In fact, you can even get a free certificate from Let’s Encrypt. Fortunately, there are a plethora of detailed guides online which outline each step of the process, including purchasing, installing and verifying your certificate.

It’s also worth noting that migrating from HTTP to HTTPS will technically appear as an URL change so you will have to make sure to update all hard-coded links but there are tools out there that can help. Furthermore, this URL change can also temporarily affect your website traffic but this will normalise within time.

Any websites that don’t migrate to HTTPS before the July deadline will risk a not secure label and a potential loss in visitors and maybe even revenue. It has never been a better time to make this change.