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Search Engine Marketing
Copywriter: Matt Roberts, Group Account Director, YouCom Direct

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If your brand’s website has less than 1m unique monthly visitors then this article is for you. If you have more than that, the chances are you are either knowingly or unknowingly already allocating the right percentage of your budget to these key marketing areas.   

SEO 15 percent
If you are yet to utilise video, mobile and retargeting, you should allocate approximately 30 percent of your budget to SEO. With these other advertising channels, you would see your SEO allocation reduced to 15 percent.  


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Search Engine Optimization takes time and should not be seen as a quick solution to turn around an ailing product or service. However it remains the standard of gathering organic search traffic, and it should be a central element of any online marketing budget. SEO is necessary for you to build organic traffic and you grow it over time.   As each cycle passes, you should reassess your progress and divert budget away to the other areas until your 30 percent comes down to approximately 15 percent.  

Ensure your site has “SEO-friendly” design; research your keywords carefully by analysing your competitors and ensure they are properly used within your site. With this in place, allocate a monthly budget to spend on SEO activities such as link building and producing original content (‘content is king’).    

SEM 40 percent

The largest part of your online marketing budget should go to SEM. If SEO is pull marketing (attracting customers to your site), search engine marketing is push marketing. Directing customers to your site; to call your store; or to visit your store, is the single biggest thing you can do to quickly boost sales and show an ROI on your marketing budget. This will give your superiors confidence to leave you alone in future and not scrutinise your work so closely.  

SEM is the process of getting your content (store phone numbers, address and reason to call/visit) across the internet in as many places as possible. More importantly to where people often visit. Generally, the higher the visitor numbers, the more it will cost to advertise. There are two main ways to use your SEM budget. PPC advertising and business directory advertising.  



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You will have begun researching keywords for your SEO and spent some budget to uncover their value. With PPC and directory advertising, you will also benefit from modifying your advert copy frequently in order to determine which ones generate good CTR. To establish your keyword strategy, you should first evaluate your competitors’ keyword strategy.  

Remember, if your PPC ads aren’t performing so well, it might mean that while your adverts work well on Google, your potential customers aren’t connecting with them. Therefore you need to keep an eye on the CTR rate and adapt your creative, targeting and landing pages until you find the optimum combination. In highly competitive markets, keywords can be very expensive, so you shouldn’t spend a lot on PPC before you have mastered your perfect conversion funnel.


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There are many business directories. Find out the best ones (speak to specialist agencies like YouCom Direct) and allocate a budget to them. London-city-directory.co.uk for example looks to be a good site, it is often found in website analysis sites as a referral site (directing traffic to a company site). However it only has 14,000 views a month. Yell.com though has nearly 10,000,000 views a month. Just as for PPC, you should research your competitors on each directory. If they are advertising there, then you should be. If they are not, it may be that they have yet to find it and you could gain market share and competitive advantage by advertising there. Of course it might be, that particular directory doesn’t generate enough traffic for your business sector and your competitors have already tried it and left. Business directory marketing and PPC advertising work best with advice from specialists.    



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SMM 15 percent

The SEO content you create (news articles etc.) then has to reach as many good quality readers as possible. This is where good social media marketing comes in.  

Most advertising campaigns start with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, where the advertising is established and proven. If your business sells products, it will benefit from being active on Pinterest and Instagram.  

What to aim for? Look at others in your sector and work out (or ask an agency) what makes users engage with the posts? Most directory agencies for example have 1 favourite or 1 retweet if they’re lucky. Below a typical tweet from YouCom Direct (formerly YouDirectories) has over 20 retweets, 37 favourites, nearly 80 engagements and is seen by 1,800+ people. Remember, each time a user retweets your message, your brand is reaching all of their followers too.


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Retargeting 10 percent
The majority of sites have very low conversion rates. Retargeting is how you improve conversion rates. Of course you require the visitors to find your site first so retargeting comes into play after you’ve built up your traffic. You will need approximately 15,000 monthly visitors until you can sustain a retargeting campaign. Create an excel document, monitor the monthly visitor numbers and place a marker to remind you to begin retargeting marketing activity at 10,000.   


Display Ads 5 percent
Display advertising is declining hence our 5 percent suggestion. How does it work on a smartphone mobile? Exactly, it doesn’t. With increasing web browsing on a smartphone, display adverts are being largely ignored by consumers. However some display ads will be necessary to match your competitor’s reach.  

Email marketing 15 percent
Email is often viewed as an old method of advertising, but it is still an effective low cost opportunity to reach customers. Beware the frequency parameters (too frequent emails will increase the unsubscribe rates dramatically) and change the content to maintain engagement (uninteresting content or repetitive content will increase the unsubscribe rates also).  

Remember, consumers access email on mobile devices as well as traditional desktops. This makes email DM a necessary addition to your online advert strategy. If you want to manage it yourself, try MailChimp as an effective delivery tool.  

There are many email DM templates you should create. It doesn’t have to be cold-calling email DM. You could send a shopping cart abandonment email with tailored messaging to bring them back perhaps mention a limited time offer, or a Cross Sell email. Of course to deliver the right email recommendation to the right user at the optimum time is essential in order to make this channel work for you. For that you’re best to utilise an advertising agency’s expertise and learn from a few campaigns.  


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Glossary:

SEO – Search engine optimisation

SEM – search engine marketing

PPC – Pay per click

CTR – Click to conversion rate / Click through rate

SMM – Social media marketing

DM – Direct mail  


Required reference
: YouCom Direct News Article, Sept 2015, London, ‘The budget secret’.

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Social Media
Copywriter: Sam Jones, PR Assistant, YouCom Direct


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Social Media Marketing is a relatively new term for brand advertising often abbreviated as SMM. SMM is a form of online marketing that uses social networking websites as a marketing tool to create brand exposure and engagement. The objective of SMM is simple; to produce content that users will want to share with their social network.  

Social media sites represent opportunities for citation listings. A site where your brand is mentioned that will come up in natural search. As such they form good additions to online business directories. Foursquare & Google Places for example are well known sites for listing address and contact details with mapping functionality.  

The key to SMM is Social Media Optimisation (SMO). Like Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), SMO is a marketing strategy similarly designed to increase natural search for a company site by attracting new and unique visitors.  

YouCom Direct manage client’s social media optimisation by agency management of status updates, tweets or news/blog posts. But SMO can also be achieved by adding social media links to content like RSS feeds and share buttons such as the Pin it button for Pinterest.  

Social Media Marketing is the new modern marketing method where brands can gain direct feedback from customers and customer leads. Consumers can engage with the brand and start a dialogue. This makes them more likely to have a long customer journey with you than with a competitor. The management of customers has long been known as CRM, but social media creates a new avenue to conduct CRM and is in effect a whole new marketing tool becoming known as SCRM or Social CRM. Social Media has become one of the most effective marketing tools to retain customers.  

Myspace began the trend, but like many new marketing methods it requires mainstream adoption before it can be classed as a new tool. With the exponential growth of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, SMM has established itself in the modern marketing person’s vocabulary.  

Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

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Glossary:

SMM – Social media marketing

SMO – Social media optimisation

SEO – Search engine optimisation

CRM – Customer retention marketing

SCRM – Social CRM


Required reference:
‘YouCom Direct News Article, Mar 2015, London, ‘Social Media Strategy’.

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Search Engine Marketing
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Where will consumers be most receptive to advertising?

The face of local search engines has changed a lot over the last 18 years. YouCom Direct have produced the above infographic (see bottom of article for the full 18 year analysis) showing interesting patterns of websites that have come and gone, but also patterns of the future. Twitter is now in the top ten and still widely expected to supersede Facebook in the future. AskJeeves which became Ask.com remains in the top twenty.   In 2014, more consumers engaged with brands on social media and our own Twitter feed serves as an example with many re-tweets and favourites for posts; https://twitter.com/YouComDirect.



The impact of Photos in Business Directory Listings by YouCom Direct

We also advise companies to create a managed YouTube page whose videos can be used to drive calls from directory listings.  YouTube which can be seen was ranked fourth in 2014, has reached its highest popularity to date.  



Local Search since 1996 by YouCom Direct
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   Required reference: ‘YouCom Direct News Article, Jan 2015, London, ‘Local Search Changes’

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Search Engine Marketing

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“You’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad” says a CTR study. Photographs have a much better chance of attracting local search consumers.   Many professionals now believe that banner ads just don’t work. 60% of consumers do not remember the last display ad they saw, according to Online Media Daily.



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We’ve become used to ignoring display ads. We have altered our behaviour to look down a webpage and not even register they are there. It’s true isn’t it?


Mobile banner ads also no longer work but for another reason. According to GoldSpot Media, up to 50% of clicks on mobile ads are by accident, effectively increasing the cost per sale as the conversion rate of click to lead falls substantially.


This is where Photography is now more crucial to the promotion of a business. For directory listings, a photo of a store can represent the brand in a powerful way using store signage to convey brand strengths.


In-store images can also demonstrate staff service and convey key elements such as trust and reliability. If the business sells other brand products, images of those brands products or brand logos can also persuade the customer to call your business listing rather than a competitor.  



Spot the difference -which would you call?

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Brand engagement

More consumers now engage with brands on social media if they post photographs and our own Twitter feed serves as an example of high engagement from the use of good photographs; https://twitter.com/YouComDirect 




The impact of Photos in Business Directory Listings by YouCom Direct

In the case of business directory listings, you must display your products and services professionally. A good quality photo will enhance your business’ PR regardless if you end up using it for online or for printed directory adverts… DM fliers delivered door-to-door or given out at an exhibition or event are much more likely to be read rather than thrown away if there is a photo that grabs the attention.  



Where can you get photographs /images from?

YouCom Direct recommend either:

Use your own photographs
Buy stock images
Pay for a professional photographer


At YouCom Direct we see so many companies using their own photographs and it is instantly noticeable. If they don’t look professional then they make your company appear unprofessional. For example most images of store signage have been taken without using a light diffuser. Buildings appear dark or show the wrong shadows. Worse, the brand appears inconsistent (the pet hate of every public relations department) with some stores photographed head-on, some from the side, some in poor lighting, others over exposed etc.


Stock photos can look perfect, but they can look ‘too-perfect’ (airbrushing or digital enhancements may not be noticeable to you or your agency but your consumers will notice). With stock images you will also need the correct license to avoid legal problems. Plus don’t forget if you can buy them, so can your competitors.


Paying a good photographer will cost more, but the images are likely to be unique to your company with exclusive owners’ rights to use them.


Most people mistakenly think that if an image has been copied from a search engine, it is unlikely the owner will ever find out they are being used
Sadly, this is not true. Many photos are digital rights managed and we can assure you their use is easily detectable.


There are many free images available, however you will often find it difficult to obtain a good quality image plus of course everyone wants to use free images right?


Many agencies such as YouCom Direct will have a much larger image library than your PR department and can provide you with royalty-free images for whatever keywords you wish to show in the image. Often clients think they will have to pay if they ask their agency for images, but that depends on the agency. A good agency, will be able to help with your presentation or report, by supplying a great photo within the current agency service fee (i.e. no cost).


In summary; you’re paying for business directory listings because the people who use those sites are more likely to be looking for a business to buy from. So make the advertising work better for you. Invest in the right photographs of quality and you will be using them for many years to come.  


Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

 

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Required reference:

‘YouCom Direct News Article, Nov 2014, London, ‘The impact of photographs on business directory listings’

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YouDirectories-Social-Media-Shift-among-teen-market-HP
In a twice yearly survey of teenage consumer spend patterns, Investment bank and asset management firm Piper Jaffray examines a research pool of 7,200 consumers, average age 16 years. Their findings help their account service teams to advise major clients of likely future trends.  


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This October, the key social media finding has been a shift away from Facebook towards Instagram and Twitter. In just 6 months since the spring, Facebook fell by 27%. Twitter usage also fell but only by 4%. Instagram was the biggest beneficiary of 7%.   For marketers of products aimed at an older audience, these findings of course represent delayed action. They are the adults of tomorrow. Facebook will represent a viable social media tool to communicate with consumers, manage customer sentiment and generate good SEO for a brand, but Twitter per this survey, represents a more stable communication platform for both today and tomorrow.   67% of those surveyed own iPhones and 73% of those expect their next mobile to be an iPhone.    

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Data sources:
Piper Jaffray, Investment Bank and Asset Management, Taking Stock with Teens Survey, Oct 2014.

Required reference:
‘YouCom Direct News Article, Oct 2014, London, ‘Social media shift among teen market’
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Search Engine Marketing
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Local search behaviour survey of 3,000 people reveals how consumers search for and buy from businesses online.  

Purpose This was a study into how people search for local businesses and how that search is conducted when using various computer devices. The purpose is to determine whether YouCom Direct are advertising for clients in the most efficient way that would deliver the highest ROI (client sales etc).  

Study Sample This was a study of 3,000 people (3,000 responses collected) via an email survey. Respondents have been categorised by the local search site they last used to find a business online.  

Definitions; Search: A results page displayed in response to user-defined search parameters.

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Local Business Search: A search that returns data including a local business name, phone number, address, hours of operation, products, promotions, etc.   IYP (Internet Yellow Pages) / Local Search: Business directory searches on IYP and local search sites (traditionally a two-box search).


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Portal Search with geo-local targeting: Search with local intent on a portal site such as Google Places, Bing Maps (below) etc. (traditionally a one-box search).


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Industry facts The total number of US mobile phone visitors to search or navigation sites / apps grew last year from 90.1m to 113.1m (26% increase).*


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Tablet searches also grew to 38.7 million in the US (19% growth in 2012). More than half of users surveyed say they use mobile phones to search because they are away from home/office. At the same time PC and laptop searches fell declining by 17% for local business searches and 5% for non-local searches.*


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It is apparent that it becomes increasingly important for advertisers to ensure the sites where they advertise their businesses have good mobile site versions (and firstly whether the advertising is replicated on a mobile site or if that is additional cost).  

Survey Overview
The study revealed that consumers’ search behaviour has changed as the methods of searching for a local business have changed. The results show that the primary activity for consumers on mobile devices is search (56% for Search; 40% for Social Networking; 39% for News; 31% Weather; Entertainment news 30%)

The study also found tablet owners becoming less mobile and less concerned with ease of use. Map based applications have become increasingly important in local search with significant changes in the look and feel of sites such as Bing Maps over the last 12 months.

For businesses targeting online traffic, the results show local business searches via mobile phones were more likely to end with an in-store visit than PC or tablet searches. Those using a mobile phone or tablet were also more likely to make a purchase as a result of their search.

As the mobile market continues to grow, these findings show businesses need to re-think how they engage with local customers. Consumers now expect accurate, easy-to-access information on local businesses via a variety of computing platforms

PC and laptop searches have decreased over the past year.

Portal sites (Google, Yahoo, MSN, Bing) have seen an increase as the primary source of searching for local business information (rising from 30% to 36% in the last five years).*
 
Search behaviour of PC or laptop, tablet and mobile users is different
Tablet sales are outpacing smartphone sales. In just two years, tablet owners have reached 40 million (it took smartphones 10 years to reach that figure).

The survey found that the frequency of local business searches on smartphones remained constant, but interestingly local searches conducted on tablets has decreased in frequency in the last year. It is presumed tablets are being used more in a fixed location such as the home or office.

PC or laptops were shown to be used more towards the beginning of the search whereas mobile phones and tablets were used more towards the end of the search.


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Smart phone, tablet and PC or laptop users all rated accurate information as more important than depth of content.  

Local search using apps is increasing

Local Search Behaviour Study by YouCom Direct


Map based applications are playing an important role in local search, especially from smartphone users. Application based (app) local search has almost doubled in the last two years (significantly more growth than SMS and web browser channels). Interestingly, while Google dominates, the other applications drive noticeable volume of consumers searching for a local business.


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The growth in consumer use of map based applications is evident in “traditional” online directories such as Yelp and ThomsonLocal.com who are altering the display of business listing searches to become more map focused.  

Detail required from a local search advertiser

The survey found consumers required their search to yield a correct address as the most important thing in a local business search.

Local Search Behaviour Study by YouCom Direct

Those using smartphones placed high importance on the telephone number (as expected) but also business hours and distance to the business from where they are (geo-location).

These features can be seen in online directories who have clearly undertaken their own studies to make their sites more appealing to advertisers.

Yell.com example of distance

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ThomsonLocal.com example of Business hours

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60% of all respondents rated consumer reviews as important in their local search choice. However, only 26% actually found helpful reviews in their search for a local business. This indicates that whilst some advertisers might have good reviews or a successful online review marketing program, the industry as a whole is behind in this area. It could be concluded that were one company to significantly increase their reviews and manage the message of these reviews, they would have a significant edge over whether consumers chose them or their competitors.  

Use of Social Networking sites for local business searches

Local Search Behaviour Study by YouCom Direct

In the above graph, ‘active’ is a consumer who has actively used a social network to search for a local business. ‘Passive’ are the consumers who have connected to the business as a follower and are now susceptible to messaging.

From this we conclude that whilst for a company’s developed markets, social network sites might not be a priority because the sales uplift is harder to trace; for markets with low market share or low sales, it is a vital channel to have a presence. Below is an example of a storage company in the Netherlands who has created separate Twitter accounts for each store, encouraging store managers to gain followers that would later form a captive data set of dormant or active customers.


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The graph revealed a slight decline in active searches for local businesses on social networks (15% to 13%), however the overall reach of the media remains high (58% of respondents using social networks say they are more likely to use a local business that a connection has recommended.  

Mobile searches are more likely to result in a sale

Of the respondents last local business search, those conducted by a smartphone were more likely to result in a visit to store than PC or laptop searches. Significantly, those using a smartphone to search were more likely to buy as a result of that search (78% of smartphone searches and 77% of tablet searches resulted in a purchase. The 15 mile study was conducted via comscore as an email survey collecting 3,000 completed responses. *Neustar Localeze Data  

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Glossary:

IYP (Internet Yellow Pages)

ROI (Return On Investment)


Required reference:

‘YouCom Direct News Article, Nov 2013, London, ‘Local search behaviour survey’

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