Small Business Marketing Seminar gets straight “To the Point” in the Mother City

Sponsored by leading international investment group, Old Mutual, the inaugural tothePOINT Small Business Marketing Seminar took place on the 10th of December 2012 in what was described by one of the delegates as a “highly informative, inspiring and challenging day of discussion”. Speakers from across various online marketing disciplines engaged the audience with enlightening keynote presentations on four key topics including Search Engine Marketing, Email Marketing, Social Media and Conversion Optimization.

First up on the speakers’ panel was CEO of Synergize, Shaune Jordaan, with his topic “Search Engine Marketing”. Shaun delivered great insights on the power of the internet and how to target customers using this online tool. Below are a few key points that he highlighted:

–        “60% of South Africans made online purchases in the last year, 77% believe that online shopping is the future, and 2/3 of online shoppers discover new sites on search engines – Therefore it is imperative to be visible online. Make sure that your content is being found by continuously updating and uploading information on your sites.”

–        “Mobile is massive in SA – We are the 5th largest users in the world, so your sites need to be mobile-friendly – this is where your customers are communicating and searching for information.”

–        “It’s important to audit your site. Here are some tips: Register for Google webmaster tools, install analytics, download tools such as Firefox + SEO doctor and SEO tool apps, check your site’s back links in Google, check your rankings on Google preview tool, and always work with reputable agencies.”

Following Shaun was Suzanne Little, Head of Social Media at Quirk, with her presentation on Social Media. Her opening statement was one that was true to its description: “Most of us are like little toddlers when it comes to Social Media”. It seems apparent that many small business owners do not understand the value of social media neither do they know where to start. Suzanne re-iterated the importance of engaging with customers in a digitally-connected world as the emerging generation expect online communication. Below are a few points she highlighted: 

–        “Social customers are more knowledgeable, more empowered and more connected than ever before. They have a public megaphone and aren’t afraid to use it, and they conduct extensive research online before making purchase decisions.”

–        “The most powerful form of advertising is word of mouth, driven by ‘influencers’ then ultimately leveraging ‘brand advocates’. It’s all about getting others to push your advertising and marketing for you.” 

–        “Three important aspects of social include emotion, utility and entertainment. This involves developing a story and taking people on a journey, creating a hook that will engage an audience, finding all possible avenues where the user can be engaged and capturing as much content as possible.”

The third presentation on Email Marketing was delivered by Barbara Ulmi, Marketing Director of Graphic Mail. She highlighted best-practice tips, pointing out that email marketing is still the primary and most effective source of lead generation, as studies have shown that 77% of people prefer ‘permission-based’ communication via email verses other means. She further underlined how email marketing is applied and further advised that there is more to consider, including the following:

–        “One-for-all blasts are no longer as effective – it’s important to segment your audience and tailor the content in your newsletters for different customers (e.g. those who click and view vs. those who don’t).” 

–        “In terms of mobile devices, the following aspects need to be considered: Time – (create a clear call to action); Bandwidth – (go easy on images, include alt tags); Light – (use string contrasts); and Ergonomics – (use big buttons that are far enough apart).”

–        “Best practice tips: Practise opt-in email marketing; Keep it short; Set expectancy (what, how often, from whom); Add a welcome autoresponder; Add footer address and unsubscribe link; Balance the use of images and  text; Embed image vs. download link; Do a list clean regularly, update data and analyse reports.”

The final speaker for the day was Leon Lategan who rounded off the seminar with a challenging and though-provoking presentation on Conversion Optimization. Leon’s presentation was thoroughly engaging as he integrated the audience in his case studies.

His opening line to introduce his topic was “Don’t make me think”, which basically sums up the way in which we should engage with our customers from their perspective by keeping our websites simple, user friendly and straight to the point. In his view, the customer’s browsing experience should be pleasant and effortless. Below are a few points he made which stood out:

–        “The average conversion rate for business websites worldwide is 2-3% with the top performing site reaching around 40% – Even the biggest of brands make fundamental errors that prevent customer conversion. It’s all about having a clear and concise call to action to satisfy customers’ needs. Match content to desire!”

–        “Understand the importance of landing page optimisation, i.e. making sure that your website not only generates traffic, but that viewers stay on your page – this is where webpage design and site architecture comes in. The smallest detail can deter your viewer’s focus.”

–        “It’s not about having a site that ‘looks pretty’- it’s about functionality and effectiveness. If a visitor arrives on one of your landing pages and doesn’t immediately find the information they’re looking for, they will leave and look elsewhere. Get your content right throughout the site.”

Feedback from delegates has been extremely positive throughout as many found the speakers to be interesting and engaging, delivering relevant content that can be practically implemented.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and the whole Living Your Brand team for an amazing seminar.  I thought the information was spot on helpful, and the quality of the speakers was mind blowing. I would definitely recommend you to friends, family and business relations.  Keep up the good work.”AC Goodger, Creative at Willow Creek

A massive thanks to all who were involved, including our outstanding speakers, attendees and organisers who contributed to the successful execution of the inaugural tothePOINT Small Business Marketing Seminar. 2013 will see tothePOINT making its mark in  major cities across the country.

Post by Thando Kumalo*