Your Online Marketing Strategy Starts with You

Key Takeaways from Carole Smith's February 8 Master Class

The IPBN’s well-attended “Building A Successful Marketing Strategy” Master Class with Carole Smith from SynNeo took place on February 8, 2022, and was ripe with a wealth of tips and tricks to ensure your brand is being seen and heard in the best way possible. Carole went one step further than her helpful marketing tips on her blog, and shared important strategies intended to strengthen your existing online presence for your business or personal brand, and those who are unaware of these tips should take particular notice. 

In 2007, Carole Smith started coaching businesses and re-built her own brand using social media, blogging, events around Dublin, and continuing to train. Her coaching evolved into online marketing and has been working with clients around the world in online marketing strategy for the last 12 years. “It’s important to note the effect the pandemic has had on the consumer…it has surged online buying…because of lockdown and shielding they had to buy their groceries online. What that means for a business is that you need to be online…today is about giving you strategies to give you a leap ahead of your competitors.” According to Carole, Covid has accelerated online buying by ten years due to the "low-touch" internet environment. In fact, in the U.K. 67% of consumers said that the buying habits adopted during the pandemic are their new normal. 

In her presentation, Carole outlined that in Ireland, 79% of internet users shopped online in 2021, broken down by 83% of women, 75% of men, and 90% in a 16-44 demographic while in Portugal, February 2021 online purchases represented 19% of the total number of consumers up from 10% in the same month in 2020. Obviously, when it comes to your website, building a strong online presence is paramount. Carole underscored the importance of finding fresh content to stay in front of your target audience. It can be difficult and so is making sure the costs associated with getting this content provided can be daunting both mentally and financially, but it’s a necessary evil, especially in today’s internet age. 

Getting visitors to stay on your site is key, so if you see a high bounce rate, there are “fast fixes” you can do to solve the problem. Carole recommended getting feedback from a small group of friends and colleagues as a good place to start. She told attendees that you should make sure the group looks at the ease of site navigation, loading times, finding reviews and testimonials, and looking at the check-out process if any. In terms of Google rankings, it’s important to make sure people can find your website. Checking that you have a fast load time (under three seconds), you are using proper SEO tools, and that you have the right text explaining what you do is important. And so is making sure your images are labeled with important keywords and being represented on online directories such as golden pages, yelp, google my business, and otherwise. Carole urged attendees to make sure the latter issue is taken care of as it can turn your web presence around almost instantly.

Other tips that Carole mentioned are getting “backlinks,” where other sites link to yours. This shows that your site has relevance. Internal links scattered through your own site that link back to your own website can also boost your SEO. You can check your website’s status in its SEO with the help of free or paid online tools like this one or this one for Wordpress sites. The task list that these services recommend fixing are worth attention. Being sure your website’s load time is less than three seconds is perhaps one of the more important items to check. Carole says, “Things like the speed of your website could be…the images on your website are too large- they haven’t been condensed. It could be a matter of asking your website guys to…condense the images.”

Carole shared a website checklist to conclude her website presentation that includes all of the above tips before moving on to social media. She said “Not having a social presence is a red flag to a consumer, so you will need to know the social site that your customers use and use that platform. Unless you have a chatbot on your website, you need a social media presence.” When it comes to global stats, you can see that Facebook is the leading social media tool (2.79 billion users in 2021 versus TikTok’s 689 million). With Facebook, keep in mind that there is zero free engagement and trying to beat the algorithm for free engagement is a waste of time. Gain followers by posting consistently and answering comments and messages as quickly as possible, and understand that sometimes you will need to buy an ad if you want your message to get out to a wider audience. Being as specific as possible about those who you would like to see your Facebook ad is important to maximize impact. 

When it comes to creating content, you also need to know who you are targeting and remember that it’s all about the experience. “Hotels for example this year, it’s all about reconnecting with family and friends, so that’s what they need to be focusing on. Focus on the experience…Your customers are the best source of your content topics. When a customer asks you how, what, where, why, when, write it down…take those questions and use them for topics.” Carole provided a list of easy topics that you can cover to get a good message out while minimizing the time spent doing it including how-to guides, evergreen content, holiday posts, case studies, and more. It is about getting yourself in front of the camera, so define how you want others to see you. “You need to be putting stuff out there so people know how to see you,” Carole says. Building your personal brand can thrive through content for other publications, radio shows, conferences, and more.

If you enjoyed this master class and want to see what other free classes the IPBN has arranged, please feel free to browse through them here on the IPBN's YouTube Channel.