FAQs

If you’re interested in selling directly through your website, whether to other businesses or directly to consumers, we can help. Having previously integrated a variety of eCommerce solutions into sites for our clients, we know the pros and cons of each of the available platforms and payment gateways. Once we know a little bit about your customers, estimated sales volumes and products we’ll set you up with the most robust and economical platform for your business.

The type of marketing that will benefit your manufacturing business most depends on your business goals. If you want to generate more sales, reduce the bounce rate of your website, expand your product/service selections or something else entirely, we’ll come up with a plan to help you. All of our marketing campaigns are built from combinations of a lot of different practises, each combination for each client is unique.

Our design software is primarily for graphic design rather than technical drawings, but we can work with images from CAD/CAM software. If in doubt, give us a quick call and let us know what you have in mind and we’ll come up with a solution.

We carry out both business to business and business to consumer marketing for our clients in industry and manufacturing. We have found more manufacturers who would traditionally have operated strictly business to business services are now branching out into business to consumer sales through online shops. We can create a campaign to reach either type of customer, or both if you like. If you’re interested in getting your manufacturing company into the world of B2C sales we can help get you started on an eCommerce platform.

We understand that many of those in the industry and manufacturing sectors work with highly specialised products . Often these products have their own specific nomenclature and require specialist language in order to properly explain and understand their use. Having worked with a number of highly specialised businesses across several different industries, we’ve learned how to successfully integrate ourselves into their marketing efficiently and authoritatively. We’ll take the time to learn about what you do and to understand your industry as part of the marketing process so that we can function just like an in house marketing department, but at a fraction of the cost.

We’ve worked will all kinds of completely different businesses that all count themselves as manufacturers. From bespoke blinds system builders, to multi-national car parts creators. We’ve also worked with food and drink manufacturers and software companies who have all benefited from our flexible and powerful marketing. These are all companies that make things. Whether you sell to other businesses, directly to customers or both, we can help you communicate what makes you better than the competition.

Yes we can produce a wide variety of videos with gallery and image slideshow effects. We can work with images from anywhere, even from you smartphone. We can create anything from powerpoint style slide shows, to piles of polaroid-style virtual photographs and annotated clips set to music, or even with a voiceover. We’ve got cutting edge graphic design and photo editing software at our disposal so there’s an amazing amount of things we can do manipulate images. Let us know what you have in mind and we’ll get to work making it happen.

We’ve helped previous clients out with malware and virus removal from their websites and servers, as well as offering some practical tips and advice on how to prevent and recover from at attack. If your website or sever has been attacked we can diagnose and repair the problem and get you back online. If you’ve got an issue with your site give our friendly team a call and let us know what’s going on, we’ll come up with a plan to fix it. Don’t do anything drastic, since it could hurt your SEO. If attacks are dealt with in the right way it’s often possible to make a full recover with no lasting damage to your rankings. We can also help protect your site from future attacks with a range of hosting and maintenance plans that offer a number of security advantages, click here to learn more.

Sometimes the best way to capture video for a client’s digital channels is by filming or photograph on site at their premises. We have the experience and the equipment to produce highly affordable, professional quality photo and video content. If you’re within 20 miles of Manchester we’ll happily visit you to capture great content at no additional cost. For those a little further afield we’re happy to travel to you too with a small increase in price to cover our travel expenses.

Before we get going with any copywriting, whether that’s blog posting, social media content or creating copy for a website, we take a bit of time to get to know our clients. This normally means having a chat with you on the phone and reading through your existing posts and content. You’ll get chance to check through and provide feedback on what we’ve written before we publish anything. Our clients often prefer not to spend time checking our copywriter’s work before publishing, since once they understand the quality of the work they have full confidence in us.

It’s important to us that you’re happy with tone of voice we write in. For this reason we always ask for your sign off on our copy. We add the copy to a document using a service called Google Drive, which provides a quick and easy way to read and provide comments on our work. It’s a cloud based service, accessible from any device. If you’ve never used it before it’s really very straightforward. Often once we’ve worked with a client for a few weeks they give us the all clear to proceed to publishing on their behalf without feedback since our copywriters are great at capturing their style and tone.

Depending on the task, copywriting can take different amounts of time. Think about the difference between a headline on the front page of your website and a sentence in the midst of a 500 word article. The headline of your landing page is going to come under a great deal more scrutiny, with loads of variations discussed amongst the team before we settle on something. For this reason, different copywriting tasks have different costs associated with them. For the best value, consider one of our marketing retainers.

Keyword research is a huge part of our digital marketing work for our clients and certainly an essential component of copywriting. Our copywriters are equipped with all relevant keyword information before they begin writing for a client. All copy we produce will be properly keyword optimised. This means no keyword stuffing; our copywriters know the difference and Google does too. Rest assured your copy will be done to the letter of Google’s guidelines for good quality content.

Our copywriters have many years of experience writing for businesses. Previous clients include fitness businesses, manufacturing companies, cleaning companies, fashion brands, tech startups and more. We always do plenty of research before copywriting for a client, but we’ve got a lot of experience to draw on too. If we run into a subject that our writers have never written about before we’re confident in their ability to research and product great content on it. Of course, we’ll never publish anything without your consent.

Generally a good blog article that will be useful for SEO should be around 500 words long. From planning through to publication this generally takes around 2-3 hours. When working for clients on a retainer our copywriters end up learning quite a lot about the nature of the businesses they’re writing for. Often this means things get writing much more quickly, which means you get a lot more for your budget if you choose one of our marketing retainers.

The next best alternative to product photography is a professional quality digital mockup. We’ve created digital mockups for a lot of clients in the past and would be happy to help you with yours. We can add your product images or website screenshots to computer screens, mobile phones, billboards and anything else you like to show off simulations of your product or brand in the real world.

For some businesses, shot of products in real world situations are the best way to really show them off. Just pop your products in the post to us we’ll snap some eye catching images out in the real world.

Yes we can professional photograph your products. For larger projects we can travel to you, or simply have them delivered to our studio in Manchester and we’ll take them here.

Even the best professional photographs often need a bit of editing work before they’re ready to use online or in print. If you’ve had some photographs taken for your business but they don’t look quite right yet we would be happy to help. We have a range of cutting edge photo editing software that transform dull and lifeless photographs into great ones. Send us over an example of what you’d like and we’ll let you know how much of improvement you can expect. If you need new or additional photographs taking we can help you with that.

Watermarking and branding images is a good way to make sure your pictures can’t be used without reference to your business. Our graphic designers can add any graphics you like to your existing images. If you don’t already have branding or a logo, we can help you with that too. Take a look at our logo and branding services.

Small businesses are often targeted by cyber criminals because historically they have paid less attention to the security and maintenance of their websites. To combat this and mitigate the threat of attack we offer a number of services to make your site as secure as possible. Our security-focussed options include 3 tiers of email and website hosting, SSL upgrades and regular malware and virus scanning.

There are great SEO benefits to regularly updating your website with new content, so we always encourage our customers to do so. We use cutting edge content management systems on the sites we build to allow for client’s and their staff to easily add updates once their websites are complete. If you’re not confident in doing this it’s something we’re always happy to help with. We can also help you put together a content plan and assist with content creation too if needed.

The standard turnaround for a website is 4 weeks from the date we receive all the content and information needed to build it. Depending on the complexity of the site it can sometimes be quicker than this, so if you need something completing urgently do let us know and we’ll do all we can to help. If you’d like a holding page or something similar to act as placeholder whilst your site is being worked on, just ask.

As part of our competitor research we look at the design styles being used on other websites in your industry. We also chat with you about the look and feel you’d like for your site. If there are particular websites you like the look of then do share them with us and let us know what you like. If there’s a site you’d like as a template we’re always happy to take design cues from it. Rather than copy it, we’ll make you something ever better.

  • Q. What typical features does an Enterprise Email provide over Personal Email?
    Enterprise Email supports a number of features that aren’t available in Personal email. Shared calendaring, global contacts, shared document management, shared task management, push synchronisation for mobile devices, MS Outlook & Mac OSX.
  • Q. Which Email Clients and protocols are supported?
    You can send and receive emails using any desktop-based email client such as Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora, Entourage 2004, Windows Mail, etc. We also have a guide on how you can configure different email clients to send/receive emails. The enterprise email product supports the POP, IMAP and MAPI protocols.
  • Q. How do I use my Webmail Interface?
    To access your Webmail Interface, you can use the white-labelled URL: http://webmail.yourdomainname.com. Once on the login page, you would need to login with your email address and the corresponding password.
  • Q. Which mobile phones can I access my mail from?
    Your email can be accessed using any Smartphone or Tablet. Our responsive webmail, is compatible on all major Operating systems such as iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Blackberry.
  • Q. What ports do I need to use for Email Hosting?
    Usually, the port used for the Outgoing Mail Server/SMTP Service is 25. However, there might be a situation where your ISP might be blocking the use of port 25 for SMTP service. To circumvent this you can use an alternate port 587 for sending mails.
  • Q. Can I create mailing lists?
    Yes, you can create mailing lists and add/delete users, select a moderator, restrict people from joining a list or even ban users from a list. More information on this can be found in our knowledgebase
  • Q. What is your SPAM policy?
    We take a zero tolerance stance against sending of unsolicited e-mail, bulk emailing, and spam. “Safe lists”, purchased lists, and selling of lists will be treated as spam. Any user who sends out spam will have their account terminated with or without notice.
  • Q. Can I use Auto Responders?
    Yes, you can. An auto-responder is a program that, when setup for your email address, sends out an automatic pre-set reply to an email, as soon as it is received at this email address. To set up an Auto Responder, please refer to the following KnowledgeBase article.

SEO involves a number of tactics which are used in combination to improve the search performance of a website. This is not the same as directly increasing traffic to your website, but if the SEO has been carried out properly then of course the traffic should follow. In order to ensure SEO actually drives traffic to a website the campaign needs to be planned to increase the search performance for specific phrases that customers are actually searching for. We always take the time to research how your customers search, what kind of language and phrases they use, before beginning to optimise your presence for better search performance.

Webmaster Tools sometimes penalises sites which have had SEO work carried out against Google’s guidelines. Over the years some SEO providers have discovered ways to play the system, achieving big improvements in visibility for their clients in a very short space of time. Since they have gone against Google’s guidelines, when they are discovered the sites in question are penalised. Sometimes this happens some time after the questionable SEO was carried out and can catch business owners off guard. It is possible to recover from this, so if you need a little help then do get in touch. All SEO carried out by Alloy Marketing is ‘white-hat’, which is to say it follows Google’s guidelines proper and avoids risking any penalties.

There are hundreds of factors which govern how a business appears in search results and they’re constantly evolving. If your website has suddenly disappeared from Google’s results pages there could be many factors involved. If Google have recently made changes to their guidelines or algorithms this could have affected your site. Alternatively it could be connected to recent changes on your site, hacking, or some links to your site from questionable sources may have been found. Don’t do anything drastic. It is possible to recover a website when this happens so don’t worry, we can put together a strategy to bring your site back to life.

If your website suddenly drops in Google’s rankings it can be a pretty nasty shock for your business. A bit of investigation will be needed in order to work out exactly what is happened and how to fix it. Remember, many people are competing for the top spots in search results, so it could be that your competitors have upped their SEO budget and you’re no longer publishing enough content or building enough links to compete. We can carry out a full SEO audit of your site to work out what’s going on and the best way to fix it.

Whether one is superior to the other depends on the results you’re looking for. Where PPC excels is in achieving instant results, but if it’s not backed up by any SEO work the benefit will stop as soon as the campaign is turned off. For businesses with a very limited budget, SEO offers longer-term and more sustainable growth so is generally a better investment of marketing budget. We find the best way to grow a business is to try to create a bit of budget flexibility in order to prioritise budget into different areas over the life of a campaign. Strategic bouts of PPC during a longer term SEO campaign can be very effective. Our marketing retainers were created with this sort of flexibility in mind.

Whether you need local or national SEO depends on the type of business you have. Local SEO services are ideal for getting more customers into a venue, for example a bar or restaurant, or for being found by customers when providing a service in a single town or city, for example for a sole trader or a repair person.

National SEO is for companies who provide country-wide or international services and sales. These require a different approach since they need to reach a much wider customer base. Typically if your business sells goods of any sort online, a national SEO plan is the way to go.

That’s fine! In our experience, marketing works best when all the pieces work together like a well oiled machine. If you already have most of those pieces in place, we can fill in the gap in a way that makes sure it fits in with the rest. Our specialty is in doing marketing the works in the real world, rather than doing work in isolation, this means we’re happy to carry out just the work you need.

Marketing is different for any business. But our approach for doing marketing for manufacturing is the same as we would do for any sector. To make sure that your marketing gets the best results, it has to be tailored to your business. Depending on what you do, how you do it and what marketing you already do, we will suggest the marketing strategies that will get the most bang for your buck. Ultimately, because we get to grip with the value of what you offer, we can help you communicate that to your customers.

Absolutely, we use content management systems (CMS) to make sure that you’re in control of your shop without needing to be a fully qualified developer. Of course, we’re always happy to help run the site if you need a hand.

Absolutely, with the majority of search traffic now coming from mobile browsers fully compatibility is a top priority for all of our websites.

This is affected by how your website is built but the most popular platforms we implement are: Paypal, Paypal Pro, Stripe, WorldPay, Sage Pay.

Paypal Standard – Your website comes with a built in Paypal Standard payment processing system, Paypal standard has it’s own commission rates for sellers. This system sends users to enter their card details onto a paypal hosted payments page

Information from the Paypal website (no monthly fees) and transaction charges
Small or new business can use Website Payments Standard. This system takes online payments securely on PayPal checkout pages with no application process or set up fees. It’s easy to integrate – you can start taking payments in minutes
For businesses turning over £50k or more online per year you’ll need Paypal Website Payments Pro. With Website Payments Pro, there’s no need for a separate payment gateway or merchant account, the systems uses 3D secure technology and advanced fraud management filters. There are no set up fees but it requires a short application process. You can customise and brand your checkout experience and you’ll have acecss to dedicated email and phone support. Read more here – external link

We can add a huge range of features to your shop including the following list. If you would like additional features don’t hesitate to ask and we’ll do all we can to accomodate you;.

Features include:
Advanced shipping processor
Advanced payment processing options
Advanced stock and inventory import from .csv functionality
Coupon/voucher system
Wishlist functionality
Customer email newsletters
Advanced stock control/bulk edit stock levels and print stock
Sell recurring memberships to your service/product
Live onscreen currency converter
Commission and affiliate marketing functionality
VAT validation before purchase
Advanced pricing rules/discount and multi buy offers
Personalised/message products – collect information at order
Zooming product photo gallery enhancements
Review a product to receive a discount
Sell products on your Facebook page
Newsletter integration – send and subscription system
Store credit system and gift cards

The default system is either free shipping or flat rate shipping (all products same shipping price), you can also use “class” shipping by specifying prices for different “classes” of goods.

We can help you set up everything from scratch. Firstly, we will help you put together a plan. If you know exactly what products you want to sell, and who you need to target, then we will get you started on the platform that will work best for your goals, this might be Google, Facebook, Bing, Instagram or all of the above. Once these foundations are in place we can write original ads with engaging copy to give your campaign a launchpad. Once it’s up and running we will make ongoing improvements and tweaks to improve the cost and refine the targeting as the campaign continues.

Of course! We can jump onboard with your existing ad campaign, to make improvements or add more ads. Our experienced team is fantastic at picking up on areas where we can make significant improvements, and our broad range of skills from copy writing and data analysis.

This is a really good question and one that’s tricky to answer as it will depend on your situation. Sometimes it can be hard to know how much you should spend but ultimately the answer should determined by how much your customers are worth. We can help you collect and analyse the data to show much it costs to acquire each customer, if you know how much you make form each customer then we work out if it’s worth it. Even if you are already making a return on your ad campaign, we can help make further improvements. On large campaigns, even a tiny improvement in CPC or CTR can result in big savings, so get in touch to see what we can do for you.

Our experienced PPC managers identify any weak links in the chain, be it Click Through Rate, Cost Per Click or other areas. Then they put in place the changes to make it work better. As we collect more and more data, and carry out ongoing split testing, we can continue to make lots of small improvements that add up to big savings.

“Optimisation” is the general term for lots of different types of work that make your ads perform better. This means you get more clicks and more sales for less money. This work may involve creating more copy for ads, spending more budget on the ads that are cheapest or highest converting, adding negative keywords to reduce the chance of your ads being shown to someone who won’t be interested in your ad or making improvements to the landing page to increase conversion. Whether you are new to ads, or want to start making more use of a large budget, we can help you optimise and improve.

We help you collect and analyse all sorts of data, from the cost per click and click through rates of ads to relative keyword volume and other information from outside the platform. We will be on hand to make sense of the KPIs and explain the different between CPC and CTR. We can also provide a simplified dashboard, linking up your Google Ads with the analytics from your website so you get the full picture and see how many clicks become customers.

For most platforms, such as Google Adwords, you pay the platform directly for the ads. You give us permission in the platform to act as a manager and we make sure that your ads are full operational and optimised.

Don’t delete it! Speak to us first or you might lose the SEO benefits of having had a website at all, even if it might not be a great one there will be some value in it!

We will always try to help our clients where possible and have dug some of them out of some rather sticky situations with their previous websites. Please bear in mind however that if you have worked with another company for your current or former website they may have various terms and conditions that prevent anyone but you from accessing or controlling it. We’ll do what we can, we should at least be able to point you in the right direction.

We’re here for you! Our copywriters and content creators will be in a great place to devise a content plan once they’ve finished learning about your business and building elements of your new site. Give us a call to chat about what you need.

We understand that some customers may have already invested in a website and simply want to add functionality to it. We’re always happy to help with this. Sometimes existing sites have been built on frameworks which don’t support certain features and upgrades. In these cases we’ll have a chat with you and take a look at what you’ve currently got in order to work out the most economical way to get the features you’re looking for.

You are most welcome to, you’ll be given the keys to the castle as soon as we’re done.

Definitely, this is vital and is a fundamental part of all of our designs.

Yes absolutely, if you’ve yet to get set up we can help and even decorate your new platform to properly match your wider branding.

If you’d like help growing the likes or interactions on your page let us know. Once we understand a bit more about your business we’ll be able to come up with the best way to get you the results you’re looking for. It could involve sharing specific types of content, interacting with others, or paying Facebook directly for a promotional campaign.

However you would like you channel to run, let us know. We can create multiple posts a day with as little or as much input from you as you would like.

Absolutely. Whether it’s designing assets, working out the right budget or defining the specific demographics to be targeted we can take care of your campaign and make sure it makes its mark.

If you have no idea where to start with Facebook and would like to work with us we’d be happy to provide a crash course to get you used to the service and how it can help your business.

Please don’t! This is one of the oldest and worst SEO practises around, the links will be virtually worthless and will damage your site’s credibility in Google’s eyes. Our SEO does involve link building, but focusses on high value links from reputable sources. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; there are no quick fixes!

It’s a statistical fact that the vast majority of Google search users do not even look at the second page of search results. If you have invested in a website for your business, you’re going to want it to appear on the first page if you want to make it truly worthwhile. By appearing on first page, you’ll get your name in front of thousands and thousands more potential customers, building trust and familiarity with each one and dramatically increasing your chance of a customer conversion.

Investing your marketing budget into SEO is the way to get there. Competition is fierce of course, so a strategy is needed to push a business onto the first page and in order to maintain that position and increase performance further. Remember also, it’s not just web traffic, there’s a great deal of prestige attached to appearing at the top of search results due to the positive impact it has on the perception of your business.

Yes. We require that you sign up for a minimum of three months for our SEO plans. We have found that proper SEO requires this amount of time for its effects to be felt. Underhanded quick fixes which deceive Google might provide an immediate boost but will damage your visibility in the long run so we always avoid them, be wary of those promising quicker results. We want your business to grow, so we craft stable and reliable strategies for our clients. If you would like to end your contract after three months that’s no problem at all, but we know when you begin to see the results you will be delighted.

There are a lot of different components involved in SEO. Local SEO generally involves a greater focus on accurate local listings in search engines, analysing the strengths and weakness of local competition and optimising your web presence for best performance against them. National strategies can involve a greater amount of content and specifically targeting different areas of your chosen market. These are broad descriptions and can change depending on the project. If you’re unsure which type of SEO you need, ask yourself if your customers primarily come from your local area or further afield.

Our tools run daily scans, these scans will be assembled into reports and delivered to you as often as you like. Most often once a week, or once a fortnight, depending on the level of interaction the business gets. If you would prefer us to respond to customers on your behalf and provide real time support and interaction we certainly can.

We completely understand the need to protect your brand image, voice and reputation. We would want the same for ourselves. Rest assured that we are a small, passionate team who will take the time to really understand your business and get the tone right.

This is a classic advertising tactic, but could be seen as being a little dishonest. Whilst we wouldn’t encourage you to do it, we can’t stop you. Just bear in mind that if you provide the kind of positive customer experience that leads people to submit genuine positive reviews and feedback you’ll achieve far more steady and reliable long term growth than if you fake it.

First of all don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, negative feedback can be far more useful for your business than positive! Negative comments give you a chance to demonstrate your professionalism in dealing with an unhappy customer and your dedication to outstanding customer service. A negative review with a mature and helpful response from a business can do wonders for boosting prospective customer confidence in the business.

Our minimum retainer period is 3 months, we think by that time you’ll be more than convinced of the value of our work. If, after that time, you decide you would like to move on that’s no problem at all. We won’t wrap you up in legal red tape and make it difficult for you to leave. We do use third party reporting tools to show the progress of your campaign and detail how your budget is being spent. Our friendly team are more than happy to go through these reports with you if you wish.

Absolutely, but we know it’s not always immediately obvious. For all our digital activity we provide third party reports to take any uncertainty out of the equation. Even with physical marketing such as flyers and business cards we have tools which can track progress to show how your budget is used to get results from your campaign.

Even if your main source of business is government contracts put out to tender, or so niche that you think no-one is searching for it, people instinctively get started with Google these days. Companies will have to do due diligence when choosing a supplier and may find you for the first time during this process. If only a very small number of people are searching for your products this is a great opportunity to make progress in search rankings and make sure that you are at the top of the list when they search.

Don’t worry, we work with some outstanding copywriters who can come up with fantastic copy for use in content marketing. If you’d rather come up with the content yourself but don’t know where to start we’d be delighted to point you in the right direction and talk you through some examples of good blog content.

We’re happy to include two rounds of edits for each design job we take on. Depending on the scale of the project we will try to be as flexible as possible. We want you to love your finished designs as much as we love making them.

We can deliver designs in any format you wish, including layered files. As standard we will provide high resolution PDF files, JPEGs and, where appropriate, scalable vectors.

Weekly, or bi-weekly updates are the best way to demonstrate to Google that your business is active and deserving of ranking. If you can’t think of ways to continually update your website with new content we can help you come up with a strategy.

That depends on the amount of traffic to your website. Get in touch and we can take a look and give you an idea. In many cases once work begins we’ll have useful data within a few days.

A/B split testing distributes two different versions of your website’s landing pages equally amongst visitors to the site. The different pages may use different images, layouts, colour palettes or words. By monitoring the bounce rate of traffic to these pages we can get an idea of the type of content and presentation that is most effective for your business.

The bounce rate of a website refers to the percentage of visitors who visit (or land) on the site then quickly leave the site (or bounce). It is used to give an idea of the quality of the site. Sites that have an easy to understand layout and are simple to navigate tend to have the lowest bounce rates.

Copyrights

First, you guarantee that all elements of text, images or other artwork you provide are either owned by your good selves, or that you’ve got permission to use them. Then, when your final payment has cleared, copyright will be automatically assigned as follows:

  • You will own the visual elements that we create for this project. We’ll give you source files and finished files and you should keep them somewhere safe as we’re not required to keep a copy. You own all elements of text, images and data you provided, unless someone else owns them.
  • We will own the unique combination of these elements that constitutes a complete design and we’ll license that you, exclusively and in perpetuity for this single project only, unless we agree otherwise. We can provide a separate estimate for that.
  • We love to show off our work and share what we’ve learned with other people, so we reserve the right, with your permission, to display and link to your project as part of our portfolio and to write about it on websites, in magazine articles and in books.

 

We can take payment for project work with bank transfers, debit and credit cards, direct debit. For retainer work we require payment by direct debit.

More information

Contact us for more information here.

After several months testdriving some of the best online accounting and invoicing software solutions available to small businesses, here are some of the best options

Spanning several months of testing and including solutions from KashflowXeroClearbookFreshbooksSiwapp and Invoice bubble. The final conclusion for the Small business (1-10 employees) was:

  • Recommended online invoicing and accounting software: Freeagent made by Edinburgh-based developers.
  • Along with invoices and estimates, FreeAgent can handle timesheets, expenses and if you choose to import and annotate bank statements you can complete your HRMC TAX return and submit it online
  • Update: April 2014 – We are now using Xero for online invoicing and has been working well for us so far – we will keep you updated

 

Building and maintaining an active presence for your business online – top tips using social media

When you run a small to medium size business, you often carry out the roles of several employees within a larger company. Hopefully this article can help shed some light on getting the most out of your limited and valuable time, working on internet marketing and public relations using social media.

“Businesses who are relentless in building a following on social media are in fact creating their own publishing platforms, growing their marketing channels and content distribution networks. It is a digital asset that grows every year. Over time it can provide huge leverage and marketing independence if done right.”

Understand the demographics

  1. 72% of all internet users are now active on social media
  2. 18-29 year olds have an 89% usage
  3. The 30-49 bracket sits at 72%
  4. 60 percent of 50 to 60 year olds are active on social media
  5. In the 65 plus bracket, 43% are using social media
  6. Time spent on Facebook per hour spent online by country. Here are the top three. USA citizens get the top gong at 16% followed by the Aussies at 14 minutes and the Brits at 13 minutes.
  7. 71% of users access social media from a mobile device.

The paradigm of social media only being used by the younger generations should be put to rest now!

Harnessing social media for your business

Social media is an often overlooked tool at your disposal to keep in touch with customers, keeping them interested and up to date with your services. Many people feel like social media has a life of its own, that they will never be able to get the hang of it, but remember social media can reach potential customers that wouldn’t normally get to know that your company even exists.

Tweets are something we see in our everyday lives, at the beginning of our favourite shows there are hashtags displayed on the screen, our news programs engage with viewers by reading out live tweets and adverts run competitions that utilise tweets, shares and #hashtags. You can make the most of this by spending a little time getting to know twitter.

Top tip: discover new accounts

Try checking out the “Discover” tab within your twitter account and see what is trending in your area. Twitter’s algorithms are constantly trying to connect you with other people and companies it sees as relevant to you, often these are not ideal, but occasionally twitter will suggest companies and accounts to follow that you would never have considered and could potentially open new avenues for generating leads for your business.

Diversify your lead generation sources

Your online presence is all about balance, just as with the rest of your business, so a good mix of sharing your own website’s content, social media messages from other accounts and up to date blogs will make your company stand out from the competition. By giving your customers something interesting to read they will build up more of an affinity to you and your services than they would to a company that just posts a flyer through the door.

Rather than forcing your marketing messages onto potential customers, seed your messages across multiple areas where customers could stumble across your brand, to reap the rewards of “pull marketing” instead of the usual interruption style “push marketing”

Social Media Stats you NEED to know

  1. Social media marketing budgets are projected to double in the next five years. (SocialTimes)
  2. The top three social networks used by B2B marketers are LinkedIn (91%); Twitter (85%); and Facebook (81%).
  3. However, just 62% of marketers say that LinkedIn is effective, while 50% say the same for Twitter and only 30% of B2B marketers view Facebook as effective. (FlipCreator)
  4. This one may surprise you: Google+ actually averages more visits per month than Facebook. Google+ receives 1.2 billion visits per month compared to Facebook’s 809 million. (iMedia Connection) Building a solid presence on Google+ is now an essential tool for B2B marketing
  5. Grandma and grandpa are crashing teenagers’ social media party. The fastest-growing age cohort on Twitter is 55-to-64 year-olds, up 79% since 2012.
  6. And the 45-54 age bracket is the fastest-growing group on both Facebook and Google+. (Fast Company)
  7. The collective spending power of millennials will surpass that of Baby Boomers by 2018, and millennials will comprise 75% of the global labor force by 2025. (AllTwitter)
  8. Millennials are, in general, not loyal to employers (91% expect to stay in a job for less than three years) but are loyal to brands (95% want brands to court them actively).(AllTwitter)

Build a personality for your brand

A simple tweet a day about the weather in the local area, an event in your town or to a local cafe you went for lunch will build up a personalised image to your followers increasing the chances of common ground, beliefs and ethics – extending the influence of your branding beyond the visuals of a simple logo and colour scheme, to more fundamental emotional triggers.

These followers could one day need a service from you and building an active social presence to get visibility on their social media streams increases the likelihood of your business being there in their social streams at the moment they need your service. If they feel passionately about ethical issues in common with you, such as supporting family-run businesses, buying organic or being eco-friendly, you will multiply your chances of converting these leads into customers.

Build a blog to prove yourself within your industry

By adding blog content to your website you can link to these pages in your tweets and social messages and give your followers something more involved to read about. Have you noticed how many people walk around looking at their phones, sitting on a bus, train, waiting for a friend? People entertain themselves looking at social media and keeping that content fresh will mean they always have a reason to check back to see what you are doing.

Click here to see a great example of small business blogging to market a chocolate manufacturing company.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t try too hard to sell products directly through twitter – post links to product pages that people can visit if they choose.
  • Acting like a REAL person on twitter will make for a more interesting follow
  • Post real links to real content that are related to your industry – become a ‘content curator’ to get far more followers
  • Follow interesting people yourself, support other local business and they will support you back.
  • Engage with customers that retweet and reply to you.

Other articles in our blog and internet marketing information category might hopefully fill some other gaps in your knowledge and allow you to generate a higher return from your investment of time and resources online.

Webdesign Add-ons

Many extras are listed to give you an idea of prices, some are not, please ask if you can’t find the add on you’re looking for.

Animation Add-ons

  • Homepage slider – from £30
  • Photo Galleries – from £30
  • Testimonials slider – from £30
  • Latest news slider – from £30
  • Polls / Surveys  – from £30

Social media Add-ons

  • Twitter feed – from £POA
  • Facebook feed – from £POA
  • Social sharing buttons – from £POA
  • Social Follow buttons – from £POA
  • Website feed into Facebook Page – from £POA
  • Share to reveal content  – from £POA

Enquiry form Add-ons

  • Extra fields in standard forms  – from £20
  • Advanced enquiry forms  – from £30
  • Survey forms – from £30
  • Quotation forms – from £30
  • Fact finder forms – from £POA
  • Enquiry / quote calculators  – from £POA

CMS Add-ons

  • Blogging / Article publishing platform  – from £POA
  • Article submission – from £POA
  • Recip. Link directory platform – from £POA
  • Email marketing integration – from £POA
  • CRM integration – from £POA

Subscription Add-ons

  • Email newsletter subscription setup  – from £20
  • RSS Feed subscription setup – from £20

Identify successful landing pages and consider increasing your price to discover maximum profit per item.- eCommerce site structures need to be great – use breadcrumbs, internal searches, faceted navigation (such as Amazon use in their top nav) and filters.- Don’t hide images in JavaScript. Make them high res, easy to share, include alt tags and build a filter in Google Analytics for viewers by image search so you can see how they convert.- Rewrite or spin descriptions. Include long tail versions of keywords in descriptions as manufacturers don’t always use terms that users use.- Put delivery information on the product page to reduce drop outs and incentivise with special offers (e.g. spend x more to get free shipping)- Never 404 out of stock products, show relevant alternative products instead. Even if a product is discontinued you should 301 but never 404.- If products are being discontinued and people know, you can increase the price and let people know you can still get it from them- Make sure you are on Google shopping and build a filter to track this (see bada.ms/trackgoogleshopping for tips on making this filter)- Sign up for review sites, aggregate product reviews (such as by adding to them to Revoo or using Schema).- Prevent duplicate pages using: Robots.txt, Canonical tags, No index/follow, hide facet links in JavaScript, use XML Sitemaps and manage parameters in Google Webmaster Tools.- For link building use blogger outreach, awards, giveaways, guest posts, press releases, article marketing and blogger events.- Put social share buttons on every product page and order confirmation page

Several years ago, your website would have got a lot of benefits and climbed higher in the results on Google. But nowadays since they have been abused by spammers; Free listing sites rarely offer any benefits at all, some can even be harmful if you register to lots of them in a short period of time. We maintain a list of around 100 websites that are the best in the world and offer some value to your website from joining, and as part of your monthly internet marketing plan, we will submit your business to these websites on your behalf and maintain the list of the sites for your reference if required.
  • Keep in mind that Google can detect the quality of links and how quickly there are new links to your website.
  • If there is a sudden surge of very low quality links, it can look very suspicious. And can possibly impede other work being done to benefit your website
  • In general i would say best to leave the link building to us!
  • If you are often finding sites that you think may be of benefit to join, please build a list and send this over, we will scan the sites and tell you if they would be of benefit to join.

It’s unfortunate that one of the side effects of getting more exposure across the internet, is that your website will become more valuable and attractive to hackers.

  • If you notice your website has been hacked please get in touch via email or phone, and your website will be restored from a daily backup of the day before your site was hacked.

Why do hackers hack websites?

  1. Some do it just to prove they can, similar to graffiti artists tagging public places with their signature
  2. Some do it to place links on your website that link back to their websites. Google may pass some authority from your website to their website through the link. If we react quickly and restore your website back to normal, it’s likely Google wont even notice.
  3. Some do it to try to damage the reputation of your business – and may have been paid to hack your website by one of your competitors.

How can we stop them?

  1. Strong passwords, for your website CMS login and hosting login are setup for you as standard
  2. If you change your password, make sure it is strong and contains upper and lower case letters and numbers
  3. Your website CMS is regularly updated and security patches are applied on your behalf

However it is very difficult to create and maintain a 100% secure website – so you should be aware that its impossible for us to guarantee your site will never experience a security compromise.Enhanced / upgraded security hosting packagesIf you are very concerned about this happening, or if your website is mission critical, we can provide an advanced hosting package that has higher security and cloud redundancy, please enquire about prices ranging from £20 per month.

Regardless of budget, we normally advise clients it will be between two and three months before they begin to feel the benefit of our SEO work. The work we carry out results in long-lasting SEO benefits, the initial time taken to feel the results reflects the time it takes for Google to recognise and respond to the optimisations we make. Some factors which affect how long it can take to achieve noticeable results include the state of the competition in your industry, the competition around the specific search terms you’d like to rank for and the area you wish to target, for example a town, a city or a country.

We operate fully ‘white hat’ SEO strategies, meaning all work is carried out in accordance with Google’s guidelines.Whilst some providers may promise quick fixes, the penalties for going against Google’s guidelines are severe and can see a website completely removed from search listings.

Important points

  1. Some aspects of your brand’s web presence such as social media mentions and shares are picked up almost immediately.
  2. Other aspects of your SEO campaign such as links and mentions on websites, are not noticed by the bots, until the next time they visit the page has a link or mention of your business. So there is not much we can do to speed up the discovery of mentions and links on other people’s websites.
  3. Also, if you are in a very competitive market, but are only paying for a basic plan, it can take months before your campaign builds enough momentum to start climbing rankings.

About our SEO plans

  • All plans contain an equal feature-set, the only difference is the amount of time our team work each month on your campaign
  • Our SEO strategy is based on a “recipe” of activities that we break down between to our team with various talents, to make the most effective use of your budget.
  • The more you spend each month, the more hours our team complete and the faster your rankings improve.
  • Our regular publishing builds a growing audience online and a search engine ranking potential within your website, that enables your own, more important news to reach a larger audience at the moment you need to broadcast it. The same applies for the social media aspects of the service

When can I expect to see results and what will those results be?

  • SEO traction usually begins in month 2, as the momentum builds 1st page rankings are typically seen within 6 months, depending on the competitive environment online in your niche.
  • Above the fold (positions 1-5) rankings for high competition keywords are usually seen towards the 6month – 1 year mark.

What kind of benchmarks do we set for the campaign so we can measure the progress of the program?

  • Keyword rankings and traffic will be tracked daily and reported on once a month
  • All the activity for link building is tracked and reports are available on request
  • Every single task for our team is created in our PM software and tracked
  • We will send you access to our interactive online analytics and rankings software.
  • We have Online marketing KPI dashboards available on request that can be shown in your sales office on a big screen, to monitor any combination of analytics, conversion or Social KPIs in real-time prices, from £10 per month.

What is the value I can expect from your service?

  • Your website can expect significant increase in converting traffic. Average Alloy SEO customers see a 70% increase within the first year of being a client.
  • Our average client receives 1,721% return on investment within 1 year of starting an SEO campaign with us.
  • We have a 98% client retention rate which speaks to the satisfaction and ROI our client’s experiences with us.

The owners of the search engine ranking algorithms (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo etc,) spend millions trying to combat spam and fight companies using unethical techniques to manipulate the rankings.So with odds stacked against the average small business owner – it’s just not practical anymore to recommend anything but a completely white-hat or ethical and Google webmaster guidelines compliant service to customers.

  • No outsourced work means:
    • Full accountability and the lowest possible risks for you
    • High standards of copy-writing
    • Your business’ best interests in mind at all times
  • Full reporting and tracking across your investments

Another great description of White-hat SEO

In search engine optimisation (SEO) terminology, White Hat SEO refers to the usage of SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that focus on a human audience opposed to search engines and completely follows search engine rules and policies. For example, a Web site that is SEO optimised, yet focuses on relevancy and organic ranking is considered to be optimised using White Hat SEO practices. Some examples of White Hat SEO techniques include using keywords and keyword analysis, back-linking, link building to improve link popularity, and writing content for human readers White Hat SEO is more frequently used by those who intend to make a long-term investment on their Web site. Also called Ethical SEO. http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/White_Hat_SEO.html

  • 3 months minimum term for all marketing plans as it can take 2-3 months for the benefits of improvements to impact ranks, so a minimum term demonstrates your commitment to a successful campaign
  • If you’re unsure about the commitment – why not try a 3 month campaign then observe the results for a month or 2
  • You can resume your campaign at any point within 1 year
  • This gives you chance to appreciate progress and consider the challenges of becoming one of the top companies on the web within your region/niche
  • And gives us a guide to calculate the cost/value of generating a steady stream of leads from the internet via search engines.
  • Whether it takes a further 3 months or 12 months to get the rankings you need to deliver your required level of visitors, your campaign is scaled to realistically seek dominance within hyperlocal/micro-niches of your industry.

Sustained investment in marketing while you are busy, can really help to make the quiet months a lot easier. Companies that try to invest in marketing in short bursts, to get themselves out of “quiet dips”, often really struggle to maintain any kind of momentum, which would help to stabilise turnover and compensate for seasonal dips and troughs.

General marketing tips

  • Keeping an eye on all your marketing “bases” throughout the financial year will help to ensure you are prepared and ready to tackle any seasonal dips in demand for your products or services
  • As you  know – marketing is all about getting in front of your potential customer’s eyeballs or ears
  • More appearances in front of the potential customer (impressions) increases the chances that they will either be won over by your marketing message and buy from you, or they may have noticed your brand enough times to have built up brand awareness or even trust in your brand which motivates them to buy.
  • Getting your business in front of customers requires a marketing across many different channels to increase your chances of getting customers, whilst always tracking to see which channels are working best.
  • It can really help to begin collecting and building a database of your past customers and enquiries, the more information is better: Name, address, email, phone, size of property, quote price, final invoice price, any other notes. etc.
  • It can help to use a tool to organise and manage all these contacts/clients, and you will find many CRM (customer relationship management) tools online, some better than others. Get in touch for more information on help setting up the best CRM system for your business as we have a lot of experience in this area, and especially as some can be linked with your website’s enquiry form for even more convenience.

Marketing channels to mobilise

  1. Word of mouth marketing – Get business cards, flyers, brochures and promotional items printed and ready for use throughout the year. Then in quiet months you could push a local flyer campaign or take some time to fit local networking events into your schedule handing out flyers and building relationships with local business owners.
  2. Email marketing – Continuously collect customer and enquiry information and store in your spreadsheet or CRM software. In quiet months you can send out special offers and discounts to your database of email addresses, these past customers should have a good conversion rate so contacting them occasionally with an email campaign can help to generate some sales.
  3. Search engine marketing: PPC – Pay per click advertising offers immediate returns on your investment as you can visitors and clicks within a few hours. But without proper setup and maintenance of your ads they can end up costing you a fortune, so get some free advice before making any decisions and I will do my best to recommend the very best investments for your business type and requirements.
  4. Social media marketing – Building up many followers throughout the year can help when business is quiet, as you have a larger group of potential customers to broadcast your message to. If business is slow It can be useful to spend some spare time reaching out to local customers or companies on twitter, facebook and even linkedin. But be careful to not waste your time as there are limits to the benefits from most strategies.
  5. Search engine marketing: SEO – It can take days, weeks or even months for the benefits of SEO work to start to show, so you cant rely on SEO as a quick fix to get out of dip in sales. Investment in SEO throughout the year will help to build up a great website and presence online so that you can continue to get hits on your website when there are seasonal dips in demand. If you have any spare time, one of the most valuable things you can do to help our SEO efforts is to produce news and information articles related to your industry for publishing on the website.

How a domain expires

Contrary to popular belief, domains do not expire when they say they do. If the owner of a domain does not renew by the expiration date of the domain, the domain goes into “expired” status. For 40 days, the domain is in a grace period where all services are shut off, but the domain owner may still renew the domain for a standard renewal fee. If a domain enters this period, it is a good first indicator that it may not be renewed, but since the owner can re-register without penalty, it can also just be a sign of laziness or procrastination. After 40 days are up, the domain’s status changes to “redemption period”. During this phase, all WhoIs information begins disappearing, and more importantly, it now costs the owner an additional fee to re-activate and re-register the domain. The fee is currently around $100, depending on your registrar. When a domain enters its redemption period, it’s a good bet the owner has decided not to renew.Finally, after the redemption period, the domain’s status will change to “locked” as it enters the deletion phase. The deletion phase is 5 days long, and on the last day between 11am and 2pm Pacific time, the name will officially drop from the ICANN database and will be available for registration by anybody.The entire process ends exactly 75 days after the listed expiration date.

We now offer 2 levels of hosting – Basic and Professional.

  • Premium quality UK based hosting
  • Servers are based at the premium Blue Square data centres in the UK
  • Expected uptime is an outstanding 99.95% uptime
  • To give you an idea, there hasn’t been 1 single hosting / uptime complaint from customers in 2016.

This is a tough one, as they all offer different priced packages, for different locations of the UK and also for different business categories. And as you may already know – they have some very persistent salespeople to say the least!Offers really need to be considered on an individual basis – so please do get in touch with information of your package for a second opinion on anything.As a general rule though, these directories base their high prices on 2 benefits:

  1. Having a listing on their site (especially useful to those companies who dont own a website) and also being featured near the top of categories within the directory
  2. But more importantly – the high prices are based on the SEO benefits that these directory listings (used to) pass on to your business website – via the flow of authority through the link.

For almost a decade now it has been possible to buy these upgaded listings, from a few directories and as a result of the link authority passed over, your website could rank very high in the search results for your region. In effect, those companies who had the money to upgrade all their listings, would dominate the results in an unnatural way that does not offer Google’s users with the highest quality companies, but instead those companies who were prepared to pay.Fast-forward to 2012 and the search engine algorithms have advanced, to be able to minimise the unnatural influence of directory links on the search results. The directory companies know this, and are making their last ditch efforts to get some money out of customers not up-to-date with the increasing rate of change within the Microsoft and Google search quality algorithms.

  1. So, if the SEO benefit from all these directories is fairly similar –
  2. What are the viewing numbers of these websites – and which would be the best to advertise on?

Of course – getting a free listing on all of them is a great starting point – and this service is provided for you if you are paying for a monthly marketing plan. But as they all charge to upgrade -the difficult choice is prioritising which to invest in…In general my recommendations are as follows:

  1. Free listing on all of them should be your #1 investment (covered in monthly marketing plans)
  2. Upgrade Yell -depending on quoted price (from £200 p/year)
  3. Upgrade Qype – depending on quoted price (from £100 p/year)
  4. Upgrade Hotfrog– depending on quoted price (from £100 p/year)
  5. Upgrade Yahoo(city-visitor) – depending on quoted price (from £100 p/year)
  6. Upgrade Thomson Local – depending on quoted price
  7. Upgrade Touchlocal – depending on quoted price
However – if you are operating in a B2B market – you need to consider B2B only directories as another selection of options. Every niche will have certain directories that need to be pursued- so pelase get in touch for more information and advice based on experiences from previous clients.
  • Here’s the data the directory companies probably dont want you to know – it’s a year old but gives a good idea of the scale of readership and also rate of change.

width=550Based on the following rates of change below – you can get an idea that even Yelp, would not likely be able to compete with Yell, Qype, hotfrog or Vivastreet.width=550

Whats the difference?

  • Edits or additions to Static HTML websites are done through a code editor that requires you to update every file on the website upon each edit.
  • CMS websites allow you to create single files to control the appearance of pages, then dynamically inject content into these pages to rapidly create multiple different pages with an identical layout.

As an example, if you wanted to add a portfolio to your website, of say 6 projects including a projects summary page + 6 individual project pages.

  • To code in static HTML this would cost approx 7 x £40 per page = £280
  • To code in a CMS website costs approx £100 to create the templates then add 6x £10per page to create the portfolio items = £160

Why should you get help with PPC advertising?

Google were very clever to make the activation process for their PPC management software just easy enough for anyone to activate and start running a few ads. The problem is that the software is so powerful and poorly documented, it is very difficult for the average business owner to setup and maintain an account that performs well; and by “performs well” we mean several things:

  1. Poorly written text adverts will result in a low CTR (Click thru rate) which pushes down the quality score of your advert, and means you have to pay more for every click on your adverts.
  2. You may presume some keywords would be good to use to trigger your adverts, but people have different intentions when searching for things online so it can be difficult to always target customers with adverts based on their “intent to buy”. Lots of adverts targeting users who are not intending to buy, means lots of wasted money on clicks on your adverts from people who will never buy. For example they may be in another region of the country. With lots of experience using the PPC software, you learn to compensate for these factors and increase the targeting relevance. 
  3. When the user clicks on one of your adverts they follow a link to your website, that you specify when setting up each advert. The PPC software sends a robot that follows the link to your website and runs an algorithm to test the relevancy of your page to the keyword you want to bid for. For example if you are bidding for the keyword “insurance” and your advert when clicked takes the use to a page about bank loans, this would be seen as a very low relevance landing page, and the cost for each click on your advert will continue to climb, whilst the costs your competitors are paying stays the same.
  4. If you take the example of a campaign with every click on your adverts costing £1, and your website converts 10% or 1 in every 10 visitors, this means your cost of acquisition is £10. Now imagine a poorly set up campaign that is performing at half of it’s full potential, so every click on your adverts might cost £150 which means your cost of acquisition becomes £15, and if you have a product or service with a tight margin this can be the difference between making a profit or a loss on the sale.

If you are wondering if you think you can manage your campaign, consider if you feel confident with the following aspects of PPC which we think are essential:

  • Will you be using exact, phrase, broad or modified broad matching for keywords? This is the foundation of PPC and getting this wrong is equivalent to just throwing a handful of cash out of your window every day, your adverts will churn through your credit and you will get hits on your website, but there will be a 90%+ bounce rate and no conversions.
  • What’s your strategy for advert rotation and conversion optimisation? Google recently changed to a 90day rotation period, have you set these dates in your diary to make the necessary changes and additions of new adverts to go into a new improved 90day conversion rotation.
  • How will you be targeting customers in a specific location? What is your strategy for users who can be detected by IP and those that can’t? We recommend completely separate campaigns so you can monitor them independently.
  • Which ad extensions will you be using? Page extensions can work well in some situations, the same is true for map extensions for locally targeted adverts.
  • As in point 3 above, do you have fully optimised PPC landing pages setup on your website for every adgroup to get the highest quality scores and keep your cost per click cheaper.

Why choose Alloy and what level of service do you need?

  1. We will setup and provide management of the account if requested, based on years of experience working with PPC advertising. Based on your Account ID, we will submit a request to gain “Agency Control” of your Adwords account, you simply login and accept this and we can update everything apart from billing details. At any point you can login and revoke our access.
  2. PPC and SEO work great together, they are the 2 sides of the coin in terms of getting maximum coverage on the Search results pages. As only 30% of people ever click on the PPC Adverts,  PPC adverts can help you to get more clicks when your “Organic” result in the search results is too low down the page.

Levels of service:

  1. Starter Service: (for accounts spending under £200 per month) Initial setup, then ad-hoc maintenance. For a standard small business Adwords account, this setup service is £50 and includes the keyword research, setup of 10 adgroups, each with 2 unique ads setup for maximum conversions. This professional setup service means you get the peace of mind you are getting the best return on investment from your PPC spend. Every month or 2 months after that we can login as requested and spend half an hour or so optimising the account, adding new keywords we discovered, dropping keywords and adverts that aren’t performing, to keep your account in shape and performing to it’s best.
  2. Standard Service: (for accounts spending under more than £200 per month) Initial setup (quote on request based on the quantity of adverts you will be needing), then ongoing maintenance, charged at 10% of your total ad budget each month. So a £200 advertising budget, would cost £20 in management fees.
  3. Premium Service: (for accounts spending under more than £500 per month)  Initial setup (quote on request based on the quantity of adverts you will be needing), then ongoing maintenance, charged at 7% of your total ad budget each month, monthly telephone updates.
  4. These same packages also apply to Bing Adcenter PPC advertising for adverts on Bing search results. When purchasing together with the Google Adwords services above, the setup service for Bing is half-price.

If you have never run your Adwords advertising campaign before, as an “Adwords Engage Program Partner” we can also offer you a £50 free credit voucher when we  activate your account, and once you have paid £25 for adverts to get going.

Order your Adwords management service today here

Edits to the coding of your websiteEven though most websites are written in a common programming language (html) – different designers use their own variations of the language, which slows down the speed that edits can be made by us.

  • The text and images you may have utilised on your website are very useful and can continue to be used
  • However, the (html) coding that your previous web-designers may have used to get your text and images to display may not be so great and in some cases, could benefit from an overhaul
  • If your website is a basic, mainly static html website, then it is possible that small edits can be made with ease and should not cost much.
  • However, if your website is very large or contains animations, galleries, interactive elements or quote forms, then it’s likely that edits will cost much less if the same work was being done on an Alloy website.
Starting a new marketing campaign

If you are launching a new online marketing campaign including social media, SEO etc. and your website requires major edits and additions such as news, information, frequently asked questions etc. – then working on 3rd party code will cost much more than if the same work was being done on an Alloy Website.

  • In general, if you are considering investing more than £300 in online marketing for your business – then it’s likely that your 3rd party website will become the limiting factor in our efforts
  • If your 3rd party website requires technical edits/corrections, you should consider if buying an Alloy website would resolve these issues at a lower cost than the edits on 3rd party code.

By spending from just £299 on an Alloy designed website – you not only get a solid foundation to build upon, but also your further marketing investments are amplified by the built-in features of Alloy websites such as:

  1. Blog publishing platform
  2. RSS feed output for syndication
  3. Easy code editing
  4. Easy edits by the customer via the CMS admin platform
  5. Almost all website add-ons are from £40 and can be bolted-on with ease (testimonials, advanced quotes, link directory etc.) allowing your website to expand with your business.

Conclusions:

  1. Keen to stick with your website created by a 3rd party?That’s fine we are happy to work with you however possible, but 90% certain it will cost you more(in the long-run).
  2. Considering a new website built by Alloy but worried about the costs?from just £299 you can get your old website data moved over onto an AlloyCMS platform, ready for you to get publishing blog posts and to reap the financial rewards of having a website that ranks better on the search engines, and brings you more business.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Google Places should really be regarded as a BETA program – full of bugs – it is hardly supported considering the millions of users across the globe, with just a handful of American technical workers managing hundreds of thousands of complaints and problems.

  1. Google do not care if your business is damaged by their ineptitude or the errors within their system.
  2. In many cases, businesses who have relied on their website generating business from Maps and suffer a Maps bug which removes them from appearing, will be forced into buying Pay per click ads to keep their business afloat.
  3. So in general, try to keep in mind these limitations when you have problems with your Google Places listing.
  4. Read more about Google Places bugs that have caused major damage to small business owners http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/google-places-bug-listings-disappear.html
How fast will problems be corrected?

I generally use the 3,3,3 rule when assessing google issues that they have acknowledged as not right… Sometimes it gets fixed in 3 days as it was a minor issue. If not 3 days then 3 weeks as it takes time for the index to update and catch the changes If not 3 weeks then 3 months as it is is a serious problem and takes significant coding, debugging and reindexing.Google does not function on business time as we know it. Their fixes, annoying as they are, arrive due to the time frames dictated by internal demands and update schedules.After watching Google Places for 6 years I have come to the conclusion that most problems get fixed sooner or later… that is not very comforting to you as you are experiencing the loss caused by one of their bugs.

Take a look at some of the Places support forums:

  • For 30 days after the launch of your new website, you can request edits (within reason) free of charge.
  • After this stage, or if you have a website designed by a 3rd party – website updates are charged at £30 per hour with a 1 hour minimum.
  • Most edits such as changing phone numbers or addresses only takes a few minutes, so it’s worth preparing some other text you may wish to add or edit to get the maximum value for money for your 1 hour.
  • Adding full pages to your website is also charged by the hour, but in general, they take 1 hour to create and then around 20 minutes of edits – resulting in an average charge of £40 per page.
  • Please ask for a free no obligation quote before any work starts so you know exactly what you are getting.
  • See here for the webdesign package price list

How to appear in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)

Search results from Google and others are compiled by computer algorithms designed to provide the user with relevant and useful results based on the ‘search terms’, or keywords, they have entered. What is referred to as the ‘organic’ search results appear as lines of text down the left hand side of the results page. In search engine marketing, creativity and adaptability is used to help client’s websites become known, trusted and prominent in the ‘organic’ search results. This process is known as Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO.

So – How do you appear higher in the search results?

Search engine optimisation is the process of improving a website and the presence of a brand on the internet in order to increase visibility in the organic search engine results. Because search engines do not accept payment for listing in the organic search results this involves optimising a website for hundreds of factors (as Matt Cutts mentions in the video) to improve the website’s compatibility, whilst creating a quality website that others will want to visit and link-to.

The official word from Google themselves

Google’s former spokesman for the quality of Google search results Matt Cutts explains in the video below how Google finds website pages through links, indexes them (for storage) and then ranks the pages to appear in search results for particular search keywords entered by the user:

Search Engine Optimisation is a complex process involving improvements to hundreds of aspects of your website and the presence of your business online.

Search engines like Google collect huge amounts of data on the websites they display in the results of a search. They use this data and combine it with complicated calculations to work out which websites to show and where to show them in the results of a search. SEO involves learning about what the search engines are looking for when they collect data on a website and how they process this data, then using this knowledge to optimise the web presence of a business in order appear higher in search rankings. The result is that the business is seen by more customers. Several studies have shown that the vast majority of searchers do not look beyond the results at the top of the first page. The elements of an SEO plan are varied but typically include a combination of link building, content creation and technical audits of a client’s website and business information.

Every SEO agency will have their own ‘recipes’ used to distribute their client’s budgets across all these hundreds of different areas. You can get an idea of our SEO recipe below to give you an idea of how we distribute your monthly budgets.

The Bad

Some SEO companies will spend all of your budget on building “dubious” links from unrelated (or very loosely related) websites across the world, often from Asian countries. This may give your website a boost for just a few weeks or months, but soon after the Google algorithm will detect the deception and erase the value that those links were passing to your website, causing your website to drop out of the organic search results. If enough of these deceptive techniques are detected, the Google algorithm will send an alert triggering a human Google employee to undertake a “manual website review”, which can result in a complete ban of your website domain from the Google search results.

The Good

Our approach, on the other hand, is to build a genuine online presence for your business through a great, regularly updated website, sustained social media presence, finding great sites across the world related to your business and gaining links from them to your website. We might adjust our recipe in the first few months of your SEO campaign, in order to compensate for specific weaknesses in your online presence. But after a few months our work usually settles down into the standard campaign routine, with your budget distributed as shown in the pie charts below.

The design process

Here is a summary of our design process to help you keep the costs of your design as low as possible:

  1. Stage 1: Research and feedback – We will send a questionnaire to collect your ideas and see which competitors have websites you like.
  2. Stage 2: Mockups / concept designs – Your suggestions and ideas will be transformed into a visual mockup image of your website home page, we usually provide an intial mockup and refine this towards a finished design. Changes to the design at this stage are the cheapest, and it’s best to get something you are 90% happy with in the mockup stage, especially in terms of the general layout of the pages, and the colour schemes.
  3. Stage 3: Concept converted into a working website, for you to try out and test, we will make the final tweaks and add that “polish” to visual design at this point. Changing a few photos or text at this stage is usually fine and within the bounds of your website quoted budget, however major changes to the design such as change of colour schemes, major changes to the layout of the pages may incur additional costs, but we will always notify you before proceeding with work that is beyond the scope of the original quote.

In summary, try to get all your ideas prepared and given to us at stage 1, and making major changes to the design will always be cheaper during stage 2, rather than stage 3.

Additional edits to your design

  1. We will inform you of any work that is out of the scope of the original quote before proceeding with any work. 
  2. Additional edits beyond the scope of the original quote will be quoted for you on an ad-hoc basis, usually at the standard rate of £30 per hour with 1/2 hour minimum.

Ownership and copyright

On receipt of your final payment of the website design balance, you will have full ownership of the website design and text, and of course any images provided by you. If we have provided photos for you in the design, we retain the rights to these photos. If you have bought photos yourself for the design, or we have bought photos on your behalf, you will have ownership on receipt of the design balance.

If we have registered a domain name on your behalf, or you have transferred your domain to our management, then you will retain full ownership of the domain as long as you are up to date with your domain name renewal payments which are paid yearly and usually cost around £7 per year for .co.uk domains and £12 per year for .com domain names. Failure to pay your domain name renewal fees within 30 days will result in your domain either expiring, so that neither us or you can control it anymore and it will return to the market for sale in 45 days. In some situations where the renewal fee is not paid within 30 days, we may choose to pay your renewal fee which would give us legal ownership of the domain name.

If you registered your domain or in situations where we were managing your domain name and you requested for us to transfer the control of the domain over to you: You have the responsibility  to renew, pay for and manage your domain name, and we can not accept responsibility if your domain is not renewed in time and goes into expiry mode.

 

With over 1/2 billion people worldwide using facebook on a daily basis, and over 300k people using Twitter, it has now become essential for every business to at least have a basic presence on these networks.

In case you’re still not sure if it’s worth investing time and money in your brand’s social media presence – recent updates over the past 2 years to the algorithm used by Google (and others such as Bing, Ask, Yahoo) to rank websites in their search results has started using signals from social networks to get an idea if brands are real and deserve to rank well on search engine results pages.

As you may know it is possible for social media channels to become a major drain on time and resources, due to the changes, distractions and now advertising featured on the pages. So the best recommendation is to get our help to consolidate your efforts and get advice on the best tools and tactics to actually make efficient use of these new marketing channels.

Top recommendations for social media marketing efficiency

  • Avoid using the actual twitter or Facebook interfaces – use a management suite to monitor and publish from one place with minimum distractions
  • We use agency standard tools that are expensive to run, but allow us to manage our clients’ campaigns effectively
  • Please get in touch if you would like advice on the best social media management tools to use for your business

What social media messages should you spend your time broadcasting?

  1. New announcements from your brand.
  2. Teaser previews of offerings you are working on.
  3. Related interesting news from the industry.
  4. Trivia related to your product: history, technology
  5. Ask for suggestions: people love to help someone out
  6. Events you are holding: this informs as well as gets you attendees
  7. Events you are participating in: this shows you are active.
  8. Helping people find opportunities
  9. Helping people solve problems is the best thing you can do to promote your brand
  10. Popular events: tweet about the upcoming sports events, festivals, etc.
  11. Regular industry news: yup, this doesn’t hurt if mixed in.
  12. Sales announcements: Tweet about any sales announcements you might have.
  13. Job openings: Tell people about open positions, both with your brand and at other places you know.
  14. Ask for customer feedback: Invite people to share their experiences with your brand.
  15. Participate in the relevant hashtags(eg: #news), and get more visibility.
  16. Set up and announce tweet chats based on brand-related hashtags.
  17. Follow people and make acknowledgement via tweets.
  18. Thank people who have recently followed you.
  19. Post the latest updates from your blog along with the link.
  20. Direct people to other social media channels you own by tweeting about them.
  21. Search on your brand name and respond to tweets that are about you.

Scenario 1: If you have had a website for several years and are ‘due’ for a brand new website, then fantastic!

  • Our statistics show your new completely new redesigned site will help to convert around 10-25% more visitors into enquiries than your old website
  • Building from your text and any photos on your old site, your new one can be put together faster than a website for a new company
  • Any further online marketing investments in your Alloy website, build upon the strongest of foundations, to create an impressive tool for converting customers and also to build a valuable online presence for your business on the major search engines (Google, Bing, Ask, Yahoo).

Scenario 2: Possibly you have a more recently-built website, that does not perform well in terms of converting customers, or attracting visitors from search engines. It’s the same in every trade, and as you may expect – all webdesigners/ SEO / Marketing Consultants are not made equal, so if you have any doubts your current providers are not giving your business the best possible chance online – (whilst online marketing channels offer small businesses a phenomenal potential), then it’s up to you to act for the benefit of your business.

  • In some cases it’s possible work with your current website to make improvements and additions
  • But often edits to a 3rd party website will incur extra costs, and if you intend to make a major push for increasing online visibility and lead generation, it often becomes far more cost efficient to move over to an Alloy CMS website which from just £250, offer the strongest possible website platform to build upon.

What’s so great about Alloy websites?

  • Edits to your website are cheaper than you may be used to
  • Alloy sites can be upgraded to have a built-in blog publishing platform – regularly publishing news and testimonials, tips and advice, helps to keep your website and online presence ‘fresh’ and topical to benefit from even higher rankings and more leads generated from search engines.
  • Your website is linked up with Analytics visitor tracking software – goals are created & conversions are tracked from day1
  • Your website is coded to perform in harmony with the search engine algorithms, who sweep through on a regular basis to judge your site and determine it’s ranking potential on the search engine results pages (SERPS)
  • You get an premium quality and high reliability web+email hosting service

So hopefully, after weighing up the pros and cons, you will come to the conclusion that an Alloy website offers both your business a visually appealing and high performing interactive brochure, but also acts as a highly tuned ‘engine’ that can power your online marketing activities, moving forward.[hr]

So, what’s involved in the move?

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1. Your Domain Name

Your domain name (www.mycompanydomainname.co.uk) is the most valuable online asset to your business.

  1. Before you contact your current webdesigners, you need to find out if you are the legal registrant of the domain.
  2. Enter your web address here to see who is the registrant of your domain http://whois.domaintools.com/
  3. If you have your domain printed on stationery, or even your van, it would (of course) cause problems if it was disconnected from your website by a disgruntled webdesigner or company.
  4. If you are not the registrant of your domain then you need to be very careful asking to gain legal ownership (of what you thought was your property after paying-for, but possibly isn’t)
  5. Even if you are listed as the domain registrant, you need be cautious asking to gain control of the domain, and move your business elsewhere, as there are several things 3rd parties can do to slow down or complicate the move of your business away from them.
  6. Once you are ready to make the switch, we can either gain control of your domain and point it to your new Alloy hosting + email account, or we may have to move your domain away from your previous conmapny, to a new domain registrar of your choice. This process is usually free, but requires a renewal of your domain for a year or 2.
  7. All the details are completely managed for a seamless move with minimum hassle

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2. Your website

Your website text and images can be grabbed from your old website before it is taken down, and used in your new design. Your new website can be prepared, ready to go, so that once you give your old company notice, you can have a seamless transfer over to your new Alloy website and premium hosting account.Features of Hosting from Alloy Marketing

  • Premium quality UK based hosting
  • Servers are based at the premium Blue Square data centres in the UK
  • Expected uptime is an outstanding 99.95% uptime
  • To give you an idea, there hasn’t been 1 single hosting / uptime complaint from customers in 2012, and it’s mid-April!

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3. Your emails

When you enquire about your specific requirements, we can find out how you are currently receiving and sending emails. The identical email accounts and redirects will be recreated on your new Alloy hosting. If you are just using 1or 2 accounts this service is free.If you have more than 2email accounts, there is a nominal admin fee to cover the small costs of setting up the extra accounts on your new hosting and providing the configuration details you need to change if any.

  1. If you are using hotmail, gmail, yahoomail or another free service, and you receive emails forwarded from your website, then you will not need to change anything at all and your transfer will be seamless.
  2. If you are using your business email address to send/receive via POP or IMAP, using a desktop email browser such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail Desktop Version etc. We can setup the same accounts on your new hosting, but with new passwords, so you will just need to open the options panel for your email software and enter your new email server passwords and details. This is a very easy process that we can provide clear illustrated instructions so that you can complete at your end within about 10 minutes.

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4. Timescales

Once your new website is designed and ready to go, and you are ready to make the move, we initiate the process by gaining control of your domain name and then pointing over to the new Alloy webhosting. Unlike many conventional agencies, we have the flexibility to be able to initiate your transfer at the weekend, so if there is a few hours when your website is not available, it’s at the weekend.

  1. If you have control of your domain, the transfer time will be between 2-24 hours.
  2. If you don’t have control of your domain, and we need to transfer it to a new domain registrar, so that we can gain control of it and point it to Alloy webhosting, then the process can take between 4 – 48hours.

 

  • High quality design concepts are valuable and require a commitment from the customer, so a 50% deposit – 50% on completion of project – agreement is requested
  • Payments accepted by bank transfer or card.
  • On receipt of your invoice, payments are accepted by direct debit or card only.
  • Payment for each month is in advance and work will commence on receipt of payment for the first instalment.
  • Subsequent invoices are sent on the 1st day of the next month and payment is expected within 15 days.
  • If you intend to pursue a long-term campaign, please enquire about discounts for paying 3/6/12 months in advance.

 

Your graphic designs are all created by Alloy, however we act as a reseller for a fantastic UK-based, family-run printing company and also a budget, Netherlands-based printing company.

  • 2 options covers every customer requirement from budget to premium
  • We get a discount for buying in bulk
  • As we always provide the correct files for the printers – we help them cut down their admin costs
  • Which means unbeatable prices and quality
  • Standard turnaround is 9 working days
  • Express turnaround options available

No two campaigns are ever the same – so your service will be completely tailored to your business and market/regional niche. But in general, all campaigns follow a similar pattern that is designed to offer your business the best possible start online.

  1. Technical issues on website: Coding errors, accessibility issues and other SEO related technical problems may be holding your website back from both ranking well on the search results and not converting customers as well as possible. Multiple scans and tests are run to create a list of tasks to work through and resolve before and other online marketing can commence. Once your website (which is the foundation of your online marketing investments) is performing well – the next stage can begin.
  2. Technical issues with your online presence: There’s a certain set of tasks and optimal ways of setting up your social media properties, maps and directory listings – which are the fundamentals of giving your business the best chance of gaining increased exposure from online sources. You could do these tasks yourself – but your monthly plan covers this with our service, based on years of experience and experimenting with the variables – these foundations are cost effectively set at their optimal values to act as a multiplier and give your online marketing investments the maximum returns.
  3. Increasing brand awareness: Generating buzz online about your brand – through the sharing of news and content, through your website, social media channels, and other online outlets to create the perfect combination of signals that gives the Google and Bing ranking algorithms, no doubts that your business is reputable, active and should be ranking well.
  4. Monitoring reputation and engaging customers: Systems are set in place to monitor mentions of your business and then take action to respond, defuse or encourage criticisms and positive reviews. Taking the worry out of advertising your business online.
  5. Tracking & reporting: When your campaigns are started, almost every activity is tracked and can be monitored to track success rates, and make improvements based on actual data. Monthly plans come with an end of month report with detailed breakdowns of change over the last month. Just some of the data included in your report covers:
    1. Weekly rank tracking on Google + Bing of your target keywords
    2. Full Google analytics integration with engagement, usabilty and goal conversion rate reporting
    3. Extensive Domain + link metric data from SEMRush, Alexa, Wordtracker, OpensiteExlorer, Adwords KW Tool, OpenCalais API, uberVU
    4. Brand name mention monitoring + automated sentiment analysis.

Yes, for any graphic design / web design / email template design, or any other type of design, once fully paid, then you own it and can have full access to the master files. The ownership of any logos, flyer designs and graphics will be transferred to you once the project has been paid in full and completed. You may then use them as you wish.

Exceptions

  1. Stock photographs that you have provided for your design are your responsibility / liability and we expect you to have gained copyright approval before sending any files to us.
  • No, your quote or enquiry is completely free and no-obligation.
  • Your details and privacy are important – and never passed-on or sold to 3rd parties.
  • Strict no-cold calling policy.

No. For peace of mind, all your work is completed by Alloy – except for 2 specific areas:

  1. Advanced webdevelopment + programming – In very rare cases for very large custom coded web projects some help is required from independent consultants.
  2. Expert UK academic copy writers – for very specialist sectors/niches – healthcare / science/ tech / news – sometimes independent authors assist with ongoing marketing campaigns.

Yes – but work (including consulting) cannot commence until payment has fully cleared.

  • Other payment options include bank transfer/deposit .
  • Premium quality UK based hosting
  • Servers are based at the premium Blue Square data centres in the UK
  • Expected uptime is an outstanding 99.95% uptime
  • To give you an idea, there hasn’t been 1 single hosting / uptime complaint from customers in 2012, and it’s mid-April!
  • Plans start from £20 per year for very small websites. The main factor is the storage space required for your site on the server.
  • Standard CMS websites require the 200mb package to start, which gives you around 100mb for pictures + emails and this costs £40 per year.
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