About Bob Gentle

I work with businesses of all sizes on digital marketing, host the Amplify digital marketing entrepreneur podcast and work with entrepreneurs to help them amplify their business online.

One thing that I see far too often when it comes to running an online marketing campaign is the unnecessary use of social networking accounts.

Now, you may be thinking that I have no idea what I’m talking about because your business has to be on as many social networks as possible to get yourself in front of as many people as you can!

Using every social platform can be the wrong approach

This is the worst approach to take. Here’s why:

When you take this approach, you end up promoting your business to people who really do not fit into your target audience, essentially wasting your time and in turn your money.

Figuring out who your audience is and where they hang out online is a must. This will ensure that you get the most out of your content and are a hell of  a lot more likely to convert any potential visitors into a customer.

Let’s put this in context:

A company who after some audience investigation, are mainly targeting people in the over 65 age bracket’

Your initial instincts for a social networking account shouldn’t be something like Snapchat, where the majority userbase are between the ages of 18-24 and less than 1% of users fit your target. You would want to aim more towards Facebook where 10% of users are in this age range.

Another reason that you should only use networks where your audience are frequenting is that you can struggle to think of ways to market to people on a network if the format doesn’t fit your business.

It’s a lot easier for a company who sell products to market on a visual network like Pinterest, Tumblr than it would be for a lawyer to market on the same networks.

Creating profiles on these networks where your content just doesn’t fit will often result in many of them being neglected and this in turn reflects poorly on your company as it looks like you are inactive.

The solution:

Profile your ideal customer – If you are an established business then you will already have most of this information available. Look deeper into your customer base to identify trends.

  • Age groups
  • Locations
  • Gender
  • Products or services

These will help you to pinpoint who your customer is and the types of products or services that they are most interested in.

If you aren’t an established business, then you’ll need to do a bit more work. This will involve competitor analysis, digging through social networks and doing a bit of a dig through the areas below using competitor terms rather than your own.

Profile where they hang out – There are a number of ways this can be done.

Plenty of reports have been carried out to identify the main audiences of most major social networks. Reference these to help influence the networks that you feel will work best to reach them. – Reference: A breakdown of the demographics for each of the different social networks

Search for where people are mentioning your brand already. – If lots of people are mentioning you on twitter then you should probably have a profile on there in order to provide a way to interact with your customers who are already talking about you. This is positive social proof and can also be used to provide customer service to those who may be negatively talking about your business. It’s better to respond to them positively than to have no voice at all.

These should help you to choose your networks. It may be that all networks are perfect for you, or that just one of them is.

Just make sure that any networks you do choose don’t fall into neglect or abandonment. You have to keep to a schedule/routine on social in order for it to become a success.

If time is an issue for you and you would like some advice or help in order to carry out either audience investigation, social media management or even to oversee your entire online marketing campaign, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

This post needs a preface.  A while back we had a big accounting firm client.  They loved us and we loved them.  They let us do our best work and saw great return.  I asked “What difference has the new site made to sales enquiry levels?”  ~ I was blown away by the answer ~ “Inbound sales leads are up 170%.”  This was only three months after launching the site.  Nice.

“Inbound sales leads are up 170%.”

Well  ~ the only sure thing in life is change.  We grew apart ( they hired an internal team – I know! ) and we moved on.  I was keen to leverage this knowledge. I knew how to build and manage a site for an accountancy firm which would not only be pretty but it would also make them money. This was going to happen.

I knew the guy I wanted to take this to.  The other big accounting firm.  He was known to be dry ( no ~ not soulless ) and I was confident he’d be keen to win some of that business.  I met him at an event and got right to the point.  His response.

“My website does nothing for my business. Why would I spend money on it?”

I had nowhere to go with this.  There wasn’t a sensible response in my armoury which wouldn’t make him look stupid and that’s never a good approach when you’re trying to shmooze.

I’ve thought about this a lot.  In many respects I can now understand his perspective.  He knew lots of web developers and no doubt they would all tell him he’d get a flood of enquiries if he’d just work with *them*.  He can’t discriminate between us.  He’s also not the kind of guy who can really tell the difference between what looks good and what almost looks good.  He just has other talents.

If I polled business owners and asked them “What does your website contribute to your business?” I’m confident that answer will be an unenthusiastic “Meh – not much”.  Did anyone ask them what they wanted it to achieve? I’ll wager they didn’t.

Set vision, goals and think big.

Be really clear about what your website is for.  What are the goals for your business and how is the website going to support and contribute to these goals.  Primary website goals are normally sales enquiry led.  Don’t do this! We know that 95% of audience are not in buying mode so why focus on sales enquiry?  It’s really, really wasteful. Some useful secondary goals a site could have are to support :

  • Mailing list generation
  • Link building
  • Authority building
  • Social connection
  • Trust building
  • Delivering social proof
  • Building a resource
  • Generating actionable user usage data and real world sales leads ( it’s complicated but very cool)

All of these secondary goals and others more specific to you should be built into the principles driving the functional and aesthetic design of a website. This will lead to your website achieving its primary ( the sale ) goals far more often. The site will become the point of conversion for a digital marketing strategy rather than a stand alone island nobody visits.

A lot of the time people look to traffic as the answer to an underperforming website. The SEO guy isn’t going to argue – he wants to make money too.  Sure you need traffic but you more importantly need that traffic to convert.  The more goals you have set up the more success you can measure.

Designing and building a website which actually delivers real world benefit is not rocket science.  It needs a bit of planning, some common sense and a good understanding the digital marketing universe.  Leverage all of this and you’ll be off to a great start.  Once you’ve started moving you can test and adjust as you go.

Don’t accept a website which isn’t making a contribution.  Just don’t!  Ask your web developer questions and if they don’t provide an answer you want to hear then just move on.

Is your website sitting doing nothing?  Does it frustrate you that nobody takes responsibility for the things you feel should be taken care of.  Call us.  We’ll take a  look at your site and offer our view.  What can you lose?

Want to know how to turn visitors into customers?

The web as we know it has come a long way since the times of Dial up connections and that terrifying screeching sound it made as it connected. Oh and who could forget the pain of being restricted to certain times in order that the phone could be used. Dark times.

Thankfully everything is a lot faster and lot easier these days, but with the advance in speeds and technologies the expectations of your average web user has also evolved. We are so used to things being much faster now, that we get frustrated when a website takes longer than a few seconds to load, making us more likely to click the back button and try elsewhere.

Google hasn’t ignored this fact and in the last few years has started to take this as a major signal in their ranking algorithms. Essentially if the user is having a bad experience waiting for your website to load too quickly and leaves, google won’t want this site to appear high up in their rankings. This might mean that if your website falls into the “unhappy visitor” category that you might be dropped down a few positions or even pages. Not what you want to happen.

How do I know my load time?

Thankfully there are a number of online services that allow you to test your website speed and see how it compares against all other websites online.

tools.pingdom.com is probably the best one to use and allows you to choose which server to test from.

To get an accurate reading using pingdom, you are best to select a server to run your test, then use the same server and run a second test on the same address straight after.

What should I be looking for?

The main thing to look for in the results is your overall load time.

Website load time

Anything under 4 seconds is probably a reasonable result. Anything higher and you should maybe start thinking about getting your site speed analysed by a professional.

Other signs to look for in the speed test are elements that could be causing your load times to increase. These are easily spotted by running down the list below your overall result and looking for coloured bands that are much larger than the rest.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 13.19.03

The usual suspects for these are:-

  • images that are large in size
  • external plugins that use resources not hosted on your server.

Reducing the size of the image files should help to decrease your load time by a lot if this is your main culprit and is something that can be done with relative ease if you know your way about an image software like photoshop.

The only real way to improve the load times if plugins are your main issue would be to remove the plugins altogether and host the necessary files on your own server. This is a bit more complicated and probably only really recommended for those know are comfortable with managing their own websites.

For those who aren’t too clued up, the team at NEC are more than happy to help.

If you’re suffering from the issues pointed out above or have a high load time and need help identifying the reasons then send over the results of your speed test to hello@studionec.com and we’ll do our best to help. Remember to include your own email address or we won’t know who to reply to.

You can send your results over quickly and easily from within the test by hitting the email button and filling in the details.

I’m going to let you into a secret.  Today / right now – your website visitors don’t care what you do and they won’t hire you or buy your thing.

Now that’s not 100% true – It’s only 95% true!

5% ( at best ) of your audience might hire you or buy something.

So – 100% of your online marketing targets 5% of audience. That just makes no sense!

– Go back and read that again if you didn’t get it.

If your website gets 500 visits a month ( pretty average ) but generates 5 leads a month you might be happy with this.  What if we could generate 50 leads from the same 500 visits a month?  This is where lead magnets come in.

5% of visitors might be committed to talking to you.
95% of visitors are *not* that bothered about talking to you.

For now – let’s disregard the 5% of committed people.  They’ll take care of themselves.  Lets look instead at the large percentage of people who are less committed. In an ideal world all our visitors would buy from us.

Sadly that’s not the real world.  If these visitors are not ready to trade money for our service or product – can we offer them something of lesser value?  Something they might trade for an item they feel has value?

Think of the “Lead Magnet” as a resource.  You offer this resource in exchange for something you value.  – Normally an email address.

There are many different types of lead magnet but they all tend to be in the form of packaged information.  Information targeted to be compelling and attractive to the visitor.  If you are a consultant then you might offer a lead magnet such as “5 Things your Widget consultant does not want you to know.”

If you sell houses you might offer “The first time buyer’s guide to saving thousands on your first home”.
If run a catering firm you might offer “6 ways make sure your event gets remembered for the right reasons.”

Lead magnets can be applied to every business and every website.  They can be offered on the website but also on social media and through online advertising.

There are a lot of tools to help manage this process and a lot of techniques to help optimise the process.

You might be asking what the point of collecting email addresses is?  As soon as people convert on a lead magnet they are qualified.  You know what they are interested in and you can NURTURE them.

Lead magnets remove your dependance on Google for a relationship and allow you to start communicating with the 95% and not just the 5%.

This is a lot to take in but it’s so important.  If you can leverage the 95% and not just the 5% you can change the rules of the game.

Are you ready to change the rules?

What does it take to be successful online?  It’s pretty simple.  The same things it takes to find success in any area of life.    Lets look for parallels in an area of life where high performance has been studied more than any other. Physical fitness and performance. 

You might not be planning on becoming an Olympian but I’m pretty sure you want your business to grow.  Lets get real.  If you’ve been in business for any time you know how hard it is to make breakthroughs and how easy it is to coast.

My business is digital marketing and lead generation and I want customers to become as self sufficient as possible.  I think it’s worth exploring what high performance coaches have to say about what it takes to really find and sustain the performance which brings success.


Everything starts in your head.  If you don’t have your head configured properly you’re going to fail.  Spend any time with athletes and you quickly discover that how they manage their mindset is the key which unlocks performance.  Start with the performance mindset.

Make the decision

Make the decision to start. Acknowledge that you don’t know everything and that you might not get it right.  Accept that with every effort you make you are growing in experience and understanding.  Commit to taking consistent action.


Things will get hard.  You need to know that.  You’ll get frustrated, embarrassed, pissed off and make mistakes.  Understand that this is part of the process.  Everybody fails but others fail and then give up.  This is not you.  You will keep going every day, building resolve.

Get over yourself

Everyone feels stupid.  The more you practice the more you will build confidence.  Comfort zones are funny things.  Nobody likes stepping out but once you do the uncomfortable becomes comfortable. Your comfort zone expands.  Don’t like how you look in pictures, don’t think you can write, hate the sound of your own voice.  Get over it.  Don’t measure yourself against the pro’s.  If you are taking action and your competitor isn’t then you are ahead.

Don’t listen to the Guru’s

Fads and hip tools are all great but the basics never change.  If you want to lose weight you need to manage calorie input and output.  If you want run distance you have to put in the miles.

Digital marketing is full of fads, fashions and gurus.  Don’t forget the basics.  Produce content and share it across all your platforms.  Offer people premium content in exchange for email addresses and then use those email addresses to build your relationship over time.  Start small and build out from there.  Don’t get hung up thinking you have to do Facebook ads, snapchat geo whatever or webinars.  Thats like thinking you can’t get fit without Zumba.  Crazy.


Acknowledge that you will make mistakes but keep your goals in mind.  You need to focus on WHY you are going this.  Understand that with every gain in confidence, knowledge and experience you get better and stronger.  You understand how to execute.  You become more effective.  Maintaining a positive outlook is easy when things are going well but you need to develop the attitude that failure is an important milestone along the road to success.   

Don’t do it on your  own.

Accountability is hugely important in high performance.  It’s very easy to make excuses and slack.  Knowing you need to report on progress, turn up for training and play with the team makes you far less likely to take your foot off the gas.

Get a coach

I’m not talking about a tree hugging life coach.  I’m talking about someone who’s a bit further down the road than you are and has agreed to support you.  You can formalise this if you want.  There are a lot of digital marketing or online success coaches.  You can also keep it simple and just buddy up in an online community.  Don’t think you need to do it on your own.

Get a peer group

How are the people around you performing.  Do you have role models or people who inspire you.  You need to be around people who are trying to do better.  People who challenge themselves and who are challenged by others.  Join a digital marketing Facebook group or online community.

Develop a routine

This is a blog post and not a book.  There are a million articles on how to schedule your day, manage your time, when to post and so on.  All you need to know is that if you want success in anything then you better make it part of your routine.

Time block

Build time blocks for digital activities.  Setting aside time when these things happen allows you to forget about them until it’s time to take action.  Once the routines are set up you don’t need to make more decisions other then “what” to do.  If you have a routine and you execute consistently then results are inevitable.

Remove friction

It’s so easy to put off a run.  Commonly something as simple as creased shorts can be enough to mentally get you off the hook.  Remove this mental friction with preparation.  Every difficult action finds friction in the unconscious mind so reduce this friction as much as possible by planning for it.  For my morning run I prepare everything the night before.  Action leads to more action.

In digital marketing there are a million reasons not to execute.  Reduce the friction by starting to notice the things which stop you acting and start to plan for them.  If you struggle to have ideas carry a notebook so you can capture them when they happen.   Look for the things which put you off, distract or derail you and use planning as a tool to overcome them.

Build endurance

Grit is a mindset attribute.  Endurance is the ability to keep going without fatigue or failure.  Endurance comes with consistency, exercise and continuous improvement.  The activities to support digital sales and marketing can look like a relentless to-do list stretching to the horizon.  Endurance start with the first step and then keeping going.  It’s the result of activity.  Keep going and you’ll become a digital marketing endurance athlete.

Sleep and Nutrition

I could talk about actual sleep and nutrition.  If you want to perform well in any aspect of life these things are important – but you know that.  I’m going to focus instead on the nutritional quality of the information you consume.  Are you building your knowledge base.  Are you exploring best practise and what’s working for others.

If you don’t work on building your knowledge then you’ll struggle to grow as a digital performer.  You’ll lag behind those who are building networks, sharing knowledge and experience.  You need to make learning and exploring part of your daily routine.

Be yourself

Don’t think you have to be something you are not.  Social media and video in particular are super scary. You don’t need to be an SEO guru or the conversion king.  You just need to take consistent action and sustain it.  As you develop confidence you’ll start to put a little personality into what you do.  Maybe even a lot – it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is ..


Regularly turning up and taking action is the single biggest indicator for high performance.  Consistent sustained effort.  You can have all the theories, knowledge, money, authority, ideas, creativity.  If you take one thing away from this post – take this.  Action trumps everything.


So .. I run a digital marketing and lead generation agency.  You might think I want to take away all this pain and do it for you.  Our goal for every client is that they grow into confident digital athletes and we offer a coaching service to support this if they want it.  Not everyone wants to be a digital athlete though.  They perform highly in other areas.  For them we offer a full, done for you service.

The vitality of your business depends on the acquisition of clients.  We bring a high performance approach to this aspect of business and free you to perform highly at what your company does best.

The health of your business demands activity.  A highly performing business demands more. 

Instagram isn’t going away. In fact, according to a recent study, the photo and video sharing platform provides the highest engagement rate in social media across 12 out of 13 industries.

It’s a platform that more and more of our clients are starting to use so with that in mind, here are five tips to help you promote your business on Instagram.

1. Switch to a Business Account

An Instagram Business account will give you access to in-app post insights and allow you to provide contact buttons for your business, including Directions, Call and Email.

To get an Instagram Business account you’ll need to have a personal Instagram account and a business Facebook page.

Log into your personal Instagram account,  tap Settings (the small cog icon in the top right corner), select  Switch to Business Profile and follow the prompts. Instagram will pull your business contact details through from the associated Facebook page but you can always go back and edit them.

2. Album Posts

This is a relatively new addition to Instagram and lets you post several photos in one post. Users can swipe left to view the album making it ideal if your business has content that lends itself to a step by step process such as recipes, builds and before/afters.

Previously these had to be shown as separate posts or as short video bursts. Using an album makes it clear to your followers that those images are meant to be viewed together.

When you’re adding a post go to the Gallery and tap Add Multiple. You can then select up to 10 photos or videos and order them as needed.

3. Stories

Instagram’s take on Snapchat, Instagram Stories are a chance to share more on the fly content and are a great way to trial video and show your creative side without compromising your feed.

With Instagram Stories you can add multiple photos or video so it’s an ideal way to document what you’re up to over the course of the day. For example, if you’re heading to an exhibition you can take your followers with you by posting photos or video of the travel there, stand set up, walk around, stand take down and journey home. You can overlay your photos and video with text or stickers to give your followers further insight into what you’re up to.

Instagram Stories display at the very top of the Instagram feed and only stick around for 24hrs so why not give it a go. There’s an extensive section dedicated to Stories in Instagram’s Help Centre to help you get started.

4. Hashtag Hack

Instagram lets you add up to 30 hashtags per post. That’s a lot. And while Instagram is more hashtag friendly than Facebook and Twitter, remembering and adding hashtags to your posts can get a bit tedious. There are two easy ways to solve that:

Copy & Paste

Type out all the hashtags you might want to use for a certain type of post. Save this on your desktop (or phone), then all you need to do is copy and paste into your next post. You can always add or delete hashtags to tailor them completely to your post.

Use Text Replace

This is a handy little feature on the iPhone’s keyboard that lets you set shortcut text:

  • Open Settings then tap General / Keyboard / Text Replacement
  • Tap the + in the top right corner
  • Type your regular hashtags in the Phase field and use a clear title in the Shortcut field ie RecipeTags
  • Tap Save in the top right corner

Next time you’re creating your post, instead of typing all your hashtags just type the shortcut text and select the text that appears in the predictive text box. You can then add or delete hashtags as required.

5. Something Different

Sometimes you want to post more than just a photo or a normal video. The following apps are all available on the App Store or Google Play:

Boomerang – use to create mini videos that loop back and forth

Hyperlapse – this app lets you shoot longer videos and condense them into slick looking timelapses. It even stabilises the video so don’t worry about shaking hands

Layout – as the name suggests, this app lets you choose multiple layouts for your posts so you can display several photos in one image

If you want to know more about using Instagram or other social networking platforms for your business please give us a call on 01224 912260.

The basic elements of a digital marketing outreach program are search, social and email.  These elements are fuelled by content with the aim of enthusing, inspiring, and engaging your audience.  Investing your time in a program like this, when coupled with a clear conversion strategy, can really pay off in the short term but after a while you may start to notice things stagnate.

And here’s the problem:

Search – Search Marketing (SEO) is hard and it takes time.  

There are no guarantees of success and if you are in a competitive field it can be expensive.

Social – Once you’ve established your easy audience (and by that I mean you’ve connected with the people you know) it becomes harder to find authentic audience growth.  There are lots of strategies out there for forcing social audience growth but they tend to lead to a very disengaged audience.  You want followers who are genuinely interested in you and what you do.

Email – An engaged, well built email list is by far the best way to reach your audience.  Building an email list is at the top of my list of program goals – above making a sale.  Email lists, however, decay over time. If you don’t have a plan for growing your email list then it will shrink as people become disengaged and ultimately unsubscribe.  

Pay to Play

Reaching beyond your easy audience used to be simple.  A program of search, social and email allowed the savvy marketer to build and grow an engaged audience pretty easily, but that’s no longer true.  The platforms we all know, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google, Yahoo and so on, are big and well established businesses.  Social media and search can be done for free but if you want to have a meaningful reach or impact then you’re going to have to pay.  

In this post I want to walk you through the landscape and the benefits of paid social and search.  

This isn’t a definitive guide to online advertising.  My focus is on the basic online ad options open to every business.  Whether you’re a startup or a multinational these are all relevant and appropriate for you.   

There is nothing exotic or niche included in this run through.  If you’re already well on your way with these basic options and want to step up to the next level then get in touch for more detailed advice.

All of these platforms and options are listed here because they have a relatively low technical ability required to implement them. They are known to work and they can be applied to virtually every business.

A modest financial outlay, carefully deployed, can have a huge impact and transform the overall ROI of your digital marketing efforts.

Paid Search

Within paid search there are two main styles of advert: display ads such as banners and the square ads you see all over the internet, and the text based ads or sponsored listings normally found at the top and the bottom of search results.  

Text based ads.

When we need something we “Google” it.  Paid advertising is available on other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing, and there’s an argument to putting your efforts into a less crowded market, but for this post I’ll be looking at Google.

Your search is worth money to someone and the chances are that when you search for something online you’ll see sponsored listings sprinkled through the search results.  

I’ll tell you how this works.

As I said – your search is worth money and Google knows this. They offer to position you in the search results for key phrases that you choose, if you pay them enough.  This is known as bidding for key phrases.  The more you bid the better your position.  You don’t pay for the placement of the advert, you only pay for resulting clicks which is why it’s called Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.

As well as targeting key phrases you can also target geographically.  So, if you are an accountant in Aberdeen, your key phrase could be “Aberdeen Accountant” and your target location would be the North East of Scotland.

For a service based business like a local accountant PPC is quite easy to set up across all the major search engines.  It becomes more challenging for retail style businesses where many product categories, names, and brand names lead to hundreds or even thousands of target key phrases.  This is where experience, skill, and, above all, processes come into play.  Managing a PPC campaign on a large scale can be very profitable but, make a mistake and it can become very costly.

Display Ads

Display ads are not strictly a paid search feature but are offered by the major search engines.  The lion’s share of display ads are powered by the Google display ad network.  The majority of websites where you see display ads will have subscribed to Google’s ad network and have offered to show ads for Google’s customers in return for a share of revenue.  

All adverts work best if they are targeted and Google, as well as the other search engines offer two main targeting options. Display ads tend to work on a PPC basis however they are an excellent way way to target beyond keyphrase and geographical targeting.


As a website owner,  you know that a visit to your website is a pretty strong buying signal but there is a high chance that visitor won’t act on their impulse to transact today.

The majority of people now spend a lot of time browsing and researching before making a purchase so you can accept that the majority of your website visitors won’t transact, or you can try and influence them once they leave your site.

This is where retargeting comes in.

If you visit a website today that has retargeting set up, a snippet of code reports this to the Google display network and for the next few days, weeks or months, you will see display ads for that website’s products or service across the Google display ad network.  

This has a powerful impact which allows businesses to continue building their brand but only to those who have demonstrated some buying intent.

Email list targeting

Another less well known form of display ad targeting is email list targeting.  For businesses with a solid email list, that rely heavily on repeat transactions, this form of targeting can be very powerful. You can build display ad campaigns targeting very specific groups of people within your email list.

A common approach might be to have one display ad series targeting active customers, one targeting lapsed customers and another targeting people who are fresh to your mailing list.

Both types of display ads are sold on a PPC basis.  There are some other payment models but these are best left for those with a little more experience.   The PPC model means you don’t pay for all the visibility but only for the resulting clicks that bring people back to your site, and hopefully to a transaction.

Paid Social

Many people spend more time on social media than on any other part for the web.  While search advertising is great, social advertising is where the real action happens.  The mix of platforms you ultimately select will reflect where your audience spend their time online.  

If you plan on spending significant money across any of these then it might be worth asking for help in order to manage budgets and optimise conversion rates.

All of these platforms make it quite easy to control budgets.  You can cap budgets for campaigns or for periods of time, and also cap daily budgets so that you get an even exposure during the campaign.


Twitter offer two main options for promotion.  You can promote a post if you want to promote a particular offer, or you can promote a profile if you want to build your follower base and drive brand awareness.  

Twitter offers powerful, but simple to set up, targeting as well as retargeting.


Linkedin also offers two mainstream options for promotion.  You can offer a promoted post or a straightforward display advert.  

Targeting features allow you to narrow the industries, job roles, location and more, but retargeting and specific list targeting are not available.  Costs are based on a PPC model and are easy to control.  It should be said that the slightly more limited targeting available, and the absence of retargeting, makes it hard for smaller businesses with sensitive budgets to ensure that budget hits its mark.


Facebook offers the opportunity to boost a standard Facebook post or to run a Facebook ad.  

A boosted post can be created by clicking the “boost” button under any post on your company Facebook page.  The tactical goal of this is simply to help your post reach more people in order to get more post likes.  Converting a boosted post into action can be difficult but they are a good low cost way to build awareness.  It’s really easy to do – you just click the boost button, select your target audience, and follow the instructions.

Facebook adverts allow you all the targeting you could want as well as sophisticated retargeting to website visitors.  They also allow you to import a mailing list and build a custom audience based on this list.  The retargeting capabilities of Facebook are particularly attractive for gaining maximum exposure to a very self selecting audience of website visitors.

The key difference between Facebook ads and boosted posts is that posts only allow you to like or share them.  The copy in the post can invite people to take action but the buttons available to click still only offer “Like” or “Share” as an option.

Your ad will have a text element, a visual / creative element and a call to action.  You set goals such as website visits, brand awareness, purchases, app downloads and so on as part of the creation process and then Facebook will suggest a relevant call to action button.   

The visual / creative element can be tricky. Facebook have a rule dictating that the ad creative can’t have too much text embedded in it.  If it does they will restrict the reach the ad can achieve.  This means that you have to put some work into creating a simple ad that communicates well with little text.

An alternative to a simple graphic is to use a video for your ad.  This takes a bit more work but will get around the problem of not being able to make your pitch in writing as you can now use your own words – subtitle your video for maximum effect. Video ads are extremely effective and worth trying out.

Facebook ads can be a little complex but the rewards are worth the effort.  Facebook is where most web users spend most of their time.  You might not, but they do.  


Youtube is the world’s second biggest search tool after Google and is also owned by Google.  It’s no surprise then that it’s a very good platform for advertising.  

Advertising on Youtube falls into two parts.  Part one is easy.  Youtube is part of the Google display ad network, so if you already have display ads running as outlined above then chances are you’ll see those ads on the Youtube website.

Part two is also surprisingly easy.  When you hit play on a Youtube video you’ll often find a short “pre roll” advert.  Normally there will be a “Skip this video in three seconds” button.  These pre roll ads and a few other display positions are open to anyone and can be very effective.

Youtube ads offers the same level of targeting and retargeting that you’d find in a Google service with the addition of interest types available for targeting.  Costs are on a Per View basis with the first three seconds excluded from your cost per view.

That the first three seconds of video is free for the advertiser is very significant.  This means that if someone watches past the three second mark when they could click out you must be resonating with them.   

Most people think of Youtube advertising as only available to big brands but this isn’t the case.  It allows for easy budget management and targeting.


Instagram has a growing audience and for many is their primary social platform.  Facebook own Instagram and in order to run Instagram ads you’ll need to connect your Instagram account to Facebook Account Manager or Power Editor.

You can promote posts directly within Instagram or manage more targeted posts from within your Facebook Account Manager. The same targeting and retargeting options are available as outlined on Facebook. When creating an ad within the Account Manager you also get the option to push an ad to only Facebook, Facebook and Instagram or only to Instagram.


If you advertise in magazines, newspapers or any other offline medium you’re depending on the advertiser to deliver your message to the demographic and reach that they say they can achieve.  The problem with offline advertising only becomes apparent when you compare it with online advertising.

Online advertising, no matter which platform mix you choose, offers complete transparency over what works and doesn’t work.  When configured correctly you can be certain that advertising is only being displayed to a targeted and qualified audience.  In addition you can trace back which ads had most impact, those that didn’t, and adjust things accordingly.  This should lead to a much higher ROI than offline advertising.  All this while gaining the same great visibility you get in print or on TV.

In the offline advertising world you won’t hear people talking too much about conversion rates.  That’s because they really don’t expect advertising to deliver specific results.  They’re more interested in the compound effect advertising has over time.  Online advertising is focused on conversion.  Every ad campaign should have a very specific and measurable conversion goal.

There is a place for online advertising for every business.  In small business it’s easy to set up modest monthly budgets with several of these platforms and see great results.  Larger businesses with established advertising budgets but little online activity can see spectacular results by simply reallocating existing budgets.

Breaking out of your traditional online audience is where the magic happens and where the real rewards of growth are found. Please get in touch and let me know if you found this article useful or if you need more information.  I’m always available for a chat or to offer advice.

This is the first of a two-part post, looking at a few key things to help you create content. In the next one I’ll be talking about effective ways to post and schedule that content.

If you’re reading this, you know you should be creating content, and you know you need to be sharing it online, but you’re probably also liable to being sucked into a black hole of links, tabs and videos of cute animals (just check out these penguins). Before long, you’ve forgotten what you were researching, lost track of time, and your cup of tea’s gone cold.

So, what to do?

Separate generation from implementation

Set aside regular time (weekly or monthly) to jot down any ideas you have. Use good old fashioned pen and paper, or grab a whiteboard and a bunch of coloured markers. Whatever you use, try and stay offline for this step. If you need some inspiration, I’ve put together a quick guide to idea generation that you can download here.

The next day, give yourself a set amount of time to investigate these ideas a little bit further. Set a timer and use a programme like Evernote’s Webclipper to clip, bookmark and annotate useful sites.

When your weekly content creation slot rolls around (don’t have one yet? we’ll get to that next), pick something from your list of investigated ideas and get writing. Separating the idea generation from content creation gives you space to think and should help reduce that I’ve-been-putting-this-off-all-week-and-just-need-to-get-something-online-now stress.

Use a calendar

A calendar will help you plan the content you want to create but how about using it to give you the time to create that content in the first place? Chances are if you don’t schedule time to create content then it’s not going to happen.

Open up the calendar that you use to manage your day to day and schedule in slots for

  • Idea generation
  • Idea investigation
  • Content creation
calendar screenshot

Treat these like you would a client meeting – set a duration and enable reminders so you can’t skip them.

The frequency of each will depend on your needs but generally speaking try to schedule each of the above at least fortnightly, and between 30mins to an hour to start with.

Once you get going, you’ll get a better idea of the time that you need and can adjust each slot accordingly.

Now, when the content creation slot rolls around you can look at your calendar and know exactly what needs to be done. Which leads me onto…

Turning off distractions

It’s hard to focus when notifications keep popping up so, turn them off. I said to treat the slots above as if they were client meetings and that means giving them your full attention.

Turn off email notifications, log out of your social media accounts, put your phone in a drawer; whatever it is you find yourself drifting towards, temporarily get rid of it.

If that sounds like too much effort, and you’re likely to get distracted while looking for the ‘disable notifications’ option, then there are some tools to help you. Cold Turkey is one of the most effective, just tell it the sites you want to block, set a timer and it will do the rest.

Another tool that I turn to time and time again is Coffitivity. This one’s more about protecting yourself from the distractions of an open office environment than turning off online distractions but I think it’s just as valuable. Slip into a virtual coffeeshop, block out the office chatter and keystrokes, and get your focus back.

So, three simple things to help you create content effectively. Let me know if you have found other ways that work for you.

In the second part of this blog I’ll be looking at ways to schedule and post that content online. Coming soon…