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Posted by David in Interesting

Six types of user-generated content and why they’re worth having

User-generated content is the holy grail of content marketing – the perpetual motion machine that keeps on giving once you’ve mastered the fine art of driving it in the first place. This elusive content is hard to come by and requires an audience of users so engaged that they’re happy to do the heavy-lifting for you – and at Six Circles, this kind of community building is our bread and butter.

Needless to say, user-generated content is coveted by business owners and digital marketers across the globe – but before you set out on your mission to create the prime conditions, let’s take you through a handful of popular user-generated content examples to help you better understand what user-generated content is and why it’s well worth the chase.

Social media reaction icons
Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Social media shares

Social media shares do exactly what they say on the tin – your content is shared by users across social platforms, expanding your reach to their audience of friends, followers and connections. Of course, the advantages here really speak for themselves – your content could be seen by thousands rather than being self-contained on your blog or site, with even a modest click-through rate generating a greater volume of qualified traffic than you would otherwise have seen.

In many senses, social media shares are the modern day equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising, with the sharer both acting as a brand representative and promoting your content for free. Better yet, by building this kind of brand-customer relationship where users actively advocate and promote the content you create among like-minded friends and followers, the natural referrals they generate are more likely to lead to engaged, converting and returning customers as a result.

Blog comments

If your blog content is engaging, the likelihood is that your readership will want to, well, engage. Luckily, blog comments from readers provide a unique opportunity that can be nurtured to reflect positively on your brand.

Look to actively encourage a conversation between your readers in the comments section – whether they’re sharing their opinions on your take on current affairs, an update on how they fared having put your tips into action, or anything else relating to the content you’ve produced. Seek to participate in these conversations by replying to comments and starting new discussion threads – responding to any queries, challenges or concerns.

The advantage of doing this is two-fold. First, it’ll establish your brand as an authoritative voice within your field by demonstrating that you both actively participate in industry discussions and have authentic knowledge on matters affecting your sector. Secondly, it will build a stronger relationship between audience and brand by presenting your brand as one that acknowledges and appreciates its readership – a real win-win.

Photographic content

In the age of social media domination, photographic content is all the rage. Whether it’s Instagram stories, Facebook posts or any and everything in between, social media users just love to share selfies and snaps. And with just about everyone now having access to a smartphone, photographic content isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

So, how can your brand capitalise on this? One of the biggest benefits of photographic content is that your audience is doing all the work for you, meaning your role is simple – repost. Whether it’s a snap of someone styling your latest clothing products or a picture of a cool new display in one of your brick-and-mortar stores, repost audience images that relate to your brand as a means of strengthening your brand-audience relationship.

This will demonstrate that you acknowledge and appreciate your customers, while also encouraging more of your audience to get involved – creating a greater sense of community surrounding your brand as a result.

Of course, there’s also the advantage of increased brand exposure. In much the same way that your content can benefit from social shares, encouraging users to share photos relating to your brand or product on their social channels will serve as a free advertisement that organically reaches a huge audience of all of their friends and followers.

With social feeds now filled with less-than-authentic ads and other content from social influencers and celebrities, reposting genuine photos from genuine customers is sure to resonate with users as a breath of fresh air – reinforcing the authenticity and integrity of your brand to the benefit of your brand image.

Video content

With a mammoth 500 hours of video content being uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s clear that the potential of video content shouldn’t be ignored.

To capitalise on this popular form of content consumption, once again, turn your attention to your audience and encourage them to participate. This one may take a little extra incentive, as creating video content often requires more substance than that required to take a quick snapshot for Instagram.

With this in mind, look to offer product testers and freebies to relevant and prolific video content creators as a means of increasing your brand’s exposure. Whether it’s sending makeup products to the owner of a makeup tutorial channel or a gadget for an electronics channel to unbox, research who and what is popular surrounding your sector within the video content community and react accordingly.

By letting your product or service do the talking, your brand’s authenticity will once more be highlighted and championed by your audience.

Reviews and testimonials

Once more on the topic of authenticity, review and testimonials are one of the best forms of advertisements your brand can receive – providing they’re positive, of course.

User-generated content works because, in a world saturated with brands claiming to be ‘the best’, the ‘leading’ or much the same, users turn to fellow users as a means of reliability. With this in mind, look to circulate positive reviews and show them off to your audience to establish your credibility among your users.

Of course, your reviews may not always be positive – but rather than simply ignoring these less glowing reviews, you should always look to reply. Apologise for the user’s bad experience and seek feedback on how you can look to improve. By doing this, you’re reinforcing that you actively listen to your audience and their feedback, strengthening the sense of community around your brand and turning a negative into a positive as a result.

Forum comments

By establishing your own company forum where users can participate in discussions day-to-day, you’re positioning your brand at the forefront of a user community – and the benefits in terms of brand-customer relations really speak for themselves.

As well as helping you to portray your brand as an active industry participant and authoritative voice, encouraging your customers to participate in forums boasts other advantages, too. By leading discussions surrounding your sector, you can better gauge the types of topics your audience want to be discussed.

You can use this knowledge to inspire new blog content ideas – ensuring you continue to feed the appetites of your audience. On top of keeping your audience happy, this also proves you have one ear to the ground at all times – once more reinforcing your brand’s role as a leading participant in your industry’s wider community.

It’s clear why user-generated content is becoming ever more important with so many perks for brands to enjoy.

Learn more about how Six Circles can help you take your brand’s community to the next level by getting in touch with our team today to request a demo of our state-of-the-art community engagement platform.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six benefits of a brand community in uncertain times for your sector

This post is coming to you from our self-isolation station.

Women recording radio show at home
Photo by Kate Oseen on Unsplash

As the Covid-19 virus continues to sweep the country and, indeed, the planet, many of us are now in our own domestic quarantine – advised against engaging in social contact and even running essential errands for who knows how long.

This indefinite period of self-isolation is no doubt troubling for business owners, team managers and innumerable self-employed people across the globe, with the economic impact of the virus already being felt and the demand for many products and services having plummeted in the wake of tightening government regulations.

To play our small but hopefully meaningful part in guiding you through this confusing and concerning time as a business owner and citizen of the world, we’re exploring the many key advantages for your business and your customers that come with having an engaged community around your brand in the face of meaningful change and uncertainty within your sector.

Ensuring mutual stability

In times of uncertainty, maintaining some semblance of stability is crucial. One major advantage of having a brand community is the two-way support system this provides, helping your business and its customers continue to feel connected to something even in these times of isolation.

Knowing you’re still out there providing the product or service they need can reassure your customers that they’re not completely cut off from the world – while being reminded that you have a loyal, engaged customer base who are following updates from you can provide much-needed confidence during an otherwise insecure time.

Keeping your audience informed

As part of this mutual stability, one of your duties to your customers is to keep them fully up to date on disruptions or developments surrounding your product or service – and while this should indeed be considered a duty, having a dedicated community means this can be done easily and in real time.

The current pandemic has cast significant doubt on the short-term stability of many sectors, and means that updates from the businesses concerned are largely dictated by updates from the government – meaning keeping your audience informed may very well have to be reactive. Nonetheless, keeping these lines of communication as open as they can be is essential.

Gaining customer feedback

We can’t stress enough that this active communication should be a two-way street, and these uncertain times can be just as worrying for you as they are for your customers. Not knowing if your business can weather the storm can be frightening, and a lot of this doubt comes from uncertainty as to whether your customer base will stand by you during and beyond this proverbial storm.

With an engaged brand community at your disposal, make use of nifty market research tools like custom polls to ask your members the big questions that are keeping you up at night. Keep them engaged with your brand, while demonstrating that their input holds significant value for you, and you’ll be able to harness these insights in the weeks and months to come.

Driving word of mouth where marketing fails

There are already numerous stories circulating about brands and their marketing teams pausing key traffic-driving campaigns in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak, as decision-makers acknowledge the dwindling demand for so many non-essential products and services. Of course, without the exposure generated by these sorts of active campaigns, it can feel like your brand will simply disappear into the ether.

Thankfully, with a loyal and engaged community behind you, word of mouth marketing can tide you over while other channels come to a temporary standstill. Sure, many of your customers will be practising self-isolation – meaning they’ll be keeping social contact to a minimum – but thanks to the ubiquity of social media, digital communication prevails.

Generating outside-the-box ideas

We’re a resourceful species, which has already become clearly evident in recent days and weeks – as self-employed professionals directly impacted by new government guidelines on self-isolation and social distancing look outside of the box for coping strategies. Particularly in the events space, lively brainstorming sessions are taking place across the world’s leading social platforms surrounding (primarily digital) alternatives to traditional events – giving professionals in event-centric industries (such as sport, music and the wider performing arts) a vital lifeline they may not otherwise have had.

Starting these conversations and sparking these ideas is made infinitely easier with a brand community in your brainstorming arsenal. If your industry is likely to be affected by the implications of self-isolation and social distancing, reach out to your audience for honest feedback and creative input on viable alternatives to your typical service. Two heads are better than one, and an entire customer base worth of creative brain power could prove to be a goldmine.

Planning together for the future

While it’s impossible to know how the current industrial, economic and societal landscape will change in the crucial weeks and months to come, whatever the future holds for your business and its customers, planning for this uncertain future should be a dialogue. Your valued community can let you know how best to support them through the rest of 2020 and beyond.

If you’re already a member of our community and have questions or concerns in this challenging time, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our expert team.

If, however, you’re ready to begin enjoying the benefits of your brand’s own support system, now’s the time to find out what you’ll get by joining the Six Circles platform. Request a live demo of our platform today by calling 0191 917 9697 or emailing us at hello@sixcircles.co.uk.

Stay safe and stay connected.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six questions you should be asking your customer base

Customer feedback is absolutely essential to sustainable business growth. Holding a mirror up to your own brand is a wholly unrewarding exercise, with this (likely flattering) reflection unavoidably being coloured by your own intentions and aspirations.

Instead, looking outward and inviting those most qualified to judge your product or service – the people paying for it – to share their unfiltered opinions can return powerful insights.

These insights can help to shape the future of your business, inspiring everything from product range expansions to customer service process overhauls – and today, we’re sharing six key customer questions every brand should be asking to help them work towards a more satisfying customer experience and a more positive reputation overall.

Customers at a cafe checkout
Photo by Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash

How did you find us?

Knowing where your customers have come from is useful in a number of ways. First and foremost, these insights help you to identify your most fruitful marketing channels (such as social media, organic search, print advertising or good old-fashioned word of mouth) – information which can and should inform how marketing budgets are distributed in the long term.

On top of that, though, this knowledge can also influence how and, importantly, where you choose to communicate with your existing customers – tailoring this means of contact based on their preferences in pursuit of increased engagement.

What are we getting right?

Naturally, you’ll want to know which aspects of your product range or customer service are working for your customers, so you can carve out a long-term strategy that places these elements at the forefront and, as such, is built on solid foundations. Whether it’s your competitive prices, your high-quality product manufacturing, your knowledgeable customer service team or your proactive delivery updates, your customers are ideally placed to let you know what your USP is.

By process of elimination, you can also go some way towards establishing what isn’t going right. If you find that there are aspects of your product or service going completely unmentioned, this could be a sign to take a closer look at these less celebrated aspects and identify what, if any, improvements can be made.

Are we doing enough?

Where the above doesn’t illuminate you as to areas for improvement, asking this crucial question is sure to generate some worthwhile constructive feedback. Its vagueness means it’s open to interpretation, which broadens the range of possibilities when it comes to the answers you’ll get – from input on your customer service levels or delivery turnaround times to the ethics of your manufacturing methods or your commitment to eco-friendly business practices.

Asking this open-ended but highly significant customer question is a key exercise when it comes to establishing your brand as one that’s willing to go beyond merely satisfactory and strive for industry excellence.

Why did you choose us over the alternatives?

Standing out is vital in crowded marketplaces, but seeking to stand out and succeeding in doing so are altogether different things. You may have chosen to undercut your competitors on price, develop a vibrant, offbeat brand identity or offer round-the-clock customer support, for example – but the measure of whether this attempt to set your brand apart has worked will be the answers you receive to this question.

Rather than leading customers down a specific, premeditated path, give them the freedom to express their own views on your point of difference. Who knows? You might just find out you have a whole new unique selling point you can begin harnessing to generate business going forward.

What problems do we solve for you as a customer?

We expect your business was originally launched to solve an age-old consumer problem – whether you were setting out to solve this conundrum for the first time, or aspiring to solve it in a quicker, easier, smarter way than any other business had managed thus far.

Rather than asking your customers whether you have, indeed, solved precisely the problem you set out to, avoid putting words in their mouths and put it to them to explain how your product or service fulfils a need in, or removes an obstacle from, their life. With this genuine, unmanipulated feedback, you can find out whether the cornerstone of your brand mission is something your customers genuinely understand and recognise.

What do you want to see from us next?

Aside from what you’re getting right or wrong today, there’s huge value in understanding what your customers want or expect from you tomorrow. Customer questions like these can be highly informative when it comes to your long-term plans for developing and launching new products, expanding your customer service availability, introducing new payment options or attacking previously untapped revenue streams.

Your loyal customers are committed to joining you in the next phase of your brand’s journey, so it’s only fair that they should have the chance to help you chart the course.

The world’s most successful brands are able to thrive because of their engaged communities of like-minded customers. At Six Circles, our integrated community engagement platform is replete with tools to help your business connect with your audience – including market research tools primed for precisely this sort of revelatory Q&A activity.

Explore the features of our platform today to find out how your customer base can become a community through the art of honest, direct communication, and the long-term engagement that comes with it.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six secrets to maximising attendance at your next event

A report from last year revealed that most marketers believe event marketing is the single most effective marketing channel for achieving business goals. So, the question is: are you taking advantage of the power of experiential marketing when it comes to driving your brand forward?

For newcomers, now’s the time to dip your toe into the world of events for the first time. If, however, you’re already well-versed on the basics and benefits of experiential marketing, this handy guide should give you all the know-how you need to boost event attendance the next time you get back in the proverbial saddle.

At Six Circles, our integrated community engagement platform gives you the power to create custom events for your members. Coupled with these secrets to maximising your event’s attendance, you’ll have the perfect recipe for a busy event filled with engaged attendees who’ll leave hungry for the next instalment.

People in busy room at event
Photo by Jakob Dalbjörn on Unsplash

Create a dedicated landing page

Every successful event begins with a dedicated page illustrating the details of the event and, crucially, the advantages of attending. Whether this landing page is hosted on your own website or via a third-party platform, it needs to be clean, user-friendly, persuasive and overwhelmingly geared towards driving signups – with no other distracting calls-to-action reducing the likelihood of users securing their space. Maximising event attendance starts with maximising attendee signups, after all.

Promote liberally on social media

Promoting events is essential to increasing attendance numbers, and leading social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn can all play a role in this promotion depending on where your event’s intended audience spend their time online. With catchy hashtags, irresistible imagery and an engaged following at the ready, you’ll have all the basic tools you need to achieve organic reach – with the potential for paid event advertising via many of these platforms if your event needs an extra time-sensitive boost.

Make signing up simple

We’ve stressed the importance of a clutter-free event landing page, but don’t stop there. Once users arrive at the heart of your landing page – the signup form itself – they’ll need to be given as few hoops to jump through as physically possible, so as to avoid a situation wherein users are deterred at the final hurdle. Take a ‘less is more’ approach to the user data you gather at this stage, asking only for the essentials needed to make pre-event and follow-up contact easy and effective. This way, users won’t be repelled by an exhaustive signup form that requires too much time and effort to satisfy.

Confirm attendee bookings by email

The moment a user books their place at your event, they should have their registration confirmed by an email triggered immediately upon signup. Using email workflows, you can streamline this elegant follow-up process – creating a template email that’s sent automatically to registrants, confirming their place. This can and should be the first in a series of emails ensuring your event remains on prospective attendees’ radars – helping you to maximise event attendance simply by remaining at the forefront of their minds.

Facilitate attendee networking

The main draw for many regular event attendees is the chance to network with like-minded people – and as we’re in the business of community building, we relish any opportunity to bring people together based on shared needs, passions and interests. By prompting conversation among prospective event attendees – be it in social media or blog comments, through the use of your event-specific hashtags or within company forum threads – you can give your audience a means of making connections prior to the event, giving them one more reason to make event attendance a priority.

Remember your reminder emails

As part of your email workflow, which begins the moment a user first signs up for your event, there should, of course, be a number of reminder emails – being sent, say, a month, a week and a day before the date of the event. This way, registrants can remain aware of the event throughout the long countdown to the big day, and you can boost event attendance on the day by making it as easy as possible for users to plan their schedule around the event – with regular updates on time, location and other essential logistical details.

Whatever your next event is shaping up to be – from an industry trade show to a hands-on practical workshop – these golden rules for maximising attendance will serve you well. When the big day’s over, with a successful event behind you, you’ll have the pulling power you need to continue building on that experiential success.

Ready to get started? Explore the benefits of being part of the Six Circles community when it comes to growing a community of your own, and kick your next event marketing campaign off with a landing page primed for signups.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six prime opportunities to share a company press release

No business exists in a vacuum. Every company across all geographic markets and global sectors is surrounded by key groups of people: customers, competitors, shareholders and interested parties galore beyond those.

As your business grows and evolves, these people will likely follow you on your journey – and press releases offer the perfect medium for making sure loyal members of your customer base and curious rivals alike are fully up-to-date on your professional progress.

If you’re wondering what exactly a press release is and how you can harness this content format to boost brand awareness and credibility, look no further. In this post, we’re sharing some primary examples of PR-worthy occasions and exploring how you can take advantage of these company milestones in the name of coveted coverage.

Men having meeting around an office table
Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

Your team is expanding

New hires are an exciting prospect for any business, from the opportunity to welcome a new member into your professional family to the chance to expand your company’s offering with the right new talent. Whatever your reasons for recruiting, there’s ample material for a press release in any story about team expansion.

Consider what you hope to achieve as a company by introducing this new team member: will they offer a valuable new perspective on your industry, take your business offering to the next level or even revolutionise the way you do business? Regardless of the narrative, the press release writes itself.

You’re moving to a new office

Whether your growing team means you need to upsize your office or you’re ready to make the move and take on an exciting new territory, office moves are a natural part of life as an entrepreneur – and a newsworthy one at that.

Local news publications will always be interested in a story of an ambitious team moving to a new location where they can serve their area and achieve their company aspirations – and if your office move is a strategic move designed to help you take on big players in your market, your story could even be of interest to trade publications (generating some flattering and highly relevant coverage for your brand).

You’ve won an industry award

Industry awards and accolades are a coveted prize in many sectors, where this sort of acclaim amounts to a sought-after brand. If you’ve been so fortunate as to have your years of hard work and industry innovation recognised by an awarding body, we daresay this will already have generated some natural coverage of its own – but it’d be a shame to let your fame fizzle out before its time.

With a dedicated press release, you can be loud and proud about your recent award win – sharing this content with customers, stakeholders and sector influencers to make sure all of the above are well aware of your stand-out status.

You’ve secured a new client or partnership

In the B2B world, there are coveted clients with whom a mere association can elevate a business to the ranks of the major players. Likewise, in the B2C sphere, there are magnetic brands with whom any small business would kill to be involved in cross-promotional activity.

As your company grows, you’re sure to reach the important company milestone that is bagging the sort of enviable client or partnership you’ve always dreamed of – and when the time comes, there’s no better way to shout your news from the rooftops than by putting together a timely press release making this news common knowledge.

You’re rebranding

There are many reasons a company may choose to undergo a rebrand – including but not limited to a fresh start without past professional baggage, a repositioning within your market or a desire to remain relevant in a fast-moving sector. Whatever you’re hoping to get out of your clean slate, your brand transformation will make for interesting reading in the form of an exclusive press release.

In this case, your press release may actually turn out to be as educational as it is promotional, with customers, shareholders and industry influencers alike all benefiting from getting to know the new and improved you.

You’re innovating your sector

True innovation isn’t easy – and if you’ve managed to offer a truly unique product or service to your customers, or elegantly solve an age-old problem your industry has worked for years to overcome, your stroke of genius deserves its time in the sun.

With an informational press release highlighting exactly what makes your achievement an innovation, you can leave all concerned parties in no doubt of your trailblazing credentials. Just remember to back up your big idea with genuine testimonials from members of your community (who can attest to its success) for maximum credibility.

At Six Circles, we’re in the business of community building. With our holistic engagement platform, you can give your brand’s community all of the tools they need to keep their finger on the pulse of your business – whether you’re sharing industry knowledge, a hot new discussion topic or shiny new press release of your own.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six ways to engage and empower customers through email marketing

Email marketing has steadily become a powerful arm of the modern digital marketing arsenal, having generated a reported 32x ROI in 2017 – and in 2020, this highly effective channel is still going from strength to strength.

With a sizeable mailing list under your belt (which you can build with little to no effort by introducing a simple signup form to your website) and one of the many easy-to-use email marketing software solutions at your disposal, you can harness this mighty marketing tool for the first time in 2020.

Computer screen showing Gmail inbox
Photo by Krsto Jevtic on Unsplash

Whether you have a growing ecommerce website or B2B enterprise, there are applications and rewards galore when it comes to email marketing. At Six Circles, we believe in community building and this, like so many other lucrative marketing channels, is an important part of that process.

In this post, we’re exploring how to do email marketing right, and the benefits of email marketing activity for those businesses who succeed in their quest to engage and empower their customers.

Newsletters

The humble newsletter is a staple of any email marketing strategy, serving as a regular (be it weekly, monthly or quarterly) update from you to your mailing list on the inner workings of your company – including any notable recent and upcoming developments (think award wins, product releases or exciting brand partnerships). To start making the newsletter format work for your business, simply begin compiling a roundup of what’s new in your world – keeping the focus on the information and insights you believe your customers deserve to know as valued members of your community.

Content sharing

Whether you’ve just published a shiny new informational blog post or pushed a detailed new white paper live, you’d be doing your content marketing efforts a disservice by failing to broadcast your latest and greatest uploads via email.

Engage your subscribers by offering irresistible blog teasers in your monthly newsletter, and empower them by arming them with the informational content they need to read in order to shop with confidence and extract as much value as possible from your product or service.

Offers and discounts

Needless to say, financial savings are and will always be a safe bet when it comes to incentivising customers. From giving loyal customers a heads-up on limited time sales to offering tempting discounts to qualifying subscribers, email marketing is a prime channel for sending exclusive perks direct to customer inboxes.

Maximise your open rate by being up-front and explicit in your subject line before getting into the details and any relevant small print once users have opened your email and therefore demonstrated their interest.

Cart abandonment emails

From time to time, there’s no doubt some of your customers will add an item to their cart only to have second thoughts before making it to the checkout. This is natural for any ecommerce business, but it shouldn’t stop you from doing what you can to convert hesitant shoppers into paying customers.

Cart abandonment emails can be triggered when a user adds a product to their cart on your website and doesn’t go on to buy – with your triggered email providing a friendly prompt to complete their purchase. You’ll need email addresses for the users in question, but, done right, these delayed nudges have the power to drive transactions where they could have been lost.

Product and service launch announcements

The launch of a brand-new product or an expansion of your core services is an exciting time for any business – but to kick things off with a bang, you’ll need to make sure anyone and everyone knows exactly where they can get their hands on this new offering from your brand. Email marketing is the key to spreading the word among your community, with launches like these presenting an ideal time for a shiny new email announcement.

Send word of new products or services direct to your customers’ inboxes, along with high-resolution imagery showing them being used and succinct, persuasive copy highlighting features and benefits to give recipients all the incentive they need to convert.

Sequential campaigns

The big daddy of email marketing activity, a sequential campaign (otherwise known as an email workflow) consists of a series of automated emails which are sent based on set time intervals or, alternatively, custom triggers defined by you. The applications of email workflows are practically limitless, but these email series are generally used to strategically and efficiently nurture subscribers from cold leads into paying customers or clients.

Start by pinning down the primary actions you’d like customers to take, and consider the various paths taken towards these actions. With these journeys laid out, map out the numerous touch points along the way and build your sequential email marketing campaigns around these conversion funnel milestones. This way, you can be there every step of the way, demonstrating your value to prospective customers and remaining present in the forefront of their minds.

Now you know how to do email marketing like the pros, it’s time to find a digital software suite worthy of your upcoming email campaign. There are options galore available to aspiring email marketers, including the exceptionally easy-to-use Mailchimp – and when you become a Six Circles member, you can integrate with Mailchimp for simple, stress-free access to campaign performance monitoring.

Get started with your very first campaign and reap the benefits of email marketing from the word go.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six reasons every brand should be blogging

Whether you’re a long-time business owner branching out into online marketing for the first time or a newbie dipping your toe into these unfamiliar waters, it shouldn’t be news to you that blogging is an essential regular activity for any brand looking to make its mark digitally.

A natural extension of any company website, a dedicated blog is the ultimate platform for an expert content hub – whatever your business’s specialist subject may be.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re able to make time once a week, once a month or once a quarter – the bottom line is every brand should be making a concerted effort to blog, and we’re exploring why in this pocket guide to the primary benefits of blogging.

Man blogging on laptop
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Define your brand voice

If you’ve ever participated in a branding workshop of any kind in the past, you’ll likely have a fairly tight grip on your company’s brand voice – but the truth is that so many elegantly thought-out brand identities gather dust once they’re pinned down, rather than being put to their intended use. Making the decision to begin blogging as a brand gives you a prime opportunity to showcase your unique brand voice, illustrating the multifaceted personality behind your surface-level brand image.

Share opinions

As an individual or a brand entity, you may well have some passionate opinions on your sector as a whole that you’d like to share with anyone who’ll listen. Perhaps you want to praise innovation in your industry, or bust some common myths associated with your sector, or share your market trend predictions for the year ahead. Whatever your intentions, one of the ultimate benefits of blogging is creating a home where you can these opinions – meaning you can become more of an active participant in your sector, rather than a mere spectator.

Impart knowledge

As well as making your opinions heard via your company blog, you’ll also want to demonstrate your authority and expertise in order to earn the trust of current and potential customers. With your website’s landing pages likely dedicated to promoting your products or services, your blog can serve as a powerful platform for educating your customers on topics associated with these products or services. From delivering practical how-tos to providing the theory behind any complex industry concepts, the world’s your oyster when it comes to knowledge-sharing.

Join the conversation

Whatever your sector, we’re willing to bet there’s the occasional heated debate surrounding, say, a particular market player, a new piece of relevant government legislation or emerging shopping behaviours in your industry. To remain relevant in the long term, use your brand blog to offer your two cents on these hot topics, sharing genuine insights to show your readership you’re committed to keeping your finger on the pulse.

Build a community

Done right, blogging can be your key to amassing a large and engaged readership of users who’ll make a point of returning to your site without being prompted. This is the mother of online marketing success: a genuine brand community. By ensuring the topics you cover (and the approaches you take to these topics) are always timely, engaging and unique, you can lead users to rely on your blog for a high-quality take on your sector and keep them coming back for more.

Refine your conversion funnel

Last but certainly not least, one of the greatest benefits of blogging as a business is the ability to use your blog content as a path towards conversions. By drawing in users via top-of-the-funnel topics (think informational or lifestyle-related pieces that educate or engage without being outwardly promotional), you can begin to bring interested readers into your inner circle who can, ultimately, be nurtured into becoming paying customers or clients.

At Six Circles, our community engagement platform features practical brand-building assets galore, including the potential for your own news and resource area, where you can take the first step towards a living, breathing brand blog. Reap the benefits of blogging by getting in touch today to discuss your options with a community engagement expert.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six types of corporate events to try for the first time in 2020

Corporate events are all the rage in the modern day professional world, with businesses hosting or sponsoring a variety of event types for employees, clients and leads alike. Of course, different types of corporate events work best for different businesses – it all depends on your brand, whether you’re a B2B or B2C company and the size of your enterprise.

With these events only continuing to grow in both popularity and scale, today, we’re running through six types of corporate events you should try for the first time this coming year – detailing how and why these types of events work and what you can do to make a success of your own.

Trade show
Photo by Product School on Unsplash

Product launch

There are few bigger days on a business’s event calendar than the debut of a new product or range, making a product launch the perfect event for creating the necessary media buzz about both your brand and product.

Most commonly hosted by B2C companies, businesses big and small can look to utilise this type of event as a clever marketing strategy – receiving notable publicity for the product in question while also presenting your brand as engaging and contemporary. Focus on capturing the imagination of potential consumers and spark anticipation surrounding your brand by really putting on a show – including a flashy entrance, renowned guest speakers, food and even entertainment where possible.

Company milestones

A successful company nurtures a sense of community amongst its employees and, with businesses with a highly engaged workforce being 21% more profitable, the importance of instilling this into your own workforce really speaks for itself.

A tried and tested way of doing this is celebrating company milestones. Whether it’s a company anniversary, a record-breaking sale or a big new addition to upper management, this type of corporate event is a sure-fire way to improve team morale and promote your company as a fun place to work. Hire out a function room or even host it in your own office – limiting attendees to company employees to emphasise the employee appreciation factor, or expanding to clients and even the local community if your public presence demands it.

Trade show

Trade shows are a valuable type of corporate event that can serve as an effective means of lead generation activity.

These events are highly popular across a wide range of industries and sectors, so keep your ear to the ground to ensure you’re aware of any relevant local and national trade show events. Alternatively, if your business is big enough, you can host your own trade show to reinforce your status amongst attendees as an industry leader.

Either way, you’ll need to negotiate sponsorship rates for stall space, advertising, promo material and, where necessary, speaking slots – although with attendees largely being relevant personnel within your industry, this is almost always worth the initial investment.

Fundraiser

Fundraisers are an incredibly effective way of bolstering public image, improving team spirit and, most importantly, doing something good for someone else.

Think carefully about the type of event that best suits your brand and workforce in order to encourage the most participation. From golf to auctions, there’s a whole range of suitable activities to choose from. When it comes to picking your charity, consider the size of your business and how much you’re likely to raise. For example, smaller companies should look at giving back to the local community – this is not only a nice gesture, but also a great way of improving your local public profile.

Team building event

If you’re looking to improve team morale, productivity and bonds, a team building event is the most effective type of corporate event for you. Providing a great opportunity for employees to spend some quality time outside of a working environment, prioritise fun when choosing your team building activity.

When choosing a location, outdoor physical activities really capture the corporate team building spirit, so look to explore this avenue where possible. Host the event in-house or look to outsource to a company that specialises in putting on fun and effective team building days.

Networking

Networking is page one of the business handbook and, as such, deserves a place on any list of must-try corporate events.

Networking events entail hosting a large gathering of various parties from a specific industry to encourage new business relationships. The atmosphere should be relaxed and welcoming, so be sure to carefully consider the function space in relation to the number of attendees. Be sure to include food, drinks and perhaps even entertainment to ensure the conversation keeps flowing between all parties and that your networking event is, ultimately, a success.

With a whole range of new corporate events to explore in 2020, make sure you’re taking a practical and efficient approach from the off by utilising a community engagement platform, like ours.

Enabling you to create bespoke events and sub-events in minutes, provide instant email booking confirmations and e-tickets, and generate an exportable attendee list, we’ll give you the tools to guarantee your next corporate event is a raging success.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six kinds of social proof (and why they’re worth the chase)

In pursuit of industry dominance, social proof is one of the most valuable currencies you’ll come across, with the power to create brands from mere businesses and turn a company vision into a mission complete.

If you’re wondering what on earth social proof is and how you can enjoy your fair share, your search for answers is over. Six Circles was founded to give brands the tools they need to manage, engage and grow communities. This puts us in an ideal place to help you use social proof as a catalyst for creating a thriving community of your own – and it’s time to find out how.

Man holding up trophy
Photo by Fauzan Saari on Unsplash

What is social proof?

Social proof is defined as “a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation”. It’s a term coined by Robert Cialdini in the seminal book, Influence, released in 1984. Otherwise known as ‘informational social influence’, social proof is, essentially, any verbal or non-verbal endorsement of a person or thing that evidences the merits of said person or thing.

For you, this means any endorsements you can earn or generate that substantiate the quality of your product or service offering, customer service or brand as a whole – illustrating to others that your brand is worth investing in, whatever form that investment may take.

The good news is that generating social proof is well within your control (as long as your product or service offering, customer service and brand as a whole are deserving of praise, of course). The even better news is that social proof comes in all shapes and sizes, making it possible for any business under the sun to amass its fair share.

Customer reviews

Whether on Google, your own website or a third-party platform like Trustpilot, Yelp or TripAdvisor (depending on your line of work), customer reviews can be found in all kinds of places. Regardless of the format, though, these honest, often detailed accounts of the service you’ve provided to past customers serve as reliable evidence of the value you’re delivering.

If you stand by the quality of your products, the standard of your customer service and the overall experience of engaging with your brand, make it an active mission of yours to prompt reviews from recent customers to ensure a steady stream of new, positive feedback for public consumption.

Testimonials

Testimonials are similar to customer reviews in terms of their content, but generally find their home on the websites of businesses keen to broadcast their achievements and, in doing so, bolster their online reputation.

When it comes to formats, a testimonial can take the form of a written quote, video or audio file, interview or blog post – meaning the world’s your oyster when it comes to creating a dynamic, multimedia testimonials page or content hub. The one disclaimer is to seek out and publicise the opinions of your most articulate and discerning customers, as well as respected peers and, ideally, coveted influencers.

Social media endorsements

From Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Instagram, without even really scratching the surface of the many, many social media platforms at your disposal, you’ll find opportunities galore for driving and identifying online endorsements from satisfied customers.

Whether your brand is being messaged directly with the good news, mentioned to other users in a public post or even tagged in a dedicated product review, gathering these social media endorsements and sharing them liberally will give all those who rub shoulders with your brand (and all those who rub shoulders with them) the incentive they need to shop with confidence.

Awards, accolades and memberships

Although easier said than done, accruing relevant awards and similar industry accolades will stand you in great stead when it comes to illustrating the quality of what you’re offering. From general business awards – of which there are many – to more targeted awards given by major blogs in your space, you’ll typically find you’re able to nominate your own business rather than waiting for some kind soul to do the honours on your behalf. Should you win, giving any award-related badges pride of place on your website is a no-brainer.

Memberships are another worthwhile route to explore, with membership options available for all kinds of niche organisations – allowing you to elevate how your brand is perceived, if you’re able to demonstrate some admirable shared values. This is particularly easily done by ethical and environmental businesses, for whom there are associations and initiatives galore to become a part of – but from industry bodies to trade associations, there are options for everyone. Again, just remember to ensure any flattering membership badges are shown front and centre on your website.

Case studies

While they may have evolved a little in terms of format in recent years, case studies are still alive and well as a medium for B2B lead generation – especially when it comes to social proof. Unlike customer reviews and testimonials, though, case studies are all on you. Whatever structure you may choose for yours, the message should remain the same: there was a problem, but you solved it in a way only you could.

By all means, incorporate multimedia content into your case studies. In order to appeal to all kinds of digital users – including those with shorter attention spans or a passion for visual stimuli – it’s best to have all bases covered. Done right, case studies can nurture ‘window shoppers’ into paying customers or clients, making this timeless format well worth the long-term investment.

Persuasive data

Finally, it’s important never to underestimate the power of data – particularly data that shows your brand is an objectively good investment.

From ‘X% of customers enjoyed a greater quality of life after buying this product’ to ‘Y% of clients saw a 200% return on their investment’, market research tools like polls can generate these kinds of persuasive data, which you can then shout from the rooftops (by which we mean plaster all over your website, in your monthly newsletter and across your social media accounts).

Our suite of community engagement tools were developed to help business owners build their own following that’s engaged and, as such, primed for positive feedback. Find out more about the Six Circles platform today to prosper with the help of social proof.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six powerful mantras for mindful business owners

The experience of being a business owner is typically a whirlwind of responsibilities – from day-to-day operational concerns to meetings galore, financial forecasts and much more. In the eye of the entrepreneurial tornado, it can be all too easy to lose sight of your greater vision, your business’s overall ethos and even your belief in your abilities as a business owner.

The comforting truth is you’re not alone and, thankfully, with the help of a handful of reliable mantras for business success, you can always take a moment to recalibrate and recover your motivation. At Six Circles, our community-building software suite is your fast pass to a loyal and supportive base of customers who, in many ways, can see you through these entrepreneurial crises. When all else fails, though, memorise these business mantras to remain mindful and on track.

Man meditating by a lake
Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

I believe in my abilities.

In times of professional struggle, it’s entirely natural to question your abilities. From general business acumen and financial savvy to tech literacy and people management skills, the early stages of business ownership involve spinning more than a few different plates – so it shouldn’t be surprising to experience moments of doubt in the face of so many diverse challenges.

At moments like these, take a minute to remind yourself how much you’ve already managed to achieve in your time as an entrepreneur, reflect on your past triumphs, ponder the hurdles you’ve overcome and reaffirm your belief in your abilities. No doubt your skill set will have expanded many times over since starting out, and we daresay it will continue to grow as you become more experienced.

Focus on the task at hand.

In the process of spinning your many plates, you may find that the sheer heft of your workload becomes something you dwell on rather than choosing to tackle. If you feel your focus drifting from the next job on your immediate agenda to the abstract pile of jobs on the horizon, you’ve gone off course.

Multitasking is, in many ways, the enemy of the productive business owner – as dividing your time and attention between multiple things simultaneously will generally lead to stagnance on all fronts. Instead, make laser focus your mission – staying committed to a single task through to completion, comforted by the knowledge that this is the only route to a lighter, more manageable workload.

Do a few things well.

By doing a few things well (by which we mean focusing on mastering a few key aspects of your role), you can avoid overstretching yourself and doing many things poorly. Again, multitasking is best avoided – especially when it comes to high-stakes aspects of business management. Refuse to spread yourself thin and start by identifying your greatest strengths as an entrepreneur and aligning those with the responsibilities you’re best placed to fulfil yourself.

Knowing when to delegate internally – and, beyond that, when to outsource – will serve you well in your quest to become a master of your trade. Letting go of certain key responsibilities can be daunting (especially if you’re a self-confessed control freak!), but the satisfaction that comes with knowing you’ve found the right person for each and every job will make this challenge completely worthwhile.

I’m grateful for the team I have around me.

No business owner is an island, as they say! To achieve true, sustainable success as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to surround yourself with a reliable, devoted and competent team – whether they’re helping you with the accounts, the business development, the management of your staff or the day-to-day toil that makes the wheels of your company go round.

These are the people who have helped to transform your idea into a fully functioning business, and the act of expressing your gratitude to these people will help you to remain grounded and maintain a sense of the bigger picture. When you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, take a moment to feel thankful for your team and the contributions they make to your company each day – knowing that, whatever challenges you face, you have this valuable support system behind you.

I start every day as I mean to go on.

A mindful approach to mornings is key to ensuring a productive day, as it sets the tone for everything that follows. As a business owner, this means using the first hour or so of your day for positivity and motivation – settling on a couple of manageable goals for the day ahead and, crucially, putting any coming challenges into perspective.

If you’re not a morning person, it can be very easy to slip into a pessimistic outlook in your first, tired moments of the day – but once the tone is set, it becomes more and more difficult to shift your perspective, and this can lead you to believe that an uneventful day was, in fact, one fraught with drama and disappointment. So, beat the negativity before it takes hold and start each day feeling open-minded and primed for productivity.

I remember why I’m doing this.

Perhaps most importantly of all, when faced with what feels like an insurmountable obstacle, cast your mind back to when you first decided to launch your business in an aim to recapture that moment of inspiration and drive. This is the moment you chose to take the leap into entrepreneurship – your professional origin story.

Being intimately acquainted with your business’s mission statement will make it far easier to return to this state of mind, as you’ll have a powerful mantra of your own that you can return to on demand. The reason you started this adventure in the first place should be the motivation that carries you through your professional challenges – keeping you fixed on your destination whatever the trappings of entrepreneurship throw your way.

With these business mantras for success on standby, you can tap into this secret stash of motivation whenever you need to. Beyond that, it pays to have a faithful and engaged audience around your brand to illustrate everything you’ve achieved as a business owner – and that’s where we come in. Check out our community engagement platform and take the first important step towards a community of your own today.

Testimonials

“Since incorporating the Six Circles software to further grow our network, we have seen a vast increase in new members and interaction and we are attributing both to the ease of the site’s functionality.

For us, our marketing is now tailored more specifically and effectively due to the inclusion of useful analytics which allow us to form a better understanding of what our members really want.

We would wholly recommend Six Circles to organisations wanting to offer their consumers a platform to meet others, voice their opinions, publish industry news and receive an inclusive and enjoyable customer experience.”

The Mussel Club