Best practice website marketing tips for a small business

Lynn Morrison, Marketing Director at Opus Energy, discusses some best website marketing practices that should be considered by any ambitious small business.

Interviewer is Gauthier Van Malderen, the founder of Perlego, an edtech company that has an online subscription service for textbooks that enables its users to read them as eBooks.

Interview Transcription

Lynn Morrison [LM]: At Opus Energy we’re delighted to be involved with British Small Business Grants. We think it’s a great opportunity for us to recognise some of the really exciting talent that comes from all over the UK. As a small business supplier, it’s really great for us and kind of a highlight of our year to be able to connect face to face with some of the small businesses that are being so successful in empowering the UK economy.

[GVM]: So we really have a good base of users. I think we are validating our product market fit, users have started to pay for Perlego, but I’d love to get your thoughts on how you think we can increase our exposure, and sort of what core marketing channels will work well for us.

[LM]: Yeah, absolutely, those are really common problems that small businesses face, you know, you come up with a great idea but then how do you reach the market? And how you do how do you do it in a really cost-effective way? Because you’re trying to make every resource kind of stretch as far as you can.

I had a look at your website I think it looks really great, very professional, very modern, very fresh.

I think it’s engaging, it’s clear, and it’s really clean and those I think that’s really important for the type of audience that you’re trying to reach.

The power of a blog

[GVM]: Are there any features within the website that you think we could develop that would improve the engagement with our users?

[LM]: What I didn’t see on your website, that I would really encourage you to go back and think about, is having a blog so when you’re looking at trying to get, you kknow how can I get further with my PR efforts and how can I get further with my SEO efforts, it’s all about content and right now you’re sort of lacking a place where you can build up that content and a blog is a great way to start. It gives you content you can turn and use to create thought leadership pieces that you can go and send out to other web sites that are relevant to your audience, it gives you content that you can use for backlinks, which is obviously really key when you’re trying to build up your SEO strategy, and also gives you stuff you can share on your social media. So you kind of get three big wins out of one piece.

Focusing your social media

[GVM]: So do you have any recommendations how, when you’re discussing a social media strategy, how we can divide up our three channels? We use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Right now, I think LinkedIn is a bit more professional and more on the Investor side, but Twitter and Facebook would be both for our students, and do you have maybe some tips on how we
could do that?

[LM]: So I take a look at your social channel so you do have fun and engaging content on your social channels but sometimes it seems like it’s targeted towards people you’re trying to get to kind of work for you. Sometimes it’s targeted towards the audience, sometimes for publishers, and I think what that means is that if any of those three audiences are looking at you on social media, you know two-thirds of the content that’s on there probably isn’t relevant to them. So, you can think about dividing up your social media and saying; I
want Twitter to play this role and Facebook to play another role and LinkedIn you know a third, and that can help you kind of really clarify what your strategy is around each of those
channels.

Taking influence from other companies

[LM]: The third piece of advice I’d give you is to copy Spotify. So you guys market yourselves as being the Spotify of the textbook market, which I think is a great thing to help people really understand who you are and what you do, and you also, I would guess, probably have a very similar market. You’re going to have college kids and people with a little bit of discretionary income, same thing as Spotify is going to have. So take a look at what they do. They’ve got great ideas and what they’re doing around content and around social, you know really taking advantage of what makes Spotify Spotify. So, if you think about what they’re doing, music playlists or music roundups or top hits, there’s no reason you can’t turn around and do the same thing for the book – roundups of the best books about management, or top ten books that everybody’s reading right now, things along those lines. You can do notes from authors.

Spotify, I think the other day, had [unintelligible] on there talking about what are her favourite tracks at the moment.

So could you go out and review some of the book authors and (ask them) what are you reading? and kind of help populate along from there

I think the idea is to try and bring what is your gated content i.e. the textbooks and make it a little bit exposed to the kind of wide audience, so they get a good sense of what they will find out when they delve in and pay the money and get behind behind the firewall.

[GVM] I agree about what you were saying regarding Spotify. I think that was a huge inspiration for us to build up Perlego. As a student, as a former student myself, I noticed I was using Netflix for movies, I was using Spotify for music, surely something should exist for textbooks or for books, and that’s kind of why we’ve built up a Perlego, as you know, we believe in the future of subscription services, as I think most people do as well.

Achieving a community feel

[GVM]: I love the idea of a community. For us it’s a question of implementing it – but at a low cost. Do you have maybe any ideas of how we could do that without having to invest heavily in building up a whole community?

[LM]: So I think there’s things you can do to give the community feel without having to necessarily build all the interfaces and you know, stuff that goes on behind the scenes that could be quite expensive.

Some of that could be around getting people collectively together to say, write a blog post for you about ten books that they have all loved and shared with one another, you know, get people to come in and make recommendations. I love the idea about: “Read these ten books and suddenly you’ll be an expert in this particular area”, so there’s all kind of fun ways you can make, I think, bring the user to life and make it feel very real and make them feel like they’re part of something larger without having to go build too technical a back end to support that.

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