YO! Marketing Presents Machine Learning in Marketing at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards

YO! Marketing Presents Machine Learning in Marketing at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards

The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2018 held in Edinburgh on February 22nd.  We presented the work we did on machine learning in marketing with Abertay University, Dundee. The audience gave us great feedback and some things to think about going forward. What problem are we trying to solve and how can we use machine learning in marketing as a solution?

Presenting YO! Marketing and Abertay University at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2018 Machine Learning in Marketing

What marketing challenges do SMEs have?

Most companies know that marketing has some impact on their business performance. But very few know the marketing activities have the most impact. The result is usually one of two extremes. Either the company spends on as many marketing activities as possible or they conclude that they don’t need marketing after all. Therefore, the challenges are two-fold: What works for my business? How do I prioritise these activities based on a tight budget?

What solution did YO! Marketing propose?

Machine learning in marketing is not widely used yet. It is a newish and exciting way of learning from the past and in real-time. We collaborated with Abertay University to device a model that could identify patterns in data in a supervised way. Using experience and data gathered from 35 companies, we identified critical relationships in the data that could predict the impact (or ROI) of specific marketing activities on overall business outcomes. This means that SMEs can quickly discover what is working to grow their business and focus marketing investment on that. They optimise how they allocate resources and time, and make effective use of a limited budget.  Did our solution work?

Was Machine Learning in Marketing a Good Idea?

Abertay University has extensive in cyber-security and data analytics. By working with one of its lecturers, Dr Xavier Bellekens, we combined our marketing experience with machine learning expertise. That was a great idea with many benefits.

We successfully built a model that works, an achievement that is a first in our industry. However, we are limited by data. For a model like this to provide the cutting-edge capabilities that we envisage, we need lots of data. Our current model is a start, and we have a handful of companies working with us to gather more data.   If you are interested in what we have built and you would like to support us, contact us for an informal chat.

Facebook Changes: How Small Businesses Can Still Win Big

Facebook Changes: How Small Businesses Can Still Win Big

Facebook changes are coming. These changes have a significant impact on business pages on Facebook. For small businesses, it could be frustrating. But it could also be a call to step up on valuable, relevant content.

Facebook Changes: Goals

Mark Zuckerberg says the Facebook changes will promote more local and relevant news. On his recent post on the subject, he summarised his motives for the changes as follows:

  • Facebook wants to give users a more personalised experience
  • Based on feedback from Facebook users.  people see too many pieces of content from businesses
  • Facebook wants to increase the quality of content on the platform
  • There is a stronger focus on real engagement and interaction

This could mean less exposure for business pages as these pages move to a secondary news feed, first piloted in October last year. Facebook users will see news from family and friends in a primary newsfeed. The changes also mean that businesses might need to spend more on ads to be seen by their target audience. Small businesses without deep pockets will feel the pinch the most.

Facebook Changes: Don’t Give Up

But small businesses mustn’t give up. 62% of consumers on Facebook say that it is the most important platform for them. A bigger metric is the 80% of users who say that they are more inclined to buy from you if you have a credible, authentic Facebook page associated with your business. Business decision-makers are also keen Facebook users according to a recent article by HootSuite on Facebook Statistics. Therefore, the objective of small businesses should be safeguarding the top one or two spots on the secondary news feed in order to be seen by their target audience.

Facebook Changes: Live video

In this video, I discuss the changes to Facebook and how small businesses can still win the heart of their target audience by creating and publishing valuable content to the right people.

Facebook Changes: What Is A Promo Post?

Promotional posts are Facebook’s pet peeve. Avoid it as much as you can. Not sure if your posts are promotional? These three points just about cover it:

  • The sole purpose of the post is to push people to buy a product
  • You ask people to enter promos, giveaways or contests
  • Your posts reuse the same content for Ads over and over

Facebook Changes: What’s the Solution?

Focus on knowing who to target, how to offer value to them and what you can do to stand out in the newsfeed.

To achieve these best practices when you create content for your Facebook business page:

  • Create videos of min 30 secs, max 90s (longer videos rank higher)
  • High completion rates (50%)
  • Schedule posts on Facebook (instead of on 3rd party platforms like Buffer and HootSuite)
  • No outbound links (e.g. YouTube, blog posts)
  • Upload videos directly to Facebook
  • Don’t boost posts (weak targeting and low conversion rates)
  • Use Ads to target individuals on your business page (check out lookalike audiences)
  • Create Facebook groups and engage there
  • Use great images in posts (emotion, motion, colour)
  • Spend time identifying your audience, grab their attention and build relationships
  • Create motivational and inspirational posts
  • Value offers (how-to videos, PDF cheat sheets, advice, demos)
  • Promote local businesses

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10 cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses

10 cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses

Marketing is often on the bottom of the list for  small businesses, and I understand that. The priority is usually to get business as quickly as possible, yet things like building a website tend to be nice-to-haves in some cases. I run a marketing consultancy but I haven’t been immune to the reluctance to spend on “marketing stuff”. In this article, I will highlight 10 essential yet cost-effective marketing tips for even the smallest budgets. These tips will help you build a foundation for your business. Many will cost you nothing, but they will make a significant impact in growing your business long term.

cost-effective marketing tips for small business by yo marketing

Cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses

1. Email Marketing

If you have a contact list of potential customers, email marketing could be a good way of letting them know about your business. You could start with a small list of people that know you and would not mind getting your email. For this, you don’t need an email marketing service. You could just use your email provider. Remember to keep your contacts’ emails in Bcc so that you don’t share their email addresses with your entire list. As your list grows, consider email providers like MailChimp, Mad Mimi and MailerLite. These all have free plans. The paid plans cost as little as £7 a month if you grow to a list of over 1,000 subscribers. If you get to that point, well done!

2. Business cards

Giving out your business card is a simple way of telling people what you do and how they can reach you. Thanks to companies like Vistaprint, you can get 500 business cards for £15. Other options are Fiverr, an online marketplace for your digital needs. Someone can design your card for as little as £3, and then you could print it elsewhere. I don’t recommend going too ‘cheap and cheerful’ with your business cards but don’t spend too much on it either. I changed my mind about my tag line a couple of times and that meant new business cards. Luckily, they didn’t cost much so I was able to make new cards to reflect my business’ value. Remember that as you evolve, your business will too. Make provisions for the changes that you might make.

3. Networking events

Networking events could cost anything from nothing to hundreds of pounds. The trick is to find those events that are relevant to your industry. When attending a networking event, don’t be shy to give away your business card. But also don’t worry too much about how much business you will get at the event. It could hinder you from just having a good time. You could be pitching all night! I’ve started to see networking events as an opportunity to just be known, help people put face to name. If new clients come as a result, fantastic!

4. CRM systems

When you think about CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, you might imagine a complex database that does things that as a small business, you are not ready for. However, CRM systems are essential to build your business. One of the first things I did was get Highrise, a simple CRM tool that allows me enter details of new contacts, potential and existing clients. Within Highrise, I can maintain details of all potential and existing client interactions, from first contact to conversion. Needless to say, Highrise is free for businesses with less than 250 contacts. It increases to roughly £15 a month for up to 5,000 contacts. Another CRM system for small business is HubSpot CRM. It’s free, but I haven’t tried. If you have, let me know what you think!

5. Website

Gone are the high costs of building a website. Tools like WordPress.org and Wix make it easy for novices to build a website. I built my first website a year ago, and it was my steepest learning curve yet! I plan to improve it with expert intervention soon, but as a small business owner, spending on a luxury website might not be an option. But you need a website. You also need to make it SEO-friendly so that potential clients find you for relevant services. These days, a decent website costs from £500 if you contracted a website designer. Try your hands on building one yourself but get feedback. One advantage I’ve found from building my own website is that I have access to the back admin and can always change elements of the site myself. This is invaluable for a business that is growing and evolving daily.

6. Blogging

Blogging is even easier than building a website. Without a full blown website, you could use platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com to start writing blogs about your industry, and your solution. You could invite guest bloggers, people who have complementary expertise or a unique view about a subject that your target audience might be interested in. Blogging is free, and a good way to be online and findable. Not blogging about your business is like being on mute in a customer meeting. Why are you there??

7. Social media

We all know it doesn’t cost anything to be on social media. But it might cost a little to be heard above the noise. Still, you could do a lot with £3 on Facebook. The key is to truly understand your target audience and where they hang out. If your clients are not on Twitter, you don’t need to be there. If your small business works with other businesses, a LinkedIn business page could be powerful. Spend time testing different social media channels and see what brings the most engagement. Also consider how much time you have to spend on these channels. For instance, LinkedIn and Facebook tend to require less time while Instagram and Twitter are about constant engagement i.e. 5-8 posts a day for real impact.

8. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is another free tool that every business website should have. It allows you see the sources of traffic to your website, and provides analytics on your website visitors. Google Analytics will show you how many visitors come from social media channels, and from organic searches via keywords. This was valuable for me as I contemplated which social media channel to invest in. For instance, LinkedIn brings over 40% of my social media traffic with Twitter as a close second. However, organic searches is by far the greatest source of traffic to my website. Therefore, I might decide to invest in Google Ads for specific keywords.

9. PR

PR used to be left to Public Relations experts. But with social media and fantastic new tools like PingGo, PR has been democratised. For £30 a month, you can write your own press release anytime you want! So if you win a new client, expand your business or launch a new product, use PR to tell your story. Identify relevant news outlets and start telling the world the good news.

10. Brochures

Not all businesses will benefit from brochures because so much of marketing has gone online. Yet, I believe this shift has made brochures a novelty, and it could be intriguing to receive a brochure from a small business. The less we expect something, the more positive impact it could have on your customers. You get their attention. A well-designed 8-page brochure that simply lays out your value proposition, key products and services, pricing and contact details is a good idea. You could leave it in cafes, doctor surgeries, office receptions etc. It will cost from £150 to get one designed. Assuming you provide all the copy and images, all you have to do is print it. Online printers like instantprint could print 100 copies of a 8-pp from as little as £45 depending on size and paper quality.


Next time you think about marketing for your business, know that it doesn’t need to cost the earth with these cost-effective marketing tips.

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