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Rachelle Akin on Strategies for Online Visibility and Engagement

Rachelle Atkin is a female marketing powerhouse and Digital Marketing Mentor of The Yorkshire Marketing Company

Can you share a bit about your business and how it has embraced the digital landscape for growth and visibility?

2024 sees me celebrating 12 years in business and throughout this time not only has the digital landscape changed significantly, my business has had to evolve with it. Having previously worked in the fashion industry on the launch of the Sainsbury’s clothing brand Tu, and supported other big brands such as House of Fraser and Debenhams, I knew how important it was for all sizes of business to embrace the new digital age. More recently we've seen a huge shift away from faceless brands and marketing 'at' consumers, now the trend is all about authenticity, personalisation and engagement. When I launched my business back in 2012 I hid because I had always been the person behind the brands I worked on, but I quickly realised that for me to be successful in my own right I had to be seen. As soon as I began to show my face on my website and social media, and step out as the small business marketing expert I am, everything just came together and my business flourished.

What specific strategies have you employed to enhance your online presence and engage with your target audience?

In recent years I have made a point of being consistently visible online by using professional photography, selfies and short videos, enabling my audience to get to know me better and trust me. By updating my website with fresh content, posting regularly on social media, growing my email list and engaging with my ideal clients, I have seen my audience grow organically year on year.

Can you provide an example of a digital campaign or initiative that significantly boosted your business’s visibility or customer engagement?

During and after the Covid years I felt my confidence drop. Like many whilst the world was opening up again I was still nervous about going out, and this led me to do all my meetings online. Then shortly after in the Summer of 2021 my dad passed away from lung cancer after a very short illness. Understandably my visibility was non-existent and I found it difficult to get back to some kind of normality. I took some time out to re-evaluate what I wanted from my business and where my passion lay. It was then that I kept seeing a local branding photographer called Maryanne Scott, doing monthly photoshoots in different locations - called Visibility School - and I thought it would be a great way to not only get my confidence back but also get visible again. This has been a game-changer for me! I went from managing client's social media and re-launched myself as a Marketing Mentor, and I'm now in my second year! Not only did these shoots give me the confidence boost I needed, they are cost effective, I get fresh photo and video content every single month and they allow me to grow my network by regularly meeting other likeminded female entrepreneurs. One of the added bonuses is that because the photoshoots are such fun, they show the authentic and natural side of me and my personality which my community loves and regularly engages with.

The digital world is constantly evolving. What challenges have you faced in maintaining an active and effective online presence, and how have you overcome them?

Keeping on top of the ever evolving world of digital marketing is difficult for marketers, let alone small business owners who are constantly juggling the pressures of running their businesses in a cost of living crisis. Time is certainly the biggest challenge. I help my clients by doing the research in new advances such areas as AI and automation, testing, understanding how it can generate quicker results, then teaching them how to do it for themselves. This not only saves them time, it develops their knowledge and fast-tracks them to integrate these new developments into their businesses with ease.

What tools or platforms have you found most effective for building your online presence and engaging with your audience?

My most used, every day tools are Meta Business Suite for scheduling Facebook and Instagram posts, and LinkedIn's own scheduling tool - all these are free so very cost effective for small business owners who might be on a tight budget, also these platforms love it when we use their own tools so why not! I also use Instagram's Reel Template tool to create quick and easy templates. Canva is another free resource, but I use their paid version which is £99.99 per year to create professional graphics, presentations, and much more. ChatGPT is a fantastic AI tool for generating ideas for posts, blogs, headlines, etc, but I personally use it as a starting point, then add my own voice and content. As I mentioned earlier, it's so important that if we use these platforms that we keep the content authentic to you and your brand, and not sounding like a bot!

How do you measure the success of your digital strategies, and what key performance indicators do you focus on?

Measuring the success of digital strategies is key to understanding whether your marketing efforts are working for you or not. This involves tracking various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with your specific goals. Examples of some common KPI's used to measure success are tracking the number of visits to your website during a campaign, social media engagement such as the number of likes, comments, shares or increase in follower, the number of sales or lead conversions, email open and click through rates, and customer feedback. Each of these KPI's provides insights into different aspects of your digital strategy, and it's important that you track them regularly so that you know what improvements or changes you need to make.

The digital landscape is always changing. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies, and how do you decide which ones to adopt?

Staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in this rapidly evolving digital landscape requires a proactive approach. My advice would be to sign up to the best industry publications and news platforms, follow leading experts, network in online forums and regular competitor analysis. By combining these strategies, you can maintain a well-rounded understanding of the digital landscape and make informed decisions as to what trends and technologies are the best for your business.

What advice would you give to businesses that are just starting to establish their online presence and engage with customers digitally?

My advice to any business owner who is just starting to establish their online presence is to remember the key foundations of marketing; understand what problem your product or service solves, who needs it, why they need it, and how it stands out from the competition. It's crucial to identify and deeply understand your target audience, tailoring your message to speak directly to their needs and desires. Building a strong brand identity and consistently communicating high-quality, engaging content across all digital channels is vital, whether it be your website, social media, or email marketing. Lastly, be adaptable and open to feedback, using data-driven insights to refine your strategies and enhance your online presence over time will only take you in one direction - towards success!


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