Monthly Archives: April 2014

Keep an eye on competitors

competitionYou might think your website looks great, and it may seem to attract lots of visitors that convert to leads or sales. And your social media engagement is impressive, with people haring your content all over the place.

But there is always room for improvement, and monitoring your competitors is a great way to find out what works (and what doesn’t).

Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do, and various tools that can help you, to figure out you how you measure up against your competition.

Check rankings

It’s pretty easy to check ma jor search engines to see how you rank against your competitors. Simply type in some chosen keywords and, voila.

Alternatively, you can check out, which allows you to see rankings without worrying about pesky cookies, or geographically-based results.

Of you do see sites that rank better, have a look at them and see what keywords and other SEO techniques they may be using.

Research competitor engagement

First, you should do some basic searches for your competitors on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In , Google+ and other social media platforms. This allows you to see how active they are, how many followers they have and how well they engage with their audience.

There are external sites that can help with more powerful insights into social media engagement. For example, services such as can help you analyse your competitors’ twitter feeds and follower lists, while sites such as and are a great way to see who is a current influence in any industry.

When you have an idea of industry leaders, you can check out what they are doing in the social media space.


There is nothing wrong with subscribing to a competitors’ email list, following them on Twitter, liking their Facebook page and so on. You can use a reader app such as feedly that can add a number of RSS feeds so you get regular updates.

Track Twitter conversations in your niche by using hashtags, and you can see what’s trending using external sites as can show you what’s currently being talked about.

Knowing what your competitors are doing makes good business sense. Any business owner worth their salt will have a good understanding of their competitors’ products, pricing strategy, marketing and unique selling proposition.

And knowing what they are doing gives you some ideas about how to service your customers better.

If you need help fine-tuning your online presence, contact Direct Sites Online on 02 8557 7623 or email


Three steps to a social media strategy that works

Effective social media campaignSocial media can be the best thing that ever happens for your business in terms on return on marketing investment.

But it needs to be done right.

Once you are clear on the goal of your social media campaign – raising awareness, making sales, building a list, driving traffic to you website are some examples – there three steps will help you develop an efficient social media strategy.

Step 1: Participation

Social media is a two-way street, so you can’t just publish a post and cross your fingers. You need to engage with your audience, participate in discussions, answer criticism, and show your personality. A great way to do this is by joining different groups (Facebook and Linked In) or communities (Google +) and actively contributed. Yes, all this takes time, and if you don’t have time it is best to hire or outsource to a dedicated social media manager. The big mistake people make is thinking that social media is “free” – sure it doesn’t cost to set up a profile, but it certainly costs (in wages and time) to make it work.

Step 2: Review and evaluate.

If you don’t constantly review your campaign, there is no way of knowing what is working and what’s not – and to make appropriate adjustments. If you are not getting any results, you need to change tack.
Don’t wait too long to check out the success of any campaign. Social media moves fast, which means you can adjust your approach on the fly. And if you know the goal, and have been participating in discussions, this gives you a great opportunity to improve your success rate almost immediately.
Step 3: Be consistent

If there is one thing that annoys people on social media, it is businesses that all of a sudden throw up a picture of a puppy to get drive engagement. If puppies have nothing to do with your business, or your campaign, this is a bad strategy and your target audience will see right through you.
So stay consistent with your message, even as you tweak your approach.
While you may introduce other elements to your social media strategy, if you start with these basic three steps, your strategy is more likely to succeed.
If you are too busy to set up and managing your own social media campaign, let Direct Sites Online do it for you. Call us on 02 9557 7623 or email

Making the most of reviews

website reviewsA lot of business owners are reluctant to invite reviews – or even have social media profiles – for fear of negative responses.

But reviews (good AND bad) are a great way to learn and build goodwill, even with the most difficult customers.

The key is knowing how to respond – either privately or publicly. And unfortunately, the internet is pretty unforgiving and even the best intentions can come across poorly.

Here are a few things to remember before you respond to any review.

1: Every reviewer is a paying customer

2. Every reviewer is a human being, with personal motivations, feelings and sensitivities

3. Every reviewer holds strong opinions (otherwise, they probably wouldn’t both with a review!)

Positive reviews

You’d think this would be easy – after all, these reviewers are already impressed with you and your work. And it is easier than responding to a negative review – but it is also easy to get it wrong.

Believe it or not, all you need to do is say “thank you”. If you ask them to recommend you to friends, or add them to your mailing list, or invite them to an event, or send them a gift certificate, you run the risk of scaring them away or looking like you are paying them for the good review.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but just think about it. While a gift or invitation sounds like a nice idea, it can also be misinterpreted as a bribe or payment for the review.

Negative reviews

The first thing to do before responding to a negative review is to take a deep breath and try to stay objective. Don’t take the criticism to heart.

In fact, merely thanking the reviewer for their feedback and letting them know that you will take it on board it can often take the wind out of their sails.

Negative reviews can feel like a personal attack but the good news is they give you the opportunity to contact the reviewer and establish a connection – a perfect chance to bring an opponent over to your team.

Here at Direct Sites Online, we hear many stories from clients who were helpful and polite to critics and were given a second chance.

But it’s important to remain authentic and “real”, if the critic perceives your response as rude, condescending or disingenuous in any way, there’s a chance the situation could get worse.

So keep your response very simple – thank them and be specific about their experience and any changes you have been able to make, you could earn back the critic’s trust.

Public responses

It’s important to know when it is appropriate to post a public response and when it would be better to reply privately.

If you feel a public comment is necessary, present your side of the story as simply and politely as possible – don’t get offensive and don’t point fingers.

Remember, it will not just be the critic that reads your response.

If you need help establishing a social media presence, and understanding what it might mean for your business in terms of good and bad reviews, contact Direct Sites Online on 02 9557 7623 or email