Communications health check

There’s no better time to conduct a full review of your communications than the start of a new year.

With any luck, you’ve had a break and you have ‘fresh eyes’.

You may also have new resolve to simplify your life and focus your energy on things that yield results, rather than frantically spinning plates without really knowing why.

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about how you should be communicating with your customers or stakeholders but the only questions that actually matter are these ones: who are you trying to communicate with, what do you need to say, where and how are they most likely to receive that message, and what do you want them to do when they get it?

If you can answer those questions, you are well on your way to identifying the most beneficial communication channels for your business.

Before you leap back into doing everything you were doing last year, take a moment to consider these factors. Don’t be afraid to axe things that aren’t meeting your objectives. Similarly, be bold when it comes to trying new things if they meet the necessary criteria.

Here’s a quick checklist to help you define where to place your energies:

  1. Newsletter

Do you have one and is it working for you? What does it look like? Does it need a design refresh? Is it newsworthy (remember it’s called a ‘news’ letter for a reason)? Do you have a content plan that details key periods in your business and what messages your customers need to receive at those critical times? Does it include a call-to-action, contact details, new and relevant information and is it easy and/or fun to read? What is your open rate like?

It might be worth asking some of your newsletter recipients for some feedback on your newsletter. Do they read it or delete it? If they delete it, why? It could be something as simple as it arrives at the wrong time of the day or week, or it’s too long. For more tips on compiling a good newsletter, click here.

2. Social media

Blogs, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn are the big ones for most businesses, with Twitter and Snapchat thrown in for good measure.

Blogs are great for your website’s search engine optimisation (SEO) provided the content is updated regularly and is useful. It’s worth planning your blog content around the questions your customers are most likely to type into Google.

Facebook algorithms change all the time so it can be difficult to keep up with the best way to maximise this channel. The most important thing is that you keep it social – avoid being too business-centric on here as it’s a place designed primarily for play.

Sharing business-related content on LinkedIn is currently booming so it’s a handy place to amplify your messages, while also connecting with potential clients, collaborators and staff members.

3. Website

This is the big one. Is your website the best it can be? Is it well-designed, easy to navigate and does it clearly state what you do?

There’s a lot of things you can be doing from an SEO perspective to drive traffic to your website but if you don’t deliver – and quickly – when people arrive, you may as well blow your digital advertising budget on shoes.

A secondary concept to consider when it comes to website communications is the big buzz word of the moment: storytelling. Beyond the cold, hard facts, is the copy on your website emotionally evocative? In what ways can you engage with your audience on a personal level that presses different buttons beyond price, availability and product and service?

If you’ve got a compelling start-up story, are doing worthwhile things in the community, have a sound sustainability policy or have noteworthy staff members, make the most of this in your web copy.

4. Press releases

If you have news, you should be writing and sending press releases to relevant media outlets. If not, you are missing a big PR opportunity. Make sure your press releases are short, to the point and include all the relevant details, links to more information and image downloads, as well as contact details for a spokesperson. Avoid hyperbole and adjectives. For more tips on how to write a good press release, click here.

5. Emails

The forgotten frontier: email. Is your email template branded correctly with your logo? Are the contact details correct? Is the font in keeping with your brand’s style guide? And are you using appropriate language, correct punctuation and full sentences?

If there’s multi-coloured Comic Sans anywhere near your email template, burn it to the ground and start again with something clean and simple.

For more tips on better written communication, visit the Readable site here.

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