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social media strategy for small businesses

Social Media Strategy for Small Businesses [With Templates]

34 min read

All your potential new customers use social media. Some quick stats: Instagram has reached 2 billion users. Facebook serves over 2.9 billion users monthly. TikTok has grown from zero to 1 billion users since 2016.

Social media is where people share milestones, check-in on their idols, and chat with their friends and frenemies. But more importantly—they use social media to search for products.

survey published on Business Wire found that 76% of consumers purchase products they discovered on their social media feeds. Similarly, an Instagram survey showed that 64% of people find new consumer products through Instagram.

The social media pool is overflowing with hungry customers; you need the right tools and strategy to catch them.

This article will take you through the process of creating:

  1. A Social Media Strategy
  2. A Social Media Budget
  3. An Initiatives Roadmap
  4. A Social Media Content Calendar
  5. Performance Reporting
  6. Control Over Your Team and Processes
  7. Automated Distribution
  8. Actionable Templates of All the Strategic Docs

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4 Reasons Small Businesses Need a Social Media Strategy

  1. You need a social media strategy to help start, build, and grow your presence on the Internet. Social media can help spread the word that your brand is out there and that it features some great products to boot.
  2. To drive down the road to business success, you need a roadmap. Your social media strategy is that map. Once you know how many miles you have to go, you can figure out how much gas you need, or how many drivers you need to get you there with no stops.
  3. Did you know that most social media platforms are free? It’s as simple as that! This is a big deal for small businesses because you can have almost equal opportunity for exposure to the big fish, with no extra costs.
  4. Having a social media strategy gives you a clear vision of your business goals. It will erase doubts, answer gnawing questions, and smooth out nagging uncertainties. With a social media plan in hand, you’re on your way to becoming a successful e-commerce business person.

Plus, you’ll be ahead of the curve. Did you know that 40% of small businesses don’t have any social media strategy at all? Having even a basic plan will set you up for success, guaranteed.

Also, read How to Sell on Social Media to lean more stats and tactics around selling on social media.

What Should My Social Media Strategy Look Like?

A social media strategy is vital because it helps you find the answers to some essential questions. Asking these questions will help you get to know your business better. It will also ease the decision-making process down the line.

To outline a strategy, ask yourself:

  • Who you are. What is your brand’s purpose, mission, and team?
  • Your audience. Who buys from you, and what drives them?
  • What you sell. What value does the product have to you, to the market, to the end-user?
  • Why you exist. What impact does your brand have on your customer’s lives?
  • Where you sell. What market and what niche are you diving into?
  • Your competitors. Who are the leaders in your market, and who are the outsiders? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why you are better. What is your main advantage—something that no one else can offer?
  • Your limitations. What is your budget and your human resource capacity?
  • The goals. What are the key milestones of your success?
  • How to reach goals. What are the specific actions you need to take to get to where you want to be?

When executing your social media strategy, you might begin to wonder how well you or your teammates are following through. So it’s important to check in with yourself and your team:

  • What’s the result of what we’ve been doing?
  • What do we do next?
  • Is our current strategy effective?
  • What can we improve?

From the answers to these questions, you can craft a social media performance report. But it’s helpful to know about the reporting tools ahead of time so that when the time for reflection strikes, you’ll be ready to roll.

Learn more about the data-driven approach with this Complete Guide to Google Analytics for E-commerce Stores.

Next, we’ll talk about how to implement your social media strategy and how to manage the process through:

  • Management of social media channels
  • Content creation
  • Content distribution
  • Performance tracking
  • Efficiency reporting

Creating a Social Media Strategy for Small Business

A social media marketing strategy includes a detailed overview of your company, customers, product(s), team, distribution channels, market, competitors, and budget. It sets goals, initiatives to reach them, and measurable KPIs.

Company summary

Write down concrete facts—the full name of your company, the location of its headquarters, and its foundation date.

Questions to answer:

  • What’s your company name?
  • Where is the company headquartered?
  • When was it founded?
  • Who is the founder?
  • What have been the most important milestones to date?
  • What are the manufacturing resources and capabilities?

If you’re an individual and don’t have a production facility, write down your story and how you became an e-commerce entrepreneur.

Helpful tips

Check out Wikipedia listings.

Company mission statement

Strangers become loyal customers if they share your values. If your product can help people, share your message with the world. Make it big, make it exciting! (But make it real). Even if you think you’re going overboard, your customers won’t. Remember: They don’t buy what you do; they buy WHY you do it.

Questions to answer:

  • What business are you currently doing?
  • What is your final destination?
  • How will your vision impact your clients?
  • How will it change the company?

Mission examples

  • Microsoft (at its founding): A computer on every desk and in every home.
  • LinkedIn: Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

The people

lack of human resources can be a pain for a small business. If you have a team of two — you’re lucky! But if it’s just you steering the ship, things can get a little fuzzy. Your social strategy will help restore order, establish a streamlined process, and get more done.

Even if you’re flying solo in business, describe all the different hats you wear as separate roles. This will help you switch between them and maintain balance. If you have a team, write out each member’s role and go over it with them so you’re on the same page.

Questions to answer:

  • Who is the boss?
  • Who writes the copy?
  • Who is responsible for creative output?
  • Who runs ad campaigns?
  • Who takes on content distribution?
  • Who communicates with influencers?
  • Who takes care of comments and direct messages?

Helpful tips

  • Automate everything you can!
  • Use Buffer or Hootsuite for posting and campaign automation.
  • Use Canva for creatives. Or Unsplash and Freepik to source free images.
  • Use Ecwid to accept payments and managing the orders for free.

SWOT analysis

Analyzing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is vital to making strategic decisions. This information helps you find your closest competitor’s weak spots and use them to your advantage.

But conducting a full market analysis is challenging even for Enterprise-level businesses, so don’t get too lofty in your ambitions. Pick three(ish) close competitors and compare them to your brand by filling out this simple table.

What do you do best?What do you want to strengthen?What does the industry love that you can offer?What can take you down and prevent you from growing?
Your answer hereYour answer hereYour answer hereYour answer here

You can add your competitors to this table. We’ll also have a dedicated section for competitors in the Target Market chapter.

Want to master SWOT analysis? Read this: How To Do SWOT Analysis For E-сommerce.

Helpful tips

Use SEMrush to find your competitors.

Strategic goals of your SMM

If you’re starting an e-commerce business, it’s likely that your main goal is to grow your revenue. This is a great long term ambition! But to influence sales here and now, you’ll have to break this master goal to smaller ones that are easier to control. These goals should help you work towards your primary goal.

For example, a short-term social media strategy may be focused on generating traffic flow to your website, and have nothing to do with sales.

You can set a single goal or a dozen. But make sure your strategic goals are big, measurable, and realistic. Set SMART goals.

Questions to answer:

  • What do you want your business to do? (S  specific)
  • What number (level) will mean success? (M  measurable)
  • Is it possible to accomplish it? (A  achievable)
  • What resources will you need; do you have them? (R  relevant)
  • What is the timeframe to reach the goal? (T  time-bound)

Helpful tips

Your strategy should have a time frame (usually a year). But it’s also important to set up strategic periods within that time to measure the goals: monthly, weekly, daily, or by the end of the year.

Business initiatives: breaking down goals

Initiatives are the actionable steps we use to reach business goals. These initiatives may take a long time to accomplish, but they help serve a larger goal. Initiatives are all about action. But sometimes, they’re too big to complete in a day or even a week. In that case, we can split them into smaller tasks that will help turn an abstract strategy and into concrete action.

Questions to answer:

  • What will you do to reach your goal?
  • What’s your timeline?
  • How are you going to measure success?
  • What resources do you need to be successful?

Social marketing initiative example

Example goal: Double the German audience on Instagram in 6 months.

  • Initiative #1: Establish a new Instagram account in German (1 week).
  • Initiative #2: Localise 50 (best performing) existing content pieces into German (1 week).
  • Initiative #3: Launch a paid promotion campaign across Germany to reach 1,000 local followers (1 week).
  • Initiative #4: Post unique or localized German content daily starting next week until we reach the goal.
  • Initiative #5: Attract 5,000 followers through influencers (3 months).

This example, while not particularly detailed, is a helpful reminder that sometimes just getting the broad strokes of a plan down on paper can set you on a path to success. We’ll come back to these ideas to create a Roadmap for all initiatives.

Target market intelligence (4 steps)

“Everyone” cannot be your target audience. Define who actually buys the products that you sell. Thinking about target demographics can help you better understand your audience and its purchasing drivers.

Knowing your target market and the audience will help you choose the right distribution and communication channels, create more targeted ad messages, launch effective discount campaigns, and optimize product range.

Step 1. Specify customer’s geographical location

Different countries and languages have different wants and needs. In selecting a targeted area to create content for, think of one you know well. Then add a similar location to extend your reach. Targeting a narrow audience saves on budget, can help generate customers, and raises your conversion rate.

Questions to answer:

  • Where do your best buyers live?
  • What language do they prefer?
  • Do they have local holidays or shopping drivers?

Helpful tips

  • Use Google Analytics to identify customers’ locations.
  • All social media platforms have internal audience reporting— this is definitely something to check out.

Step 2. Research your customers’ industry or professional affiliation

If you are a B2B (or C2B) business, research the industries that potential future customers belong to. Maybe they work in retail, manufacturing, or are service providers. You can be even more specific: maybe they work at a pharmacy chain, for a travel agency, or a tire manufacturer.

If you want to sell products C2C (or B2C), consider your buyer’s professional affiliation or professional education, especially if they aren’t currently in the workforce.

This stage may take a little time because you’ll have to do some independent research. But exploring your competitor’s audience is both a shortcut and a trade secret, so now you’re ahead of the game.

Questions to answer:

  • What is your customer’s industry niche?
  • What do your individual customers do for a living?
  • Where are they (and their business) located?
  • What business goals are they pursuing?

Helpful tips

Use LinkedIn to research your competitor’s buyers and their professional affiliations.

Step 3. Create a buyer persona

By this point, you’ve learned a lot about your potential customers. Now, to test your knowledge, and make up a fictional character (your ideal customer) with a name and specific characteristics:

  • Professional background. What’s their role and experience? What is their income level?
  • Personal background. Are they married or single? Do they have kids?
  • Demographics. What’s their age and gender? Where do they live?
  • Communication. What communication channels do they use? What type of content do they consume?
  • Business goals. Do they want to change the world? Or double sales in 6 months?
  • Personal goals. Do they dream of becoming a singer, writing a book, or losing weight?
  • Challenges. Do they lack time, money, or skills to make things happen?
  • Your impact. Can you help save them time or money? Or nurture their self-confidence?
  • Objections and concerns. Security? Expenses? Do they lack knowledge about your brand?
  • A unique selling point for this persona. Why does your product fit this persona perfectly, despite concerns?

There’s no silver bullet for learning about your audience. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and your knowledge base will grow over time. But fleshing out your buyer persona is a neat trick to learn as much as you can about potential customers. After you’ve perfected one, you can create an entirely different persona!

Read more on How to Create Customer Profiles for an E-commerce Store if you have questions.

Helpful tips

You can also create negative buyer personas to avoid them in your ads campaigns.

Step 4. Complete competitive analysis

A few chapters earlier, we created a SWOT table about your brand. Now it’s time to make a separate record for each of your competitors.

Things to learn:

  • Company (or person) name.
  • Business summary. Location, milestones, distribution, communication channels, mission, and goals.
  • Channels statistics. Followers, average likes and shares, number of comments.
  • SWOT table. Create a SWOT table for each competitor and compare it with yours.

Helpful tips

Check out this Competitor Analysis Tools list for social networks.

Market positioning before social media advance (4 steps)

Now that you know who your customer is and how to reach them, let’s shift from person to product. First, we’ll talk a bit about market positioning: what you offer and how to offer it.

Step 1. Describe your product

Make it a general description, focusing on fundamental values. You don’t have to be too specific. Recall relevant knowledge about your audience to choose words accordingly.

Concentrate on your customer’s perception. How do they feel owning your product? What are they looking to feel, and how does your product provide that feeling?

Questions to answer:

  • What materials is it made of?
  • How can you prove the product’s quality?
  • Is it unique?
  • Is it handmade?
  • Where was the product produced?

Helpful tips

Use your competitor’s practice and make it better.

Step 2. Explain the price

As silly as it sounds, it’s important to explain your own pricing to yourself. Because if you don’t understand why your product costs what it does, your customer won’t either. Try to be honest, even if the outcome feels less than desirable.

Questions to answer:

  • How much does your product cost?
  • What’s your profit margin?
  • Is this price affordable to your buyer persona?
  • How often can your buyer persona buy from you?
  • How much of the margin are you going to reinvest into the business?

Helpful tips

Use the Margin Calculator to do the pricing math.

Step 3. Think over the distribution

So far, you know your product, your audience, and your advantages over the competition. Now let’s choose the right place to distribute your products. Use these questions to help specify the channels that you’ll use to sell and run promotions.

Questions to answer:

  • Are you going to sell your product on your website?
  • Will you sell offline, online, or both?
  • What social networks are you going to use?
  • Do you have a blog?
  • Do you have an affiliate or referral program?
  • Will you work with influencers?
  • Are you going to launch paid campaigns?
  • What formats will you use for promotions?

Helpful tips

Remember: this is a post about Social Media Strategy. Don’t lose sight of that, or get distracted by email-marketing, or the desire to post listings in marketplaces and on public directories. We are focused on strategizing how to attract and convert consumers via social media. This includes payment processing on your website, using a platform like Ecwid, for example.

Step 4. Design and test the customer journey and fulfillment process

This one is short and sweet: describe the buyer’s path to purchase and the product’s path to the end-user. Make sure you know what will happen in each step of the process and that there’s nothing gumming up the works on that journey.

Questions to answer:

  • Where does your customer come from?
  • What do they see first (landing page)?
  • What do they do if they have a question?
  • How do they order the product?
  • How do they pay for it?
  • How do you accept orders?
  • How fast do you fulfill the orders?
  • How does the customer see the order status?
  • How do you ship the products?
  • How do you trace the delivery?
  • How are you going to get feedback about the product?
  • How can customers share positive reviews about your products?
  • How do they return the products?
  • What is your refund procedure?

Helpful tips

  • Take advantage of social media management tools that use analytics to track visitor’s behavior.
  • Use UTM tags to track the effectiveness of the channel if you sell outside of social media.

Social media marketing channels

We’ve already briefly talked about certain popular social media channels. This section will go in-depth on each channel’s purpose in learning the customer’s journey and rank them by importance. Hopefully, this will help with your budget for when you begin to share spendings.

Questions to answer:

  • What is the purpose of your website?
  • What is the purpose of each of your social media profiles?
  • What is your primary selling channel?
  • Do you use social media to provide support?
  • Which social media will get the most budget to run ads?
  • What kind of content will you post on each different channel?

Social media purpose example

  • Website. To land buyers from social media to purchase and upsell.
  • Instagram. A primary channel for running ads and generating sales. Showcasing the products and reviews.
  • Facebook. A secondary sales channel without a website involved. Home for our loyal customers.
  • Twitter. Support and urgent customer queries. We use Twitter to publish news and take part in viral communications.


Social Media Marketing Strategy Template: Hands-On!

Time to practice: Now you know all the pieces of successful social media strategy. So try creating your own. Follow the guide from the very beginning and answer the questions along the way.

To make everything as easy as possible, we’ve created a handy Social Media Marketing Template, complete with examples!

Download Strategy Template

Social Media Marketing Budget for Small Businesses

Now let’s talk about everyone’s favorite part of running a business: math! It can be hard to predict your overall spending and break it down into months when you start your social media marketing journey. But a good budget breakdown is a straightforward way to better understand what platforms you can spend on.

Some sample budget lines for a social media strategy might include:

  • Marketing software/tools. Content management tools, stock image subscriptions, or a video editor.
  • Advertising. If you launch paid campaigns.
  • Hired services. Photographers, copywriters, ad managers, website developers, designers, etc.
  • Digital assets. In case you buy a domain, build a website, and/or pay for hosting.

line-by-line breakdown will allow you to track how much you spend on each item monthly. This way, you can control your social media budget, and adjust shares to strengthen your efforts—which means more revenue with higher efficiency.

Don’t forget, this is a Social Media Strategy! Include only spending directly related to your social media platforms.

Here’s another template! An adaptable Social Media Budget sheet that you can use for your e-commerce business.

Download Budget Template

How to read the budget template

  • Explore before editing. This social media marketing budget template has a couple of built-in formulas. It contains a sample data breakdown to demonstrate some budgeting basics. You can erase the demo features when you’re ready to enter your own.
  • Pay attention to the lines about advertising. You can see that the January ads budget was not 100 percent expended. There are different tactics related to the budget’s month-over-month surplus. The least confusing way to make this your own is to add the excess to the next month’s budget, just like in the template. Check out the February ads budget cell to see the formula’s breakdown. This way, you don’t need to recalculate spending each month to sustain your planned budget. Everything will just flow.
  • You don’t have to track everything. If you don’t care about the difference between the planned budget and the actually spent amount, that’s okay! Customize the form to only track the features that are helpful to you.
  • It’s adjustable. If you feel that you have an extra budget for some additional lines, feel free to change them. The opposite is also true: if you want to cut off funding for some inefficient lines (or because you stopped using a service), go ahead. After all, you’re the boss here.

In a nutshell, the main point in having the Budget is not to save or spend, but to control the budget flow, spread it efficiently across the year, and to be able to respond quickly and based on data.

Learn how to calculate a Perfect Ad Budget To Match Your Business Goals.

Executing a Social Media Strategy: From Theory to Practice

We’ve given you the tools for creating a global vision, splitting strategic goals into practical initiatives, assigning roles, and making a budget. Now it’s time for some action!

The steps you will go through next:

  • Planning the initiatives. Defining the deadlines for all initiatives and visualizing them.
  • Establishing assets. Setting up accounts, subscribing, and revising settings.
  • Scheduling distribution. Plugging content into the social media calendar.
  • Managing the project. Organizing the team’s work (teamwork!).
  • Tracking performance. Creating a transparent way of reporting on your channels.
  • Adapting the strategy. Responding to challenges fearlessly (and on time!).

Draw a roadmap to success: visualize strategic actions

This roadmap has one purpose: to set deadlines for important stages of your business life cycle. As a strategizing tool, the roadmap is adjustable to meet changes in surroundings: customer behavior, trends, product/service change, etc.

In setting up your personal timeframe, consider resources and possible risks that relate to your team as well as third parties. And use our handy template, below:

Download Roadmap Template

Set up social media profiles and tools

Now it’s time to create accounts for all the social media networks that you want to use. There are a few important things to note:

  • Get professional handles and landing pages. The first impression means a lot. Learn how you can stand out.
  • Enable two-factor authentication where possible. It’s your property—you don’t want someone to steal it.
  • No need to invest upfront. Don’t rush to purchase annual plans for each tool you want to use. Start slowly, test, and then make a decision.
  • Create a business address. A free email account through Gmail will do. It’s a bad idea to use a private email for your business needs. Instead, use one email for registering all business accounts—social media and otherwise. And make sure it’s well protected with a strong password and two-factor authentication.

Get your social media calendar ready

You have the channels defined, the goals set, the initiatives visualized. You should know by now what kind of content you need (and how often you need to post it) to successfully complete your own bonafide social media strategy. Now, let’s pop them onto your calendar and spread them out by platform.

Remember to keep frequency in mind: it takes time and energy to post each piece of content!

Download Calendar Template

Keep your eye on the process

Business success is all about order—getting things planned and then getting them done. Make sure you have your eyes on the ball at all times, from planning to reporting. The more organized and comprehensive you are, the more convenient it will be for your team (or for yourself if you’re all alone!).

Usually, content production and distribution require basic project management skills. If these skills don’t come naturally, try watching one or two short webinars on the subject. It won’t take much time but will give you a valuable understanding of efficient project management tools and tactics.

Your team will need:

  • A Task Board for the current period. This will allow you to see all in-progress tasks at once. It’s a convenient workspace for prioritizing where you can assign responsibilities, set up deadlines, and next-to-do tasks.
  • Personal boards with each role’s tasks only. People work more efficiently when they can concentrate on their personal responsibilities.
  • Workflow with the following stages:
    • Backlog. Unsorted tasks without assigned priority.
    • Next to-do. The task(s) which will be assigned next.
    • In progress. Any task that is being done at the moment.
    • Pending. For any tasks paused for any reason.
    • Review. The stage of the task when it should be checked and approved.
    • Finished task.
  • A virtual storage space. Google Drive works well, and it’s free. But no matter the platform, find a digital space to keep all documents and images in one place. Make sure the entire team has access.

Helpful tips

Use Trello to manage the teams. It has a free plan.

Track performance

If you’re going to use a single social media management tool for all channels, it will do most of the work for you. Otherwise, you may want to think about how to get comprehensive across platforms reporting in advance. Don’t forget to choose efficiency metrics based on the specific purposes and initiatives outlined for each channel.

Example metrics for Instagram:

  • Followers
  • Reach
  • Impressions
  • Comments
  • Bookmarks

Example metrics for Facebook:

  • Engagement
  • Reach
  • Impressions
  • Likes
  • Followers

Here’s (yet another!) simple reporting template that you can align with your business model, distribution network, and goals.

Download Reporting Template

Keep the strategy agile

Another important skill for executing your social media strategy is agility. As we all know, no matter how much we plan, a wrench can be thrown into the works at any moment.

A simple example is the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and strategies in the course (for many of us) of one week. Even the strongest brands had to adapt fast to sustain themselves in the face of this new challenge. So don’t be afraid to adjust your plan, but remember, balance is key!

Proper tools save time, money, and energy as you climb the ladder to success. Whether paid or free, these tools can help you achieve your business goals. Here’s a handy list of online apps, software, and other recommended tools that can help create a social media strategy, manage your team, or produce solid and eye-catching content.

  • SEMrush for competitive analysis. It has a free plan to get started.
  • LinkedIn to research your buyer’s persona. It gives insights into professional affiliation.
  • Google Analytics to trace social media traffic. Don’t forget to use UTM tags.
  • Buffer for social media account management. Schedule and manage social posts.
  • Canva to create posts and graphics. It has helpful templates and pre-made designs.
  • Unsplash for free, high-quality images for commercial use.
  • Ecwid to accept payments and manage products. It has a free plan to get started.
  • Trello to manage your team. Create boards, assign tasks, set deadlines, check in—you name it, Trello does it!

There’re more tools out there that you may find suit your particular needs better, and that’s great. These suggestions are just a launch pad to get you started on making your business dreams come true. (Many also boast large audiences and a long history of success—FYI).

Takeaways and Downloadables for Small Businesses

Let’s see, what have we learned here today? How to create a Social Media Strategy for your online store, establish production and distribution processes, set them up, and establish reachable goals. And just because we’re so committed to making your business journey faster and more comfortable, here’s a list of strategic docs we’ve compiled—with examples! Use them to create your own vision and take your small business to the next level.

Good luck! We believe in you.


Table of contents

Sell online

With Ecwid Ecommerce, you can easily sell anywhere, to anyone — across the internet and around the world.

About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

Ecommerce that has your back

So simple to use – even my most technophobic clients can manage. Easy to install, quick to set up. Light years ahead of other shop plugins.
I’m so impressed I’ve recommended it to my website clients and am now using it for my own store along with four others for which I webmaster. Beautiful coding, excellent top-notch support, great documentation, fantastic how-to videos. Thank you so much Ecwid, you rock!
I’ve used Ecwid and I love the platform itself. Everything is so simplified it’s insane. I love how you have different options to choose shipping carriers, to be able to put in so many different variants. It’s a pretty open e-commerce gateway.
Easy to use, affordable (and a free option if starting off). Looks professional, many templates to select from. The App is my favorite feature as I can manage my store right from my phone. Highly recommended 👌👍
I like that Ecwid was easy to start and to use. Even for a person like me, without any technical background. Very well written help articles. And the support team is the best for my opinion.
For everything it has to offer, ECWID is incredibly easy to set up. Highly recommend! I did a lot of research and tried about 3 other competitors. Just try ECWID and you'll be online in no time.

Your ecommerce dreams start here

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