Category: Feature Articles

Your content is outdated – here’s why you should fix it

When something is published on the internet, the author is arguably responsible for those words. Ranging from social media to articles on news publications and even including the emails we send, we’re responsible for everything we write.

However, it’s debatable as to how long that responsibility should last. After all, if you post something on social media, are you still responsible for it 24 hours later? A week? Month? Years later?

Considering that many business leaders and politicians have had their career affected by an ill-advised social media comment years ago, it’s reasonable to assume we’re always responsible for everything we create.

Although this sounds terrifying, and might dissuade you from writing ever again, this shouldn’t be viewed as a burden. Instead, amending old content is not only your responsibility but also an opportunity. Here’s how updating it can benefit you:

Why you have a responsibility to update content

The internet is full of content but, unfortunately, not all of it is accurate. In some situations, this is because the information is now out-of-date or recent changes have come along which render the advice obsolete.

This can have negative repercussions when someone inexperienced stumbles across the now outdated article and takes it as fact. For example, despite GDPR law having huge implications for PR professionals and businesses, there are still numerous articles out there advocating purchasing mailing lists and contact details of journalists – or recommending such measures as automatically signing up customers to email newsletters.

While this was common practice years ago, the implication of GDPR legislation means anyone caught participating in those activities may be liable for an extremely large fine.

As a result, if it is practical to do so, those articles should be amended to limit the spread of misinformation. Yet, the logic behind updating these is not completely altruistic, there are a range of associated benefits as well.

Does my content need updating?

Old content should never be updated just for the sake of it. Instead, articles should be evaluated to determine which ones are still successful and relevant. If you can answer ‘yes’ to the majority of these questions, for each piece, then updating might be unnecessary:

  1. Does the article demonstrate I’m an expert?
  2. Is the article authoritative?
  3. Is the article trustworthy?
  4. Are individuals still reading the article?
  5. Is anyone linking to, or sharing, the article?

Once it becomes apparent that an article needs updating, you can do this through the following methods:

Modernising the content

Years ago, online content publishers only had one medium available to them – the written word. Times change and now these individuals can use formats such as video, audio, and social media to enhance the content they produce. Furthermore, if a webpage is not necessarily right for the material, creators can choose to present it in an interactive format or maybe even as a presentation.

The point is, if an article is no longer performing as well as it should be, modernising it could yield better results.

For example, written DIY guides are often extremely useful but can be difficult to follow when trying to accomplish a task. Instead, these might perform better in a video format.

After all, when trying to create something, nothing is more useful than a teacher showing you how to do it – even one who lives on YouTube.

Increasing the article’s value

Where content is no longer accurate, perhaps following new legislation or industry developments, it should be revised with updated information. However, it can also be expanded with new details which the reader could find useful.

For example, returning to our DIY theme, readers might appreciate an amendment detailing the best places to get the required tools. Alternatively, if an app can now complete a related task for the reader, the content creator may wish to make reference to this.

Therefore, if additional details can make an old article valuable again, these should be considered.

Linking to related reading

If the piece is still relevant, then perhaps it would benefit from improving internal linking. By providing these links to related content, readers are given the opportunity to expand their knowledge and view other articles which could be useful to them.

If you want to find out more about this, we’ve written about the importance of internal linking from an SEO point of view in our article: ‘9 common SEO mistakes to avoid’.

See what we did there?

You have a responsibility – to provide the best content possible

Your readers deserve the best content possible and you have a responsibility to provide it to them. If something you’ve created is no longer valuable, this should be amended.

A word of warning on this though, if you decide the vast majority of your content isn’t serviceable – and if you choose to dispose of it – you could adversely affect your SEO efforts.

SEO analysis from Josh Boot, CandidSky SEO specialist

Fundamentally, SEO consists of three main pillars for success:

  1. Technical excellence which allows search engines to effectively crawl and index your website.
  2. Authority, namely backlinks and who is talking about you
  3. Content. Without content you have no opportunity to target keywords, to target the terms which matter most to your business.

By removing content, you’re effectively stripping away the opportunity to target keywords, and not providing search engines with any additional context to the purpose or value of the page.

Good content gets your site ranking while excellent content drives commercial conversions.

When content fails, it is often because the creator hasn’t identified its purpose, inserted an engaging hook, or effectively produced it. By being creative and creating materials for a purpose, you can make your content great again.

 

 

Therefore, if you want an expert opinion, get in touch with our content specialists today. They’ll help make sure your website is relevant again.

Related reading

How to stop fake news from ruining your business

Woman looking at a phone with ‘fake news’ on it.

‘Fake news’ is not just something the president of the United States exclaims on a regular basis, it’s a huge societal issue and something which has the potential to ruin real lives.

According to Wikipedia, fake news is “a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.

However, we would argue this definition is out-of-date. Instead, the definition of fake news should be similar to: “deliberate lies or misinformation primarily spread over social media networks with the intention of causing harm or damage to organisations.”

Despite containing false information, fake news causes very real problems. For example, in 2013, the Associated Press’ (AP) Twitter account was hacked – publishing a tweet confirming two explosions in the White House which injured then President Obama. In a matter of minutes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by more than 143 points while in excess of $130billion of stock value was wiped out.

Fortunately, the stock market recovered quickly but using fake news to influence stock prices is just one way your business can be damaged. For example, in 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission froze profits from a fake news scam with the intention of positively manipulating Avon stock.

While a boost in stock value may sound positive, the long-term implications, public trust, and often resulting share dips, are not. Sadly, this is not the only way fake news can impact your business:

How fake news affects businesses

Fake reviews

When shopping online, customer reviews influence just about every aspect of the buying decision. Unfortunately, unethical companies will sometimes buy fake reviews in order to tilt the odds in their favour or smear the competition. In one such example, a family-owned jeweller in Boston claimed a rival company had purchased 100 one-star reviews to topple their positive Facebook review score. In minutes, their 4.8 rating dropped to 2.3.

Far from being a figure without consequence, the Competition and Markets Authority estimates that, in the UK, online reviews have the potential to influence around £23billion worth of customer spending every year. As a result, negatively influencing the ratings of a company can almost certainty affect the minds of consumers.

Although loyal customers stayed with the Boston jewellery brand, we can only speculate as to how much damage multiple low-scoring reviews caused the organisation.

 

Negative rumours

Although we have seen how fake news can be used to boost stock prices, malicious individuals use rumours to achieve the opposite. For example, in 2017, a post claimed the CEO of cryptocurrency company Ethereum had died in a car accident. As a result, this wiped about $4 billion off the organisation’s stock value while some analysts began speculating over the future of the now leaderless company.

The CEO himself had to confirm that he was still alive.

Similarly, a post on Reddit this year reported the death of a McDonald’s executive in compromising circumstances. Although the company was quick to act – and confirmed the executive didn’t actually exist – it still impacted the company’s stock value by around $2billion.

Although both organisations recovered from these attacks, it still demonstrates just how quickly a lie can cause real damage.

 

Fake offers

Internet trolls created a fake promotion for coffee giant Starbucks in 2017. Claiming that undocumented immigrants in the United States could receive a 40% discount code, the perpetrators seemed to be targeting the company for it’s views on Donald Trump’s travel ban. Although the organisation stepped in, and confirmed the deal did not exist, the consequences could have severely disrupted branches at a local level.

For example, staff could have been overwhelmed by the number of individuals seeking to claim discounted drinks while law enforcement might have used the opportunity to shut down locations to detain illegal immigrants.

From the customer point of view, the additional demand could have caused excessive queuing times and infuriated those seeking their usual orders. In turn, this would have likely resulted in customer complaints – further delaying individuals from completing their purchases.

Therefore, it is fortunate that Starbucks had the wisdom to monitor this potential threat and quickly resolve it.

Magnifying glass showing fake in news

Fake job adverts

Fake job adverts are unfortunately something which has plagued the recruitment industry for years. Although arguably unethical, these are used by some employers as a means to collect CVs, assess the job market, or collect email addresses.

While this is very disappointing for the candidate, a new version of the scam appeared in Shoreham which adversely affected firms in the region.

Career portal Indeed uses an app called ‘Job Spotter‘. This allows individuals to take photos of vacancies and send them to the company in exchange for gift cards. Attempting to game the system, malicious individuals were using fake job vacancy signs to claim rewards. However, this left business owners with the fallout of having to deal with phone calls from those seeking work. As well as having to deal with disgruntled job seekers, this consumed valuable time which business owners could have used elsewhere.

Can you spot fake news?

One of the examples detailed here is actually fake news but it can be easily disproved with a quick investigation. If you want to make a guess as to which one it could be, stop reading now and review the information above before continuing.

The fake news example was actually the McDonald’s case which never happened – although it is very similar to a false claim in 2009 that the CEO of AT&T died in his mansion following a cocaine overdose.

Sadly, we are living in the ‘post-truth’ era and now information we receive must be carefully self-vetted before taken as fact. Knee-jerk reactions, such as selling stock, should also be discouraged until more information is available. To spot fake news, you may wish to:

  • Consider where you get your news from. Focus on trustworthy mainstream websites such as the BBC
  • Search for sources and double check. Websites which link to original sources are generally more trustworthy than those which don’t. Furthermore, when it’s been covered once, search for the same story on another trustworthy website.
  • Investigate if the news has a purpose. For example, if a right-wing blog writes a news story about a left-leaning politician, it’s often in that organisation’s agenda to smear that individual.
  • Never just read the headline. Instead, read the whole article to understand what is happening.
  • Double check data sources. For example, if the survey or research being quoted is from a questionable company with an agenda, it probably can’t be trusted.

 

How to protect your business from fake news

If your business is targeted by fake news, regardless of what strategies you implement, you might still permanently lose some customers. If an individual adamantly believes something, little can dislodge that opinion. For example, we need only look at the anti-vaccination movement or climate change deniers to recognise just how fruitless it is trying to change their beliefs. Despite multiple studies to the contrary, their views stay the same.

Potentially, if targeted by fake news, your customer base might also struggle to regain trust in your brand. Fortunately, there are several ways you can combat false information:

  • Plan for every conceivable situation. Planning for a fake news attack is similar to preparing for a media disaster. Prepare for every conceivable situation, draft responses, and appoint someone media-trained as a spokesperson. Furthermore, it can’t hurt to run occasional ‘fake news drills’. If resources don’t permit this, just thinking about what to do in the event of a fake news attack and creating a basic plan is better than doing nothing.
  • Ensure your security is up-to-scratch. Fake news can be easily spread through official channels if these become compromised – similar to how AP’s Twitter account was used to spread false news of a White House explosion. Therefore, ensure your official channels and websites are as secure as possible.
  • Foster a culture of trust. Tackling fake news is easier if you remember the story of ‘the boy who cried wolf’. If you foster a culture of honesty and readability, you’ll be a better position to convince others that the fake news is false. In contrast, if you routinely engage in fake news yourself – such as embellishing offers – it will be much harder to convince customers you’re telling the truth.
  • Monitor mentions of your company. When tackling fake news, every minute counts. Therefore, it’s wise to monitor mentions of your company to determine who is talking about your firm. We would recommend Talkwalker for this.
  • Carefully deconstruct the lies. Instead of denying the allegations, explain why the information is false in a calm authoritative manner. This approach, instead of angrily crying ‘fake news’ is a far better way to resolve the situation.
  • Monitor for additional mentions of the fake news. It often takes far more than 24 hours to combat fake news. It’s a long battle and the rumours may still circulate months after the event. Therefore, identify organisations which have published the lie and request they publish a retraction.
  • Seek legal advice. In the event the fake news causes deliberate or negligent damage, you might be within your rights to take legal action. Consequently, legal advice should be sought as soon as possible.

 

Fake news can be damaging to a business but it doesn’t have to be. To speak to our specialist team regarding recovering from a fake news attack, or to discuss protecting your company against malicious interference, get in touch through the contact form or call 0161 956 8963.

Selling via Social Media: How to Start

People are buying things on social media. They’re browsing Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, seeing things they like and buying them then and there.

What about your customers? Are they buying your products on social media? Would they shop from your Facebook page if they could?

A few years ago, the idea of getting conversions directly from social media seemed like something unachievable. You were perhaps seeing social media assisting conversions, but it was rarely the last click. Anecdotally, the idea was people were too busy looking at friends’ photos, following celebrities, stalking ex partners and posting their own content, to bother interrupting all of this to go and buy something.

However, social shopping is on the rise, with plenty of existing options for setting up shop on your social media channels, and many more developments coming soon.

If you sell online, here’s what you need to know.

Pinterest

Pinterest launched “Buyable Pins” way back in 2015, offering Pinterest users the option to buy products they’d seen on Pinterest directly through the Pinterest app. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t available for UK retailers yet. However, there’s another option UK businesses have for capturing shoppers on Pinterest – implementing Rich Pins.

The Ikea Pin in the feed here is a “Rich Pin”

The Pin itself shows the price and availability

Rich Pins is what Pinterest is calling Pins that have added value information. Set these up and whenever you, or a customer, pins a product from your website they’ll be able to see additional information like the price and if the item is in stock.

This information could lead to more people clicking through to your website via Pinterest and making a purchase.

Check out Pinterest’s guide to setting up Rich Pins.

Instagram

Instagram offers businesses the option to tag products within the user feed and through Instagram stories. With the product page being within five taps.

On the user profile page, shoppable items have a bag icon, plus a “shop” section in the menu.

On the post itself, you click the shopping bag to view the products

 

Tapping a specific item will take you to a product information page within Instagram.

The final tap for those ready to buy is to “view on website” and make the purchase.

Within Instagram stories, it’s a similar story, with a shoppable icon and product title being shown first:

Tapping the icon / title opens up the option to “see details”

Then you’re onto the same product page you see when you click through from the Instagram feed.

As with Pinterest, there are steps to take to set this up, including having a Business Account on Instagram, a connected Facebook page and a product feed. You can find more information on the technical setup here.

 

Facebook

Businesses can set up a “Shop” tab on their Facebook pages which can get people from Facebook onto your website to buy the product in three clicks.

Set up your shop and your products will be displayed in a grid.

Clicking a product opens up further details and the crucial link to your website to buy.

Check out Facebook’s guide to adding a shop to your business page.

 

What you should do about it

Ok now you know what social shopping tools are available for you to use, but before you rush off and set it all up, here are three things to keep in mind:

  1. Consider your social audience
    Setting up your products so they’re ready to shop socially is just the start. You need to think about your audience, and in particular your audience size. If your following is very small, you’re not going to see the benefit of having shoppable products. You should consider a strategy to build up your following and get your social shopping posts reaching a wider audience. This could involve running some paid media campaigns to boost your following, or trying tactics like running competitions.
  2. Optimise your product images.
    Your product images will be key to securing those all-important clicks on social media. The images which work well on your website might not be the right ones for Pinterest’s grid, or maybe you’ll shoot some photos of multiple products so you can tag each one in via Instagram.Either way, make them as attractive as possible for each social audience and, if you can, test them to see what works and what doesn’t. You can use each social channel’s reporting tools to see which images are getting the most impressions and clicks and make your decisions from there.
  3. Invest in your tracking
    Each social network has their own internal tracking systems and you may need to set up some custom tracking to make sure your sales are being tracked accurately in Google Analytics – or whichever web analytics platform you’re using. Social Media Examiner has an in depth guide on this: Tracking Social Media Traffic using Google Analytics.It’s well worth investing the time in this to make sure you’re seeing the true return from social, whether that’s sales directly from social media, or sales where social is assisting.

 

Using the social shopping tools available for free is a great opportunity to sell more products, especially in the run-up to Christmas. Even if you don’t have the resource to set up all your products, select your best sellers and see if social works for them.

If you want to talk social media, online shopping or paid media, call us on 0161 956 8963

What is click through rate and why is it important for Google Ads?

Click-Through Rate (CTR) represents the number of clicks received divided by the number of impressions received.

Your CTR helps indicate:

  1. How helpful and relevant your ads are.
  2. How successful your targeting/keywords are.

Improving your CTR can increase your ad rank – meaning:

  1. Increased impression share. This essentially means that your ads have more visibility – with a bigger portion of the impressions that they are eligible to receive.
  2. An increase in visibility can lead to increased site visits.
  3. Potentially lower cost per clicks (CPCs) for a better position.
  4. Potentially higher conversion rates (CR). CR depends on many factors but in theory:
    – An informative ad means a higher proportion of users will click your ad (increased CTR)
    – With more information at their fingertips, they are more qualified to make a decision about purchasing your product or service after they’ve clicked your ad.

Here are some simple steps to improving your CTR and your overall campaign performance:

1. Include the keyword in the ad copy

Keeping your ad relevant to the users’ search term increases the chance of being clicked.

2. Include a strong call to action to encourage users to take action

For example ‘buy now’, ‘contact us for a quote today’ or ‘sign up now for a free sample’.

3. Change match type

Even after the recent update to exact match, CTR’s are much higher on exact match keywords as the queries that can trigger adverts are very closely linked to the keyword.

Reviewing our client data from the past 12 months, CTR on exact match keywords was on average 105% higher than broad match terms, and conversion rate was 138% higher.

Remember that it’s still important to have a balance of match types (including broad and phrase) to maintain a healthy volume of impressions and clicks.

4. Add negative keywords

Negative keywords enable you to filter out search queries that are less relevant to your keywords.

The broad keyword + red +shoes could trigger an advert for the query “I want to buy red shoes” in addition to “red shoes film”.

Despite being a classic, a search for the 1948 film is very unlikely to result in a click on your ad (never mind a sale), bringing down your CTR.

Adding an extensive list of negative keywords not only improves your CTR by weeding out the irrelevant terms, it also saves you a tonne of budget! When we ran an initial audit for a client recently we found that adding one additional negative keyword saved them over £5000 per month.

5. Provide as much relevant information as possible

Google Ads have recently given us a third headline and a second description – that’s an extra 120 characters to communicate to your potential customers.

Adding ad extensions to your campaigns give users more reason to click on your advert. Taking them to specific, relevant pages via sitelinks or communicating your unique selling points through callout extensions.

Next steps:

If you’d like an in-depth review of your GoogleAds account, call 0161 956 8963 to speak to a paid media expert.

Why is nobody interested in your company news?

Man wearing tie confused at his computer

If you’re wondering why no-one wants to read your company news, it’s probably down to at least one of the eight reasons below: 

You think you’ve got an absolutely brilliant story but barely anyone wants to cover it. It’s frustrating to say the least…

Part of my job is to convince journalists to cover a particular story. As a former journalist myself, and drawing on my marketing experiences, I can usually identify how likely a particular topic is to succeed.

If you’re wondering why your news just isn’t getting the attention you think it deserves, take a look at the reasons below and see how many you’ve fallen foul of.

Your news isn’t actually newsworthy

There is a world of difference between internal and external company news. While the appointment of a new director or opening of a new office is definitely interesting internally, it’s generally a hard sell outside of your corporation.

It’s always worth examining your news and asking the question ‘will anyone genuinely care about this?’ If the answer is no, then it’s not the end of the world. Most stories can be turned into something interesting with a few tweaks.

For example, while local news publications probably won’t care about the appointment of a new company director, they might if that person has pledged to bring multiple jobs to the region.

Just remember to be selective with your company news. If you repeatedly send stories which are worthless, you’ll find it harder to get a journalist’s attention when you have something good to report later.

Who is interested in your message?

When notifying publications about company news, it’s important to determine if their readership would be interested in the message. Too many companies gauge success on whether or not  they can appear on national press, such as the Guardian or Daily Mail. Although this is an achievement in itself, it might be more beneficial to target readers in relevant trade publications.

If they focus on very particular forms of media, it’s worth concentrating your efforts around these instead of adopting a blanket coverage approach.

Man in suit giving speech to people with microphones

You haven’t selected a spokesperson

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an effective quote is worth double that. Quotes are the lifeblood of stories. So much so, you will struggle to find a single item of news which doesn’t have at least some interview aspect.

Consequently, when promoting company news, you will need a spokesperson – ideally media trained – to add weight to the article. They should be knowledgeable about the topic and their quotes should add significant value to whatever you’re trying to accomplish.

You’re not treating journalists like people

It’s easy, when pitching stories, to view journalists as something similar to a gatekeeper. Instead, it’s important to remember that these professionals are people too. Try doing an 8 – 5 office job and receiving about 300 to 400 messages a day from people trying to get your attention.

Given how stressful that is, it’s perhaps no surprise that you don’t get a response straight away – or even at all. Consequently, even if your pitch gets noticed, you probably have about five seconds to get that person’s attention.

Therefore, a carefully-constructed press release is absolutely essential.

Your press release isn’t effective at all

Presenting a journalist with reams of poorly-digestible information is a recipe for disaster and will ensure your press release gets sent straight to the bin. Instead, make sure your first sentence is concise and provides that journalist with enough information as to why your story is newsworthy.

If you need more than one sentence to make your point, consider using bullet points before going into more detail later. If your ‘hook’ can be explained in a matter of seconds, your press release stands a much higher chance of being published.

Red clock on a bench with leaves fluttering around it

Your timing is dreadful

At the time of writing this blog post, it’s Mental Illness Awareness Week. Although an excellent cause, the start of the event is a terrible time to pitch mental health-related stories. This is for a few reasons:

  • You will be competing with multiple PR agencies and companies to get their news about mental health published.
  • If journalists choose to cover the event, they’ll have decided what stories they are publishing prior to this.
  • The inboxes of journalists are full to the brim with press releases discussing mental health. There are only so many column inches a publication can devote to the subject.

As a result, if you’ve missed the deadline for an awareness week, consider waiting a couple of weeks. You’ll probably have a higher chance of success.

While this applies to occasions, it is also affected by the news cycle. There is a reason why some politicians choose to bury bad news when news outlets are focused on a larger scandal…

The news doesn’t do anything for that publication

Much like yourself, journalists care about results. When publishing news, they are often thinking about such metrics as social shares and click-through rates. Consequently, if they can’t see how your company news helps them achieve this, it’s unlikely to get featured.

Consider providing additional resources as well as your news. For example, stats which are easily tweetable, an accompanying video, or interactive infographic breaking down data into  easily digestible chunks.

Although we want journalists to help us, it’s important to think about what we can do to help them as well.

You’re relying on the content for news purposes

When company news doesn’t get published, many organisations will just abandon their efforts and put the experience down to bad luck. However, it’s important to have a backup plan should this occur…and probably another backup plan after that.

For example, any stats you’ve used can be referenced in guest posts, your spokesperson can provide insight on related topics in the future, and the news can be converted into a different format and used elsewhere.

Even if your news doesn’t get picked up, there are always interesting opportunities for additional coverage.

Marketing on a shoestring budget: What key areas to consider

With marketers continually being asked to work with less, and yet drive continued success (or better), taking a step back and identifying a marketing strategy that works with the budget you have available should always be the first step.

It can be tempting to look at bigger competitors and follow suit when in reality their campaign strategy only works due to the huge budget they have at their disposal and the economies of scale they can achieve.

What this article aims to highlight is what considerations should be applied at the early stages of strategising how to spend your ‘shoestring’ budget.

Understand User Behaviour

This can be done through a variety of methods, through commissioned third-party customer research to analysing user behaviour across owned marketing assets such as social media profiles and brand websites.

Website user behavior tracking software like Hotjar or Crazy Egg offers priceless insights into how your customers navigate around your website, identifying clear barriers to conversion, confusing UX and more crucially, what is working well.

Additionally, from experience using Hotjar far more extensively, it is worthwhile making use of the poll functionality available to license holders. There is no quicker way to get useful user feedback than strategically placing polls on the key commercial pages around the website for instant feedback on how users are finding the user journey, and what can be improved on.

Make sure to carefully consider the question, are the questions specific enough to get a suitable enough answer that you can use to improve the website flaws?

The initial investment is not very expensive, and with the improvement in UX potentially driving an increase in sales/applications that will far out way the outlay. Hotjar provides a range of options to suit your budget and business needs so it is definitely worth checking it out.

By ironing out any kinks in the user journey prior to investing the small budget you have for marketing is the investment that could give you an advantage over competitors. User experience (UX) and Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) are areas of marketing that are commonly overlooked, with the main focus directed at solely traffic acquisition. Read our previous blog on how SEO, UX, and CRO can all be used cohesively to achieve success.

Invest in the Right Channels

As previously mentioned, the easy route to follow is to mimic what the other brands in the sector are doing regarding what channels the marketing pounds are being assigned to.

Understanding where your target audience spends their time is paramount to any marketing strategy and as tempting as it may be to jump on the bandwagon of the ‘channel of the moment’, research this stage extensively.

Social media is a good example of a channel which presents vast opportunities in terms of enormous reach and brand awareness potential and at a relatively low cost, but is this the best channel to reach your target audience? If you are after a high valued customer type or targeting a specific niche, then the lure of Facebook might turn out to be the wrong move. Always revert back to your campaign objectives, and ask yourself;

  1. What is my objective?
  2. What message am I trying to promote
  3. What determines success?
  4. Is it the best use of my limited marketing budget?

Listen To Your Customer

Listening to your customer can come from actually getting out in the real world and speaking to people face-to-face, but many companies will often pass up the chance to speak to their customers in person when given the chance.

From a brick and mortar retailer to a car dealership, many brands will engage with customers every day, passing up the opportunity to learn more about their buying habits, what brought them to your place today, and how did they find you. You may find customers are much more honest when asked in person, as opposed to rating something 1 to 10 online.

Again reverting back to my previous point, does the question you ask allow for meaningful answers to be gathered, and for actions to be taken off the back off it?

Resist the urge to rip it up

When a new marketing or brand manager come into a new company, it can be a natural instinct to want to put their own spin on something, completely disregarding what has been done previously. If results as a whole were not great, you may think the natural reaction is to assume everything that was being done did not work.

However, potentially the less fashionable approach of simply building incrementally on the existing strategy might be the right (less glamorous) approach. By nurturing the existing marketing strategy and not ripping it up, you can earn the cumulative benefits that were only achieved by building on what was done before you, not to mention it is the more cost-effective approach a shoestring marketing budget requires.

The important thing to remember is that even if you operate in the same space as many other brands, both big and small, a good strategy is a way of leveling the playing field, and in some cases achieving that competitive advantage that all businesses strive for.

Small marketing budget or not, CandidSky has experience working across a wide range of sectors and marketing budgets, driving continued growth in increasingly competitive markets.

To see what we can do for you, why not get in touch on 0161 956 8963.

When was the last time you were honest with your customers?

Years ago, while I was working for a different company, my boss burst into the office. He’s delighted, he’s secured a lucrative contract and it’s going to be very good for the firm. “There’s just one problem”, he states, “I told them you all speak fluent Spanish, so you all have two weeks to learn the lingo”.

It was this moment which made me realise I needed a new employer.

A heated conversation followed where I informed my boss I would not be learning an entirely new language in that time frame. I was subsequently taken off the project and got to watch from the sidelines when the client realised they had been lied to.

This is an extreme example but one which is unfortunately common throughout many marketing firms. Whether maliciously or not, lying is used by some organisations to stretch results or influence customers. Although you might not have claimed your team speaks Spanish, chances are,  you’re probably guilty of stretching the truth.

Let’s talk about honesty

Public trust in advertising and media is extremely low. One poll, published by Ipsos MORI in 2017, demonstrated that more than 40% of Britons didn’t trust brands while almost 60% didn’t trust the word of a company until they had seen ‘real world proof’ of the firm keeping their promises.

Although it’s easy to blame the rise of Donald Trump and ‘fake news’ for this, traditional marketing has always had a complicated relationship with the truth. Whether a company promising free delivery – and then adding ‘on your first order’ in small letters – or using questionable research, lies have been part of the industry for decades.

This is at odds with what customers want, – they actually prefer transparency. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) even went so far as to claim that “authenticity” was important to more than 85% of customers when deciding which brands to support.

“Honesty is the best policy” – Benjamin Franklin

Being honest with customers is the best way to win them over. This sounds obvious but it’s a lesson which seasoned professionals still have trouble learning. This could be because the way advertisers communicated with consumers was previously through a one-way conversation – with the customer passively absorbing the information being disseminated to them.

However, with social media now fully established in our day-to-day lives – and an essential communication channel for thousands of people – this message is frequently questioned and critiqued. Individuals can also interact with other customers to gauge the company’s reputation and look up reviews.

As a result, consumers have more power than ever – and misleading them can have dire consequences.  Sincerity must now be at the heart of everything you do. From putting forward realistic messages to the hardest thing many organisations will have to do – taking responsibility for mistakes.

Instead of the ‘death sentence’ many PR professionals believe it to be, owning up to an error can be a great thing. Just ask Domino’s.

Almost a decade ago, the organisation was in trouble. Sales were plummeting and customers described the organisation’s products as tasting similar to cardboard. Executives did the unexpected and agreed. They then launched a huge advertising campaign to give customers a say on what the company should do – from the organisation’s deals to their recipes.

Putting the consumer at the heart of the company paid off and, since then, Domino’s has enjoyed impressive growth while their stock price has increased from $2.61 in 2008 to $172.62 in 2016.

Watch out for dishonest marketers

At CandidSky, we pride ourselves on being honest with our customers. In fact, we’ve had to help clients who’ve suffered after being promised unrealistic results by other agencies. If you want to see how we can help you, get in touch with us today. Our teams will be more than happy to help.

Just please don’t ask me to learn Spanish in two weeks, I don’t think it can be done…

Should I work with influencers? And how do I even start?

social media influencer recording a video
Influencers. If you market yourself in the digital space chances are you’ve heard of them. They’re seemingly everywhere. And they’re not just confined to industries like fashion and beauty either. There are influencers working with all types of businesses, from DIY blogs, to sports and nutrition “gurus”, restaurant bloggers, money saving influencers. Whatever your business is, there’s likely to be an influencer who your target audience engages with.

Big brands are increasingly investing more and more of their marketing budgets into working with influencers and a lot of small businesses are following suit too.

So just where do you even start with putting an influencer marketing campaign together? Here’s a guide to follow.

What even is an influencer?

Influencers aren’t a new concept. They’ve been around long before the days on the internet, they just went by a different name: celebrities. Celebrities who found fame through music, sport, acting and other high profile professions, used their fame to work with brands and sell more than just their latest album/film/whatever. Celebrity endorsements is still a huge part of many marketing campaigns.

But what about non-celebrity influencers? Well, you probably have a few in your social circle – that friend who’s always ahead of the curve, buying the latest technology before it becomes popular, being into the newest bands, the trendsetter who’s already visited that new holiday destination and inspired you to do the same.

It’s this “friend” vibe that sets today’s influencers apart from celebrities. Thanks to the intimacy of social media publishing, people can feel like influencers are trusted friends. The official term for this is a parasocial relationship; the audience comes to feel like the influencer is someone whose recommendations they’ll follow, someone they genuinely like and feel an affinity with, even though the influencer doesn’t necessarily directly interact with them, . Today’s online influencers can seem more relatable than a big celebrity with a life so far removed from their audiences.

Is Influencer Marketing The Right Move?

Item 1 on the checklist: should you be doing influencer marketing in the first place? I said earlier there was most likely an influencer who’s reaching the target audience of most business types, no matter how niche. But just because the audience is there, that doesn’t necessarily mean you jump straight in.

Ideally, working with influencers needs to be considered as part of your wider marketing strategy. Unless you have an unlimited marketing budget, chances are you’ve got to choose your campaigns wisely and keep your eye on the return on investment.

Struggling to make a decision on whether to put budget into influencers? Take a step back and start with your marketing goals. Research your target audiences, and consider other ways you could reach them aside from influencers, so you can compare. Can you get a better return on investment using another channel?

I’d also advise doing some competitor research. Are your competitors working with influencers? Is it working? You obviously won’t be able to see the financial results, but the great thing about social media is that brand collaborations are there in place sight for all to see. What’s the engagement like? Do you think you could be doing a better job?

Find the right influencers for you

Ok so you’ve decided influencer marketing is something you’d like to try. Time to find some influencers to work with. Remember, the focus should be on your target audience – whose YouTube videos are they watching? Which Instagrammers are they engaging with? Do the research, ask your existing customers. The responses might surprise you, the “influencers” you had in mind for your campaigns might be completely different to the ones your target audiences are following.

There are tools and searchable databases online which can help you with your search for influencers. Facebook is even trialling an “influencer search engine” for marketers. And if all else fails, run some basic searches across social media channels and the ones which come up first will give you an indication of who’s the most influential on various topics.

Influencer Evaluation

You should hopefully have a shortlist of potential influencers now, and you’ll probably have realised it’s hard to compare. There’s possibly a few on your list with 100s of thousands of followers – they’re probably going to be more expensive to work with than an influencer with 10s of thousands. And perhaps you have some on your list with less than 10,000 followers, or less than 5,000.

The key thing here is to look beyond the numbers. “Fake” influencers are a concern. They’re influencers who have bought followers in bulk to make themselves seem more popular and influential than they really are. Tools like Socialblade offer one way to check for influencers buying followers, but you can also use your common sense. Look at their posts, take a look at how many likes and comments they’re getting. Huge follower numbers with low engagement rates are a red flag.

Mega Influencers or Micro Influencers

Ok let’s go back to the follower numbers for a moment. You’ve probably heard of the term “micro influencers” – this is often used to refer to influencers with a smaller (typically less than 10,000 followers), but heavily engaged following. Mega influencers is a phrase I’m not sure is widely used, but I’m using it here to refer to influencers with big followings, I’m talking 50k+ into the millions.

In an ideal world, you’d have the budget to work with all types of influencers, but in reality, chances are you don’t have that option. So who do you work with?

To make this decision, take it back to the objectives of your campaign. If you want one-time exposure on a huge scale, it might be best to sink all your budget into 2 or 3 mega influencers. If you want longer term exposure to an audience, then a micro influencer might get you the best return on investment.

What are the options for influencer campaigns?

Influencers chosen, now what? How do you want to work with them? What are the options? Just send them some free stuff and hope they’ll write about you? That’s a risky tactic and your offering is likely to get lost in all the other free stuff they’re receiving!

Your first port of call should be to read these guidelines from the Advertising Standards Authority because however you choose to work with influencers, if money, goods or services are exchanged with the influencer in return for something, then you’re going to have to disclose this to their audience.

In terms of options, again I’ll refer you back to your campaign objectives. Decide what you want to achieve and work with your influencers to agree on the best way to get there. I’d advise treating the influencer as if they were a freelancer working for you – set out your brief, work with them, agree on deadlines and payments, and most importantly get everything agreed in writing. This will help keep both you and the influencers on track and ensure a return on investment for both parties.

A few examples of ways to work with influencers include:

  • Offering them products or services to trial in return for creating and sharing social media/YouTube/Blog content about the product or service.
  • Paying them to create and share content about your products.
  • Hosting events to showcase your products/services to influencers

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Celebrating the launch of @1821bar in Shoreditch this week with a delicious @luxardo_uk Cherry Negroni. ? The history of the family-owned Luxardo brand is fascinating (founded nearly 200 years ago) and so is the variety of products they make near Padua in Italy: from Maraschino (a marasca cherry distillate) to Sour Cherry Gin, Amaretto, Limoncello and many more. I love their Maraschino cherries, so good I was eating them straight out the jar! ? You’ll find the pop-up Bar 1821 at 147 Bethnal Green Road (just off Brick Lane) until the 9th September. And the first 50 people to use the code GIULIA1821 at the bar will get a free cocktail (offer valid until 24th August) #LoveLuxardo #drinkresponsibly #ad

A post shared by Giulia Mulè (@mondomulia) on

How do you make contact with them?

Many of the big influencers have “agents” or managers who deal with all the requests they receive. Others run the show on their own, alongside full-time jobs and family commitments. Either way, be professional in your approach, whether the first method of contact is a social media Direct Message, or an email.

You may need to get creative with your opening line to grab their attention. Tom Chapman, CandidSky’s Publishing Specialist, who regularly reaches out to publishers to pitch ideas and collaborations for clients advises:

Get a good understanding of what your influencer enjoys covering. A ‘mummy influencer’ is going to be searching for angles to do with parenting and work/life balances. Search through what they’ve previously covered and try to focus on a unique approach.

“Do this, and you’re already better than the vast majority of offers they receive.”

Final three things to remember

In essence, to get your influencer campaigns flying remember these three things:

  1. Audience Targeting
  2. Setting Objectives
  3. Keeping your return on investment in mind

Checklist complete! Now you’re ready to go. If you’re in need of some ideas and inspiration for how you could be working with influencers, get in touch with the CandidSky strategy team now on 0161 956 8963.

Here’s how to make your advertising sound like music to your customers’ ears

What would you say if I asked you what your favourite music is?

For most people it is impossible to narrow their music tastes down to one artist or genre. The same could be said for the question ‘how do you target your audience?’

Let’s take some of the artists I like: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ella Fitzgerald, Tchaikovsky and Paul Simon. What music audience category would you put me in? And would you know how to target me if you were promoting, for example, tickets to the next Arctic Monkeys gig?

Well, the simple answer is: you wouldn’t know.

As neuroscientist Antonio Damasio discovered, our emotions are essential to our decision making. When I choose to listen to music, it depends on my situation and how that affects my mood. I may choose a different genre depending on if I’m at work or home, alone or with friends, exercising, concentrating, or relaxing. This can also influence which device I listen on.

Understand the role of emotion in your customers’ decisions

From my experience as a PPC consultant; a slight change in environment, the weather, events in the news, time of year, month, or even day can have an impact on our customers’ decisions. As consumers have more control and flexibility over what, where, when and how they see content, their decision making process becomes complex.

Luckily, whether you’re selling Arctic Monkeys’ tickets to consumers or construction materials B2B, prospective customers will likely have the same mental questions:

  1. How well do you demonstrate your knowledge of the industry?
  2. Are you reputable?
  3. Do you sell quality products?
  4. Can you be beaten on price for the quality of your products?
  5. How easy is it to contact you and/or buy your products?

At least three of those questions are based around trust – appealing to the emotional stimulus in our brains. So how do you answer those questions, and find the right people to target, at the right time? Essentially you need to be available and be present. And that means not limiting your marketing budget to just one channel.

How well do you demonstrate your knowledge of the industry – and are you reputable?

Its an old cliche but content really is key here. Don’t wait for your audience to come to you, put together some informative, useful content and bring it to them. A music lover might want a guide to Manchester’s hidden gig venues or top tips for finding the cheapest concert tickets. You’re not aiming to sell your product, but sell yourself as a credible business.

From by Scott A Frangos, Margot Hall: The Marketer’s Concise Guide to CRO

LinkedIn and Facebook have advanced targeting methods which will help you find new audiences. For example, ‘lookalike targeting’ helps you find users with similar interests & behaviours to your current customer base. In the case of the Arctic Monkeys gig tickets, you might use the data you have (eg from people who’ve previously attended Arctic Monkeys shows) to find people with similar tastes and interests.

Start by reaching a wide audience and as users begin to engage with your content you can start to narrow in on the users that really want to engage with you – and create data lists of people that are likely to buy tickets.

Once you’ve found those engaged users, “remarket” to them – use your data lists to reconnect with visitors who left your site without making a purchase. This time, you would help them get to know your business, your products, or your services with branded content. This could then be distributed through Instagram, YouTube and the Google Display Network (GDN).

Do you sell quality products – and can you be beaten on price?

If you’re an e-commerce client, you can use both Google Shopping and Facebook’s product listing ads to display your products and pricing. You can also promote informational pages about your business, detail the materials you use, the processes you take to produce a quality product, explain how you are unique and how you can fulfill your customers’ needs. Take this information to people at the start of their research, so they already have you in mind when they start making a purchase decision.

How easy is it for your customers to contact you and/or buy your products?

We’ve spoken in previous blog articles about the importance of having a mobile site. This is extremely true for social media and Google advertising, as shopping on mobile devices is expected to be worth £43bn by 2020. So it’s important to help mobile customers to contact you, which you could do by adding phone call extensions to your Google ads – meaning customers interested in your Arctic Monkeys tickets can “click to call” from your advert and book their tickets right there and then.

If you want to connect with customers quickly, you could run a lead generation campaign through LinkedIn or Facebook. This would allow your Arctic Monkeys fans to buy tickets by filling out a quick form directly on your ad, without even having to click through to your website.

Time your message to perfection

While you need to think about being present across multiple channels (eg Facebook, Google, Bing), you also need to think about timing. If you’re in the stage of putting feelers out with informational content, target mobile users who may be scrolling through social media on their lunch breaks or in the evenings and not looking for a sales pitch. Perhaps you could push the latest Arctic Monkeys live video.

If you’re targeting B2B audiences, set your Google Ad schedule for working hours or if you’re B2C, think about when your customers might be searching for help and answers on Google – maybe you want to appear to regular concert-goers late in the evening when their ears are still ringing and are on their phones because they’re struggling to sleep.

Deciding when to target your ads comes partly with common sense and knowing your audience. However, as with targeting, if you’re unsure on timings, you can start wide with an open schedule. After a few months use the ‘hour of day’ reports available in AdWords and Facebook to optimise the campaign to the best performing hours.

 

That’s the approach CandidSky takes with every advertising campaign. We get to know our clients’ customer base, and we put their needs first. We find it helps our clients hit their sales targets, rather than just running adverts for the sake of it. So if you’re looking for advice on how best to plan your advertising strategy, get in touch!

What Darth Vader can teach us about gated content

Want to increase sign ups? See an increase in your subscriptions? Generate extra income? You should consider implementing a content gate.

Gated content is probably most recognisable in the media. For example, if an online newspaper grants only a certain number of free articles or gives a partial read before requiring a subscription, they are employing a content gate.

Broadly speaking, however, anything which restricts access to content in some way can be classified as a gate. Get this tactic right, and these can be an effective way to gather additional income, subscriptions, or contact details.

Get it wrong and your customers will feel alienated and be put-off by the restricted access.

If you’re thinking about enhancing your content efforts with a gate, then there are a variety of considerations to bear in mind. Yet, the most important one is the following:

Understand your audience

Now, let’s discuss this in practice using one of the most recognisable fictional characters in history – Darth Vader.

The dark side of content gates

Full disclosure – I’m a huge science fiction geek and one of my favourite franchises is Star Wars. Although I never got to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an X-Wing pilot, video games offered me – and the legions of fans – an opportunity to take down the Empire.

When EA (Electronic Arts) announced the video game Star Wars Battlefront 2, fans were delighted. Especially because the gameplay looked incredible. However, it soon emerged that all was not what it seemed. In the words of a popular character turned internet meme:

The game was launching with a controversial gate system where, to unlock Darth Vader as a playable character, a purchaser would need to play the game for around 40 hours. Alternatively, they could pay real money to speed up the process. Then, repeat for more ‘hero characters’ such as Luke Skywalker.

To many of the game’s customers, this was a mistake as it failed to fulfil their expectations of what the product should represent. When implementing a content gate, the restriction must be fair. Putting arguably one of the most iconic parts of Star Wars behind a gate was not something the customers expected and, consequently, they reacted angrily to the news.

The news created so much controversy that an EA representative took to Reddit to explain the company’s motivations stating the long unlock times were to provide ‘a sense of accomplishment’.

The fans did not accept this reasoning, generally feeling the ‘sense of accomplishment’ was rendered void by being able to speed up the process with real money. As a result, that comment is the most downvoted in Reddit history.

You don’t know the power…of your customer base

Usually, outrage has limited consequences – especially online. However, this then started to translate into the real world when thousands of fans started cancelling their pre-orders for the game. In response, EA attempted to soften the blow by cutting the cost of hero characters by 75%.

Once the game launched, it was not nearly as successful as it could have been. Almost two weeks after the game’s release, EA’s stock value had decreased by around $3billion. Walt Disney, which owns the Star Wars brand, even weighed in on the disaster with executives concerned how this “reflected on their marquee property”.

 

Star Wars symbol of the Rebel Alliance

Rebellions are built on hope

Nearly four months after the game was released, EA relented. The payment system for Darth Vader and the other hero characters was scrapped and customers would now only be able to pay real money for cosmetic items.

What can we learn from this?

Regardless of how big your company is, you can never afford to alienate your customer base. EA implemented a content gate so unpopular that it adversely affected their stock and arguably almost cost them a corporate partnership. It didn’t even make sense as executives didn’t consider the game’s primary audience:

  • Star Wars fans are not a group of kids or teenagers. In fact, the average fan is actually a 34-year-old male. An adult in his thirties likely has commitments, kids, a job, family. Regardless, they probably don’t have 40 hours to spend on a video game.
  • Although the stereotype of a gamer is a teenager sitting in a basement, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The average age is actually 35 and they can be either male or female. Consequently, they also have commitments and dont have the time to spend unlocking characters.  

Therefore, understanding your audience is vitally important to determining if a content gate is going to work. As well as this, you should adhere to the following:

Is the content available elsewhere?

In media, content gates work effectively  when dealing with niche industries. For example, due to its reliable business-focused coverage, the Financial Times exceeded 900,000 paying subscribers in 2017. Yet, this system collapses if big news occurs because the information is available from a variety of free competitors.

While EA implemented their content gate probably feeling only they have access to the Star Wars brand, there are a variety of competitor video games which offered similar experiences – just in a different setting.

If an alternative is available, either or free or for a fairer price, your customer base will likely go elsewhere instead of subscribing to the content gate. Therefore, when implementing this strategy, ensure your gate is offering something exclusive.

Would I be tempted by this?

When deciding whether to implement a content gate, decisions must be made as to its fairness. I advise putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience (again, this requires a good understanding of your customer base) and determining if you would be convinced.

EA’s example is a relatable one because our time is precious. 40 hours is an entire working week. Would you be willing to spend that amount of time unlocking something and then repeating it? Chances are, EA’s executives wouldn’t. Alternatively, would you pay money to get something you were probably expecting for free?

Simply put, if your gate doesn’t even tempt you to convert, chances are it won’t be successful.

Is my content worthy of a gate?

Content gates only work if what you’re producing is the best. It’s time to be honest with yourself and decide if what you’ve put together is worthy of exclusivity. For example, arguably due to their excellent Donald Trump-related coverage, gated publication The New York Times saw their number of digital-only subscribers increase by 25% YoY (Year-on-Year) during the first quarter of 2018.

If you’re regularly producing the best, a content gate is easier to swallow. Otherwise, your consumers will go somewhere else – probably a competitor which offers it for free.

What value is my gate providing?

A content gate must always provide an incentive. EA failed because they were restricting access to something which customers thought they would get for free. Therefore, it is  generally advisable to use a partially gated system so subscribers can have the first part of the piece. A content gate provides extra, surplus value.

What am I using my content gate for?

In EA’s case, the organisation used a content gate to generate income. Although this backfired, content gates can be used for a variety of different purposes. For example, they can be used to generate subscriptions, capture an email address, or notify users about similar content.

Not all content gates have to be financial. For more information on this, I’d recommend reading Scott’s blog post regarding giving content away for nothing.

Come to the light side

You might be interested to know I was planning on purchasing Star Wars Battlefront 2 on release until the content gate was announced. I believed the restriction was unfair and spent my money somewhere else.

Instead, I recently purchased it in a sale for £15. This is much cheaper than the £50 I would have happily paid for it months ago. Therefore, this should bring hope if your content gate has the opposite effect and drives readers away. Listen to your customers, repair the damage, perhaps offer an enticement to come back (such as the cheaper price) and your audience might return.

A content gate, if implemented well, can be an effective tool to boost a variety of different metrics. If you’re interested in learning more about these, get in touch with with the content team at CandidSky today. We have experience in implementing these and we’d be happy to help.

The “Brand purpose” bandwagon – what is it, and should your business jump on it?


As businesses strive to engage with customers in more meaningful and impactful ways, the past few years have seen an increase in brands focusing on “brand purpose.” As an area of marketing strategy designed to grow a brand, its aim is usually to appeal to an audience who believe a company should stand for more than just its products or services.

What is brand purpose?

In simple terms, brand purpose, or “purpose-driven marketing”, is a way for a business to form a relationship with a target audience based on their shared needs and interests – including supporting a worthy cause.

This is not as simple as brands getting behind a cause they think their audience are interested in, but demonstrating how the company’s values and beliefs are also aligned with those causes.

Successful examples of this could be anything from flat-pack giant IKEA’s commitment to more sustainable product packaging by 2020, to outdoor clothing brand Patagonia donating 1% of sales revenue to the preservation and restoration of natural environments.

Why would a brand adopt a purpose?

So why would brands go down this route? Is the the pool of passive consumers dwindling? Can greater brand loyalty be achieved through aligning marketing messages with a particular set of values? What are the benefits for brands focusing on promoting brand purpose as part of their marketing strategy, you might ask?

One key benefit is to grow the brand’s reach to a new audience who may not have heard of, or wanted to buy from, that particular brand previously. If a brand is strongly supporting a cause the consumer also feels passionately about, there is potential to build a strong relationship with that audience.

When is adopting a brand purpose the right strategy?

Brand purpose initiatives have the potential to tap into new audiences, increase brand loyalty and increase customer retention amongst existing audiences.

So how can you tell if launching a brand purpose initiative is the right way for your business to go – and if the timing is right?

Here is what you need to ask yourself:

  1. What objectives does this marketing strategy need to achieve based on your market offering and target audience?
  2. How does the strategy coherently direct your resource in order to achieve these objectives?
  3. What are the tactics needed to successfully execute this?

Many businesses have successfully identified and implemented the above three steps. For example, The Body Shop’s brand purpose was to commit to ‘enriching its people, products and the planet’.

They did so by setting clear, measurable objectives:

  1. Help 40,000 economically vulnerable people access work around the world.
  2. Ensure 100 percent of their natural ingredients are traceable and sustainably sourced, protecting 10,000 hectares of forest and other habitat.
  3. Build bio-bridges, protecting and regenerating 75 million square meters of habitat helping communities to live more sustainably.

What success looks like

In the case of The Body Shop, they don’t commit to achieving too many objectives, but the ones they have are clearly aligned to their customers’ perception of the company and products.

The Body Shop communicates this to its supporters on a daily basis, pushing messages out via mobile and updating till points with the latest fundraising targets. As head of global campaigns at The Body Shop, Jessie Macneil-Brown, says, their brand purpose efforts make it “clear and quantifiable to consumers how each campaign is driving social change.”

However, as with most marketing strategy, the end goal is typically focused on growing revenue -it’s why more and more brands are exploring this avenue of marketing strategy. For The Body Shop, the return to the company’s activist roots was (at least partially) commercially motivated, coming off the back of a slump in sales. And the key to brand purpose success is to ensure the alignment with a cause doesn’t come off as a blatant money-grabbing exercise.

Unfortunately, for every brand purpose marketing campaign that gets this part right, there have been many that don’t hit the mark…

When brand purpose goes bad

Many recent brand purpose initiatives to make the news have proven that even the biggest companies can get it wrong when the tactics aren’t aligned to a strategy, and the strategy isn’t aligned to relevant business objectives. In fact, many failed brand purpose strategies have opened businesses up to harassment, ridicule, and negative publicity.

Notable recent failures include Pepsi trying to solve global disharmony, Starbucks aiming to remove racial tension, Heineken hoping to break down the barriers between transgender people and their critics, or most recently, cosmetic brand Lush targeting the police and shaming them for their infiltration of activists between 1968 and 2008.

As prominent marketer Mark Ritson suggests “Consumers do not want brands to be evil, but they also do not want them to posture about purpose. People are not morons, they can smell the hypocrisy of taking up a purpose while ultimately pushing it for commercial benefit”.

And as European marketing director at Patagonia Alex Weller recently said:

You can’t reverse into a mission and values through marketing. The organisations that are struggling with this are probably the ones that are thinking about marketing first. The role of marketing is to authentically elevate that mission and purpose and engage people in it, but the purpose needs to be the business.

Therefore if customer retention, audience growth, brand loyalty, and revenue growth are your business objectives, there are many other strategies to achieve this, in the event brand purpose isn’t a clear avenue to pursue at this stage.

Tapping into new audiences via an improved keyword strategy, building customer retention through engaging content or growing revenue from your existing audience through conversion rate optimisation are all areas the team at CandidSky excel in, so why not get in touch today and see how we can help you maximise your marketing strategy.

Digital Marketing is like a game of Snakes and Ladders

Running a digital marketing campaign can be like playing a game of Snakes and Ladders. You can plan till your heart’s content, but with a roll of the dice, you could find your campaign flying high, or your fate could change and you find yourself slipping backwards.

The question is, just how well equipped are you to deal with the ups and downs? Are you making the most of opportunities and minimising the damage? Take our quiz to test your digital marketing prowess!


 

Here’s my tips for how you can be best prepared the game!

Remember: there’s a time and a place

Context is hugely important, each part of the web has its own rules. Positive feedback on a consumer forum for example, might not translate so well if you decide to share this on your website, and equally, if you were to go onto that discussion forum and give it the marketing speak then you’d probably get banned!

Think about your target audience and what their expectations are for the space they’re in. One marketing message does not fit all. What tools do you have at your disposal to reach this audience?

Can you spin a negative into a positive?

With the speed of social media, news of any shortcomings can unfortunately spread very quickly. Start with solving the issue – this isn’t just a marketing problem, it’s a customer service issue. Once you have a plan, that’s where your digital strategy will come into play, use your digital channels to get your message out there, and who knows, you might see a surprising conversion rate for your apology email, maybe the brand PPC campaign to your apology landing page diverts traffic away from negative reviews.

Remember – how you deal with problems in the public sphere can set you apart and help you weather the storm.

Plan for your campaigns to fail

What’s the worst thing that could happen? You probably don’t want to think about it, but go beyond the worst case scenario and think about how you’d deal with it. You probably won’t have to put your “worst case” plan in place, but you’ll be better equipped to handle setbacks if you’ve thought through what you’d do. I’d recommend keeping a cross channel mindset for your backup plan – lay out where the intersections are between your campaigns. If something doesn’t work for one channel, can it be helpful to another?

Plan for your campaigns to fly

Prepare for the worst case, but also prepare for the best case. What if your campaign is so successful that you get more budget signed off? How would you keep the momentum up? Keep your goals and objectives in mind all the time so if/when you do have a win, you’ll know where to use it to get you to your goal quicker!

How to turn your snakes into ladders

If you take just one thing away from this article, my final piece of advice for playing the digital marketing game of snakes and ladders is to make sure your marketing channels are working together.

By all means, your campaigns will have individual objectives, but all should be working towards a larger overall marketing objective and you should know where the crossover lies. So if you find yourself halfway up a ladder, you’re not limited to what you can do because you’re stuck in an SEO mindset. Equally, if you find a snake in your path, the answer to your problems may lie in the wider marketing space.

Don’t let your fate be decided by chance waiting to see if you’re going to land on a ladder or a snake. Line up your team and resources so you can avoid the snakes altogether and rise up those ladders.

When should you give away content for nothing – explained with lobster

content marketing bitesize
Let’s say you’ve invested a tonne of time and money into creating a piece of content – a white paper, interactive video, or detailed market research, for example. And it’s something really special. It’s taken months of blood, sweat, and tears. But it was all worth it, because it’s turned out even better than you thought.

There’s just one problem. It’s a little too good. In fact, it’s the lobster thermidor aux crevettes of content. And despite the significant time investment that’s gone into cooking it up, half of your team wants to give it away for nothing – something about using it to help build your audience. The other half want to recoup some of the cost and are arguing that it’s too valuable to give away.

Who is right? Should you ever give away great content – or lobster – for nothing?

If content is lobster, you are the restaurant

Ok, we’ve established that – for the purposes of this exercise – your content is delicious lobster. That means your business is the restaurant that serves it.

Now, imagine your restaurant is on a busy street full of other restaurants. Most of them are fairly new, but a handful are well established. They’re all serving lobster. Some of it is better than yours, some of it is worse.

A couple passes by looking for somewhere to eat. They must now decide whether to:

  • Go to a well-known restaurant they’ve eaten at before
  • Try a place they’ve heard is good but haven’t eaten at
  • Try somewhere new

The brand new restaurants on the street are offering free bitesize samples of their lobster. The slightly more established ones are offering dinner specials on their lobster tacos. The well-established places are charging top dollar for their renowned lobster thermidor aux crevettes with Mornay sauce.

What can you do to compete?

Put simply, you can’t afford to be that brand new restaurant trying to charge a fortune for lobster thermidor. And you can’t afford to be that new publisher on the block trying to charge for content.

It may have taken you months to perfect the recipe for your content. You may have the freshest-caught content. It may have been cooked up by the most talented writer.
But the passing couple (your potential web audience) don’t know that. So none of it matters.

From their perspective, you’re just one of many voices vying for their attention. They’ve probably never heard of you before. You haven’t given them chance to taste what you’re offering. You haven’t built a relationship of trust by providing consistently exquisite content.

In short, they’re not going pay for content when they have no idea what it tastes like – regardless of how good you think it is. And if the analogy isn’t clear, that crowded street full of restaurants is the internet. Or Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google – whichever you prefer. There is a lot of content already on offer from established publishers, and new ones are popping up all the time.

So what’s the best course of action? Should you join the others on the street and give away free morsels of content?

content marketing bitesize

Be original. Innovate. And give people a taste of what they really want.

If your plan is to stand out on the street giving away bitesize content, you’re already late to the banquet; you’re going to struggle for attention if you copy what everyone else is doing with their content.

And here’s the secret – those samples the other places are giving away are mostly garbage. They’re the recycled blog posts nobody ever reads – like “How to fix a bicycle” or “7 diets that really work.” It’s been done to death. It’s nothing exciting or tasty. And it smells like ten day-old-fish.

The content you’ve produced – the lobster thermidor aux crevette of content – is so much better than that. But you can’t afford to give it away for nothing. What you need is a way to ensure people taste just how delicious your content is compared to the competition’s – without them devouring the whole dish.

So you take your mouth-watering lobster, chop off the claws, deep fry them, and serve them in mini bitesize tacos. Yep, deep-fried lobster claw aux crevette on mini tacos. People have never seen anything so deliciously inventive. And they go for it straight away.

In this case, let’s say that content (or lobster) is an interactive 360 video. Your bitesize tasters are short one-minute long video snippets that you’ve posted to LinkedIn. It tastes just as good as the original long-form thermidor aux crevette video, but it’s just the claw – enough for people to get a taste for how good your content is, without you having to give the whole dish away. It tastes far better than the fishy old content the competition is flogging on the street – because you got the recipe right at the start. And in this analogy, that amazing recipe is your content strategy.

“For free” and “for nothing” are not the same thing

Spending time getting your strategy right meant your bitesize version was always going to taste good. It meant adding a dash of a well-known tactics (giving away bitesize content) was all it took to beat the new restaurants on the block. That’s because the garbage your competitors were pedalling didn’t have the robust flavour your content had. They jumped straight to the tactic – standing on the street yelling about their free content tasters – and never bothered to wonder whether anyone would like what they were serving.

If your content tacos are good enough, you don’t have to give them away for nothing. You can ask for something in return – like customers’ email addresses. And that’s the critical point to understand – when you get something in return from your audience, you haven’t given away your content for nothing. Admittedly, you can’t bank an email address. But you can use it to build a relationship. And that relationship could well turn into something you can bank.

As it turns out, that mini taco video tasted so good, people can’t get the taste out of their minds. Perhaps your mini taco video was a cut-down 360 feature video, like this example from the New York Times:

A handful of the New York Times’ 360 teaser videos are free on Youtube, but to enjoy the full immersive VR news experience, you need to download the app – and that requires an email address.

Now, people are hooked. They want the real thing – they want the lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and a fried egg on top. That’s the perfect time to email your audience about the main course.

In the case of the New York Times, that means encouraging app users to upgrade to a paid subscription.

We’re not the New York Times. When should we charge for content?

The point at which content becomes worth an email address, or money, differs wildly between industries. However, the one key question that never changes is – “Is this particular content actually worth money, or at least an email address?” And that’s what the New York Times has asked in this case. They brought people in off the street with high quality samples. They then provided content that’s worth supplying contact details for. And only when the appetite was ravenous did they serve up their thermidor aux crevettes – premium content that’s only accessible to paid subscribers.

It may be that your content itself is never worth actual currency. If you’re a plumber, you’ll probably never be able to charge for DIY plumbing videos. But if your audience finds them valuable enough, you could easily supply them in exchange for contact details. And you can use those contact details to push your paid services. The model is exactly the same, all that has changed is the point at which your content becomes valuable enough to get something in exchange.

So ask yourself this question whenever you create content: “Is this particular content actually worth money, or at least an email address?” It’s the secret to running the lobster restaurant everyone wants to eat at.

For all other questions about content, call 0161 826 5835. We’d love to help!

Why should you care about mobile first? And what is it, anyway?

mobile first

‘Mobile first’ simply means the design and development of a website that prioritises a user’s mobile experience over desktop. In a buying journey, potential customers move across multiple devices and channels when researching and looking for solutions. So your website needs to be responsive (scale up and down) to the device it is being viewed on, to provide the best possible user experience. This also hugely important for SEO, as Google has explicitly said it’s favouring websites that provide a positive user experience on different devices (including mobile).

What is one of the first things you do when you wake up? Check your phone? More people are shopping on their smartphones and the data shows the estimated annual spend on mobile nearly doubled from £13.5 billion (OC&C Strategy Consultants) to £27 billion (Centre for Retail Research) from 2016 to 2017 and it’s estimated to be £43 billion by 2020.

However, according to PayPal only 18% of small businesses in the UK have a website that’s mobile responsive. This means a huge percentage of companies are missing out on a sizeable amount of traffic and potential leads from mobile.

What’s the impact on Search Engine Optimisation when your site is not responsive?

In March 2018 Google announced it had started to introduce mobile first indexing meaning Google will crawl, index and rank a page based on the mobile version of a webpage, instead of the desktop version. This move is in recognition that over half of mobile searches are done on a mobile. This doesn’t mean if you don’t have a mobile version of your website that you won’t be ranked, but it is something to be aware of – if you don’t have a responsive website then you could be losing out to websites that do.  

Responsive websites improve usability for those on mobiles, which in turn leads to better levels of engagement – a factor that Google is known to measure using metrics like time spent on page and bounce rate.

A further SEO benefit of responsive websites is that all your content is stored in a single place, rather than potentially duplicated across desktop and mobile-specific domains which could negatively impact how you rank,  if not managed correctly.


Impact on conversions

Whilst one aim of search engine optimisation is to increase organic traffic and improve rankings, conversions are the bottom line that matter. Generally, mobile conversion rates are lower than on desktop, but they are catching up as ecommerce providers speed up the user registration and payment process. And by taking a cross-channel approach, for example, having an abandoned shopping cart email sent out to a user with a discount to complete their payment can push the customer over the line to payment.

Non-responsive websites can make it harder for a user to use your website, for example tiny buttons that are too close together and having to scroll and zoom in/out/across make it a much more difficult experience for users. These problems simply don’t exist with a responsive design. As Google webmasters tweeted on 14th June 2018:  

 


Is my website mobile friendly?

Google very helpfully have a tool called Mobile-Friendly Test – https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly This will run through your web page and diagnose any potential issues which need to be corrected.  

If you don’t want to miss out on mobile traffic and need to optimise your website, speak to us today!

 

LinkedIn or LinkedOut – how to get the most out of LinkedIn for your business

With  250 million monthly active users, LinkedIn is a valuable B2B platform which can effectively promote your company, grow revenue, and add value to customers as well as employees. If you’re stumped on how to improve your brand visibility using LinkedIn, here are some tried and tested approaches:

Company Page:
Think of your company page as being as important as your website. For many people, LinkedIn will be the first place they interact with your business. The imagery, content, and style of this page reflects your brand, creating that all-important positive initial impression. Therefore, make sure your company details are all up-to-date and any content on the listing clearly explains your product offering and how you’re superior to competitors.   

You can also publish ‘Showcase Pages’ which are dedicated to specific products and services. That means you can publish content which appeals to different audience segments.

If you want to see a great example of how this works, LinkedIn leads the way with their spectacular showcase. Conveniently, it is also full of great tips and step-by-step instructions to setting up and optimising your company page.

Recruitment firm Hays has also produced a great company page. Their company statement clearly defines what they stand for and they also post regular useful content to aid job hunters.

Paid advertising:

As Facebook changes their algorithms following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and reduces how advertising works on the platform, marketers are understandably looking to focus their spend and efforts on alternatives.

LinkedIn marketing boasts impressive conversion rates in comparison to other social media networks like Facebook and offers a variety of advertising formats such as text ads, sponsored content as well as inbox mail.

These highly targeted advertising options ensure you’re reaching your defined audience and allows you to nurture their development through the buying process.

You can see the approach that Oracle has taken with their sponsored content below, leading with a prominent image and concise text. 

Advertising jobs

A free way to advertise any positions within your business is through posting on your company wall. Although this allows for applicants to approach you directly, there is also the opportunity to use LinkedIn as a wider hiring platform. For example, by using paid postings, you can set job adverts and control these through daily budgets. As a bonus, you’re only charged when a candidate views the post.

As LinkedIn is actively used by job seekers, it is a no-brainer to feature any positions you have on the platform.

Here is how Talk Talk use their Linkedin Company page to host their available positions.



Articles:
LinkedIn has a dedicated ‘Publishing’ section where anyone can publish an article on any topic. Articles can’t be published by a company itself as it has to be from an individual, but there is obviously the connection back to the company as an employee.

This is often called ‘thought leadership’ content you can effectively open up a dialogue with customers and position yourself as an authoritative figure to solve your customers’ problems Articles then remain on the personal profile of the publisher.

Wrapping up:

Don’t forget that through the analytics section of LinkedIn, you can also gain crucial customer insights into your followers and see how your content is performing in terms of engagement. In turn, you can use this information to improve your marketing strategy.

Armed with this knowledge, we hope you have everything necessary to improve your own company profile and enhance your business’ LinkedIn marketing efforts. Of course, if you’re really stuck, our CandidSky page has some great features.

The search engines you are ignoring but your customers aren’t

search button

As soon as you hear the word ‘search engine’, I would guess that Google immediately springs to mind. How often have you said ‘I’ll Google it’?

Have you ever said, ‘I’ll Yahoo it’?

However, it’d be a mistake to think that Google is the only search engine available to your customers when they’re researching solutions/products. We take a look at the others that may not have occurred to you, and how you can increase your visibility on these search engines to reach a wider audience.

YouTube

If it hadn’t occurred to you before, YouTube is the world’s 2nd largest search engine with 1.5 billion monthly users. Not only dominated by cat videos, YouTube is an increasingly popular marketing channel for companies to connect with and attract customers.

When uploading your videos to YouTube, it can be challenging to stand out amongst so much content. Think carefully about your title, thumbnail, and description, as these are all important in attracting your customers’ attention. Also don’t forget to promote your video on your own website and through social media channels. You will have spent a considerable amount of time and budget on video production, so don’t neglect to push it out on as many places as possible!

Bing

Bing is a search engine owned and operated by Microsoft, relaunched in 2009 to take on Google’s market share. Bing’s usage has increased by 5.2% over two years so is worthy of your attention and also has additional services including Bing Maps, Bing Travel, and Bing.

Similar to Google Adwords, Bing offers its own paid advertising platform with text ads available. Considering Google dominates the majority of paid search, competition for keywords is likely to be less – meaning it is a more budget-friendly option.

There are differences between how Google and Bing rank websites so it is worth doing some research into how you can optimise your website for Bing too; Bing is much more straightforward when it comes to search engine optimisation compared to Google. For example, Bing is more reliant on targeted and exact-match keywords whereas Google generally prioritises more comprehensive or related phrases. Bing also uses location tags to accurately place your business in local search result which Google doesn’t. They’re easy to add to your site’s code and won’t negatively affect your Google rankings.

Therefore, when optimising for Bing, it might be more advantageous to use exact match keywords in your headings and metadata. Yet, be sure to do this sparingly or your position in Google could be adversely affected.

searching with a magnifying glass

 

Yahoo

Launched in 1995, Yahoo was one of the first search engines on the market. In 2009, Yahoo announced it would use Bing as its search engine and handle their advertisements. Therefore, by advertising and optimising for Bing, you should increase your visibility on Yahoo.

Consequently, the same rules when it comes to search engine optimisation apply here. It is also worth noting that Yahoo/Bing prioritises the age of a website when it comes to rankings.

Twitter

Twitter, the quickfire social media network, also comes with a search function that should not be ignored or underestimated. With a growing number of monthly users tipping 336 million at the beginning of 2018 (Source:Statista) Twitter can be an outlet for latest company news, product launches, and showcasing your company culture.

By using relevant hashtags, you can increase the visibility of your company and extend the reach of your content. Whilst social shares don’t directly affect rankings, they can have a positive knock-on effect for search engine optimisation.

Tools like Hootsuite can help you schedule in tweets in advance so you have continuity in the frequency when you post. 

Wrapping up

By only focusing on Google as a search engine, you are missing out on a huge audience. It is definitely worth investing your marketing spend and time on the other search engines – putting your eggs in various baskets, so to speak.

Google frequently implements new algorithm changes which can have a detrimental effect on your rankings. Although a skilled agency can help you recover, exploring other search engines can help to spread the risk.

Next steps

If you wish to speak to our team about increasing your presence on other search engines, contact us today.

Take a look at our other blog posts to increase your digital knowledge.

 

“Let’s go viral!” and other phrases you should fire your marketing agency for using

Canon

At a different agency, my employer was quite fond of ‘blue-sky thinking’ and having ‘bonnet meetings’. The latter was a fancy way to describe delivering quick pitches outside a car and – to this day – I have no idea what blue-sky thinking means.

Whether using jargon, legalise, or even just using a word incorrectly, not speaking plain English is one of my biggest gripes. Although jargon can be fine among the informed, a lack of clear communication can be detrimental to all those involved in a campaign.

Unfortunately, some marketing agencies love jargon – to the point they start to alienate their customers and clients through overly-complicated language. However, there are some phrases which are sometimes used to confuse, hide an absence of knowledge, or just don’t make any sense.

If any of your marketing team starts using these phrases, it might be an idea to look for a more plain-speaking group elsewhere.

Let’s go viral

It’s hard to believe the word ‘viral’ has a negative meaning. If a disease goes viral, it becomes an outbreak and the ramifications can be terrifying. Yet, these days, ‘viral’ describes an advertising campaign which spreads rapidly throughout the internet.

“Let’s go viral” is generally useless as an objective. ‘Viral’ cannot be measured and is typically used by teams with no clear social media strategy. Furthermore, too many viral pieces are structured around what would work for an internet audience instead of an organisation’s customers. Therefore, even if a piece does go ‘viral’, it rarely leads to conversions.

However, if the intention is to gain more followers on social media, acquire page views, or increase the number of shares, all of these can be quantified. They can also be completed without creating a potentially expensive piece of viral content.

Agile marketing

‘Agile marketing’ is a phrase commonly used to describe several different teams working towards the same goal. However, some agencies also use the word ‘agile’ to represent their ability to react quickly to changing deadlines and focuses.

‘Agile’ is used as a buzzword all too frequently with many perpetrators not completely understanding what it means. Therefore, if this word crops up in your strategy, always request clarification as to what it entails.

Growth hacking

‘Growth hacking’ refers to a specific service accountable for business growth. In this situation, a designated ‘hacker’ will be responsible for growing an organisation. Yet, every aspect of a firm should be contributing to this.

As well as being a redundant service, ‘growth hacking’ is a phrase generally used by amateur agencies to sound more advanced.

A Team

A-Team

If something goes wrong in a marketing campaign, some agencies will send in their ‘A-Team’. Alternatively, I’ve heard of marketing SWAT units or simply the ‘best of the best’ being deployed to solve the problem.

While this might conjure images of armed professionals abseiling from a military chopper, the reality is somewhat different. Mostly, this will entail marketers meeting in a boardroom to discuss solving the problem.

As a result, this is somewhat patronising to the client but a mythical A-Team shouldn’t exist anyway. In a competent agency, everyone is good at what they do. There is no need to hold some higher than others as it devalues the wider team’s efforts.

When something goes wrong, I’d rather have a professional tell me how to fix it. Otherwise, it’s unlikely the plan will come together.

Ideation

‘Ideation’ is an ostentatious way of describing coming up with an idea. It seems to have originated from merging the words ‘idea’ with ‘creation’ and has been used without question by many marketing teams.

Yet, the word ideation already existed beforehand and was used by psychologists. Therefore, it has many meanings which we won’t cover here.

Ideation is often used to confuse the uninformed as opposed to assisting them. In a similar vein, ideation appears to have spawned the phrase ‘idea shower’. This creepy term is – again – trying to make the process of idea generation seem more impressive.

Holistic

Similar to viral and ideation, holistic is another medical term which has made it into marketing. While we can speculate as to the number of marketers who wanted to be doctors, holistic marketing relates to how connected strategy is.

For example, this could involve multiple departments working towards the same goal or every aspect of a company – from customers to shareholders – being considered in an organisation’s development.

Yet, as we have seen with ‘agile’, the definition of holistic marketing differs from agency to agency. As a result, it has largely ceased to have any meaning. Therefore, if this phrase is used, always seek clarification.

Gurus and ninjas

The title ‘expert’ is earned. It is a statement which clearly marks someone as being more experienced than others in the industry. In a similar fashion, ‘guru’ is someone who is recognised as a teacher or master in their field.

Unfortunately, too many marketers use the title to make themselves seem superior. Not everyone can be an expert, but automatically claiming so without evidence betrays a lack of original thought and devalues how genuine professionals are perceived.

Similar to ‘A-Team’, other marketing job titles are there only to make the profession seem more exciting or fun, such as ‘ninja’ or ‘rockstar’. This is quite common in startups as this ‘fun’ portrayal is believed to separate them from the competition. Instead, it is only a fantasy which threatens to devalue their services.

 

Labs

Labs

Data is becoming increasingly important in this modern age and all marketers must adapt to better interpret this information. However, in an effort to make themselves appear more specialist, some agencies claim they possess marketing labs with dedicated data scientists.

Often, this is ostentatious messaging to disguise their lacklustre abilities.

Some marketers have also been known to claim their office is similar to a different location – such as a marketing garage. As we have seen above with startup culture, this ‘fun’ portrayal has the potential to undermine their services.

Fancy a conversation in plain English?

Jargon and buzzwords are quite common in marketing but we prefer to have conversations in plain English. As a result, we will happily keep you informed without trying to confuse you with bizarre terminology.

And there isn’t a guru or ninja amongst them.

If you want to discuss your marketing needs, get in touch with us today.

How you can gain coverage on the BBC

Gaining television coverage can be an excellent opportunity for your business. As well as the prestige associated with some channels, you’re almost guaranteed to reach large numbers of people. Together with the ever-increasing popularity of catch-up services, you’re no longer limited to just reaching a select group of individuals at a certain time.

Of all the channels out there, one of the most well known and prestigious is the BBC. A staple part of British culture, endorsements from the firm carry significant weight. Getting featured is certainly very challenging but is possible – and shouldn’t cost you a penny.

Help a reporter out

To say journalism is a difficult profession is a bit of an understatement. Although reporters do an important job, it’s common for these experts to work long hours in stressful situations to acquire that all-important story.

Therefore, whatever support you can lend to journalists is always appreciated.

Whenever reporters request help, they typically use a variety of tools. One of these is HARO (Help a reporter out). A subscription service, this sends regular email updates from journalists looking for sources. If you fulfil their requirements, this can be a good way to gain coverage.

However, you can also use the #journorequest hashtag on Twitter. A similar service, reporters will use the social network to ask sources for assistance.

Whichever service you choose – or both – we recommend checking them every day as journalists typically have extremely tight deadlines. If a reporter’s request is more than a day old, the opportunity will have likely passed.

How we got featured on the BBC

We’ve used the journorequest method to gain some great publicity in the past. Recently though, we noticed a reporter from the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC 2 enquiring about Eurovision parties:

At the time, CandidSky was preparing a Eurovision-related food party in the office. Employees who opted-in were allocated a random country taking part in the contest and had to bring a dish associated with that location.

As this ticked the requirements, we contacted Anna. Following several chats with BBC researchers, we were booked on the programme.

The next day, the interview took place. Our employees, as well as our creations, were included on the BBC.

Gaining coverage through groups such as the BBC is not a question of what your organisation does but is more related to how you can help out journalists. In this particular situation, we happened to demonstrate our collective enjoyment of Eurovision and highlighted how good a workplace CandidSky is.

What are the benefits?

Appearing on television – and on such a respected programme – translated to an increase in brand awareness and traffic spikes on the website. Our Google Trends data showed a clear hike in search interest around the time of broadcast with a 733% increase.

Although PR agencies will often charge significant prices for getting their clients featured on television, the journorequest method is usually free – and will achieve largely the same results.

Next Steps:

If you’d like to discuss how you can increase your brand awareness, give us a call.

And don’t forget to check out our other blog posts to grow your digital marketing knowledge.

 

What you should know about SEO content

Screenshot of a Wordpress page

Screenshot of a WordPress page

Content creation has been an important part of many businesses ever since Bill Gates uttered his famous quote, “Content is king” back in 1996. Regardless of how you feel about this statement, articles and blogs soon became common features in a variety of industries. It also gave birth to the term ‘SEO content’.

These days, SEO content frequently carries an unfair reputation because of the way it was employed by unscrupulous agencies. These articles were often stuffed full of keywords, written very poorly, and provided little customer value. Fortunately, times have changed.

SEO content is still vitally important for search engines but must be of an extremely high quality to succeed. Consequently, before you get started on optimising your website through content, there are several points to bear in mind.  

Let’s talk about keywords

In 2018 – there are still organisations which believe SEO content must contain numerous keywords to rank in search engines. Whether making the text the same colour as the background or merely writing phrases such as ‘cheap used cars’ 500 times, this strategy can actually damage your website.

How many SEO keywords should I use?

Unfortunately, there is no correct answer to this question. Instead, focus on using keywords naturally and – where appropriate – in important areas, such as headings. As for the text body, refrain from any keyword usage which would be considered spammy or detrimental to overall quality.   

Keywords should be related

Years ago, it was believed you could rank highly by writing your chosen keyword repeatedly. Search engines have become much smarter and will now also focus on topics related to the phrase. For example, if a business was selling used cars, but didn’t mention any vehicle brands, that would be unusual.

When creating SEO content, structure pieces around what the audience could be searching for. Making a domain relevant for a topic is far more beneficial than creating a series of articles targeting the same keyword.

Are you doing your keyword research?

Merely guessing what your audience searches for will only get you so far when it comes to SEO content. Therefore, keyword research should be conducted to gain a proper understanding of what your customers are interested in.

There are several ways to do this. However, a couple of free options which might be useful are Ubersuggest and Answer the Public. Even the slightest bit of keyword research will dramatically help your SEO content.

Have you implemented a strategy?

Once keyword research is complete, you might be tempted to jump into producing content straight away. However, this must always have a purpose. As well as improving visibility, you might want to increase brand awareness or drive conversions. Once decided, this should be clearly communicated to everyone involved in the content creation process.

Despite this, a survey published in 2016 by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that just 40% of B2C marketers had a documented content marketing plan. This figure was even lower at 37% for B2B marketers. Consequently, this suggests around 60% of these businesses are creating content with no clear strategy in mind.

If you don’t have a content strategy in mind, SEO content is just being created with no purpose. This makes measurement extremely difficult.

How do I evaluate success?

Relevant measurements should be implemented in line with a content strategy. For example, if the aim of SEO content is to improve visibility for a specific set of terms, then evaluating this using Google Search Console could help evaluate success.  

Once determined, other elements could be implemented to further gauge success. For example, this could include optimising meta data or improving site speed. For more information on these, consult our blog on the matter.  

How much content should I produce?

This goes back to the common adage ‘quality not quantity’. The general consensus is that quality is best due to the vast amounts of content added to the internet every day. After all, there are 656 million tweets posted daily. Yours must be truly special to stand out from the crowd.

However, instead of creating outstanding pieces which take hours to produce, we’d recommend looking at your target audience and determining how much content they need. In some cases, they might be interested in shorter pieces with digestible information.

To create truly effective SEO content, it must resonate with your audience. Understanding them, and their needs, will tell you how much to produce.

Is your team able to produce SEO content?

In 2016, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a study which ranked England lowest in the developed world for literacy levels. Furthermore, it has been estimated that around 5.1 million adults in the country would not pass an English GCSE exam.

Although everyone makes spelling and grammar mistakes, if your content team routinely makes these errors, it might be worth outsourcing content to a professional. Alternatively, extra funds should be allocated to train these individuals up to a good standard.

SEO content must be of a high quality to resonate with your audience and be successful. Otherwise, this can directly impact the bottom line. One entrepreneur even claimed that a single spelling mistake can halve a website’s online revenue.

This is almost certainly an extreme case. However, it demonstrates just how important grammar and spelling is when creating SEO content.

If in doubt, talk to a professional

Venturing into the world of SEO content can be overwhelming for the inexperienced. However, it doesn’t have to be. If you have any queries about creating content for SEO, speak to us today about our content marketing services.

Three ways emotional intelligence helps you understand your customers

When you get home after working the 9 – 5 and discover a bunch of fliers on your doormat advertising local restaurants, I’m betting you grumble, pick these up, and put them in the bin. If that sounds like you, you’ve just seen a marketer fail to use emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to notice as well as manage your own emotions and do the same in others. In the case of our flier distributor, that person has failed to recognise your own feelings after coming back from work and hasn’t achieved a conversion as a result.

It’s not just limited to this example though. One study conducted by IBM and Econsultancy showed that just 35% of individuals felt their favourite companies sent them “usually relevant” messages.

Fortunately, emotional intelligence can change that. By understanding how your customers think and feel, you can better target these individuals and achieve greater results. Here’s three ways EI can make you a better marketer.

1. Selling value, not the product

Taking our pamphleteer as an example, starting with a sell generally isn’t the way to achieve a conversion. Instead, understanding the emotions of his or her customer basis will achieve better results.

For instance, people will search for food when they are hungry or planning a night out. Focusing on local SEO and helping to generate positive Google My Business reviews will go a long way to sell the company – not the food or the prices.

As a result, when a customer is looking for food at that time, that eatery’s marketing efforts will help them convert.

Understanding the customers frustration at receiving unwanted fliers at an inappropriate time and providing value at an appropriate time has good hallmarks of EI.

By bringing value and helping convince them of your worthiness, you will go a long way in convincing them that you’re the real deal.

Once that’s done, then focus on the sale.

2. Greater Empathy

We’ve all been there, a client complains or makes an unreasonable demand. First instinct is to grumble to your colleagues about that person before knuckling down and getting the job done. In few cases, we actually explore why the client is making that demand.
By using emotional intelligence and listening to what that client wants, you can better understand their point of view. Emphasise with them and maybe you can achieve better results – and prevent the negative incident from occurring again.

This also applies to you. Control your EI and you’re less likely to lose it in a meeting.

3. Become more productive and efficient

In the business world, it’s a common misconception that those who work the longest achieve the best results. This couldn’t be further from the truth. People more in touch with their EI recognise the effects of their emotions and can better control them. Consequently, they are able to better handle the effects of stress and recognise when it’s time to take a break. Ultimately, they are more productive and efficient over the long term and achieve better results.

However, there is more to this; decisions are often made with more empathy, marketers are better at motivating themselves and others, they can also move on from scenarios which trigger negative sentiment quicker.

This helps make them not just a better person – but a better colleague.

Understand EI and become a better marketer

Understanding emotional intelligence is critical to becoming a better marketer. Furthermore, by recognising the emotions of others, you’ll not only improve yourself but also have a greater understanding of your customers and colleagues. In turn, this makes for a much stronger business.

 

*This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

5 insider tips to get undercover customer insights

 

Customers, target audiences and user personas have been a hot topic recently in the strategy team here at CandidSky. The end user is the starting point for any good strategy and we’re on a mission to promote user-centred thinking.

But before you can become more user-centred in your thinking, you first need to find out just who the users are in the first place. What makes them tick? What concerns them? What are their motivations for using your products or services?

So just how do you go about getting inside your customers’ heads? Here are 5 tips for discovering customer insights.

Talk to your existing customers

In some businesses, it’s commonplace for the marketing team to have contact with customers, but that’s not always the case, particularly for larger businesses.

There are a number of different ways you can start a dialogue with customers, the first is to go undercover in your Customer Service department. Shadow the team picking up customer calls and live chats, or have a go at answering some queries yourself. You’ll get first-hand experience of what your customers are asking, what they’re complaining about, what they like and don’t like about your product or service.

To get more specific feedback, why not set up a focus group or telephone interviews with a sample of your customers? You can ask them for specific feedback and lead the direction of the conversation. Pick a sample of customers who fit different demographics and you’ll hopefully get a wide range of views.

Don’t forget, a small incentive like vouchers or a discount on future purchases is a great way to thank them for their time.

Analyse live chat transcripts and customer service notes

Another source of useful customer insights is to review live chat transcripts and any notes stored in your company’s CRM. This can be particularly useful if you have the option to download this information; putting your data into a spreadsheet will make it easier to categorise, filter, sort, and quantify what customers are asking.

You can also review communication with your customers and contacts on social media, including both publicly posted messages and private messages.

Search the forums for frank feedback

Online discussion forums can offer a wealth of insights not just from your customers but your potential customers and your competitor’s customers. The key here is finding the online forum that has people from your target audience and utilising the search facility to your advantage.

Some examples of UK online forums I always go to as a starting point are:

At first glance, these forums may seem pretty niche – parenting, entertainment, money saving, but you’ll find a wide range of topics discussed here so give them a try and search for:

  • Your brand name
  • Your competitors’ brand names
  • The service/product you offer

Under the guise of anonymity on a forum, people can be more open and frank sharing what they really think about your industry, what they’re recommending to each other, the good experiences and bad experiences.

One word of warning…you may find yourself getting sucked in. Reading threads with hundreds of replies can be like reading a novel, as you wait to see what the original person decided to do!

Read the reviews far and wide

Your business probably collects customer reviews via services like Trustpilot and Feefo, but these are just the start. It’s worth casting the net wider in your research into your customers’ opinions. Check for reviews on your Google My Business Listing and on social media. It’s also worth running some Google searches for “[your business name] reviews” to dig up any other websites and places where people are leaving reviews.

Survey data and stats

A great way to quantify your customers’ and user’s opinions is to run surveys and opinion polls. In an ideal world, you’d have a budget to run your own surveys and get to the root of exactly what you want to know. But let’s be realistic – research can be expensive and not every marketing budget can justify the cost.

That doesn’t mean you should abandon the idea altogether, it just means you’ll have to get resourceful and find some existing research.

The ONS is a great place to start your search for quantitative data. Their reports are free to access and you can usually download the raw data into an Excel format so you can run your own analysis.

The next place to look is at any trade bodies and organisations related to the industry of the business. These often publish headline stats and then charge a fee for accessing the full reports. Your business may already be a member of a trade body which publishes industry data – so check your memberships and what you can get access to without any extra charges.

Then there’s research conducted by other independent companies and your competitors. To find these, browse through Google News. Survey findings make (sometimes) great news articles. And you can usually find some headline stats and figures that will let you trace back to the source data from a news article.

You’ve got the insider info on your customers…now what?

So you’ve gathered a wealth of information on your customers, now what do you do? If you don’t have customer personas set up already, the next step is to build these based on your findings.

Categorise your customers in the way that’s most appropriate to your business. Perhaps you’ll split them by age because user behaviour differs vastly across each age group. Or maybe you’ll categorise them by how much they spend – eg do most of your big spenders have similar traits?

Once you have your customer personas set up, these can lead the discussions around existing and future campaigns – eg who is the campaign targeting? Does it resonate with multiple personas? Does your messaging need small tweaks based on each persona?

Next Steps:

If you’d like to get more strategic with your marketing and take a more user-centred approach, give us a call.

And don’t forget to check out our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

Closing Wetherspoons’ social media accounts – madness or genius?

social media

 

Last week, pub chain Wetherspoons used Twitter to announce it was quitting social media, closing their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. With more than 100,000 followers on Facebook and 44,000 on Twitter, why wouldn’t Wetherspoons want to communicate with their customers?  Social media is one of the main avenues of customer communication in the 21st Century, so how could such a move be justified?

Quite easily apparently.

In interviews with the BBC, Chairman Tim Martin appeared to give two main reasons for his decision:

  1. Public backlash against social media

Mr Martin stated on radio that if people “limited their social media to half an hour a day, they’d be mentally and physically better off”. Furthermore, the decision was reportedly influenced by bad publicity regarding the networks. For example, data misuse, potential addiction, and internet trolls.

  1. Social media didn’t work for Wetherspoons

According to Mr Martin, “We were also concerned that pub managers were being side-tracked from the real job of serving customers” by using social media for advertising. Moreover, at least 90% of Wetherspoons’ pub managers reportedly felt that these platforms were not beneficial for the business.

In my opinion, the decision to close social media accounts for the ‘greater good’ seems a little weak, seeing as people will still use social media regardless if Wetherspoons is active on these channels or not.

However, when it comes to poor returns, that sort of makes sense.

What could Wetherspoons have done differently?

When considering social media as an effective marketing tool, it’s extremely common to find a variety of conflicting statements and viewpoints. Our profession is no different. Indeed, strategies are often written off as ‘dead’ or not working as well as they used to.

Sometimes, this is indisputably true. Yet, in most of these situations, that person has just not been doing this strategy correctly. In the case of Wetherspoons, they could have improved their actions through social media by making a few alterations:

Employing a dedicated social media expert

Many of Wetherspoons’ estimated 900 pubs had their own separate Facebook pages. Mr Martin’s statement suggests the accounts were run by the managers themselves. These individuals were trained to keep pubs operational, not run a social media account.

Perhaps this is why the organisation’s actions on social media didn’t gather much attention. According to Marketing Week, the average tweet from Wetherspoons generated six retweets and four likes. To put this in perspective, the firm serves three million pints every week.

Clearly, social media wasn’t working as well as it could for the organisation. A dedicated social media expert could have turned this around.

Centralising accounts

Each pub having a dedicated Facebook page creates an operational nightmare, requiring a large team to keep updated. It might have been more beneficial for these accounts to centralise into one dedicated Wetherspoons feed.

This would have made social media much easier to manage and allowed staff to focus on serving customers. Furthermore, as many of the individual pub pages on Facebook had fewer than 1,000 likes, combining these into a central account would have increased followers – making social media posts more likely to be seen across newsfeeds.

 

Resolving poor reviews and bad press

Many of Wetherspoons’ individual pub pages on Facebook were dominated by poor reviews. Some of these discussing poor quality of service, problems with food, or complaints about staff. While this empowered the public, it didn’t do the chain any favours.

Based on this reason alone, shutting down social media accounts could be a wise move. Furthermore, the organisation has had to deal with a variety of ‘fake news’ online. For example, last year, a spoof account on Twitter claimed Wetherspoons staff had been prohibited from wearing Remembrance Day poppies.

Deciding on a social media strategy

While an expert would have ensured this, Wetherspoons did not seem to have a dedicated social media strategy in place. This would have revealed effective metrics to measure as well as the aims of using these networks. Instead, the organisation seemed to be largely using social media as an additional way to communicate with customers.

Will this decision backfire?

Shutting down Wetherspoons’ social media accounts was a brave business decision. However, given the levels of interaction which the organisation achieved online, it’s unlikely to lose customers. With a few changes though, their social media strategy could have been so much more.

Competitors should pay close attention to this choice and look to their own actions across the networks. Potentially, there could be an opportunity to prove just how effective a marketing tool for pubs these could be.

The real danger comes in the form of SEO. When Wetherspoons shuts down its social media accounts, it will create thousands of broken links. Assuming redirects aren’t implemented, savvy competitors could attempt to get these links pointing to them instead.

Furthermore, as we have already seen, hoax accounts could appear claiming to be Wetherspoons. Without a dedicated social media team, it will be difficult to police and combat these threats.

Regardless, these are all potential problems for Wetherspoons to sort out. It will take months to determine if deactivating social media worked for them.

Will more companies start to delete their social media channels?

Businesses and social media appear to, at times, have an increasingly antagonistic relationship. For example, Unilever threatened to withdraw their adverts from platforms such as Facebook due to the presence of extremist and illegal material.

Other incidents include Microsoft’s chatbot ‘Tay’ being taught racism and HMV’s social media team live-tweeting a mass firing.

However, social media can do a lot of good if managed properly. If Wetherspoons devoted more thought to this, their accounts could have performed much better. The right strategy in place could have been deeply beneficial – it would also have highlighted which networks work best for customer interaction.

This decision – much like Wetherspoons itself – has been a controversial one. Time will reveal if it was the right one.

Shopping comes to Instagram

instagram shopping

Instagram has launched a new function for the platform which provides a more immersive experience for users and an exciting opportunity for e-commerce brands.

Shopping for Instagram enables you to tag up to five products per image (20 per carousel) which works in the same way as tagging a friend in an image but provides information on the cost of products.

As a user, you can tap the products for pricing, click for further information, and visit the business’ website when you’re ready to buy.

In 2017, Instagram announced that 120 million users had visited a website or directly contacted a business via the channel (source Instagram). What’s more Sprout Social’s 2017 Index found that 71% of users were more likely to make a purchase from a brand after a positive social experience.

The focus of Instagram is to share beautiful imagery that tells a story to users. Unlike Facebook, users tend to follow people and brands that they genuinely take an interest in and as such can be much more engaged. This new functionality makes it easier for brands to connect with their customers on a more immersive level and creates an easier path to purchase. Brands will start seeing a big increase in organic conversion rate as users will be able to make more informed decisions before they click to the site.

How has Instagram shopping performed?

The function has already been trialing in the US since last year and companies have seen some amazing results:

Tyme increased traffic by 44%

Spearmintlove revenue increased by 8%

Lulus grew their following on Instagram and generated over 1200 orders
Reference

Unfortunately, Instagram Shopping is not currently available for promoted ads – fingers crossed they will open this out for advertisers in future as it will provide huge opportunities for new and growing brands. Are you looking to take up Instagram shopping for your posts?

The feature is currently available for businesses in United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Brazil.

Next steps

If you are looking to grow your social media marketing activity, please get in touch to discuss how we can add value to your business, even if you are just looking for some advice.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and develop your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.


SEO, UX & CRO: how do they interact for success?

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), UX (User Experience)  and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) are too often treated as separate entities. But getting all three aspects of a marketing strategy nailed is key to increasing website traffic, engagement, conversions and retention… and who doesn’t want that?

With so much focus on driving traffic to a specific area on a website and high rankings, the element that gets forgotten about is the focus on not only keeping that traffic on the website, but increasing their conversion.

From my own experience in previous positions, I‘ve been in the unfortunate situation where the design department have conveniently forgotten to bring the SEO team into a new web build discussion until it is ‘too late’ to make any design changes. One reason for this ‘selective amnesia’ is largely down to the belief that SEO and UX cannot work hand in hand, and that SEO recommendations will be detrimental to achieving a well-designed website. Well, unless your marketing strategy is to solely use word of mouth as your main traffic driving channel, your results are likely to reflect the lack of integration across different departments.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) I feel is a channel normally thrown in with implementing new landing page designs, with multiple elements being tested at once and not being particularly thought out about what is being tested, but has enormous potential to make a real difference to website performance.

Most companies undertake an element of SEO marketing, therefore identifying where to gain that competitive advantage from a website perspective is even more crucial. This is where UX and CRO come in.

One way to think about how these three channels work together is:

SEO = art of driving traffic to the site

UX = keeping traffic engaged on the site

CRO = turning traffic into customers/taking a specific action

SEO satisfies search engines, UX and CRO satisfy people.

While the goals of each channel might be slightly different, they are part of the same customer journey, and all need to be successful in order to maximise a website’s potential. Imagine if a website focused solely on SEO, yes organic rankings will improve (hopefully) and a lot of relevant traffic will arrive on the website, however, if the level of UX doesn’t match the level of SEO, users will simply exit the website when served a potentially confusing poor user experience.

Crossover between SEO, UX & CRO

UX and CRO appear similar on face value, however, there are slight differences that demonstrate the value that can be achieved by focusing on both channels.

UX is intended to make your website easier, to navigate around, and to take key actions on. CRO is intended to help you make the actions you want them to take available and taken more often such as download that white paper, submit an enquiry or join a newsletter mailing list.

In addition, poor user experience metrics such as time on site, pages per session and bounce rate inform search engines that ranking this site too high will also provide a poor user experience to their audience.

In fact, a positive user experience is becoming more and important from an SEO perspective with factors such as a site showing its secure, mobile-friendly and has a fast page load speed all impact organic ranking positions in a positive way.

Therefore, neglecting the time needed to ensure your website traffic is being served a positive user journey and can convert easily, has a detrimental impact on your SEO efforts.

CRO is a channel that is likely seen as the least important of the three based on the recognition and promotion it gets industry-wide, which is hard to comprehend when it is the channel that can most impact your revenue, ROI and build brand loyalty through conversions.

A comprehensive CRO campaign should focus on combining data-driven insights with user experience, A/B Testing, competitor analysis and in-depth user testing. It is an area of the marketing mix that should be consistently evaluated, and despite there being best practice elements involved there is no one-way of CRO that’s fits all scenarios, and should, therefore, be tailored to the customer’s behaviour, intent and objectives.

Getting out of the siloed mindset

Obviously saying this is the easy part, the challenge is implementing this into the internal processes within a company environment. This should start with involving all departments at the beginning of each web build/project to ensure SEO, UX and CRO are factored into the design. 

In a previous blog, I refer to the impact of siloed marketing channels and how cross-channel marketing is crucial to driving real value in a campaign. Well, this blog follows the same train of thought in the sense that design and channel teams working in a siloed fashion can lead to siloed outcomes.

If your company is undertaking a new website build project for a company, ensuring not just design drives the outcome, but the strategy in general also plays a role.  To create a product that the client is happy with and drives quality traffic and conversions is a win-win for everyone. Experimenting with new page layouts, for example, has the potential to not just benefit SEO performance, but provide a more suitable page for your PPC traffic to land on, increasing ROI and decreasing costs.

Next steps

If combining SEO, UX and CRO is an area you want to explore further, please get in touch to discuss how we can best support your wider marketing objectives.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and develop your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

How to take content inspiration from your competitors

wordpress

Whatever you do, whatever industry you’re in, whatever product you’re trying to push, you will always have a competitor. Either affecting your target market indirectly or on purpose, these organisations can seem like a thorn in your side – especially if their results are better than yours.

Instead of letting their presence hang over you, there is a wealth of information to be learned from competitors. In this guide, we will demonstrate just what can be gained from analysing their content and stealing their ideas.

First, how do I identify my competitors?

If your industry is particularly niche or the company is just getting started, your competitors might be a bit of a mystery. Fortunately, here are two tactics you can use to uncover them:

A simple search in Google

Search engines such as Google can give you a general idea of the organisations you’re competing against. Just use a search term you might use to identify yourself and see what appears. These results can be narrowed down using location-specific elements or – if nothing appears – broadened out with more industry-specific terms.  For example, a car dealer based locally could identify competitors by searching for ‘used cars Manchester’. Just bear in mind that this general search is an inferior method compared to a data-led approach.

Using data

As marketing professionals, data should be at the forefront of everything we do. Gut feelings can only get you so far and must be eventually replaced with statistics. There are a range of tools out there which can be used to identify competitors – such as Semrush or Stat – and these can provide valuable insights. As well as identifying your competitors, the data these tools could help provide the backbone of your marketing strategy and be a good starting point for your content research project.

What can I learn from competitor content?

Now that your competitors have been identified, there are a range of strategies and approaches we can identify. Just looking at their content, we can determine the following:

Who is my target audience?

Social media provides us with a good understanding of what resonates with your audience. Although glancing at competitor accounts can be useful, using the ‘top content’ section of ahrefs can streamline the process. This platform shows how content performs across a variety of networks. If the results of the competitor content audit demonstrates that a competitor gets most of their shares across LinkedIn, it is worth structuring content to appeal more to that target market. In a similar fashion, if a competitor gets most of its shares from Pinterest and Instagram, this suggests image-led content may the best option to connect with your audience.

How can I connect with my target audience?

Competitor social media profiles can be a great way to uncover your target audience but are also instrumental in showing how to connect with these individuals. By looking at what a company posts on Twitter, we can see the posts which gain the most attention and look to replicate them. This also presents an opportunity to review how a competitor handles customer service disputes. Time spent to acknowledge the customer, the tone of the response, the proposed resolution, all of these are useful elements to identify.

What content gets the most attention?

Shares on social media are certainly a valuable metric but backlinks are more important. A vital element of any SEO campaign, achieving these should be one of your key objectives. Using Ahrefs, you can see which of your competitors’ pages achieved the most backlinks. From there, you can determine how these were achieved. For example, if the competitor has created a resource which gathered multiple links, you can design something similar. Alternatively, create a better resource and notify those organisations about the new content. Whatever strategy a competitor has used in their content – from press mentions to sponsorship deals – this analysis will help you understand the sort of materials you should be producing.

 

What content can I repurpose?

Similar to the above, ahrefs can be used to identify broken backlinks pointing to a competitor site. By confirming these backlinks go to a 404 page, you might be able to identify the purpose behind the original piece.

In the case of informational content – such as guides or blogs – these can be recreated with the intention of redirecting some of these broken links. By repurposing a competitor’s broken content, you can focus on providing a resource to an already interested customer base.

Does the content have any gaps?

Taking a holistic view of the competitor’s site, you can determine if users are provided with a good experience. If you did not find the information you were looking for – such as facts relating to a product or good instructions – this provides inspiration about what to include on your own site. The opposite is also true. If a competitor provides great content about particular areas, this is something which is worth replicating.

Where can I be unique?

We have spoken a lot about replication and repurposing but analysing your competitors content also allows you to be unique. For example, if a group of competitors are thought leaders in one topic, adding your voice will not be as beneficial as identifying a unique gap which you can fill. Conveying this message to readers should help you build a following faster than if you were just another alternative.

When is the best time to publish content?

An organisation with a good content strategy will keep to a rigorous publishing schedule. Furthermore, this is usually not put together on a whim, research and time will have gone into deciding when is best to publish on what medium.

Investigate their routine and – if interaction rates are better at certain times of the day – replicate their publishing schedule. Eventually, your own content could eclipse your competitors’.

Competitor content analysis works both ways

There are a number of lessons which we can take from analysing competitor content. We have listed some here but there are more things you can discover given time and dedication. Just be aware that – once you become a major player in your industry – your competitors will start taking lessons from you.


Next steps
:

If you need some more advice on your content marketing strategy, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and develop your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

My website has been hacked! How do I fix it?

No matter which platform you’re using, and what anybody may tell you, any website can be hacked! Hacking essentially means someone has gained unauthorised access to your website server. However, people often use the word to mean any situation where your website has been inappropriately interfered with.

WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS platform with approximately 28% of all websites built using it. Purely as a result of the sheer volume of WordPress websites out there, it’s the most hacked CMS. That’s one of many reasons why it’s so important to learn to keep your site secure and prevent it being hacked.

Suppose we find ourselves in a worst-case scenario and someone has gained access to your WordPress website. What now?

Do not worry! All’s not lost, it’s not the time to shut up shop and go and live in a cave. You will be able to bounce back. Every day, hundreds of sites face the same dilemma, and most are able to get back to their original glory. All you need to do is follow the below steps:

Step 1: Take a deep breath & relax

Having your WordPress website hacked isn’t the end of the world. You won’t be the first and certainly, you won’t be the last. Being stressed or angry will do you no good and it takes your concentration and efforts away from recovering your website.

Step 2: Scan your local machine

Update all antivirus and malware tools you have, then do a complete system scan to see if your machine is compromised. This will eliminate your machine as a possible cause of the hack.

Step 3: Have you actually been hacked?

Go through this quick list of questions.

  • Are you able to log in to your WordPress Admin Panel (yourwebsite.com/wp-admin)?
  • Is your website displaying something other than you would expect (Images, Content)
  • Is your website redirecting you to any other website?
  • Does your WordPress website contain any illegal material usually something will be displayed on the homepage?
  • Has Google already marked your website as insecure?

Record your answers to each question and make sure that you’ve noted everything for the next step below.

Step 4: Contact your hosting company

Most hosting companies are very helpful in times like this. They have faced these issues before so should well be equipped to help you. If your website is hosted on a shared server, your hosting provider should be able to provide you with answers like how the hack was started and how it spread. Also, there’s a good chance they can tell you where the backdoor to your website is, from where the hackers found their way in.

Step 5: Change all your passwords and usernames

Log in to your hosting account. While you’re in there, change all of your backend passwords (Cpanel, Email, FTP /MySQL) and the usernames and passwords for everyone who has access to your site. Make sure to delete any you no longer need.

Step 6: Restore the website to a previous version

In an ideal world, you’ve recently backed up your site a few days before and can quickly walk through a simple restoration. An important point to remember when you restore an old backup of your site, your entire website will revert back to that version. Any content that you published, images you added to a gallery or general changes you made to the website will be lost. However, that’s a small sacrifice to pay to gain a clean website and your business back on track. After you successfully restore the old version of your website, remember that it’s still vulnerable to attack!

Step 7: Time to update everything

Make sure you are using the latest version of PHP, WordPress, and all plugins and themes are up-to- date. Plugin and theme developers release updates for two main reasons – to improve functionality and to patch security flaws. You should always keep your themes and plugins up-to-date. Even if a plugin or theme is deactivated, it’s files could still allow someone to gain access to your site. Get rid of anything you don’t use. Be sure to take the appropriate steps to upgrade your theme safely so you don’t lose your customisations.

Step 8: Back up the site

At this point, you should now have a clean website again. Although you may have lost some content depending on when you last updated, it’s a small price to pay to know you have a clean site. Plugins like Backup Buddy or Updraft Plus can be great for this and a cool feature of the pro versions is that it can schedule backups automatically or as often as you want. Make sure you have a copy of the backup stored off-line in case this happens again.

Step 9: Change your passwords again

Yes, you changed the passwords at the start. Now do it again! Just to be safe. You need to update your WordPress password, Cpanel / Email / FTP / MySQL passwords, make sure it’s completely different to your old one and has a mix of letters, numbers, and characters for example. W£B51T£_P455W0RD is much harder to guess than if you used WEBSITE_PASSWORD.

Step 10: Install security software on your site:

There are some great WordPress security tools out there like Scurri and Wordfence. These can help you massively in avoiding being hacked again.

A redirect has been placed on my website – what should I do?

If your website has been hacked there is a good chance that attackers have inserted malicious code that redirects your website to another website to grab traffic, that’s just adding insult to injury – and can really damage your website reputation.

If your site is redirecting visitors to phishing or a malware site, you will possibly get blacklisted by Google! Google isn’t going to take any chances with its reputation, if your webpage(s) smell even the slightest bit fishy, it’s going blacklist you.

In most of the cases, malicious redirects are made by hacking the .htaccess file. Also, after cleaning up the .htaccess file the malicious code is being added back to the file within 30 minutes. This is being done with “backdoor(s)” the hackers have placed on the website files.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to discover and remove these malicious redirects:

1. Detect the symptoms:

  • Your site has a malware warning screen
  • Your site turns to blank page
  • Your site gets redirected to some domain that is not your site
  • Your site can’t be accessed from Google search
  • Your site redirects you back to Google
  • Your .htaccess file is infected
  • Your .htaccess file keeps getting infected no matter if you edit it back. What these means is that someone hacked your site and modified your .htaccess file to redirect users coming from Google to a malware-infested site. Because of that, you end up blacklisted and losing users that can’t reach your site.

2. Detect the malware type

If you have the symptoms described above in most cases, it’s Blackmuscats or Conditional redirects malware. To confirm what malware infected your site, check the .htaccess files under the document root and perform a malware scan on the website files.

3. How to detect the malicious file?

It’s a good idea to check your website access logs. Check every folder for suspicious files and scan website files using a malware scanner.

How to fix it?

Fixing this redirection is very simple, you just need to delete these entries from your .htaccess file (you can have more than one, so check all your directories) and you are set. However, you still have to verify that you don’t have anything else hidden in there, so do a full scan of your website to make sure you are clean.

In addition to that, you still need to fix the problem that allowed you to get hacked. Most of the time it means updating your web application (WordPress, Joomla, etc), changing your passwords and cleaning your desktop.

Keeping Your Site Secure

In order to keep your site, secure you need to follow theses guidelines:

  • Have your WordPress site core files been updated?
  • Have your themes and plugins been updated?
  • Use a Safe Secure WordPress Hosting Service, if possible choose one which can Manage your WordPress Site instead of just Hosting it.
  • Remove any inactive themes or plugins you don’t plan to use on your site.
  • Review your WordPress plugins and themes and check all of them are recently updated by its developers, if not you should seek alternatives and remove them from your WordPress Site.
  • Never install nulled themes or plugins.
  • Keep one or two admin accounts, downgrade the rest of your admin users to an author/editor.
  • Remove all dev/demo setups of your WordPress installation outside your public directory.

 

Major hacks in 2017

2017 was a crazy year for critical infrastructure attacks, insecure databases, hacks, breaches, and leaks of unprecedented scale impacted institutions around the world—along with the billions of people who trust them with their data.

NHS

The WannaCry malware that infiltrated the UK’s National Health Service essentially locked down the entire NHS network, preventing workers from accessing their computers and delaying vital medical procedures. Fortunately, a flaw in its mechanism allowed experts to create a kill switch. One of the reasons for the hack was that NHS trusts had not acted on critical alerts from NHS Digital and a warning from the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office in 2014 to patch or migrate away from vulnerable older software. You can read more here.

This one of the key examples why keeping your systems up-to-date. The more out of date they become, the more vulnerable you are to attack.

Uber

Taxi start-up Uber disclosed that it was subject to a massive data hack in 2016. Two individuals hacked the user data stored on a third-party cloud service. They managed to access the information of 50m Uber riders as well as 7m drivers across the world. The company attempted to cover it up by offering the hackers $100,000 not to release the information.

The start-up is currently being sued for negligence in a complaint representing the Uber drivers and customers in the US whose data was implicated. The company is currently doing damage control across the world as regulators launch investigations into what went wrong.

AS GDPR comes into effect in May 2018 if we look at Uber’s finances with a turnover of $6.5 Billion, the potential full fine could have been $ $1,300,000,000 – 20% of its annual revenue.

Final Thoughts

Security is one of the most important aspects of running a website. Not fixing a hacked website as soon as possible can cause a major disruption for you and your visitors and can put everyone who visits your site at risk. Knowing the warning signs, however, will help you catch the hack early and fix it as soon as possible.

Getting your website hacked is one of the worst things that can happen to your business in the modern online world. The age of file cabinets and paper documents is long gone, and now virtually all-important information is being shared and even stored online. However, it’s not the end of the world and can be fixed fairly easily and quickly using the steps above. WordPress is a great platform to use and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon, so you should definitely know how to protect it and what to do if the unthinkable happens.

 

Next steps:

If you need some more advice on how to protect your website from hacking, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and develop your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

 

Why you should adopt a cross-channel marketing strategy

With today’s audiences being more connected than ever before, seamlessly switching between marketing channel and device, multiple times a day is now considered the norm. Throw in the rise of voice search over the past couple of years into the mix and catering for ever changing consumer preferences and behaviour becomes that bit more challenging.

Most companies will be implementing a multi-channel marketing strategy, however what elevates a good marketing strategy to a great marketing strategy is the implementation of cross-channel marketing (sometimes referred to as omni-channel marketing).

Although cross-channel marketing is not exactly a new phenomenon, evolving consumer behaviour is continually putting a greater emphasis on brands needing to nail this area of marketing strategy.

What’s the difference between multi-channel and cross-channel marketing?

Two marketing strategies that can be easily confused, multi-channel marketing is the implementation of marketing activity across more than one channel, typically with no synergy and cohesion between the channels, and owning their own set of KPI’s to determine success.

Cross channel marketing on the other hand, is very much the coordination and cohesion of consumer touchpoints across multiple marketing channels, switching the focus from ‘how do we make each marketing channel work?’ to ‘how do we interact with each user?’, regardless of the marketing channel.

No longer do consumers expect to be shown irrelevant marketing messages, and with personalisation at the heart of their expectations, what better way to build brand advocacy than to continue building your relationship with consumers by continually adding value.

Examples of cross-channel marketing could be as simple as an email campaign aimed at consumers who have abandoned their shopping basket with an incentive to complete the purchase or implementing a retargeting display campaign to users who have viewed particular commercial pages on your website.

Check out these 5 examples of global brands finding success implementing cross-channel marketing campaigns.


What are the long-term benefits of cross channel marketing? 

Increased engagement

A key benefit of cross-channel marketing is the increase in potential engagement levels gained when compared to multi-channel marketing. Being able to target consumers based on their stage in the purchasing cycle is a priceless advantage, that not only eliminates the risk of irrelevant advertising, but increases the chance of nurturing that consumer further down the sales funnel.

Loyalty/Brand Advocacy

It is widely recognised that word of mouth advertising is one of the most powerful marketing tools when it comes to influencing consumer purchases, with driving loyalty and brand advocacy the first step in achieving this form of marketing.

The more consumers have a positive experience when engaging with a brand, the stronger the relationship becomes, increasing the chances of endorsing the brand to their community.

Source: https://moderncomment.com/customer-feedback-stats

What are the barriers to overcome?

Whilst implementing cross-channel marketing feels like a no-brainer, the reality is there are still barriers to overcome in order for this to be effective.

The creation of a single customer view (SCV)

When implementing a multi-channel marketing campaign, a by-product of this is typically resulting in siloed data. This is where large amounts of customer data has been gathered and segmented by channel behaviour as opposed to more useful insights such as stage in the buying process.

Without a SCV, irrelevant and fractured marketing messaging can appear, having a detrimental impact on driving brand loyalty and engagement.
Experian does a great job at explaining the benefits of SCV and is definitely worth checking out (Remember to download the PDF at the end for future reference).

Breaking down silos

As mentioned above, siloed marketing channels leads to siloed marketing data which limits the value that can be gathered from it. Working towards a set of KPIs to determine success focused on the user journey as opposed to the marketing channel is a good first step to take.

This change in strategy should lead to a wider discussion around campaign measurement and channel attribution. Focusing on the consumer journey should lead to more analysis on various touchpoints and a greater understanding of the role each channel plays in a conversion (micro and macro). For more information on marketing attribution models why not check this article out.

Our Approach

Take a look at our 4-step approach to implementing your cross-channel marketing strategy:

1. Analyse your customer data

An effective cross-channel strategy has customer data at the heart of it. Too much guesswork exists when it comes to analysing customer behaviour, when in fact the smart play is to build systems around what your customers actually do.

How valuable would it be to answer:

  • Which consumers are using which devices to interact with the brand?
  • How far along the buying process do certain channels become more effective?
  • Which channels move a user through the buying process most effectively?
  • What messaging on each channel drives the best engagement?
  • What channels drive the most meaningful engagement?

Understanding your customer’s habits and behaviours is achieved by analysing customer data.

 

2. Integrate your marketing channels

The Data & Marketing Association define ‘Integrated Marketing’ as;

“Integrated Marketing is an approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand/enterprise; it attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and social media, through their respective mix of tactics, methods, channels, media, and activities, so that all work together as a unified force. It is a process designed to ensure that all messaging and communications strategies are consistent across all channels and are centered on the customer”

Granted, it’s a bit wordy, however I couldn’t write it better myself and highlights the one thing that is imperative to a successful cross-channel strategy… the consumer. Ever seen a promotion ad incentivising you to click on it, with the expectation of being able to take advantage of the promotion, to only find out the promotion has ended? Integrating your marketing channels ensures this doesn’t happen. Consumers fed irrelevant and inaccurate messaging is frankly the exact opposite of what a consumer’s expectations represent in 2018.  Successful channel integration should seamlessly direct a consumer down the sales funnel making it easier to drive revenue.

3. Personalise your cross-channel campaigns

With today’s consumers bombarded daily by multiple brand messages across multiple platforms 24/7 365, standing out in the crowd is no easy feat. With an on-demand mentality now adopted generation-wide, consumers do not want to be shown standardised, generic messaging that is somehow meant to persuade them enough to take immediate action. Personalisation is one of the few ways to separate your business from the competition. You want to offer a different experience that benefits the consumer and adds value they don’t get elsewhere.

“Cross-channel marketing is about building meaningful experiences and using fine-grain personalization to deliver the right message, at the right time, across the right channel, and to the right individual. It’s also important to stress the concept of delivering messages at the right time, which may not necessarily equate to real time,” states Stephanie Maziol, senior product marketing manager at Adobe.

5 key types of marketing personalisation that most brand are implementing in one way or another are;

  • Using customer details
  • Behavioural triggered emails
  • Product recommendations on the website
  • Personalised call-to-actions
  • Customer profiling

4. Measure & Optimise Performance

“Customers who interact with more than one marketing channel have a 30% higher Lifetime Value than those who shop on only one” (2015 study by IDC)

Just how would we know this? Through measuring the behaviour of our consumers and continually optimising the campaigns that’s how. Simply creating a cross-channel strategy is not the end of the line but using the performance data and making insightful observations, and using those observations to make strategic decisions is where the real continual value is found.

In order to measure correctly it is important to set out a list of KPIs that will determine of your objective has been met. This also ties into the barriers of cross-channel marketing mentioned previously. Breaking down silo departments, normally split by marketing channel with their own set of KPIs is a requirement to ensure all departments are singing off the same hymn sheet when it comes to determining success and failure.

Following this process can help ensure that all marketing channels are not only pulling in the right direction but has the consumer at the heart of all decision making which is imperative to a successful marketing strategy.

Next steps:

If you are interested in improving your digital strategy and working with CandidSky to achieve your business objectives, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and develop your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

 

9 common SEO mistakes to avoid

To say that search engine optimisation is a challenging task is a bit of an understatement. The algorithms for platforms such as Bing as well as Google are constantly changing and require trained minds to understand how best to adjust strategies accordingly.

Despite this, numerous business leaders hear about the benefits of SEO and view it as a simple profit-generating venture. Consequently, they make errors which have the opposite effect – costing them traffic and conversions.

The good news is many of these common mistakes can be fixed and agencies such as CandidSky will be there to help businesses resolve them. Yet, if you’re wondering if your SEO campaign is on the right track, I have detailed some mistakes which I’ve seen individuals make. I’ll explain each in more detail below, but in summary these are 10 most common SEO mistakes to avoid:

  1. Preventing crawls from taking place
  2. Believing link building (or any strategy) is dead
  3. Investing in link earning, rather than intentional link building
  4. Excessively using keywords
  5. Neglecting mobile users
  6. Creating orphan pages
  7. Reusing content
  8. Neglecting local search
  9. Abandoning a strategy too soon

Preventing crawls from taking place

The robots.txt file is a vital part of any website and specifies pages you don’t want accessed by crawlers. When put like that, it’s tempting to prevent all robots from visiting your website. However, it’s worth remembering that search engines use crawlers to find relevant pages.

Consequently, if all robots are prevented from accessing your site, you won’t appear in search results. In this situation, it won’t matter how much effort you put into your SEO campaign, your website might as well be invisible.

If you want to learn more about robots.txt files, take a look at this resource.

Believing link building is dead

To borrow a routinely used phrase, there’s a lot of “fake news” out there. This is also true when it comes to the SEO industry. Partly spread by people who haven’t given a strategy the time it deserves, they then post articles online claiming what they were doing is ineffective.

Link building is one of the most frequent tactics described as dead whereas it is still a viable – and essential – part of any SEO campaign. This dismissiveness might be due to how link building has evolved over the years and I’ve linked to a post explaining some good strategies to use.

Regardless, if you see an article stating that a particular tactic is dead, don’t completely take it at face value. Gather multiple sources and trial several strategies before writing it off. Chances are, the author of that piece has just been doing it wrong.

Investing in link earning, not building

Link earning is a phrase which tends to differ in meaning depending on the person who uses it. While some definitions involve creating quality content and assuming people will read it, others favour some degree of promotion and getting automatic backlinks as a result.

Sadly, this strategy is not as effective as actual link building. When publishing content on your site, always invest suitable time in content promotion. In fact, Social Triggers states that, when generating content, 20% of your time should be spent on creation – 80% should be allocated to promotion.

Excessively using keywords

In the early days of SEO, using as many mentions of a keyword as possible greatly benefited your campaign. For example, webmasters wanting to rank highly for “cheap used cars” generally had to include that phrase more than their competitors to succeed. Eventually, it got to a stage when SEO-targeted content became challenging to read and looked like this:

Are you looking for cheap used cars? Great, we have a fantastic selection of cheap used cars in our online store. Browse our selection of cheap used cars and find a cheap used car to suit your needs. Speak to us today about finding a cheap used car.

Thankfully, this strategy does not work anymore. Yet excessive keyword use is still prevalent within some SEO campaigns. These days, relevance and variation is vital when targeting a particular phrase. Not only is this better for improving visibility but – from a UX point of view – it helps the user as well.

Neglecting mobile users

The browsing habits of users has changed dramatically over the years. Whereas people were once limited to desktops, now they can access the internet through mobile. In fact, in 2016, the number of internet users on mobile and tablet exceeded desktop for the first time.

However, despite the importance of mobile optimisation, research conducted by PayPal this year suggested that just 18% of UK small businesses had a website which was correctly optimised for mobile.

Needless to say, by neglecting mobile users, companies are missing out on a substantial number of customers.

Creating orphan pages

When a webpage is not linked to from anywhere else on the site, this creates what we call an orphan page. By not having these connections, it becomes very challenging for both users and search engines to find – signifying to a search engine that this page is not a high priority. Similarly, internal links are vital for the flow of SEO value (gained from building an authoritative domain) around a website.

When adding a new page, it’s essential that it is well linked to with a strong internal linking structure. This can include in-content links (links within the copy), navigational links (links within menu structures), or breadcrumbs. Otherwise, even if this new resource contains amazing content, it will struggle to rank well.
Reusing content

When managing a large website, the idea of creating unique content for each and every page can seem daunting. Either on purpose or through accident, it is not uncommon to see remarkably similar content throughout several pages of one website. Perhaps it is no surprise that a study published in 2015 revealed that almost 30% of websites suffered from duplicate content issues.

This creates a problem for crawlers where, when faced with multiple identical pages, they can struggle to identify the original. As a result, this traditionally leads to decreased rankings and traffic.

Neglecting local search

A study conducted by Google in 2014 revealed that more than 60% of smartphone owners used their device to access local information stored on adverts. Moreover, the organisation revealed half of consumers who used local search visited a store that same day.

Although this aspect of search is deeply important, some webmasters don’t rate local optimisation that highly. As a result, they won’t focus on their Google My Business listing, NAP data, or local schema. However, by doing so, they could be missing out on an audience base close to home.

Scrapping strategies quickly

One misconception with SEO is the amount of time it takes for results to manifest. All too often, companies will cease strategies after several weeks – accusing them of being ineffective. However, the effects of search engine optimisation can take several months to materialise and should continue to improve as time goes on.

When running an SEO campaign, perseverance and patience are two very important qualities to possess.

Why should you use remarketing?

The short answer is to increase your conversions!

Remarketing is a way of reaching out to users that have previously visited your site. Users visit various sites before making a decision to purchase and if you sell high value products, customers may need time to consider or discuss the purchase with friends or partners – this is where remarketing comes in to ensure your company stays at the forefront of their minds.

A remarketing campaign is usually good value since you’re targeting users that have shown interest in your brand in the past – they are unlikely to click your ad for a second time if they aren’t keen to convert. This results in higher quality traffic, a higher CTR and a better conversion rate.

Here are some steps to getting set up with remarketing:

Facebook

  • Use Facebook’s tracking pixel to build lists of users who added items to their basket but did not complete the purchase – you can remarket those specific items through Facebook dynamic ads (for ecommerce brands) and encourage them back to your site.
  • If you’re not an ecommerce brand, you can build lists of users who visited specific pages of your site and manually create an ad that provides further information, includes a special offer, or encourages the user to get in touch.
  • What’s more you can also target existing customers with special offers or upsales by uploading your customer email data

AdWords

  • Use display banners to entice users back to your website – this will dynamically place the ads on other sites that your users visit
  • Create an audience in Google Analytics either for visitors of all pages or specific areas of your site.
  • Use remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs) – add an Analytics audience list to your existing campaigns and set bid adjustments to favour search users that have visited your site before (bear in mind you will need a list of at least 1,000 cookies to do this)

Let the numbers speak for themselves, here’s some examples of success our clients have seen through remarketing in January 2018:

John Ryan By Design: 4253% ROAS Facebook

Richard Haworth: 647% ROAS Facebook / 294% ROAS AdWords

Next steps:

If you are interested in speaking to CandidSky about running a remarketing campaign, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and develop your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

 

How to report SEO success to your boss

SEO success

 

Marketing Managers often have a difficult time conveying the value of their SEO efforts to their boss, and are often left wondering how to demonstrate the channels true value.

But worry not…

Throughout this article,  we aim to provide detailed insights into how to report SEO success in a way which your superiors will not only care, but emotionally engage with,  resulting in receiving the plaudits you deserve.

Understanding KPIs and objectives

KPIs (key performance indicators) are the bread and butter of any marketing campaign, not just SEO. Before starting any work, you need to have a thorough understanding of your organisation’s KPIs, and align with your digital strategy to help achieve the business’ wider objectives. An example KPI may be that you wish to achieve an X% increase in revenue by next year, or that the organic channel generates X number of conversions in a certain period of time.

If you have an in-depth understanding of your objectives, you can continue to demonstrate how your SEO results are contributing to the achieving them. This will undoubtedly engage your stakeholders, resulting in personal recognition which we all love!

Conversions

Whether you’re an e-commerce business aiming to improve revenue, or you’re a lead generation company wanting to increase the number of enquiries, you’ll want to be referring to these in every report and meeting you have with your stakeholders.

Ultimately, stakeholders don’t care whether we have achieved a 100% increase in traffic Year on Year, or if we’ve witnessed a 10% uplift in Share of Voice. They simply don’t see the commercial benefit of these metrics. Instead, they care about how SEO is contributing towards the wider objectives, which is why it’s essential to constantly revert back to the first point in the report.  You can ensure that you’re able to report these accurately by tracking everything in Google Analytics (form completions, phone calls, clicks for directions etc.) and explaining how results correlate with offline media.

Visibility

Whilst rankings aren’t the most commercially relevant metrics for a campaign, they do represent the progress which you’re making. As a result, it is important to include a section about visibility in your SEO report, which hopefully shows progress Year on Year!

Furthermore, if you are able to communicate continued progress for priority commercial keywords, you’re also likely to also witness improvements for other metrics, such as conversions. Moreover, if you are able to establish a connection between a particular improvement in visibility and an improvement in sales/conversions, then this is going to connect more with your stakeholders, thus making them care more than if you were to simply outline the data.

Work completed and expected outcomes

Whether you report to your boss on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, you will need to outline the work which you’ve completed over the period and the expected outcomes. An example could be that you’ve built X number of high quality links to a particular area of the website, which you expect to improve sitewide visibility and authority over the coming months.

By outlining the work you’ve completed and explaining the projected outcome, you’re adding value and quantifying your role, which further enhances your boss’ understanding of why you’ve spent a proportion of your working week on a task. Furthermore, if you have an attentive boss who has a particular interest in organic search, this could present an opportunity to educate them on SEO best practices and improve their understanding of the channel.

Furthermore, we always recommend adding a section at the bottom of a report explaining tasks which are planned for the upcoming period, so that that boss’ feel ‘in the loop’, and know what is going to be delivered in the next meeting.

Make your reports easy to digest

Most Directors and Stakeholders don’t have time to read through paragraphs and paragraphs of text, therefore it is essential that every report you generate is well structured, aesthetically pleasing and easy to digest.

Every person is different, therefore it is important to understand what your boss’ value within your report, and what they understand. Once you know this information, you can begin generating your report with graphs and well-structured content – we’ve found bullet points and prominent headings often make content easy to digest.

If you want to speed up your reporting, you can use reporting software such as Data Studio or Report Garden, which allow you to pull through real time data from Google Analytics. This data can be quickly made into graphs and charts, which will improve the value of your report to stakeholders, thus better communicating the value of the channel.

Next steps:

If you would like to speak to us more about SEO and how we can grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

 

Is Facebook suitable for B2B sales?

Facebook App

In a very simple answer: yes! 1.37 billion people on average logged onto Facebook daily and were considered daily active users in September 2017 (source: Facebook). Facebook is too big to be discounted as one of your marketing channels.

Your B2B customers are among those users, endlessly scrolling on their lunch breaks, on their commute, or while waiting for their dinner to cook. Whether they are a construction manager, digital marketer, solicitor, hotel owner or school teacher, you can reach them through paid advertising on Facebook. After recruiting, you could also try NominakHR.com to ensure that they get their dough right on time.

The social media channel can be useful in various ways:

1. Brand awareness

Facebook’s in-depth targeting enables you to find new audiences. Not only can you target individuals based on their location, age/gender, work industry, financial status, education, interests & more, you can build ‘lookalike’ audiences who share common characteristics to your customers or web users. You can do this by uploading a list of email addresses or use your Facebook pixel (an analytics tool that allows Facebook to communicate with your website to record traffic and conversions) to build a list of web visitors, then pick the location you want to target and the approximate size of audience you want to reach* and Facebook does the rest.

*We never build lists larger than 1-2% population (400k-800k) – you want to target a decent amount of people but casting the net too wide could result in the targeting being too broad.

2. Sharing industry news

A recent change to Facebook’s algorithm means intelligent, useful, and news-worthy content will be favoured on news feeds over click-bait videos of cats. As marketers we now have an even stronger obligation to create content that is going to engage and inspire our audience. Provide useful tips, share industry news, and most importantly start a dialogue with your audience. Giving your company a voice and making it easier for clients and customers to contact you will increase your trust factor.

3. Remarketing

Your Facebook pixel will enable you to build lists of users who have visited your site but did not complete a conversion/lead. Use your USPs to entice them back to your site, offer them a discount or offer to answer their questions using a form.

4. Generating leads

The lead generation ad format gives you a customisable form to easily gather information from potential new customers. Ask them to sign up for more info, request a call back, submit an enquiry or ask a question. What’s more, you can set up the form to auto-fill users’ details making it easier & quicker for mobile conversions – all they have to do is hit submit.

Next steps:

If you are interested in speaking to CandidSky about running a Facebook campaign for your business, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

5 key things missing from your digital marketing strategy

It’s easy to get stuck down in the detail of your digital marketing campaigns, particularly if you’re running a marketing team that covers multiple channels, managing campaigns both in-house or through digital marketing agencies.

You might not always have the time to step back and review if your digital strategy is really achieving the objectives, and even if you do have time to review, it’s not always easy to spot what’s missing.

As a Digital Strategist here at CandidSky, I work across digital strategy for a broad range of clients and sectors, so here’s my view on the top 5 things that could be missing from your digital marketing strategy.

1. Wider Market Analysis

Regular competitor reviews are probably part of your campaign planning, but there’s lots you can learn by conducting a wider market analysis, particularly if you’re looking for ways to really stand out from your competitors.

Seek out non-competing companies who are going after the same target audience as you, and look at their marketing activity. Your research in this area could offer up some new channels to trial, different ways to utilise your existing channels and perhaps even lead to some very beneficial partnership opportunities with these companies.

2. Offline Considerations

Understanding your customer behaviour is a key part of forming a digital strategy, and whilst there’s a wealth of easily accessible data on their digital activities and interactions with your brand, you shouldn’t neglect their offline activities.

Review all the offline touchpoints your customers have with your brand, for example perhaps you have a physical location they can visit pre-purchase, maybe the first offline touch point is when you send out the products they’ve ordered, perhaps you’re an estate agent the first touch point could be the “For Sale” sign they see outside a property.

Each of these offline touchpoints could present an opportunity to help achieve your objectives. For example by encouraging a repeat purchase, prompting someone to leave a review of your product, or to share their experience with your brand on social media.

3. Digital Campaign Benchmarks

What does success look like for your business? What does average look like? How about not quite good enough? If your overall objective is very broad, for example “improve year on year performance” it’s worth defining this further for your digital campaigns.

Setting a benchmark and defining what “good” looks like can really help keep your strategy on track. Once you know the good, the bad and all that’s in between, it offers something really tangible to measure up against when you’re reviewing campaigns and deciding where and how to optimise.

4. Brand Consistency

Very few online transactions occur after just one interaction with a company, so the chances are your digital marketing strategy will include multiple channels.

I’m a huge believer in the importance of brand and ensuring brand consistency across your marketing channels. Having a strong brand can help set you apart from your competitors, especially in overpopulated digital spaces, and consistency can help build trust between you and your customers.

Creating a set of brand guidelines and ensuring your campaign delivery teams stick to these is a good starting point if you don’t have these already. If you do have your brand defined with a solid set of brand guidelines, then ideally brand should be something that is key at the strategy planning stage and embedded in your digital campaigns from the start.

5. Opportune Timing

You’ll hopefully already be taking into account seasonality when planning your digital marketing campaigns, and you might have data which can tell you the best days of the week and even hours in the day when customers convert.

The next step to take, to inform your digital strategy, is to factor in the timings of your customer buying cycle. For high value items, like furniture for example, the customer buying cycle could include an extended period of research, followed by your customer speaking to their spouse before making the final purchase decision, in some cases this other person could end up making the actual purchase despite having little interaction with the brand themselves. Or perhaps your products are of a lower value and typically purchased in an emergency.

Using this information when planning your digital strategy can not only help increase conversions, but it can potentially help you plan when and where to focus your budgets, what messaging you should be deploying at each stage and the frequency of these messages.

Next steps:

If you are interested in improving your digital strategy and working with CandidSky to achieve your business objectives, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

 

Not converting? Five other ways to engage with your visitors

If you are not seeing the conversion rates that you are expecting, take a look through our five ways to engage with your visitors.

  1. Buyer Personas. Creating buyer personas is fun! Marketing Mike, HR Hannah, Retail Rachel. Once you have your ideal target audience / customer demographic, you can test content based on the profiles created that’s relevant to the buyer, they will be more engaged if the product or service is related to their requirements.
  2. Re-marketing on Facebook is a great way to re-engage interest in your brand. Be clever with it, don’t just show them the product they’ve looked at. For example, build useful content to share that’s interesting for the user to read, or even better, a short video that’s quickly consumed.
  3. Understand your user’s social behaviour, pin pointing where they spend time -Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube etc can help you decide what content to serve and on which channel.
  4. Knowledge base, having informative content on your website that can be shared through social and blogs really help to reengage a user, it builds confidence and shows them you’re an expert in your market. John Ryan By Design as an example, has an excellent resource centre full of educational content about beds and mattresses, helping to build a relationship with potential customers at the research stage of their buying journey.
  5. Brand awareness through display advertising, re-marketing and Gmail Customer Match will expose or remind people of your brand. Serve ads with discount codes or offer a white paper download for example, that way you’re giving them something and will increases the chance of converting. Creating similar audience lists will also reach out to people with the same online behaviour as your customers.

Next steps:

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

Finding inner peace with office yoga

Here at CandidSky, our culture places a real importance on people’s physical and mental well-being. With our Managing Director, David Beharall, being an ex-professional footballer, he understands and shares the value of looking after yourself to achieve an optimal performance at work.

With this in mind, every Tuesday after work we practise yoga in our office, led by yoga guru, Harvey Kersh. The class is free for people to participate in. After the festive season of over indulgence, yoga is a great way to strengthen and tone but also to step away from our busy lives to calm the mind and to centre ourselves to appreciate our bodies and our capabilities. Yoga is known to have many other benefits, including a reduction in stress and anxiety, improved posture,  improved immunity and increased energy.

Harvey is a fundamental part of what makes the class enjoyable, with his calm and relaxed demeanour, each class is different using different muscles through stretching, all building up our core strength.  In January 2016 Harvey successfully completed a 200 hour teacher training program in Rishikesh, India and received a certified E-RYT200 teacher specialising in Hatha Vinyasa, Alignment and Meditation.

Each class finishes with Shavasana which uses relaxation and meditation to fully put the mind and body at rest which we all love! Harvey encourages the mastering of our own minds with acceptance and self appreciation of what it means to have a body and mind.

Nazma Noor, Digital Strategist at CandidSky, commented, “I had done some yoga on and off  before starting at CandidSky, and since I joined I have been attending Harvey’s classes regularly. I’ve noticed a real improvement in my flexibility and strength, and it’s also been great at relieving the tension in your body which can build up from working in an office environment . The yoga sessions always leave me feeling positive afterwards”.

We wish you all a happy and positive start to 2018.

Namaste!

Next steps:

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

Add content to design or design to content

Over the years I’ve found that you can almost always guarantee that a client underestimates the work involved in writing and collating content, and then, if using a CMS, entering it all. It sounds easy – write something about a subject you know.

The title of this article also makes the solution sound simple. Either you crack on with a design, and then fill in the holes, or you wait until finally all the content is in a signed off state. It would be easy to say stick to one or the other, but such an answer would simply be an oversimplification.

Content to design

The idea behind fitting content to a design is pretty straight forward. You create a pixel perfect design and then craft your content around it. Simple. Your design is visually perfect throughout. Everything is beautifully consistent. Everything lines up nicely and falls in the perfect place. Those 40-50 words the designer told you to use for each feature block will all look wonderfully balanced and very professional. Everyone is happy!

It can also give you a structure in which to craft your content. It makes life easier to have a starting point after all. Just fill in the holes and done.

It is also nice to get the design process cracking early on. We all like visuals. Seeing a design adds a tangible sense of progress, and can also help form opinions on how content can be approached by how it balances out images or illustrative elements. It provides nice and potentially productive early talking points

However….

Design to content

Mind you, fitting your content to a design covers over some cracks…

All this great design work, however much research has been undertaken to ensure every concept and assumption is rock solid, is still based on content that very possibly doesn’t exist – or even worse, is potentially misunderstood

At the end of the day you are the expert in your area. Great content takes time to craft. It is what people are ultimately coming to your website, brochure or video for, not the attractive imagery and great icons. Add in any copywriting or search engine optimisation services and it is a significant task that should be treated with care and respect.With this in mind, the design should be a tool for making your content sing, balance any SEO requirements and be visually appealing. Customers love content. Google loves content. Content is king! It goes without saying that this should be nailed down first.

Doesn’t it?

But…

There is always a but…

In the real world, there are immovable deadlines, there are changes to specifications, there are feature additions, stakeholder demands, illnesses, curveballs and unexpected twists. With the absolute best will in the world final content cannot always be waited upon.

First draft content can be used to form a solid base for a design if available but this can also change, necessitating design amends or even more time consuming development amends.

Working in this imperfect reality, my key belief is to maintain good levels of communication throughout. Aim for content before design but be realistic. By working together the choppy content waters can be navigated and you can get a great product at the end of it.

Next steps:

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

 

The rise of voice search and how to optimise for it

The implications of voice search

Hailed as a game changer, voice search allows us to trawl through web results by speech. Designed to improve how we have access to information, statistics illustrate just how quickly this medium has taken off.

In 2010, Google announced that 25% of Android searches in the United States were initiated through voice search. Years later, the organisation also published research stating that 55% of American teens used voice search more than once a day.

This raises an interesting question, these stats, while still frequently quoted, were originally published years ago. Furthermore, if voice search has continued to grow, why isn’t it an everyday part of our lives yet? One explanation could be that such a large technological shift requires years to be properly adopted. For example, despite elements of this research being around seven-years-old, it’s only recently that devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home have entered the mainstream market.

Voice search is a new avenue to access information. It might take time but eventually – much like mobile browsing – it could be an everyday part of our lives.

voice recognition

What are the benefits of voice search?

For years, identifying information was a simple matter of just typing it into a search engine and trawling through the data to find exactly what you needed. Now, voice-related queries are becoming increasingly common aided by the arrival of devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. In fact, VoiceLabs estimates that there are now 33 million voice-first devices currently in circulation.

For users, the benefits of voice search are aimed around easier access to information. Whether this is on the move or while doing another task, individuals can use the voice function to speed up their access to data. Validity is not in question either as research demonstrated that 87% of users thought mobile voice search results were accurate.

Following a similar strategy of making data easier to access, we’ve seen other organisations look to integrate voice. One example is Adobe Photoshop. Whereas it takes considerable training to use the software, Adobe Sensei should allow users to make complex changes by simply asking.

For companies, the benefits of targeting voice search are all about appealing to customers. Simply put, if 33 million compatible devices are on the market, firms could be missing out on an extremely large customer base. Therefore, we are left asking the following questions:

Why do we use voice search?

To first answer the voice search optimisation problem, we need to understand how people use it. The Internet Trends Report 2016 highlighted that people ask queries in four distinct ways:

• To seek local information
• For fun and entertainment
• Seeking general information
• Using the personal assistant function

How do I optimise for voice search?

Armed with this research above, there are two key strategies which should pay dividends when looking to optimise for voice search.

Think local

According to research published by Marketing Profs, voice searches conducted through mobile are three times more likely than text-based queries to be local-related. Consequently, those with an effective local SEO strategy should be in a good position to reap the rewards offered by voice search.

This means having an up-to-date complete Google My Business listing and ensuring all citations are as accurate as possible. This is also a key opportunity to start working on improving your business reviews. Simply put, those with a higher business rating are more likely to receive greater local visibility than those held in lower esteem.

With the advent of voice search, the importance of thinking local cannot be understated. By combining all the above elements into an effective strategy, you should be well poised to target these queries.

Target frequently asked questions

To further enhance chances of appearing for a vocal query, it is worth understanding how these terms are made. Voice search is conducted conversationally and usually in the form of a question. Therefore, gearing content towards more natural phrases could be an effective way to target this consumer base.

For example, for furniture retailers, instead of typing “leather sofa” into a search engine, someone asking vocally might state “where can I buy a leather sofa?”. Similarly, questions may be asked around the topic, such as “how do I clean a leather sofa?”.

This presents a change to keyword research where those desiring visibility for voice search could benefit by employing a more conversational tone. However, although this could make identifying phrases easier, it’s very important to still bear desktop and text searchers in mind – and not to leave them on the sidelines.

Laptop

Can voice search by commercially viable?

The main challenge for SEO will not be ‘how do I optimise for this?’ but instead will ask how voice search can be made commercially viable. If a robot directly obtains the answer for the user without that person visiting the related page, he or she will not contribute to the website’s traffic or conversions.

Therefore, voice search could create an attribution problem and may lead to declines in traffic as its popularity increases.

Although a gloomy prospect, it is worth remembering that the strategies used to target voice search are fundamentally good SEO. Other channels will likely improve and may even off-set the negatives brought about by this new technology.

Next steps:

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

User Experience – from toilets to taps

A walk through everyday life

User Experience. It’s a term thrown around like confetti at the moment. It’s hard to escape if you are developing a digital product. Everyone you come into contact with, from project managers to designers, developers, strategists and directors will tell you about the importance of User Experience (or UX for short).

If you are not already familiar with the term, this is how the Nielson Norman Group, a leading UX consultancy, describe it

“User Experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

What is interesting is that this does not specifically refer to DIGITAL products. As a UX designer I look at everyday life through a UX prism. Simple questions we all ask are, in reality, all elements of a User Experience – your personal, every day user experience journey. Why do those icons on the microwave make no sense? Why is the TV remote control like the cockpit of a jet fighter? Notably, the Apple TV remote is the antithesis of these. More on Apple later though.

A personal bug bear of mine is the touch screen interface inside a car? What good is a touch screen you can’t look at? It looks great but is almost impossible to use in a practical, day to day, situation.

With that in mind, here are some other great, and not so great, examples of every day user experience issues and/or solutions.

Toilet Target Practice

Anybody can tell you that men can sometimes lack a certain… precision in the toilet department. That sense of unpleasant resignation is multiplied when you come face to face with another chaps attempt to re-enact Ghostbusters in the only spare urinal.

In the 1990s, Aad Kieboom came up with a solution at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, and it is simple as it is ingenious – he put a small image of a fly INSIDE the urinal.

 

urinal

Source: https://worksthatwork.com/1/urinal-fly

‘Guys are simple-minded and love to play with their urine stream, so you put something in the toilet bowl and they’ll aim at that,’ says Reichardt.

Although there are no hard statistics on the reduction in cleaning required using this trick, some estimates claim it reduced spillage by up to 80%.

Why does this apply to UX? At it’s heart, User Experience is about understanding your users and what their goal is. The guy that is urinating on the fly feels like he has achieved a secondary goal (target practice; the primary goal being to relieve himself!) whilst the following customer of the urinal gets a much cleaner, pleasing experience. As an added bonus, cleaning costs are reduced so the key stake holder (the airport paying the bills) is happy too. Everyone is happy. High fives all round.

This is great UX top to bottom – a problem analysed, solved, and with clear, measurable improvements.

Oh no, I need a parking ticket…

Ah, parking ticket machines! We’ve all had to look at them and wonder what on earth we are meant to be pressing. By now I expect you are thinking about that machine from last Saturday with the big green button and instructions that could have been written by Donald Duck.

My personal favourites are the ones with letter keys top to bottom.

A well known UX consultant called Steve Krug wrote a book in 2005 titled “Don’t Make Me Think.” This is perfect for this type of interface.

As UX designers we know all cultures read from the top down, and most read from left to right. Some might say this is common sense… we are all pretty experienced in this; we’ve been doing it our whole lives.

The obvious failure here is that this interface clearly has not been tested with people who would use the machine. Forcing a user to interact with a design pattern outside of our everyday experience (reading downwards) puts a strong “cognitive load” on the user that does not produce a positive result: frustration and irritation. Sure, we may all eventually get a ticket out of the machine, but it will only induce a sense of “oh no” next time. If this were your website or product, where a someone can click away to a competitor in a fraction of a second, the user could very well decide that coming back is more hassle than your product is worth.

The take away here is that showing a little UX consideration can significantly improve the users experience – and result in a return visit. And while we are on this point, Forester Research shows that, on average, every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return. The results can be pretty stark.

 

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
Steve Jobs

 

This brings us full circle. Taps. But not your bathroom taps. Interface taps.
We tap and swipe our smart phones all the time. What once seemed like a foreign concept is now as normal as putting the kettle on.

Much of this can be traced back to the iPhone. Sure, there were similar devices before the iPhone but none genuinely revolutionised the technology industry, created the world’s biggest company and changed the very way we interact with the world around us. That’s pretty fundamental.

With the iPhone’s 10th birthday, and the release of the iPhoneX there has been quite a bit of chatter about whether this new iteration of the iPhone is again revolutionising how we interact with our screens, or moving us backwards to a time before there was an appreciation of how a user interacts with a product.

It is commonly held that the iPhone interface was so easy to understand that anyone could pick it up and understand it with a little patience. As time has gone by, more gestures, taps and swipes have been added that has led to this:

Source: https://www.fastcodesign.com/90150025/the-iphone-x-is-a-user-experience-nightmare – http://www.joannastern.com/ 

“If the iPhone X’s hardware features are the epitome of fluff over function, its new navigation gestures are the epitome of needless complexity over intuition.” (source: http://www.creativebloq.com/web-design/ux-design-patterns-work-91516961)

Time will tell if this is a User Experience disaster, as some are saying, or an inevitable step forward.

In conclusion

The challenges of creating complex interfaces or products that appear visually simple, engaging and enjoyable to use, is something that even companies with the stature of Apple can struggle with. Even though the simplest solution is not always the most attractive, sometimes it can be the most effective. Just don’t get me started on the impracticality of my car’s touch screen user interface.

Next steps:

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

How long will it take to see results on AdWords? Your AdWords questions answered

How long will it take to see results on AdWords?

Depending on the level of demand for your keywords, we would usually expect to start seeing impressions and click data in the first day of running ads.

Generating leads or conversions can be more difficult to predict but we would expect them to increase over time with continual optimisation.

We can provide an estimated number of conversions based on industry metrics and the expected click through rate from your keywords. However, there are multiple factors that can affect conversion rate – these can include the product being sold, the ease and feel of your website, the offering of your competitors, your ad visibility and more.

Why is my daily spend not consistent on AdWords?

If your spend is going over the daily budget it is likely that there was an increase in demand for that day, meaning that more people were searching for and clicking on your ad. AdWords automatically shows your ads more when search volume increases.

You will not be charged more in a month than your daily budget multiplied by 30.4 (the average number of days in a month).

If search traffic is low, you may not spend your full daily budget, to counteract this, budgets can be opened wider to account for days that do have a high demand and will spend more – it is important to monitor the spend manually to ensure costs do not exceed the monthly budget.

 

Google Adwords

How can I reduce costs?  

The more clicks the campaign gets, the more money it is going to spend. While more traffic is likely to result in a higher number of conversions, there are always ways to make the Cost Per Click (CPC) cheaper.

  1. Lower your bids – this is the easiest option but the campaign may receive less impressions as a result. AdWords will only charge you 1p above competitors up to your max CPC so if your bids are much lower than competitors, the ads will receive less visibility.
  2. Improve quality score (explained below): this can be done by improving the landing page experience and ensuring the keywords and ads are relevant to user search terms.
  3. Reduce wastage – focus on the low cost/high converting keywords and pause high cost/low converting keywords
  4. Change match types – When keywords are set to ‘broad match’ they will gain increased visibility but may pick up less relevant search queries. Changing the keyword to exact match will ensure that ads only pick up users searching for that exact query, resulting in a lower volume of impressions but a higher CTR from a more targeted audience.

Budget

What is quality score and how is it calculated?

A score between 1(bad) and 10 (good) that determines the quality of your keywords in relation to your ads and website. This is determined through multiple factors including:

  1. The landing page experience – is the content relevant to the user’s search query and the ad? Does the site have a fast page load speed? Can the user navigate through the page easily?
  2. Ad relevance – does the ad answer the query that the user is searching for? Is it linking to the correct landing page?
  3. Expected CTR – does the ad offer a call to action and relevant information to encourage the user to click?

How can I increase my impression share?

The google definition of impressions share is:

The impressions that you’ve received on the Search Network, divided by the estimated number of impressions that you were eligible to receive.

The impression share shows how competitive your ads are. You can increase the number of impressions in a number of ways:

  1. Increase your cost per click – AdWords will only charge you 1p more than your competitors are bidding so you need your budgets to be high enough to stay 1 step (or penny) ahead of the game.
  2. Increase your budget – your keywords may be popular but your ads will not show as often as they could if the budget is limited. You can use the column ‘Search Lost Due To Budget’ to see which campaigns are most affected.
  3. Improve your ad rank – your ad rank is calculated by the max cpc x quality score.
  4. Change your keyword match types – by making your keywords more specific you may decrease the number of impressions you are eligible to receive. If your ads are relevant enough and your CPC is competitive, you are likely to generate a higher impression share

Next steps:

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

 

Frequently asked SEO questions

Why have my rankings dropped?

Rankings are the bread and butter of any SEO campaign, therefore monitoring your rankings on a daily basis is essential.

But what do you do if your visibility has decreased overnight and why might this happen?

All is explained below:

The most likely reason that a particular keyword has dropped is due to fluctuation, which is completely natural in organic search. There isn’t a day goes by where we don’t see ranking flux, and you will usually see your rankings improve again in the coming days. If there is a significant drop in rankings, then you may have an underlying issue on your site that needs investigating further.

Secondly, there may have been a quality update by Google, which happens on an almost daily basis. Due to the constantly changing digital landscape, it is essential that you remain up to date with the latest Google updates to ensure that you’re working within Google’s guidelines.

Another possibility is that the ranked page has lost some authority due to a loss of inbound links. Monitoring your backlink profile is something that you should be doing on a regular basis, and doing this religiously will ensure that you spot a problem before it affects your visibility. Our favourite tool for monitoring backlinks is Ahrefs.

If you see a site-wide drop in rankings, you may have been hit by a manual or algorithmic Google penalty. The difference between the two is that a manual penalty is applied by a Google employee, whilst an algorithmic penalty is automatic and usually caused by a Google update. You will know if you’ve been hit by a penalty if you see a harsh drop in your organic traffic, whilst rankings remain stable on other search engines.

If you have been hit by a Google penalty, you can check this in Google Search Console, by visiting ‘manual actions’ – this will give you more information on why you’ve been hit with a penalty, thus helping you to devise a solution.

Finally, there could be technical issues on your site that are hindering your SEO efforts. Technical is often one of the most overlooked aspects of an SEO campaign, yet it is an area where you can reap the highest rewards. We recommend conducting regular technical audits to ensure that your website is in good health which is something we do for each of our clients.

 

search engine

How do we gain visibility for featured snippets?

It’s now been three years since Google launched Featured Snippets in the SERPs, however, many digital marketers have failed to adopt them as part of their SEO campaigns. But why would you not want to rank above everybody else in the organic results? It doesn’t make sense to allow your competitor to gain a higher SERP real estate.

Firstly, you need to understand the opportunities available in your niche, and whether featured snippets are worth your investment. For example, if you’re a local brick and mortar business, we would instead recommend focusing on the organic and map pack results, as these would reap the highest ROI. On the other hand, if you’re in a market where there are a lot of questions, featured snippets will present a huge opportunity.

Once you’ve identified if featured snippets are relevant to your niche, you should begin conducting keyword research and competitor analysis’ to identify where featured snippets exist and if you are able to create content that’s better than what already exists. Alternatively, you can use SEMrush to identify opportunities through their featured snippet analysis tool, or like ourselves, you can use STAT to identify which of your tracked keywords feature an “answer box”.

Once you have identified opportunities within your niche, it’s time to create content focused on acquiring position #0. This content will need to clearly answer the question, have positive user engagement signals and have clean code that is easily digestible for Google.

Does page load speed impact my organic performance?

The answer is simple – page load times absolutely affects your organic performance. Google have indicated that site speed is used in their algorithm over on Webmaster Central Blog and we have seen multiple instances across our SEO campaigns where improving site speed has resulted in improved organic visibility.

Ensuring that pages on your site load quickly is also essential from a user experience perspective. A slower page load speed tends to cause a higher bounce rate, less time spent on a page and ultimately, fewer conversions. We recently wrote an in-depth blog post on how to improve your page load speed, which is definitely worth a read!

 

page load speed

How often should I publish informational content?

Publishing content is something that we touched on in our recent SEO myths article, however, a question that is common relates to how often a business should publish informational content.

The truth is, there is no definitive number of resources you should be publishing in a specific time frame. It is more important to focus on creating informational content that will provide value to the user, capture customers at different stages of the sales funnel and gain exposure in the SERPs.

Creating one piece of exceptional content is much more valuable than 100 resources that provide no value to users or the search engines.

Next steps:

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.