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The biggest digital marketing skill gaps in 2024

By Anjana Jayasena, Analytics Manager at Semetrical 

Today’s marketing world demands technical savvy like never before. Many of our clients face challenges in mastering key technical elements, such as smoothly implementing consent mode v2 and ensuring data flows seamlessly for actionable insights. With Analytics enquiries on the rise, it’s clear that businesses must prioritise bolstering their skills. It’s not just about staying ahead of the competition; it’s about empowering brands to make confident, data-driven decisions that drive real growth. Here are some of the biggest digital marketing skill gaps this year:

  1. Analytics 

According to MarketingWeek*, ‘Data and Analytics’ are the biggest skills gap faced by the marketingindustry in 2024, an issue currently experienced by over one third (36.9%) of brand-side marketers. This presents an increase from last year, where data skills were lacking in 34.4% of marketing teams, showing a widening of the gap.

The inability to effectively gather and analyse data is proving a significant barrier for brands and poses a serious area of concern for businesses. We’ve witnessed these challenges among our clients, increasingly so in the past year, with a much greater number of prospects coming to us with Analytics, specifically GA4 related enquiries. According to our Sales team, analytics issues currently make up the largest proportion of our enquiries!

  1. Performance Marketing

Interestingly, one of the most integral elements of Performance Marketing is the ability to analyse data. As such, it’s no surprise that Performance Marketing comes in second place after Data and Analytics.

While you don’t need to be a data wizz, it definitely helps to feel comfortable around large data sets in order to track and analyse the effectiveness of your campaigns and leverage data to deliver highly targeted campaigns too.

  1. Content

In 2024, 18.1% of marketing teams* report a skills gap when it comes to ‘Content and Copywriting’ skills. Providing augmented writing assistance and even content generation, generative AI was used by 76% of marketers** for basic content creation and copywriting in 2023, helping in some way to fill content gaps.

While it is debatable whether AI can be classified as a solution to replacing content skills, the general consensus among digital marketers – and Google – is absolutely not.

  1. Social media 

Surveys* show that 14.8% of marketing teams lack Social Media skills, which is particularly shocking given that 77%*** of businesses use Social Media as part of their marketing strategy

According to HubSpot****, the biggest challenges faced by marketers in Social Media include creating engaging content that generates leads, reaching their target audience, growing and retaining followers, as well as keeping up with trends and algorithm updates.

  1. E-commerce 

It is reported that 12.1%* of marketing teams are suffering from a lack of eCommerce skills, encompassing a variety of areas.

Much like Performance Marketing, eCommerce Marketing is heavily reliant on data skills in order to understand consumer behaviour, improve customer experience, track sales, and optimise strategies. Again, this reiterates just how critical analytical skills are in your marketing teams.





Photo by Elio Santos on Unsplash

Akinfenwa, ULEZ and Nationwide: Inside 5 of 2024’s banned adverts

Every year, plenty of brands find themselves in hot water over their ad campaigns. Whether it’s for making unsubstantiated claims in their adverts, inadvertently supporting harmful stereotypes or marketing age-restricted products in a way that’s appealing to underage viewers, there’s more than just one way to get your advert removed from the air.

In the UK, in the instance of financial adverts, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulate promotional material to make sure they comply with rules and treat customers fairly. Financial promotions must be fair, clear and not misleading regardless of the form the advertisement takes.

With the news that Dominic West’s Nationwide advert has been banned for making false claims, the experts at Anglo Scottish, one of the UK’s leading commercial finance companies, have taken a look at some of the banned adverts we love to hate.

Fourteen adverts across different media platforms have been banned since the turn of the year for various reasons. Here are five of 2024’s most high-profile banned adverts across radio, TV and print, and the reasons why they were banned…

Why are certain adverts banned?

The ASA is the UK’s regulator of advertising. They are responsible for administering the UK’s Advertising Codes, which are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP). The codes consist of the BCAP Code (The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising) and the CAP Code (The UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising).

These codes establish rules for advertisers, agencies and media owners to follow when promoting their product or offering. The ASA and CAP are jointly responsible for ensuring adverts conform to these codes.

LeoVegas’ BetUK advert

During a radio advert for online sports bookmaker BetUK, retired footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa stated he was a brand ambassador for the company.

A complaint lodged against LeoVegas suggested that it was not appropriate for the advert to promote gambling, as Akinfenwa was likely to be of strong appeal to those under 18 years of age. BetUK argued that a player of Akinfenwa’s profile was unlikely to appeal to the youth, given that he spent much of his playing career in Leagues One and Two.

However, the ASA established that Akinfenwa had an unusually large profile – he had become a cult hero on the basis of his ranking as the strongest player in the FIFA series of games. Following this, he was given the nickname ‘The Beast’ and became the subject of an Amazon Prime documentary.

An analysis of his social media following ensued, with at least 157,000 of his social media followers found to be aged under 18. Given the star’s platform amongst teenagers, the advert was deemed to be unsuitable for use by the ASA and was banned.

Mous’ Phone Case advert

Mous, the phone case manufacturer, also fell foul of UK advertising law this year. The brand’s TV advert depicted 50 people throwing their phones – with Mous cases on – into the air. After picking their phones up from the ground, these people assessed their phones to find no damage and the phone functioning as normal.

A complaint was made by a member of the public who felt this advert exaggerated the protective performance of a Mous case. Their phone had been damaged after a short fall, despite having a Mous case on.

Mous appealed that the advert had been put together based on real test data that the company had accrued over a series of intensive tests. The Mous team said the advert did not exaggerate but demonstrated a “genuine record of over 50 simultaneous drop tests.”

The watchdog, however, found that the advert had displayed people dropping their phones from a greater height than the drop test. It was also found that many of the phone’s features were not tested during the drop test. Mous therefore was asked to pull the advert in its current state.

John Mills Ltd.’s Hurricane Spin Scrubber advert

Another 2024 advert was removed from TV for perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes. This advert, which promoted John Mills Ltd. (JML) Direct’s Hurricane Spin Scrubber, showed women using the cleaning tool in bathrooms, kitchens and other areas of the home.

The advert featured four women who described their experience with the tool, with a male host and female assistant demonstrating the product.

Joint CAP and BCAP guidance states that ads “may feature people undertaking gender-stereotypical roles, such as women cleaning,” but the ads must take care to avoid suggesting that the acts shown were not: “always uniquely associated with one gender; the only option available to one gender; or never carried out or displayed by another gender.”

Watchdog guidance indicated that the ad’s male host – seen as an authoritative figure, and not demonstrated actually using the product in the home – reinforced the negative stereotype that the product’s intended use is suitable for women only.

Nationwide’s Branch Promise advert

In perhaps the most high-profile ad ban of the year, one version of Nationwide’s satirical TV, radio and print ad campaign, starring Dominic West, was removed by the ASA. The ad featured West as a representative of a fictional rival bank, which was prepared to close their in-person banks in order to cut costs.

The advert sought to differentiate Nationwide from the fictional bank, with the claim “Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches.” It was this claim, however, that caused 228 complaints to be made, predominantly by customers who had recently experienced their local Nationwide branch closing or cutting opening hours.

Nationwide argued that its advert was intended to be forward-facing and fell in line with their ‘Branch Promise’ that they would not close any branches between the time of the ad airing and 2026.

However, the ASA ruled that the advert was misleading because, though Nationwide had closed fewer branches than any other financial institution in the ten years leading up to the campaign, it had still closed branches during that time. The ASA also stated that the advert implied a longer-term commitment to not closing branches than the actual Branch Promise provided.

As a result, this version of the campaign was removed from the public domain.

Greater London Authority’s ULEZ advert

A radio ad, heard on the air between February and March 2023, which promoted the expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) was also removed from the air by watchdogs. The ad made a claim that “one of the most polluted places in London is inside your car,” leading to a number of complaints from members of the public.

A claim like this required plenty of supportive evidence, which the ASA extensively reviewed. The Greater London Authority (GLA) had pulled data from ten reports examining pollution levels, a video from The Guardian and King’s College London and the Chief Medical Officer’s 2022 report.

The ASA’s review of the evidence established that proximity to the source of pollution (in this case, the car exhaust) did increase exposure. It also confirmed that car users are exposed to air pollution while inside their vehicle and the fact that London’s air is generally polluted.

However, the evidence did not establish how polluted the air inside a car is in relation to other areas of London, meaning the claim that a car’s interior is one of “the most polluted places in London” could not be substantiated. The ad was therefore pulled.

Stuart Wilkie, Head of Commercial Finance at Anglo Scottish, commented: “Staying within advertising laws is easier said than done. The urge to stand out in a crowded marketplace often leads brands to rely on differential messaging, which can walk the line between legitimate and unfounded. Given how intricate and detailed the CAP and BCAP Codes are, it’s important that business leaders understand exactly how their messaging fits into the guidelines.”

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

How to promote your online event

Corporate events are crucial for expanding your customer base and fortifying customer loyalty. Whether it’s a virtual webinar, an internal briefing, or a festive gathering, maximising the visibility of your events is paramount.

Understanding how you can promote your online events is the key to garnering more positive attention and increasing your audience reach.

Here are some tips on how to promote your online event…

  1. Implement SEO

Ensure you implement SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) when promoting your online event. Implementing SEO enhances its discoverability on search engines, driving increased traffic and participation.

By optimising event titles, descriptions, and keywords, you improve the likelihood of your event appearing prominently in relevant search results. The heightened visibility attracts a larger audience, boosting event attendance and engagement.

  1. Send Out Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are a critical tool for promoting online events, offering a direct and personalised approach to engage potential attendees. To ensure a successful email campaign, segment your audience based on interests and demographics for targeted messaging. Compelling subject lines are essential to capture attention and convey the value and urgency of attending the event.

Create engaging email content highlighting the event’s key benefits and speakers to entice participation. Integrate mobile optimisation to ensure seamless viewing across devices, maximising accessibility.

Personalise the email by addressing recipients by name and customising content based on past interactions, fostering a sense of connection. Finally, implement a follow-up strategy with reminder emails, updates, or post-event resources to maintain engagement and drive attendance.

  1. Create an Event Brochure

Utilise an event brochure when promoting an online event. The brochure should provide comprehensive information in an interactive format. It will serve as a centralised platform for detailing event agendas, key speakers, and registration links.

When creating an event brochure,  Integrate dynamic multimedia elements on your brochure to captivate audiences, foster excitement, and drive anticipation. Ensure the brochure is easily accessible online for easy sharing across various digital channels, amplifying reach and visibility.

  1. Build a Good Website

A well-built website is crucial for promoting an online event. It is where attendees can refer for information about the event and includes a link to register. The website will serve as a professional and credible platform to showcase event details and speakers, instilling confidence in potential attendees.

With intuitive navigation and responsive design, it ensures a seamless user experience across devices, encouraging them to register. Additionally, it facilitates SEO optimisation and integration with other promotional channels, maximising visibility and attracting a wider audience.

  1. Use Social Media

Social media is one of the most effective tools for promoting an online event due to its unparalleled reach and engagement potential. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram enable direct interaction with target audiences, facilitating the dissemination of event details, updates, and engaging content.

Leveraging social media enhances visibility, encourages audience participation through likes, shares, and comments, and fosters community-building around the event. Additionally, it allows for targeted advertising and influencer collaborations, amplifying promotional efforts and driving registration and attendance.

The rise of TikTok shop as a tier-one marketplace 

TikTok Shop has emerged as a formidable player in the world of social commerce,  challenging established platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. The platform’s swift ascent has captured the attention of online sellers and industry observers alike. Sarah Znideric, VP of Global Partnerships at Linnworks, discusses the rise of TikTok Shop, some of its biggest success stories, and its potential to compete as a genuine tier-one marketplace…

TikTok Shop Success Stories

TikTok Shop’s success stories are nothing short of remarkable. From humble beginnings, some sellers have experienced exponential growth using the platform. One strong example of this is the case of Nature Spell, a hair and skincare company, which started with just a few orders a day and eventually peaked at around 9,000 product orders daily.

Other success stories on the platform have included Maters & Co, which received more than 100,000 orders for its pure honey products in its first year on the platform, and the influencer Cariad Ryan, who, as an affiliate, sold £90,000 worth of TikTok Shop products in four hours on Black Friday last year. These achievements demonstrate how TikTok Shop can help to translate ‘hype’ into real world success, and drive substantial sales and visibility for businesses.

The Diversity of TikTok Shop Products

The platform caters for a wide range of product categories, including beauty, fashion, homeware, pet care, food, refurbished tech, and books. While beauty and fashion products have seen perhaps the biggest success, sellers from diverse industries have also found sales success on TikTok Shop. And this success is driven by the platform’s inherent blend of community, entertainment, and shopping, which have contributed to its widespread appeal.

The Strategic Timing of TikTok’s ecommerce Move

Combined with the product offerings on the platform, the launch of the platform itself seems well-timed. In a similar vein to eBay’s growth trajectory 20 years prior, TikTok benefits from a mature infrastructure, ensuring a quick and natural expansion. TikTok’s commitment to ‘community commerce’ sets it apart, providing the app’s users with an immersive shopping experience from within the TikTok app.

Gaining New Customers on TikTok Shop 

The platform has proven effective in helping retailers to discover new customers without cannibalising their existing traffic. Often, TikTok Shop attracts an entirely different audience, or engages with customers that might not have otherwise made purchases on different marketplaces and platforms. The relatively fast sign up process, combined with the platform’s small commission fees ranging from 1.8% to 5% on sold products, have provided a cost effective and convenient revenue stream for sellers.

The Key to Success on TikTok Shop

While it is possible to simply list products on TikTok Shop, sellers that embrace a TikTok-centric approach will reap the most rewards, creating engaging and native content that aligns with the platform’s entertaining nature. This emphasis towards creativity extends to becoming a creator on the platform itself, where regular posts can generate a significant and engaged following. And for those that may be more camera shy and reluctant to get involved in this way, it is possible to leverage TikTok’s community of influencers to achieve an alternate method of product promotion, often in exchange for an affiliate promotion.

The Future of Online Marketplaces

The arrival of TikTok Shop represents a paradigm shift in online marketplaces, and provides a vibrant, community-driven shopping experience that promises a dynamic future for retailers. Its unique approach, coupled with a commitment to ‘community commerce’, positions TikTok as a formidable player in the evolving ecommerce landscape.

The increasing popularity of TikTok both as a social media platform, but also as a new online marketplace, presents online retailers with a compelling opportunity to take advantage of what is a uniquely diverse and engaged audience. The platform’s success stories, diverse product offerings, and commitment to community-driven commerce make it a strong contender for tier-one marketplace status. As the future of online marketplaces takes shape, TikTok Shop stands at the forefront, inviting savvy retailers to embrace the changing face of ecommerce.

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Could games be key to helping brands tackle social and environmental issues?

By Glenn Gillis (pictured), CEO, Sea Monster

In 2023, the world saw record high summer temperatures in Europe and the US, deadly floods in locations across the globe, and catastrophic wildfires in Greece, Canada, Turkey, and many other locations. On their own, each of these incidents is a tragedy. Collectively, these indicators serve as a stark warning, highlighting the significant impact the climate crisis is already having on societies across the globe. Taken together, they represent a profound warning about how big an impact the climate crisis already has on societies worldwide.

At the same time, almost all of those societies are grappling with significant social issues. Whether it’s income and wealth inequality, gender, race, and class discrimination, crime, or education disparities. These are all issues that must be addressed for any society to flourish.

Addressing both climate change and the myriad of social issues listed above requires intervention from stakeholders across society, including brands. For many companies, that has meant incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards into their operations. Those integrations don’t always come easily, however. In fact, in a 2022 survey, 44% of UK businesses admitted that they were failing to deliver on their sustainability commitments.

Fortunately, there are strategies that brands of all sizes can adopt when it comes to simplifying ESG integrations and encouraging participation from their employees and customers alike to join their mission. Games, in particular, have an important role to play.

Building on brand purpose

To understand how games can help brands tackle social and environmental issues, it’s critical  to recognise  the importance of brand purpose. Beyond the “what” and “how,” brand purpose can broadly be defined as a company’s “why”. It’s also what customers look for and most easily latch onto when they choose which brands to support.

Increasingly, that means putting their environmental and social commitments  at the heart of their branding. A report released in October last year, for example, found that 70% of consumers want to know what brands are doing to address those kinds of issues, with 46% paying close attention to a brand’s social responsibility efforts when making a purchase.

While the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a ready-made framework that brands can work from, communicating brand purpose based on that is a different proposition. That’s where games and gaming can make a significant difference as a vehicle of communication, a place to build communities and as a means to inspire shifts in behaviour. In this way, games can be leveraged to help brands connect with their customers to drive this higher purpose while also driving their own marketing and brand goals. 

The power of impact games

In order to get those results, brands can’t just expect to build any game. Rather, brands need to adopt impact gaming strategies in order to maximise the power of the medium.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term “impact games,” chances are you’ve encountered one at some point or another. If you or your child have ever used a game to supplement educational activities or have seen a game used as a workplace training tool, you’ve witnessed impact games in action.

These games can mirror the dynamic interactions, structural complexities, and feedback loops that characterise real-world situations and scenarios. In doing so, they can encourage and reward the kinds of outcomes and behaviours that organisations want to see from their customers and employees in a comparatively low-stakes environment. They work because, rather than simply trying to build an association between a specific brand and positive social and environmental impacts, they provide an authentic and relevant way for brands and consumers to exchange and share value around these issues.

An industry adept at driving change

When it comes to environmental and social issues, many brands have built up an extensive understanding of environmental and social issues and how to address them and talk about them through gaming.

A prime example of how games can not only target broad audiences but also produce valuable insights is UNDP’s Mission 1.5. This game served as a climate policy education tool and provided a platform for players to vote on the climate solutions they wanted to see happen. According to UNDP, they received 1.2 million respondents, making Mission 1.5’s “People’s Climate Vote” the largest survey of public opinion on climate change ever conducted. Using a new and unconventional approach to polling, results span 50 countries, covering 56% of the world’s population, showcasing the potential for how brands can use games as a dynamic tool for education and obtaining audience data and sentiment at scale.

As another example, 2023 saw leading coconut water brand, VitaCoco create an experience on Roblox called ‘Coconut Grove’. Through interactive experiences and games, Vita Coco was able to not only spread awareness about responsible farming practices with the online community they had built in their game but they also actively supported sustainability with a pledge to donate $1 to its charity partners in Brazil for every coconut seedling planted in the Roblox experience, up to $75,000.

Similarly, as part of their commitment to supporting the agroecological movement, Nestle France launched a Farmtopia experience in Minecraft in order to help raise awareness among young people about the world of regenerative agriculture. And other impact games with an environmental and social lens are also making a difference in the fashion and finance spaces, among others.

Big issues require big engagement

There is no doubt that brands have a significant responsibility when it comes to helping find solutions to environmental and social issues. Their ability to do so, however, depends heavily on keeping customers and employees as engaged as possible and promoting their values as a brand with their community.

When it comes to driving engagement and reaching their audiences in an effective way, there are few more powerful tools than impact games. So, by working with the right game development house, brands can drive their ESG and sustainability commitments forward and promote their brand purpose in ways that would previously have felt impossible.

Can ‘fin-fluencers’ play a role in your B2B tech PR strategy?

By Lee Simpson, Head Of Technology Practice, Skout

Whether you call them Key Opinion Leaders, influencers or simply celebrities, leveraging the reach of influential people in various industries has long been part of PR strategies. The definition of what an ‘influencer’ is varies and the concept is nothing new; in our business a journalist can be an influencer, able to shape public opinion and raise awareness of new products and services. And we don’t need to tell you that the proliferation of social media over the past 20 years has given rise to a new breed of influencers using these free platforms to promote themselves and endorse products, in return for an often handsome fee.

For B2B businesses, the role of the influencer and where this sits in the PR and marketing mix has had varying results. Big name celebrity endorsements for B2B brands is still in its relative infancy when compared to the consumer world, and the jury is out as to the ROI in engaging with them. Gordon Ramsay lent his star power to the contact centre software company NICE back in 2019. Deep pockets are a necessity for such an endorsement, something which will be beyond the reach of most tech companies.

For fintechs specifically, or businesses targeting financial services, working with a financial influencer, or ‘fin-fluencer’, could be beneficial. However, there are a number of things to consider before you take the plunge.

Introducing the fin-fluencers

There are a wealth of individuals who make a living offering consumer finance advice. From Martin Lewis, to Suze Orman, consumers now often take these fin-fluencers’ word as verbatim. During the energy bills crisis of 2022, for example, Martin Lewis’s status as the oracle on all things consumer finance had never been greater. But when it comes to the B2B world, fin-fluencers are less prolific, but the power they can unleash for your fintech brand can be enormous.

Take Jim Marous as an example. Marous has built an around being a financial influencer, speaking about digital banking, banking transformation and the finance industry at events around the world. His platform allows him to align himself with certain fintech brands, primarily through sponsored thought leadership content opportunities. For example, Qorus published this whitepaper through Marous’s publication Digital Banking Report. His name instantly adds a layer of credibility to the brand and serves as something of an endorsement, with the content being viewed by potential Qorus customers. But again, the investment in such a package will not be insignificant.

Finding the right fin-fluencers

Before you embark on your search for a fin-fluencer to endorse your fintech, clearly map out objectives and consider the why. What do you want to achieve and will a financial influencer be the appropriate route to go down?

It’s important to remember that trust is key when it comes to recommendations for new technology vendors. Your prospective customers will need proof points – the endorsement of a thought leader or respected industry voice will only get you so far. So lean on your customers first and foremost and leverage their testimonials and case studies. Then consider if a fin-fluencer can add weight, and ultimately value, to your story.

If you’re doing this independently, you can use X and LinkedIn to research relevant individuals. You could even post a #journorequest or #prrequest for a #finfluencer on these platforms and then explore how you could work together. It may be there are reciprocal benefits to the engagement, content that can be shared on your site and theirs, so don’t be afraid to ask the question.

How influential this will really be among your target audience – which can be niche, to say the least – is where robust analytics and attribution modelling are a must. Using UTM tracking links across any shared content by your fin-fluencer so you can track ROI will be key.

Why Christmas window displays can still make a great social marketing opportunity

The Christmas window display has become a UK tradition up and down the country, especially in tourist hot spots. Since being pioneered by RH Macy’s in 1874, big businesses are still finding innovative ways to keep the festive feels fresh 149 years later.

This isn’t a coincidence, the best businesses in the country and beyond have realised that an innovative window display makes for the perfect festive marketing tool. Christmas window displays increase brand awareness, promote products, can be themed alongside marketing campaigns and do the rounds on social media.

In 2022, seasonal sales in the UK were forecast to reach £82 billion. This is the highest retail value of festival sales in Europe, making window displays more important than ever to help compete in this lively market – especially with UK adults buying roughly 32 gifts a year.

But what are the best and most inventive Christmas window displays of the last decade? We spoke to the slimline aluminium window experts at The Heritage Windows Company to get their perspective on which displays went above and beyond to stand out from the rest.

Harvey Nichols (2022) – a festive fashion show

A love letter to the glamour fashion trends of 2022, Harvey Nichols’ 2022 Christmas window display was adorned with mirror balls, high fashion and sequins – reflecting the faces of happy visitors at its iconic unveiling in Knightsbridge.

The focus on metallics and reflective surfaces lit the windows up like a Christmas tree, creating an eye-catching showcase of bright lights and fashion. All glitz and glamour, Harvey Nichols stood out from Harrods and Selfridges by getting their display ready by the end of October… we’ll let you decide whether that’s too early or not!

Harvey Nichols has understood what it means to create a workplace that welcomes customers and employees with fantastic use of lighting, a skill which can be applied anywhere with careful consideration.

We can’t wait to see what they cook up this year.


Harrods (2018) – Instagrammable festivity

Harrods’ 2018 display, Fantastica, showcased everything that captures the minds of the Instagram generation – finding inventive ways to reflect the spirit of social media in the festive season.

Each window in the display represents a different photo frame of Instagrammable festive subjects, from gift giving to Christmas dinner, all of which are elevated with a colourful and considered design.

Harrods established an entire department to design this display, The Department of Surprise and Delight. Sounds like a great place to work, if you ask us!

They did a fantastic job on Fantastica, mixing glamour, traditional Christmas spirit and modern trends in a way which didn’t feel out of place for a second.

Fenwick (2018) – we’re walking in the air

2018 was a great year for Christmas window displays across the country, with Fenwick’s Newcastle display tugging on the country’s collective nostalgic heartstrings. Their display, We’re Walking in the Air, reenacted famous scenes from the Christmas picture book classic, The Snowman (1978).

Each window as magical as the last, scenes from the book were lovingly recreated with impressive detail and lighting. The scenes were partly animatronic, too – capturing the feeling of the snowman coming to life surrounded by moving train sets, spinning platforms and all kinds of festive magic.

This display had something for everyone, especially for nostalgic parents and children discovering the magic for the very first time.

Fortnum & Mason (2019) – feline festive

A throwback to the department store’s roots, this Christmas display depicts festive characters from artist Edward Bawden’s Fortnum & Mason 1958 Christmas campaign.

The detailing in this display is simply outstanding, featuring feline characters making Christmas magic behind the scenes in a Christmas factory. Golden pipes, illuminated bottles of champagne being corked, Christmas crackers getting tested and more are represented in each subsequent window.

The charming feline models steal the show, however, with each as characterful as the last.

Selfridges (2018) – rockin’ around the Christmas tree

In 2018, Selfridges went for a ‘Heritage Rocks Christmas’ theme, dressing up Santa in an assortment of different rock’n’roll outfits over the decades.

From glam rock to the 90s, Santa absolutely sleighed all the iconic looks featured. With golden mic stands and plenty of power stances, we love the ambition to do Christmas a little bit differently – finding the fun in a Christmas winter display that invokes all the excitement of the first Slade track of the season.

We can’t wait to see what iconic displays are featured this year – but one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be hard to top these fantastic windows. We’re sure they’ll all be up for the challenge.

‘Pantry p*rn’ is the latest retail social media trend – Here’s how to make it work

Rachael Kiss, Marketing Manager at home and catering supplier Alliance Online shares six ways in which retailers can capitalise on the ‘pantry p*rn’ trend in 2023…

In a nutshell, ‘pantry p*rn’ is a trend where people showcase their aesthetically-pleasing pantries on social media. This kind of content is proving particularly popular on TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram, and essentially depicts well-stocked and neatly organised pantries in users’ homes.”

Pantry tours are certainly not a new phenomenon, but it appears that the trend has got a second wind in 2023. Here’s how you can use the phenomenon to boost sales.”

1. Understand the trend

Getting to grips with what the pantry trend is all about, and why it is so popular at the moment, is crucial. In my opinion, this type of content is resonating with so many because it is aspirational, inspirational and ultimately aesthetically pleasing. This is something which retailers can tap into when marketing their products and creating content.

It’s also important to understand who is interested in pantry content. Recently, searches for the term ‘dream pantry’ are up 100% year on year on Pinterest. According to the social media platform, females aged 25-30 are the core demographic.

Finally, investigate the peak seasons of interest for pantry products and content. Based on Google Trends data, there is continued interest related to the topic of pantries, but it spikes in the colder months (from September to March).

2. Consider your stock 

Analyse your stock to determine which of your products may fit into the “pantry p*rn” aesthetic, and therefore will appeal to consumers interested in the trend. Products typically involved in the trend, with a high search volume on Google, include pantry shelves and pantry storage, such as baskets and jars to store food in.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box for ways in which your products could allow someone to create their dream pantry. For example, the pantries on social media tend to have a neutral colour scheme – do you stock paint which would work for this? Labels for produce are also frequently seen within the trend, something which craft companies can use to their advantage.

3. Create a targeted page on your website 

In order to capitalise on the high search volume related to pantry content, create a page on your website designed to gain traffic and drive sales.

For example, the page could be a ‘guide to pantry p*rn’, which can include links to relevant products and calls to action throughout the copy. Format the page as a guide explaining how to aesthetically organise your pantry, and include images.

Consider taking new product photos which reflect the trend. If a customer is browsing for something to make their pantry look like their aspirations, showcasing a product in this environment will make it much more appealing.

4. Optimise your content to increase traffic

After creating content about pantries on your website, ensure that it is optimised to give it the best chance of ranking well within the Google search results.”

Conduct keyword research to uncover what people are searching for, then edit headings and copy so that they are used naturally throughout. For example, popular terms with high search volumes in the UK include:

  • Storage ideas

  • Cupboard storage ideas

  • Pantry shelving”

Including internal and external links, within the page in question, will also have SEO benefits, as well as making the content easy to read for customers.

Use social media to your advantage

#pantrygoals has more than 261 million views on TikTok and there are 259 thousand posts on Instagram containing the hashtag #pantryorganisation. Clearly, this is a trend which has taken social media by storm. So, if you’re looking to promote your products, or simply gain brand awareness by providing content related to pantries, social media is the best means.

We know that there is an active interest in pantries on these platforms, so organic content should work well to showcase your offering. You also have the option to run paid-for ads if you really want to get in front of the target consumer.

Bear in mind that platforms such as TikTok ban certain words that may be used in your content and could get your video taken down. The word “p*rn” will likely fall into this criteria, so avoid using it at all costs.

Be mindful of potential backlash

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying getting a sneak peek into a well-organised and ultimately satisfying pantry. However, well-performing pantry content tends to showcase a fully stocked pantry of food, in a plethora of neatly organised jars. Be mindful to avoid promoting overspending on both food produce and containers, which could be damaging for your brand’s image – particularly in light of the cost of living crisis.

Image by CSU-Extension from Pixabay

Top ten PR and marketing tactics to help retain e-commerce customers

In 2022, the UK was expected to have almost 60 million e-commerce users — leaving only a minority of the population as non-digital buyers. As such, e-commerce has undeniably become the norm for shoppers everywhere in the UK, resulting in an increasingly competitive environment.

With this in mind, and following a 7,900% increase in monthly searches for “customer retention” over the last three years, PR and communications specialists Wild PR, has shared ten ways e-commerce business owners can build excellent customer relations and retain existing customers to maximise return sales and up-sells…

Define your target client personas

In order to retain customers, you need to ensure your strategy is formed on attracting the right people and getting a comprehensive understanding of their needs, goals and objectives.

Clarify your perfect target audience and personas by researching the current industry landscape and competitor profiles, as well as listening to your current customers so you can define your tone of voice to best engage with them. This will allow you to appeal to the right clients for your business.

Embed your brand purpose

When choosing brands to do business with, today’s consumers are more interested in the impact that brands have on the world than just what products or services they offer. To take your brand to the next level, you need a mission statement that resonates with your audience.

Brand purpose is essential because it shows customers that you’re more than just a product, service or advertising campaign; you have a larger goal, and it’s not just about making a profit.

Make customers feel appreciated and valued

This is often as simple as saying thank you. Express your thanks with a special written note or a coupon for their next visit in their delivery or via their order confirmation. This is a way to remind them again that they made the right decision in doing business with you.

Go the extra mile

Why not send a Happy Birthday or customer anniversary offer as a show of appreciation for your customer’s loyalty?

Maximise the use of data from your CRM to identify the best possible times to interact with your customers. Whether it’s their birthday, their anniversary of becoming a customer with you, their pet’s birthday or perhaps their wedding anniversary, there are multiple opportunities to show your customer how much you appreciate them.

This may be an email with a discount for their order, or you could send them an unexpected sample gift in the post with an offer code allowing for potential appreciation posts on their social media platforms, which could, in turn, generate customer referrals. Win-win!

Ask for feedback

How can you improve your customer service if you don’t ask them what they think? Surveys and other means of gathering feedback can help you to learn what your customers enjoy and where improvements can be made.

You can even incentivise this by providing a discount code for everyone who completes the survey as a token of thanks, which could result in increased orders.

Value honesty and integrity

As a business, it is crucial always to have a culture of honesty and integrity. Refrain from blaming the customer if something goes wrong with your product or if something is missing from an order and you still need to meet the customer’s expectations.

While the issues might be out of your hands, or it might indeed be the customer’s fault, find a way to fix the issue as quickly as possible and promptly respond to complaints politely and professionally.

If communication is being undertaken on social media pages, look for a way to take the communication privately to minimise the chances of the post showing in potential customer feeds.

Engage in two-way communication with customers

Two-way communication between brands and consumers is beneficial for both parties. Social media platforms, in particular, have made it easy for companies to connect with their customers so they no longer feel like strangers.

Make sure to respond to consumer feedback or questions, as failing to do so can create a sense of distrust, or potential customers could view you as being inactive and, as such, risk the loss of orders.

Building a community online

As part of the buyer journey, consumers are often primarily looking to learn more about a company’s products or services before making their purchase decision.

By building a strong online community that aligns with your business, you can strengthen brand loyalty and attract new customers. Companies can easily achieve this by providing educational content for customers through newsletters, forums, videos, blog posts, and even whitepapers.

Digital PR and Traditional PR

Customers who see a company being talked about in positive news stories are more likely to feel secure about their buying decisions when purchasing from the business.

Traditional PR, such as company announcements, product launches, thought leadership or commentary on relevant topics, can boost credibility when it comes to retaining and attracting clients.

While Digital PR can help drive referral traffic through an element of link building, helping your site rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). This tactic helps get you in front of new customers, reminds lapsed customers about your brand, and makes loyal customers advocate for your brand. All tactics that help increase sales.

Hire a PR agency to manage communications

Hiring a PR agency can help brands stay ahead of the curve and reach a much wider audience.

Usually, the agency would work alongside internal marketing teams or directly with CEOs and business owners to promote an e-commerce brand’s products and services while positioning them as the best option in the market.

How can marketeers address ‘loyalty destroying’ home delivery experiences

By Kitty Poole (pictured, above), Chief Marketing Officer at Doddle

Home delivery hit the headlines in the UK last December when a perfect storm of Royal Mail strikes and extreme weather resulted in huge backlogs and many people not getting their parcels in time for Christmas. Doddle found that 62% of shoppers had experienced at least one delivery issue in the month, and 39% of consumers were considering switching retailers to avoid problematic carriers, their reputations damaged by the peak delivery failures.

For marketeers, this has once again highlighted the delivery experience as an important vulnerability in the supply chain with a material brand impact. Putting safeguards in place to ensure consumers avoid the annoying and loyalty-destroying experiences of delivery failure will be crucial at a time when retaining customers is more important than ever, given the challenging economic background and drop in consumer spending.

Since the Covid pandemic consumers have become accustomed to online shopping and increased their expectations of retailers.  A poor delivery experience can be extremely damaging to long-term customer loyalty and generate bad reviews or other negative brand impressions. This is a major challenge for marketeers who are increasingly aware that what were traditionally viewed as operational issues, are now at the heart of any reputational marketing.

For marketeers the Out-of-home (OOH) delivery offer is a win in many ways. It gives shoppers the ability to select convenient local pickup and drop-off points for their online shopping and returns, providing them with choice and greater flexibility.  In addition, the increased security helps address other concerns.

One of the most potent benefits of OOH delivery is that it escapes the familiar unpleasantries of a bad home delivery experience. There can be challenges (queueing at a post office or shop counter for a parcel isn’t always ideal) but in working with customers, we’ve repeatedly seen OOH delivery achieving the highest Net Promoter Score of any delivery type. In addition, the psychological benefit of controlling when to pick up a parcel encourages customers to feel positive about the merchant.

We recently conducted research into European Out-of-Home Delivery Options, surveying retailers across the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy to learn which merchants are offering OOH delivery; how they’re making it happen; whether it’s working for them; and what carrier partners need to provide to merchants to make their ecommerce checkouts more effective at converting and retaining customers.

Our survey showed that 77% of European merchants offer OOH delivery and are reaping the benefits, including increased conversion rates, average order value and net promoter score.  50% of our merchant respondents said that they saw an increase in conversion rates since adding the out-of-home delivery options, with 20% saying they saw a significant increase.

OOH deliveries cater to an important demographic of shoppers who cannot guarantee they’ll be at home to accept deliveries, particularly during the working day. Giving them the confidence that they won’t miss their delivery should make them more likely to purchase in the first place and 55% of merchants surveyed saw an increase in average order value since adding out-of-home delivery options to their checkouts. In simple terms, customers who are confident that their delivery will be available at a convenient time and place are liable to spend more.

In addition to enabling the reduction of delivery costs OOH deliveries can also be marketed as the sustainable delivery option.  With fewer deliveries being sent to individual homes, and consumers trip-chaining their errands and parcel pick-ups or drop-offs into local collection points, emissions are reduced as fewer kilometres are driven per parcel. 80% of our survey respondents indicated that they believed it was important to offer consumers a sustainable delivery option – a role OOH delivery should absolutely qualify for and can be promoted to fill.

As the world continues to ‘open up’ and the consumer becomes increasingly busier, implementing integrated OOH delivery options in 2023 will be crucial for retailers to stay ahead of the curve and meet the demands and preferences of the ever-evolving online shopper.  Delivery is often an underrated aspect of customer experience. However, thinking of it as the culmination of the shopping experience requires us to understand the impacts of a negative delivery experience on the retailer’s brand.  In contrast to this, OOH delivery offers huge opportunities for everyone involved in the delivery journey – the customer, carrier and retailer.  For the marketing team it means they are no longer fighting brand damaging issues and can focus on the positives.