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Do you specialise in Conversion Rate Optimisation? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Digital Marketing Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on different parts of the print and marketing sectors – and in August we’ll be focussing on Conversion Rate Optimisation.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help marketing industry professionals find the best products and services available today.

So, if you specialise in Conversion Rate Optimisation solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact James Howe on j.howe@forumevents.co.uk.

Here are the areas we’ll be covering, month by month:

Aug – Conversion Rate Optimisation
Sep – Digital Signage
Oct – Brochure Printing
Nov – Creative & Design
Dec – Online Strategy

Will marketing become a remote working profession after COVID-19?

If you’ve enjoyed working from home these past few months, you might be in luck: remote working could be here to stay. Chris Stappard, Managing Director of Edward Reed Recruitment, explains why flexible and remote working could become the norm for marketing professionals after the pandemic has passed...

At the start of 2020, flexible working was viewed by many as a perk or a privilege — something that an employee might work their way up to after a few months or even years at a company. But then the COVID-19 outbreak hit, and all that changed overnight as businesses and agencies across the country were forced to start working from home full-time. 

Now, even though the lockdown is beginning to ease, most people are still working from their kitchen tables and home studies, and many marketing professionals haven’t set foot in an office building for over three months. With the government continuing to advise that those that can work from home, should work from home, it looks as though most businesses will be working remotely until at least the late autumn. 

But what will happen when the danger has passed, or a vaccine is found? I think there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that flexible and remote working may become the new normal for a lot of professions — including marketing. Here, I’ll take a look at just some of the reasons that the industry might embrace remote working. 

Employees have enjoyed working remotely 

There’s plenty of evidence to show that workers in most professions prefer remote working, but it’s especially popular with those in the marketing sector. Over 90% of marketing professionals say they prefer to have some say over how and where they work, according to a survey from Marketing Week. 

Employees cite all sorts of reasons for preferring remote and flexible working, including skipping the commute, being able to plan their working day around childcare and other personal commitments, and having a better work/life balance. It’s clear that this can be a much better way to work for employees and, as a result, they may be much more likely to petition their employers for this to continue after the lockdown is over. 

Flexible and remote working may help with recruitment 

Now that employees have enjoyed a taste of flexible working, I think it’s safe to assume that it may become a higher priority for workers when job hunting. And that means, if employers want to be ahead of the competition in the race for the best talent, they’ll need to build flexibility and remote working into new roles. If staff start to see this as the bare minimum, rather than a perk, employers will need to start offering it as standard if they want to find the best hires. 

It’s not just about offering an attractive workplace culture to prospective hires, though: it could make recruitment easier for employers, too. If staff can work remotely for some or all of the working week, then staff won’t need to live within commuting distance, removing the need for lengthy commutes or relocation. This would greatly broaden the talent pool employers have access to and allow companies to recruit staff at a national rather than local level. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is something that employers are keen to capitalise on after the lockdown has eased.

It can help cut costs and increase profit margins

Over the past few months, we’ve seen that it’s possible for businesses and agencies to operate efficiently while working from home. It just goes to show that remote working can be a productive and effective way to work, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to result in decreased output or a loss of profit. As a result, I expect that many businesses will be wondering whether it’s really necessary to spend a sizeable chunk of revenue on an office space anymore. This is especially relevant when you consider that the lockdown has been a tough trading period for a lot of businesses, so any opportunity to cut costs will look very appealing. 

In future, I think that marketing companies may make the switch to working remotely for most or part of the week, allowing employers to downsize their premises and save money. It may even become the norm for businesses to hire meeting space on an ad hoc basis for client meetings, removing the need for a private office space of any kind. 

Tools and software are improving all the time 

Remote working wouldn’t be possible without the internet and, these days, employers have more tech and tools at their disposal to maximise productivity during home working than ever before. Software like Skype, Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams can facilitate meetings and collaboration between employees, and monitoring software can also be used to ensure that staff are using their time productively. 

The availability and affordability of these technologies means that businesses of almost any size can make the shift to home working with minimum fuss and expense. And, as employers have seen just how effective tech can be, I expect that they may be more willing to consider allowing staff to work remotely full-time.

Whether you’ve loved or hated working from home through the pandemic, I think we can all admit that things are unlikely to go back to the way they were before the lockdown any time soon. And, with many businesses starting to wake up to the benefits of remote and flexible working, I imagine it’s only a matter of time before this becomes the norm in the marketing world.  

Advanced TV: No longer a mystery with VDX.tv’s latest white paper

By VDX.tv

We believe in the power of video to deliver full and seamless experiences across all screens. That’s why in March 2020, Exponential launched new division VDX.tv – precisely to focus on tailormade video-driven experiences that captivate, compel and convert consumers on whichever device they are on.

VDX.tv enables brands to connect with their audiences in meaningful ways by providing bespoke video units and data to target only the most relevant audiences across all screens, from mobile, desktop and even OTT (Over-the-top).

OTT is a form of Advanced TV (a catchall term for any television content beyond linear television) that is on everyone’s lips but also one very new for many marketers. For those who are still uncertain about how to best leverage the benefits of Advanced TV, we set out to arm marketers with the knowledge to advertise across all screens with confidence.  

Our guide, entitled “Advanced Learning, How Advanced TV Can Drive Brand Results”, provides a detailed explanation of what Advanced TV is in all its forms, why it is important to consider and how it can help brands generate results. It also includes basic definitions of terminology used in a multi-screen world, data and examples of usage levels of OTT devices across European markets. 

Additionally, we’ve included eight reasons why Advanced TV should matter to brands and advertisers. These eight points cover: the growth of OTT service subscribers (already increased in the UK, with four in ten viewers claiming that online video services are their primary means of watching television and film), the impact of video, the ability to personalise and segment messages thanks to the use of data, the importance of offering an omnichannel experience across all devices, and lastly, the ability to drive results.

The Advanced TV guide can be downloaded here.

Content Compass: A tool to power your Performance Content

By Kate Birtwistle, New Business & Marketing Director at agenda21

There is so much content being published every day. But how do you know what content to produce for your brand, what’s going to be interesting and relevant to your audience, and what impact it will have on your business?

Digital marketing agency – agenda21 – have developed a tool which answers these very questions, and is revolutionising the way brands approach content marketing. By using the tool – Content Compass – brands are able to deliver competitive, empowered content that’s created from the aggregation of an entire market’s search data. Rigorously filtered to reflect specific topics, the tool speeds up the research and ideation process to help get quality content over the line and published faster.

Originating as an SEO tool, Content Compass allows brands to find, use and sort all their competitors (and their) search query and ranking data to help build relevant, authoritative pages that will out-perform competitors on the search engine results page (SERPs). It can also see where direct competitors are under-performing and where there are other opportunities for content production.

By taking advantage of these opportunities, Content Compass helps brands to grow online visibility both by targeting untapped searches for information and improving topic relevance to help their website rank when people search to buy their products or services.

How does it work?

High quality content strategies begin and end with data. Content Compass ingests a huge amount of information, such as search queries, volumes, ranking pages and position. Included in this is competitor data, which allows us to easily benchmark how a brand’s site is performing within their market sector for a specific topic or single query.

The tool also allows the flexibility  to analyse each competitor page and see exactly why it’s ranking well. What does that mean for brands? It’s a clear insight into best practice content for their specific industry, exposing what their competitors do well, and opportunities that competitors are missing, that the brand can then capitalise on.

What are the benefits?

  • Quick to understand topic areas, saving valuable time on laborious research – that’s more time than can be spent on creating brilliant content!
  • Richer volume of data available from a larger competitor set, sorted using machine learning
  • Find untapped opportunities and spot gaps for content insights
  • Data updated monthly, so we’re always using recent keyword data and accurate rankings of how content is performing

If you’d like to find out more about how Content Compass can help your content marketing and SEO, please contact Kate Birtwistle, New Business & Marketing Director at agenda21 – kbirtwistle@agenda21digital.com.

WEBINAR: Maximise your time and gain the competitive advantage

By Woven Agency

Thriving in business means maximising your competitive advantages. That could be offering something no one else can or investing in ambitious, talented people. It might even mean employing insights-driven and creative branding agencies – like us. 

But the competitive advantage you really can maximise, no matter how big or small you are, is how you use your time. Because the better you use it, the more it’s worth – and this is especially true for sales and marketing teams.

As a brand agency, we’ve worked with numerous sales and marketing divisions and we know that while they want to spend their time actually selling and marketing, all too often they can’t. Instead, they’re chasing cold leads, rearranging meetings, writing emails from scratch, or struggling to remember who said what and when to their clients.

These teams don’t make the most of their time, which means they don’t make the most of their talent.

To prevent this, we use a user-friendly and highly automated CRM (customer relationship management) platform called HubSpot.

HubSpot’s sales pitch talks about attracting more customers and creating life-long advocates of your brand. And it does do that. But the message, to us, is simpler – it helps you spend less time doing what you shouldn’t, and more time doing what you should.

It takes those time-consuming tasks that slow down and infuriate your sales and marketing teams and makes them a simple part of your process. 

Which means less time doing manual tasks and more time creating marketing strategies, meeting clients, producing amazing creative, and closing deals.

Or more time at home with your family or on the sofa with a glass of Chablis. Whatever works for you.

To us, maximising your time is a competitive advantage, and HubSpot let you do it easily. And because we’re a HubSpot partner agency – which means they officially recognise we provide great service to our clients through their platform – we help companies use their time more effectively and more profitably.

So, if you want your time to be worth more, contact us at https://woven.agency.

And if you’d like to learn more about HubSpot, you can register for our ‘Unboxing HubSpot’s Growth Platform’ webinar – a 60-minute webinar on 14th August hosted by Woven & HubSpot to take you through everything you need to know about how HubSpot can improve your business.

WEBINAR REWIND: 100 Digital Tactics for Marketing Resilience and Growth, with Mapp Digital

Don’t worry if you missed last week’s online breakfast webinar from Mapp Digital – You can now re-watch the entire session online!

With the emergence of Covid-19 and social distancing, many businesses have had to refocus on their online channels, accelerating the need for digital transformation and better marketing. But competition for online customers has increased. Are you just going through the motions, or are you actually optimising your digital activity? 

To help digital marketers in these uncertain times, Mapp has developed The Digital Marketing Playbook, an interactive guide featuring 100 tactics that are proven to bring results whatever marketing objectives you’ve set for your business. Not only will the Playbook help you to plan your digital programmes more effectively, but it will also help you to build marketing resilience and agility, two essential ingredients for thriving in rapidly changing environments. 

Mapp ran an online breakfast event to introduce the Playbook and take you through how to implement some of the most useful digital tactics that it features. 

Here’s what you will gain from re-watching this popular session:

  1. 100 different tactics and ideas on how to acquire, nurture, grow and retain customers
  2. Best practice on how to implement a selection of the best tactics
  3. Learn how to bake agility and resilience into your marketing programmes 
  4. Easily prioritise tactics focusing first on the ones that will bring the largest ROI with the least effort 
  5. A Costa Coffee eGift Card worth £8 if you attend the live webinar and are among the first 300 people that register.

The next great depression – Is your business ready?

We are living through extremely uncertain times regarding both public safety and the global economy. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic swept the world, we were teetering on the brink of a recession. Economists such as David Blanchflower compared the pre-Covid financial landscape to that of pre-banking crash 2008. If nothing else, this is a major red flag which should give you the motivation you need to take every possible measure to protect your business.

Is an international recession on the horizon?

At the very beginning of the year, the UN warned that we could be facing a global recession in 2020. That was before taking the impact of Covid-19 into account. Factors including trade wars, currency fluctuations, and Brexit were all amounting to an uncertain global economy and the Unctad report, “global growth will fall from 3% in 2018 to 2.3% this year — its weakest since the 1.7% contraction in 2009”.

Add the impact of Covid-19 to the already precarious situation, and we are now expecting to be hit with a recession rivalling even the magnitude of the Great Depression (and far worse than the 2008 financial crash). As of June this year, the global growth projection for 2020 has fallen to -4.9 per cent (1.9 per cent below the forecast made by the World Economic Outlook (WEO) in April). In addition, the road to recovery doesn’t look like it will be as fast as the WEO initially predicted, and they are now only forecasting a 5.4 per cent global growth for 2021, 6.5 per cent lower than the predictions before Covid-19. Low income households are expected to feel a particular acute financial impact, and global poverty, which has been significantly reduced since the 1990s, is likely to reach another crisis point.

Because of strain on the global economy, we are expected to encounter rising levels of debt in both developing and advanced countries, as well as a “global downturn that could increase unemployment and inequality”, as stated by Kristalina Georgieva of the International Monetary Fund. Redundancies and a decline in job vacancies on an international basis are expected to follow such a crash, with unemployment rates increasing at an alarming rate. 

How hard will the UK be hit? 

The OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) most recent reports do not look promising. Experts have predicted that the UK will likely be the worst hit country in Europe and the economy is forecasted to contract by 11.5 per cent after the first wave of the pandemic. If we end up seeing a second of Covid-19 later in the year, this contraction is predicted to increase to 14 per cent. 

One of the major reasons why the UK is likely to feel such a stark economic impact is our country’s reliance on the service industry for our economic growth, a sector which has been particularly damaged by the repercussions of Covid-19.

In addition to the economic factors surrounding Covid-19, the US trade war with China has caused a larger drag on global growth than anticipated, and the UK will be on the receiving end of the economic repercussions. What’s more, the looming prospect of Brexit poses different threats to the UK’s economy. At best, the uncertainty caused by both Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic has created a hesitant consumer base in the UK. Customers are spending less and are more cautious of businesses than ever. It is a difficult time to maintain customer loyalty, as would-be consumers are tightening their purses in the fear of a looming financial disaster. 

Learn how to protect your business 

Times may be challenging, but if you think ahead, you’ll be able to safeguard your business against a recession. Businesses that prepare for every eventuality are the ones that not only survive but thrive in the face of adversity. Leaving it too late to implement a recession strategy could be your undoing, so get ahead of the game and prepare for a period of great financial difficulty. Here are some key strategies that will help your business face economic uncertainty:

  • Focus on existing customers — as we have discussed, consumers aren’t spending as much due to lack of trust and growing apprehension. Because of this, it is essential that you focus on your existing customer base during testing financial times. This will increase brand loyalty and grow customer confidence. Offer them benefits and reasons to stay true to your brand.
  • Put some adjacency and extension strategies in motion — a recession is not the time to start looking into completely new avenues of profit. However, you can’t let your services become stagnant. Adjacency strategy is the optimum solution to this — find an area adjacent to your core product or services to expand into. Extension strategy is similar: take your current service a little further and offer new and exciting opportunities or products to existing customers. Ensure that you have a flexed forecast so that the business is fully prepared for all possible outcomes of this new strategy.
  • Forge some powerful alliances — mergers, acquisitions, and alliances are all key strategies during a recession. Alliances offer a great way to expand your business without investing in anything completely new during times of uncertainty. 
  • Don’t be afraid to outsource — outsourcing key elements of your business can save you time, money, and financial anxiety during a recession. Outsourcing your accounts department may allow you create scale and flexibility within your organisation. 
  • Reduce inventory costs — look to see if your business has the leeway to reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of the services or products it provides. This will help to take the pressure off your finances. 
  • Don’t sacrifice your marketing budget — often, brands make cuts to their marketing budgets in response to financial anxiety. However, this will spell disaster for your company. There is no time more crucial to maintain your marketing efforts and show customers that your brand is tackling the recession and winning. 
  • Tighten up on your corporate governance — companies that see a downturn in performance are more likely to survive if they have good corporate governance embedded into their culture.  Part of this is ensuring that the company has had a financial audit. If in doubt, contact an accountancy from that specialises in audits, tax advice, and small business VAT.

No one knows quite what to expect over the coming months and years, but now is the time to start safeguarding your business against an imminent recession. The road ahead does not look easy, but if you put certain measures in place and react in a timely manner, there’s still time to recession-proof your business and come out on top. 












Marketing spend expected to rebound post-COVID

The latest IPA Bellwether Report asserts that ad and marketing spend will rebound in 2021, following budgets being slashed to their lowest levels in twenty years due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The net balance of firms that cut marketing budgets fell to -50.7% in Q2, down from -6.1% in Q1, with almost 64% of panel members having registered a decrease in spending compared to the first quarter, while only 13% posted an increase. These figures supersede the Report’s previous nadir of -41.7% evidenced in Q4 2008, following the global financial crisis.

The report says anecdotal evidence suggests that many businesses were focused on cutting costs amid the severe declines in revenue caused by the pandemic. Although firms utilised the UK government’s furlough scheme to ease the burden of staff costs, other reductions were required in order for many businesses to survive. Service sector companies faced particularly challenging circumstances, with little-to-no access to their clients amid enforced closures.

With coronavirus restrictions prohibiting anything other than small gatherings, funding for events marketing saw the sharpest reduction in the second quarter. A net balance of -76.6% of panellists registered a decline in events budgets, with more than 80% reporting a decrease. Just 3.6% posted a rise.

Main media advertising, crucial for brand exposure, also reported a steep decline in Q2. In fact, the reduction in budgets was the most severe since the survey’s inception, with a net balance of -51.1% of marketing executives seeing a decline in available spend. Underlying data within this main media category suggested the worst performing sub-category was out of home advertising (-61.2%). This was followed by audio (-50.0%), published brands (-49.2%), video (-39.3%) and other online (-35.1%).

Across each of the seven broad marketing types, direct marketing and public relations saw the joint-softest budget cuts in the second quarter, although with net balances of -41.6%, the downturns were still severe overall. Meanwhile, market research (-42.2%), sales promotions (-51.2%) and other marketing expenditure (-59.2%) each saw historic reductions for their respective categories.

Bellwether panellists remained pessimistic towards financial prospects in the second quarter of 2020, casting more downbeat assessments on both own-company and industry-wide finances.

Sentiment on own-company prospects plunged far deeper into negative territory compared to the first quarter, when the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic was only just beginning to become apparent. In the second quarter, precisely two-thirds of survey participants reported a pessimistic outlook for finances against 11.5% that expected an improvement, taking the net balance to -55.1%. The result represented the most severe degree of negativity since the fourth quarter of 2008 when the net balance measured -57.7%.

Reporting on industry-wide prospects, firms were also more pessimistic in the second quarter. In the latest survey period, 72.4% of businesses were pessimistic on financial prospects compared to just 6.4% that were optimistic. As a result, a net balance of exactly -66% of firms were downbeat, eclipsing the recent low of -42.0% registered in Q1. The latest reading pointed to the most negative outlook since the final months of 2008, at the nadir of the global financial crisis, when the net balance stood lower at -71.1%.

Following the global coronavirus outbreak and resulting lockdown measures, Bellwether author IHS Markit anticipates steep contractions in several key economic indicators during 2020. With many businesses temporarily closed throughout the majority of the second quarter, IHS Markit is expecting a -11.9% decline in GDP for the year as a whole. This forecast assumes that the gradual easing of UK lockdown measures continues over the coming months, allowing an increasing number of businesses to fully reopen and begin to claw back some of the lost revenue from the months of March, April and May.

Given the current economic climate, the Bellwether model points to a -11.3% reduction in adspend during 2020. However, this figure is heavily dependent on most sectors in the UK economy remaining open for the rest of the year, with a second wave of coronavirus infections a significant downside risk.

Looking forward, IHS Markit anticipates a robust recovery in macroeconomic conditions during 2021 as businesses move closer to operating at full capacity. This would translate into a predicted +4.9% expansion in GDP and implied adspend growth of +6.0%. Beyond that, it expects the economy to achieve above-average growth during a further recovery phase, before stabilising near long-run rates in 2024 and 2025.

Paul Bainsfair, IPA Director General, said: “As we suspected, these Q2 Bellwether figures reveal the very grave impact of COVID-19 on UK companies’ marketing budgets, financial prospects and employment plans. Understandably companies in the most severely disrupted sectors have had few options but to preserve cash and operations to survive until trading conditions are more benign. We can only hope that the range of Government aid – from VAT cuts to the Eat Out scheme, in addition to the furlough scheme and more, can help to facilitate this.

“While the future trajectory of the economy is unpredictable, however, that of brands starved of marketing investment is much clearer. Our evidence from previous recessions and periods of buoyancy consistently shows that cutting marketing investment weakens brands in the near-term and limits growth and profitability in the long-term.”

Webinar: 100 Digital Tactics to Get Through the Pandemic and Prepare for Growth

With the emergence of Covid-19 and social distancing, many businesses have had to refocus on their online channels, accelerating the need for digital transformation and better marketing. But competition for online customers has increased. Are you just going through the motions, or are you actually optimising your digital activity? 

To help digital marketers in these uncertain times, Mapp has developed The Digital Marketing Playbook, an interactive guide featuring 100 tactics that are proven to bring results whatever marketing objectives you’ve set for your business. Not only will the Playbook help you to plan your digital programmes more effectively, but it will also help you to build marketing resilience and agility, two essential ingredients for thriving in rapidly changing environments. 

On Tuesday 21st July, at 9AM BST, Mapp will be running an online breakfast event to introduce the Playbook and take you through how to implement some of the most useful digital tactics that it features. 

Here’s what you will gain from attending this popular session:

  1. 100 different tactics and ideas on how to acquire, nurture, grow and retain customers
  2. Best practice on how to implement a selection of the best tactics
  3. Learn how to bake agility and resilience into your marketing programmes 
  4. Easily prioritise tactics focusing first on the ones that will bring the largest ROI with the least effort 
  5. A Costa Coffee eGift Card worth £8 if you attend the live webinar and are among the first 300 people that register.

You can confirm your attendance for How to Get Through a Pandemic: 100 Digital Tactics for Marketing Resilience and Growth on the Mapp Digital website by clicking this link

WHITE PAPER: Optimising your eCommerce site

By Kate Norton, Selesti

With so many businesses now needing their digital sales to prop up any bricks and mortar revenue more than ever, the landscape for eCommerce sites and the amount of competition is evolving every day. It’s vital therefore to ensure that your brand’s voice cuts through the noise. Simply having the best quality products, the widest range of options, or the lowest prices alone just isn’t enough. 

Growing your online income requires more than simply listing your products/services on your website and hoping your customers will find you. Whether you’re transitioning from the high street or looking to grow an already established website, or just starting out, ensuring you optimise your brand experience is key to increasing your footprint and reaching your eCommerce business goals. 

The first step for any successful online store is crafting a well rounded strategy that ties your marketing KPIs and objectives to your overall business objectives. Without a clear idea of how you see your business growing in the years ahead, it is impossible to effectively measure success. In our white paper we look at how to build your brand strategy using SMART goals, understanding the best channels to focus on, planning your marketing mix and building your brand with USPs and a value proposition.

Having the best strategy in place will only work, however, if you know your customers inside and out. What are they doing when they aren’t shopping with you? What real world issues are they concerned with, and how does your brand resonate with them? We cover how to ensure you have the right data for your customers, and where to find it, as well as how to grow your customer personas into usable resources for targeting your marketing and growing your revenue. Not only is it important to look at who your customers are, but also how they interact with your brand. We take a look at how to track your customers’ journey across multiple touchpoints and how to use this information to refine your tactics and address customer pain points. 

Finally, the look and feel of your site will have a massive impact on how customers view your brand. Issues with the user experience or overall site design can cause valuable consumers to disengage from your brand and move to the competition. We’ve included some best practice examples for optimising your website design to get you started. However, real success comes from testing your design. Our whitepaper aims to help you to understand the ways in which you can utilise user testing, heat mapping and screen recording, and A/B testing to increase your conversion rate.

In our whitepaper, we take a multi-disciplinary approach to your eCommerce website optimisation journey. Helping you to combine strategy, data and analysis, and iterative design testing techniques to continually drive the right people to your store and build revenue. 

Click here to download the White Paper.