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Five things to look for in a marketing agency

April 14, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Five things to look for in a marketing agency/Team Meeting in Creative Office{{}}When you are looking for a marketing agency, you may feel apprehensive about handing over such an important part of your business to a third party. However, there are some things to look for when choosing an agency that should ease your concerns.

Here are five simple things that you should expect an agency to be using to give you the best service and earn your trust in those vital early stages.

Managing social media with HootSuite

HootSuite is a well-known tool for social media management. It allows your agency to schedule updates for social media pages across multiple channels, to monitor their reach and engagement and ensure your social media activity runs smoothly. As a client, you can become a “super admin” on HootSuite, which means all updates go through you before publishing.

HootSuite Pro includes a range of reporting tools and can be integrated with Google Analytics, so definitely look for an agency that takes this approach to get the most out of social media.

Using Call Tracking in analytics

As a small firm, you’ll be looking for an agency that reports a full picture of your return on investment. You don’t want to be investing in marketing services that are not cost effective — so your agency should be advising you on where to shift your budget.

For a full ROI picture, your agency should be offering call tracking. It’s an affordable option for businesses of any size. By placing trackable phone numbers across your different marketing campaigns, you’re able to track enquiries and conversions that result from online and offline media, and analyse them alongside clicks — giving a truer picture of your marketing success.

Simplifying Google Analytics with dashboards

The marketing world is full of data, most of which you probably don’t need to know. Your agency should understand that not everyone is an analytics expert, so they need to deliver results in a clear and digestible way.

Ask about Google Analytics dashboards. These are fully customisable reports, so they don’t swamp you with unnecessary data. They display only the information that is relevant to your goals, whether that’s clicks, time on site, conversions or simply profit.

Keeping you in the loop

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software should be at the heart of every project. We use Basecamp, which gives transparency to a project every step of the way. It allows the agency to lay out the process beforehand, set up tasks and assign them to team members, establish milestones and keep a paper trail of communication with you.

Don’t let your content go unnoticed

If you have an audience, turn that into a readership. Every marketing agency should offer an email strategy for sending out regular newsletters with links back to your content. They say that great content shares itself, but go with an agency that gives it that extra push.

MailChimp makes it easy to import your existing contacts to a mailing list and push your content to the right people. It’s capable of split testing designs, and sending follow up emails to those that engage. The reports give clear insights into how the campaigns are performing and help you keep track of conversations, so you don’t miss out on capturing customers.

Every agency should be using these industry-standard tools to build a long and profitable agency-client relationship.

Rob Newhouse is writing on behalf of Mediahawk. It has produced a downloadable guide to call tracking.

How video marketing can help your business

February 26, 2014 by Guest Blogger

How video marketing can help your business/ Man holding object - Play icon{{}}Video may have killed the radio star back in 1978 but it’s proving to be a very successful form of marketing in the digital age. If you haven’t used it already, it’s time to produce your first marketing video — and here’s why.

In our fast-paced daily life, we use our smartphone and tablets as a one-stop source of information and content. This has fuelled the popularity of video marketing — it’s visually stimulating content with great graphics and motivating music, perfect for capturing attention in a busy world.

The rise of video

According to a 2013 online survey on video marketing trends by Flimp Media

  • 93% of marketing professionals used online video in 2013 for marketing and communications
  • 70% are optimising video for SEO
  • 82% said that video marketing has had a positive impact on their business.

What’s more, video is shared more than any other source of online content — video market research company Invodo has found that over half of consumers feel more confident about buying a product or service after watching a video.

And with the rolling out of 4G and platforms such as You Tube, Vimeo and Wistia, video content has never been simpler to create. The accessibility and affordability of video recording equipment means that it not as expensive to make a video today. Starting from as little at £40 for a one-minute video, there is a video production company out there to suit your needs and budget.

Tips on making a video

  • Make a note of your main marketing objectives — do you want more views on your website? Do you want to raise awareness? Thinking about your goals will help you focus on the creative content of the video.
  • Write a script tailored around your main messages/objectives. Keep your videos as short and professional as possible — anything between 60-90 seconds should keep the viewer’s attention.
  • Consider practical issues such as the background, lighting, style of presentation, noise and disruptions. If you’re using animation, create a storyboard. Gather as many images of your product/brand as you can.
  • Embed your video on a platform, such as a blog, making your video easier to share, and boosting SEO benefits.
  • Try creating short video bursts using the likes of Instagram and Vine to give the consumer a blast of your product. Or think about a series of videos — keeping the topic short and sweet but leaving the viewer wanting to see more.
  • Lastly, post links to your videos on social media sites and ask your followers, nicely, to share your video.

Sara Parker is marketing officer at Face for Business.

Five marketing tools it is well worth paying for

February 10, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Five marketing tools it is well worth paying for/Details of keys on a computer keyboard{{}}Paid media and inbound marketing were once seen as mutually exclusive — and content arguably took centre stage in an increasingly competitive race to the top of the search engine results pages.

Certainly, businesses have come to love inbound marketing because it offers recurring gains for the initial investment in content; gains that can recur for years.

At the same time, “paid” became something of a dirty word. But paid media does still have its place, providing it’s used ethically and naturally as part of a holistic marketing campaign.

Let’s look at five types of paid media that are still worthy of investment.

1. Google AdWords

Google AdWords is the cornerstone of every paid media strategy and not just because of its phenomenal reach. AdWords provides crucial keyword data that’s impossible to glean through organic search due to the rise of keywords that are ‘not provided’. As such, AdWords still has a role to play in bridging paid media and inbound marketing.

2. Press release distribution

Press releases have been highlighted by Matt Cutts as a source of discounted links. But while a press release won’t do anything for PageRank, the press release is still an extremely valuable paid media tool for traffic building. Aim to use a distributor that gets the majority of its releases into Google News.

3. Facebook Exchange

Facebook is phasing out some of its advertising efforts and pushing Facebook Exchange as an alternative. Exchange (also known as FBX) is a retargeting system based on real-time bidding. While Exchange is initially slightly less accessible than Promoted Posts or Sponsored Stories, it represents a move to a more sophisticated type of paid social media marketing where content can still play its part.

4. Stumbleupon ads

On Stumbleupon, you can purchase paid exposure for content, giving it a second lease of life. Stumbleupon prices its Paid Discovery product on a pay-per-visitor model. Stumbleupon is sometimes sidelined — perhaps because it requires some effort to gain traction — yet it’s still effective. Incorporating it into a paid media strategy is the final piece in the puzzle.

5. Promoted Tweets

Practically every brand has a Twitter account; many have more than one. Promoted Tweets give brands a new way to leverage their content. Tweets are set up in advance and promoted to people who search for keywords. Twitter doesn’t offer sophisticated analytics yet, but the service is reasonably new.

By blending paid media and inbound marketing, you should aim to get the best of both worlds for an affordable cost. Your content marketing projects should also get a valuable boost from the paid media strategy you devise.

Alistair Norman is marketing manager at inbound marketing consultancy, Tomorrow People.

The impact of mobile on the consumer purchasing process

August 23, 2012 by Guest Blogger

The impact of mobile on the consumer purchasing process/Tim Finn{{}}The phone has become an integral part of our daily lives. Consumers browse for information, use price comparison sites, and involve friends and family in purchasing decisions — all from their mobile handset. As a result, mobile advertising is having a much more serious impact on the entire purchasing process.

It used to be if you wanted consumer awareness you advertised on TV; if you wanted conversions you invested in coupons. But with the ever-increasing popularity of mobile advertising, the entire “funnel” of the consumer's purchasing process is changing.

So just how can an advertiser optimise mobile across all points in the funnel and what are the purchasing stages to be aware of?

1. Building awareness

Whether shopping from a smartphone or a tablet device, the purchasing funnel usually begins online as the consumer starts looking for a product or service to satisfy a need. Using mobile display and rich media ads can help significantly to drive consumer awareness at this initial stage.

2. Doing research

The next stage is the research phase. According to Google and research specialist Ipsos MediaCT, smartphone users performing a search are more likely to be in the later stages of the purchase funnel, continuing their research or even going to see a product.

The research found that the most common single action after a smartphone search was to visit a store in person, which was completed by 55% of respondents.

3. Taking time to consider

The consumer enters the consideration phase after they are satisfied that they have done enough research. This often involves using a mobile device in-store, comparing prices and looking at items while they are on the move.

This presents a prime opportunity for mobile advertisers to use location-based advertising in real-time. On the PC you can target someone sitting at home or in the office, but on a mobile device you can target the right person at exactly the right time, who has the right intent and is in the place you want them to be.

4. Making the purchase

Finally, the consumer enters the purchase stage, either in-store or on the mobile. Stats from the IAB show that 24% of consumers have bought a product or service on their phone, with the average transaction increasing from £12.20 to £17.49 in 2011.

So whether the consumer is at home purchasing via their mobile, or physically in-store after considering their purchase, mobile advertising can be a great facilitator.

The complex journey

The customer journey is no longer linear. Complex relationships exist between all advertising channels, whether TV, online or radio. But mobile is unique as an advertising channel: a recent presentation from O2 at the IAB Mobile Engage event showed that mobile was found to be 4.4 times more efficient than TV, and 2.6 times more efficient than digital advertising at driving incremental sales revenue.

The reason? Mobile enables advertisers to be with the consumer throughout the whole process, from initial awareness of a particular product or service, throughout the consideration phase, through to final purchase — and it's for this reason that mobile will continue to steal advertisers away from traditional media.

Tim Finn is head of EMEA at StrikeAd.

Posted in Advertising | 2 comments

Take the quiz: should your business be on Facebook?

June 14, 2012 by Sharon Tanton

Facebook - Will your business be "Liked"?{{}}With 800 million users worldwide, and operating in 70 languages, Facebook has become the world’s meeting place. Big brands like Coca-Cola and McDonalds have embraced it, your customers and clients probably have personal accounts, setting up a page is free, and very easy.

So should your business be there too?

My view on this is a resounding “it depends”. Take this quick quiz to help you decide whether to get friendly with Facebook, or to market your business on other social media platforms.


  1. Are you in the travel, food, hospitality or leisure industry?
  2. Do you have lots of good pictures and video content to share?
  3. Does your business interest people beyond their working lives?
  4. Does your business inspire people? Do you have a meaningful mission?

If you answer yes to most of the above, then Facebook is definitely for you.

Not so much

  1. When you talk about your business at dinner parties do people’s faces light up?
  2. Is your business a source of great anecdotes?
  3. Do you help your clients achieve a transferable skill, something not purely work based?
  4. Does your business create loyal fans who love to share what you do?

If you answer mostly no, then I’d suggest you divert your energies elsewhere.

Why Facebook is for some businesses and not for others

Facebook is a social network; rather it’s still the social network. Facebook’s millions of users update their status regularly with personal stuff. Where they’re going, how they’re feeling, what they did last night. They share things that make them laugh, rant about things that annoy them, laugh, talk, flirt, argue. All human life is there, sometimes in rather more detail than you actually wanted.

In short it’s a vibrant, noisy, lively place where people let their hair down. If your business fits well into this upbeat, social environment, then starting a Facebook page for your business is an excellent idea.

However for an accountancy business, or a firm of commercial surveyors, I’d suggest that maybe Facebook isn’t the right place to be. Ask yourself whether the updates you’d be able to post will look at ease between your neighbour’s holiday snaps and a video of a cat playing the violin.

I’d venture that “Don’t forget to file your tax return by Thursday!” or “Is your business compliant with the Code for Leasing Business Practises 2007?” won’t make you any friends. You’ll be the person standing in the corner at the party asking for the music to be turned down, the one wearing a suit on dress down Friday.

Sharon Tanton is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut, a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant and a Valuable Content associate.


Taxi! A valuable advertising opportunity during the Olympics

June 11, 2012 by Andrew Barnett

London taxi{{}}It’s almost unbelievable how quickly the Olympics have come around, with a 2,012-hour countdown to the Games having begun only the other weekend. Ever since we watched Kelly Holmes and Seb Coe jump around Trafalgar Square when London won the Olympic bid, UK marketers have been coming up with creative campaigns left, right and centre to prominently position their brand during the games.

However, there is a concern that those who have not been able to partner with the Olympics in an official capacity might struggle to capture the spotlight. With Brits and tourists descending on the capital this summer, the opportunity to secure outdoor advertising around the areas that matter will be monopolised by sponsors.

Riding the Olympic wave

As non-sponsors look for ways to ride the crest of the Olympic branding wave, we’ve seen a boom in bookings for taxi advertising for the summer of 2012. The iconic design of the Hackney Carriage will be one of the most recognisable symbols of the games, so its exterior becomes a premium advertising platform for a variety of brands. What’s more, the very nature of taxis means they can promote branding in areas otherwise reserved for outdoor marketing campaigns of official partners, taking non-sponsor brands closer to the Games.

Of the myriad of outdoor formats that are available, taxi advertising is one that truly works hard to spread your message around town, in a way that no other outdoor advertising can; delivering great urban infiltration for brands and integrating with online via the mobile platform; after all, “outdoor” people are so often also “online” these days.

Innovation and new technologies within black cabs will optimise passenger engagement even further. This could be through a simple idea such as QR codes, or a more progressive tactic such as NFC (near field communication) marketing; we’ve already seen sponsored mobile phone charging facilities and Wi-Fi. In 2012 mobile and card payment facilities will establish themselves in taxis.

One-on-one advertising

What’s more, taxi advertising offers something that many marketers pine after — the one-on-one experience. Passengers spend on average 17 minutes in a taxi and our research shows that those who like to hail a taxi, are prepared to do so up to three times a month, making the taxi interior a media opportunity that shouldn’t be ignored. And taxi use is likely to rise during the Olympics, as commuters turn their back on what is predicted to be an over-congested public travel network.

Not wishing to dash the excitement of the Olympics before it’s over, but once the Games have finished, the marketer’s job continues. However, they will have provided an excellent test phase for channels and platforms like taxi advertising, with brands demonstrating unchartered creativity to capitalise on the games that will no doubt prompt a review of how best to engage with consumers once London 2012 draws to a close.

Andrew Barnett is the managing director at Ubiquitous.

More essential reading in the run-up to the Olympics:

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