The rise of augmented reality for strategic marketing

Social media platforms have become a critical place for advertisers to showcase their products to their target audiences, and with new technologies emerging all the time, businesses are finding new and innovative ways to integrate them into their marketing strategy.

When Snapchat first introduced face filters to their app in 2015, the potential of augmented reality to engage consumers started to be realised. Recently, Facebook announced at its F8 developer conference that it had started to test out AR in the news feed section of the platform. After the recent data security scandals and the associated decline in user growth that have hit the company, wiping billions off its value, it’s no surprise they are trying to find new and engaging ways to win over advertisers and consumers.

These new AR features are only available to a few big-name brands currently, such as Michael Kors, Bobbi Brown and Sephora, but if the tests go well, you can be sure to see them rolled out universally soon.

Instagram also features AR filters in the ‘stories’ section of the app, and since the platform is owned by Facebook, the two apps jointly promise to be the biggest AR platform in the world.

 

VR vs. AR – What’s the difference?

Many people will remember VR (Virtual Reality) being the big buzz phrase a couple of years ago, enabling consumers to enjoy an immersive experience in a virtual world, using a VR headset. Although the technology is still going strong in the gaming industry, with companies like Google launching new headsets all the time, it has taken a backseat to AR on social media because of AR’s more promising ad revenue potential.

The difference between virtual reality and augmented reality is essentially VR’s ability to take you into a new virtual environment, with 360-degree visuals that you wouldn’t be able to experience in full without a headset. In contrast, augmented reality allows graphics to feature as an overlay on videos or photos on your smartphone or tablet device, providing companies like Facebook with new advertising opportunities to offer their business customers. As Ty Ahmad-Taylor (Vice President of Product Marketing) stated: “People now expect a personalized and visually inspiring experience wherever they shop — whether on their phone or in-store, which is why video will play an increasingly important role in the mobile shopping experience.”

 

Apple AR Kit, one step ahead?

Apple recently launched a new AR kit which overlays 3D graphics on the screens of the user’s surroundings. Unlike, the experience offered by Facebook and the like, the AR kit has the ability to measure dimensions of objects in the room, as well as delivering motion tracking, making it a more sophisticated all-round experience. The AR kit appears to be a step in the right direction for Apple, as the company looks to innovate in the wake of a surprise drop in sales of its flagship iPhone over the last 12 months.

With technology giants like Facebook, Apple and Snapchat all introducing AR technology into our everyday lives, it is clearly just a matter of time before it becomes a mainstay in the advertisers’ toolbox. Brands are already encouraged by AR’s potential to fuel impulse buying by consumers. If you are a social media user, the chances are, if it hasn’t already, AR will influence you to make a ‘spur of the moment’ purchase soon.

Instagram launches long form video feature

On the 20th of June 2018, Instagram launched a new long-form video feature to their platform called IGTV; which allows users to post pre-recorded videos lasting up to 60 minutes. Until now, Instagram users have only been able to post 60-second videos to their pages, so it’s no surprise that the news has got a lot of people talking about the new opportunities.

Plans for the new feature first came about when the company recognised the growth potential in revenue for long-form video advertising and an increasing consumer appetite for video on mobile phones. With this new feature added to Instagram’s app, they will help shape a new generation of content creators, and below are just some of the longer-term implications.

 

A more positive direction for Facebook?

As Facebook owns Instagram, the new feature could become a useful tool in helping the company move forward after the recent scandals that have befallen the business and Mark Zuckerberg over the past couple years, which saw many users switch to using Snapchat. The long-form video feature will also help hedge the risk associated with Facebook’s plans to launch their original news programmes. If the programmes fall flat, it will almost certainly be mitigated by the undoubted success of IGTV.

 

Taking on YouTube and Snapchat

YouTube and Snapchat are the platform’s biggest rivals, so it’s no surprise that the powers-that-be at Instagram are looking for new ways of keeping consumers engaged on their platform. Long-form video is an obvious next step to achieving this, but Instagram is not alone. Snapchat have also recently released plans to launch a longer form video on their discovery page, in an effort to appeal to the YouTube creator generation. By creating a space for these super-users on Instagram, the company hopes to be able to encourage media influencers to utilise the platform for third-party marketing and their own video content. The new feature opens up the possibility that media influencers could transition from YouTube to Instagram if the company introduces appealing ways within IGTV for content creators to generate income from the feature.

Obvious potential

IGTV holds particular appeals for businesses and content creators as its long-form format increases the opportunity to add value and engage with their audience. We could see fitness profiles producing work out series or even food pages creating recipe cooking videos. It has also been suggested that since the feature will use vertical video which fills the full mobile screen, it will particularly encourage new music content to be featured.

 

Scripted vs. spontaneous?

Despite Instagram’s feature allowing a maximum of 60 minutes of footage to be upload, it is unlikely that the majority of content will be that long since YouTube’s uploads are typically between 5-20 minutes in length. As you would expect, there has already been much speculation about who will win the battle for content generators, YouTube or Instagram? However, there is equally an argument to be made that the two platforms will inspire distinct types of content, that can co-exist. IGTV will feature more ‘scripted productions’ and will focus to a greater extent on the aesthetics of the content, unlike YouTube; which has a lot of spontaneous, funny content uploaded daily.

 

Moderation

One area that will challenge Instagram’s introduction of a long-form video is moderation. How easy will it be for the platform to moderate the content being uploaded when moderators usually only have a few seconds to decide whether a post goes against the site’s terms and conditions?  YouTube faces a constant battle to do this and attract criticism regularly over their failings in this area. Developments in AI will undoubtedly help but currently, moderation is a particularly hot topic. With Instagram allowing up to an hour of footage to be uploaded, it could become an impossible task for them.

 

Regardless of the various challenges facing Instagram over the adoption of long-form video, it will undoubtedly be a great success. After all, it is not a gamble when we’ve all seen the massive success YouTube has had. Perhaps Instagram’s greatest challenge will be how to monetise the feature for themselves and the content generators. Will they follow tried-and-tested approaches, or will they look to be innovative? We will see soon enough…

 

5 World Cup marketing campaigns that caught our attention

Just under two weeks into the World Cup and there has already been many surprising results. The England team have won their first two tournament games, against Tunisia and Panama, with 18 million people tuning in to watch their 2-1 victory and 6 -1 win. Russia has managed to prove their pre-tournament critics wrong, winning their first two games against Saudi Arabia and Egypt, giving them the best start any hosting country has ever had. Finally, as we were finishing this post, Germany went out in the group stages! However, with many companies jumping on the World Cup bandwagon with their marketing campaigns, it seems the matches haven’t been the only thing catching the audience’s attention. As one now expects, when the World Cup rolls around every four years, businesses large and small look to capitalise on the event in ever new and creative marketing campaigns. So let’s take a look at some of the biggest campaigns that have dominated this year’s competition so far.

 

  1. Interactive Budweiser Campaign

One of the biggest global campaigns to be unveiled was by Budweiser, who is the official beer of the World Cup. Unsurprisingly, they released a series of short video advertisement’s to be featured on TV. However, they have also taken the opportunity to target a younger demographic with their marketing by partnering up with the social media platform Snapchat. It came with its risks, since Snapchat’s age policy is 13 and upwards, meaning they had to be careful they weren’t encouraging underage drinking. The brand said they were confident their campaign didn’t reach under an under-18s audience, but this remains to be seen. Underage drinking aside! The innovative campaign launched the first sound activated Snapchat Lens, designed to respond to the sounds of frenzied football fans. In addition to this, Budweiser is also releasing a ‘Snappable’ lens which is a new form of interactive technology that encourages users to share their experiences with friends through playing augmented reality games. Budweiser are establishing a reputation for embracing new technology in their marketing (who could forget their noise-activated beers cups), using it effectively to engage their target audience and generate a buzz.

  1. Nike VS. Adidas

With Nike and Adidas being two of the biggest sports brands in the world, it’s no surprise that they have spent huge sums of marketing budget battling for consumer attention during arguably the biggest sporting event in the world. In terms of video marketing, both brands released ads that were emotionally engaging and it seems Nike came out on top in that battle, by scoring a higher percentage of engagement amongst fans. However, with Nike and Adidas focused on each other, upcoming brands, such as New Balance, are gaining World Cup market share by adopting a different approach. With their biggest rivals allocating much of their marketing budgets to expensive sponsorship deals, New Balance has focused their strategy on engaging consumers through social media campaigns. During the World Cup, New Balance has successfully used social media influencers on YouTube to gain brand awareness and consumer mind-share.

  1. MasterCard Controversial Campaign

MasterCard’s recent World Cup social media campaign, entitled ‘Goals that change lives’, made waves for the wrong reasons when they experienced a Twitter backlash. The insensitive campaign drew criticism across the board with users describing it as ‘’easily the worst marketing I’ve ever seen’’. The crux of the campaign centred around the company’s promise to give 10,000 children a meal for every goal scored by Messi or Neymar, inspired by the drive to eliminate world hunger. Predictably, the campaign provoked a wave of verified Twitter users criticising the campaign, arguing it was a cruel proposition and ‘’why not give them the meals anyway?’’ Although the football players were proud to be a part of helping change people’s lives, many argued it was the wrong type of issue to include in a World Cup marketing campaign and management should have realised before going forward with it. Since the recent uproar on Twitter, MasterCard has decided to discontinue their campaign and instead adopted a target to donate 1 million meals by the end of the year.

 

  1. Paddy Power Pledge

In a similar, but more well-received campaign, Paddy Power has offered to donate £10,000 to LGBT charities for every goal scored by Russia as part of their campaign. As with many of the World Cup marketing campaigns, this one is being backed by celebrities, including Caitlyn Jenner, Danni Wyatt and Gareth Thomas. With Russia unexpectedly winning both of their first matches and scoring a total of 8 goals in the process, Paddy Power has already donated £80,000. With home advantage and momentum on their side, you’d bet Russia has still got more goals in them.

 

  1. Coca-Cola

No global sporting event of the magnitude of the World Cup would be complete without the drinks giant Coca-Cola getting in on the marketing campaign act. This year is no different, with Coca-Cola launching a series of video ads soundtracked by Jason Derulo and AC/DC and a set of limited-edition numbered cans so you can make your match score predictions.  The third of their ads takes an innovative approach and employers virtual animations of players from the FIFA 2018 game. A pre-release version was launched in Time Square earlier in the year on what was hailed as the ‘’first 3D electro – Kinetic Billboard’’ in the world. The ad is part of a strategy to appeal to a younger demographic, in which they have also teamed up with EA Sports FIFA 2018.

 

We hope this has given you some inspiration for your marketing this World Cup and don’t forget to let us know your favourite World Cup-themed marketing campaigns!

 

GDPR – What now?

Nearly a month has now passed since the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into effect on May 25th and ensuring compliance is crucial going forward to avoid any costly fines. There are still many discussions and blurry lines between what you can and cannot do when it comes to controlling and processing data. Like most of us, you probably received a string of emails leading up to May 25th asking for your consent to opt-in to further communications or to update your preferences, but you may have also noticed that some businesses did not send you an ‘opt-in’ email, but instead something along the lines of ‘We have updated our Privacy Policy’. Here are two possible explanations why they did not send you an email requesting your ‘opt-in’:

either

1. they have already got record that you have previously and actively given your consent

or

2. they are processing your data under the basis of legitimate interest.

 

What is a legitimate interest?

The legitimate interest is a clause under the GDPR which allows for the processing of data without gaining consent, providing there is a balance of interests from both the data processor and the individual. Examples of this include working in the same or similar industry where there may be a balanced interest in the services or products, the individual is an existing client or customer, or when the processing of data is absolutely necessary for legal obligation. Providing the data is not processed in a way that is unrelated to that relationship, you may continue to send communications based on legitimate interest unless the individual opts-out.

In light of GDPR, businesses should have an updated Privacy and Cookie Policy to explain how they collect, manage and use your data, which will also explain the emails you may have received notifying you of their updated policies. A business should explain in their Privacy Policy the legal basis of processing your data, whether that be legitimate interest, consent or both.

For B2B marketers and email marketing in particular, there are some particularly crucial boundaries regarding the email addresses you can and cannot send to under the basis of legitimate interest. You can continue to send to email addresses providing they are a Limited company, a Limited Liability Partnership, or a partnership in Scotland or a Government department, and you are sending an email to a business email address. However, if the person you are emailing is a sole trader or works in a partnership, even if you are sending the email to their work email address and there is legitimate interest, you will require an initial opt-in from them to do so.

 

Completing a Legitimate Interests Assessment

The processing of data based on legitimate interest is a credible alternative where gaining consent is not an option; however, we advise that data controllers undertake a Legitimate Interests Assessment (LIA). This process consists of a series of questions that help you to determine whether the processing of data under Legitimate Interests is viable and if it is, demonstrates that there is a balance of interests between the two parties. You should go through the LIA process each time you plan to newly process personal data under Legitimate Interests.

If you have any questions about regarding GDPR and how affects your marketing, contact us on 01962 600 147 or email info@tlc-business.co.uk.

How will GDPR affect Marketing?

With the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) coming into effect on May 25th 2018, TLC Business have taken a look into how the new laws will affect the B2B Marketing industry and what precautions we can begin to take to ensure we’re not in any breach of the new regulations – as we could encounter some pretty significant and unpleasant fines.

So what is GDPR and what do we need to know about it?

The GDPR is the biggest change in data protection laws in 20 years and it will affect any organisation that collects or processes the personal information or data of any European Citizen. The intentions of the GDPR are to give back European citizens control of their personal data and to enforce stricter regulations. These new set of rules, set by the European Commission, will make major changes to all of Europe’s privacy laws and replace the current outdated Data Protection Division (1995). If businesses do not comply with the new laws when the regulations come into force on May 25th, they could face some pretty hefty fines. Depending on a series of factors, these could be up to €20 million Euros or 4% of their global annual turnover for the previous financial year, whichever is greater – alongside this, they also face huge damage to the company’s reputation.

What about Brexit?

The UK’s forthcoming exit from the EU will not exclude UK businesses from the GDPR, as the new regulations are already agreed and in place, ready for enforcement in the UK in May. Even if the UK was to repeal them post-Brexit, bear in mind that currently the UK sends around 40% of all its exports to the EU and by complying with the new principles set out in GDPR, a business will ensure it is compliant for continued trading with EU citizens and businesses going forward post-Brexit, whatever the outcome.

What are the most significant changes? And what does this mean for marketers?

The biggest change brought about by GDPR for all marketers, whether they specialise in direct marketing, email marketing, telemarketing or digital marketing, is the new ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ permission rules. Historically, businesses and marketers have provided pre-ticked opt-in boxes, therefore, by default, their audience is opted-in to receiving an array of marketing communications. The data collected through this method is used freely by companies, how they choose, meaning that the data processors, be it the company or their partners, can send you communications about absolutely anything – regardless whether you actually want it.

Although many businesses have now improved these practices and include clearer and more straight-forward options to ‘opt-out’ or ‘unsubscribe’, GDPR will forbid this practice. From May 25th, organisations will no longer be able to pre-opt in people to their marketing lists and will also be required to maintain records of how and when consent to receive future communications was given by the individual.

However, there are also a few exceptions to this rule:

You will still be able to call businesses with no opt-in but must state who you are calling from and give people the right to opt-out of further calls.
You will still be able to send direct mail with no opt-in but must give people the right to opt-out of further mails.

Another point to consider under the new regulations, is that businesses can only keep data and personal information for a fair amount of time before requiring the individual to re-subscribe; however, it is not yet clear what is considered ‘fair’ and we hope this will be made clearer closer to the GDPR launch.

The right to be forgotten

Businesses must also give individuals the option to remove all personal information and data from their systems at any time – as long as it doesn’t mean they are in breach of compliance or industry regulations. This ‘Right to be forgotten’ principle is much more thorough than an opt-out and no longer sending them messages. Instead, it gives individuals the right to be removed from an organisation’s database entirely. As a result of this, if they wish to receive marketing content again in the future, they must resubmit new contact information and provide consent in order to do so.

The right to request what data on you is held

A significant aspect of GDPR that directly affects marketers, is the right for individuals to request a copy of data held on them in any readable, electronic format. Alongside this, they are entitled to ask exactly what information is being used by an organisation or processed by their company and for what end purpose.

The GDPR intends for data subjects to regain control of how their information and data is handled and directly threatens ‘batch and blast’ marketing, where businesses will often use bulk purchased data from data providers in an untargeted manner and without consideration of the data subject’s interests. Small to large companies often rely upon data purchasing to populate their sales pipeline and expand their audience reach.

However, despite the stricter rules and regulations of gaining consent, the European Commission has made some compromises. Marketers may be be allowed to use data without gaining consent providing there is a degree of  ‘legitimate interest’. This ‘legitimate interest’ clause applies to both personal and business data subjects. Many marketers are claiming ‘legitimate interest’ will enable them to continue business as usual. Whilst we think this is unlikely, it remains to be seen what can be considered a ‘legitimate interest’ and only once cases are brought to court and precedents are set, will we truly know.

The ‘legitimate interests’ clause

The GDPR recognises the fact that data processors may have legitimate reasons for processing personal data and that sometimes data processing is absolutely necessary for legal obligation. In regards to the marketing industry in particular, the ‘legitimate interests’ clause is intended to allow data processing without consent, provided certain conditions and requirements are met. At present, this list is still quite vague.

It is also important to mention that individuals can in fact object to their data being processed for legitimate interest reasons and will still of course have the option to opt-out at any time. All organisations must make it clear to individuals how they intend to use their data in a statement and provide a legitimate interests opt-out option as well as the usual opt-out. It should also be clearly stated in the organisation’s privacy policy in line with the ICO’s recommendations on privacy notices.

One of the conditions of processing data under the legitimate interest clause is there must be a balance of interests from both the data processor and the person receiving the marketing. Examples of this include working in the same or similar industry or an interest in the services or products based on existing records. Another example of this is if the organisation has an existing relationship with the data subject; such as a previous client or customer. In this circumstance they must ensure they don’t process data in a way that is unrelated to that relationship.

To be on the safe side, we advise that any organisation processing data under the ‘legitimate interest’ clause, maintain a record of how they have made an assessment of legitimate interest, in the off chance that they are questioned and can therefore demonstrate that they have given the proper consideration to the data subject’s freedoms and rights.

In order to fulfil the requirements to use the legitimate interests clause for marketing purposes, marketers can conduct a ‘Legitimate Interests Assessment’; which can be used to determine that either the processing of personal data is absolutely necessary (which mostly refers to legal obligation) or to establish whether there is a balance of interests between the two parties and the interests of the organisation don’t outweigh the interests of the data subject.

While using legitimate interests is a good alternative when gaining consent from the data subject is not possible, it has been advised by many experts not to wholly rely upon this clause in the GDPR, as there are risks you could face and it is considered more difficult to fulfil the requirements, compared to gaining consent, which is considered the safer and easier option.

B2B email marketing and GDPR

An area of GDPR we are particularly interested in is around email marketing to individuals within businesses and organisations. Currently, the following rules are in place for when GDPR comes into practice:

If the person you are emailing works for a limited company, a limited liability partnership, partnership in Scotland or a Government department, and you are sending an email to their work email address, you can email them as long as there is legitimate interest. They need to be easily able to opt-out of receiving emails and you are required to provide your company information in the email.

If the person you are emailing is a sole trader or works in a partnership, even if you are sending the email to their work email address and there is legitimate interest, you will require an initial opt-in from them to do so.

So what actions can marketers begin to take?

The number one action marketers can take now is to provide a simple and clear opt-in process for data subjects to opt in to their future communications, to ensure your data is GDPR compliant on 25th May.

We recommend that an internal audit of the current practices and systems used to collect data should be carried out to highlight any areas that need to be updated before the GDPR comes into effect.

For marketers who wish to use legitimate interests in order to continue their direct marketing without consent, the Data Protection Network has released a ‘Legitimate Interests Guide’ to give organisations an idea of the requirements and includes the assessment mentioned earlier. You can find the downloadable guide here: https://www.dpnetwork.org.uk/dpn-legitimate-interests-guidance/

If you have any questions about how GDPR is going to affect the marketing of your business or organisation, contact us on 01962 600 147 or email info@tlc-business.co.uk.

 

2017 Top Marketing Statistics To Help You Plan For 2018

As 2017 is drawing to a close, and 2018 is on the horizon, TLC Business have taken a moment to look at the digital marketing statistics of 2017 and picked a few to explore in greater detail, to help shape your marketing content strategy in the year to come. Not only will we be discussing the relative merits of the various social media platforms, but we will also take a look at the current influences and trends around video, email and content marketing.

Who won the Social Media war in 2017?

Published figures suggest there are around 2.3 billion active Social Media users in the world right now. For most marketers who have utilised social media into their marketing strategy already or for those who are planning to, their biggest concern is about successfully targeting the right audience on the correct social media platform. So, let’s take a look at which were the most popular social sites in 2017, ranked by number of active monthly users.

1. Facebook

Coming in at the number 1 spot is Facebook, with 1.9 billion active users every month and an average of 6 new profiles created every second. Facebook is the most popularly used social media platform, with 22% of the world’s total population using it. It is also an ideal platform for targeting females between 18-49 years old. Statistics indicate that 83% of women online use Facebook, compared to 75% of men online. However, it still holds a wide general appeal, with the widest demographic of users and the most active out of all the platforms; therefore, it is no wonder Facebook is the overall top choice of platform for businesses. There are already 40 million small business users who actively use Facebook and 2 million businesses pay for Facebook advertising.

2. YouTube

With 1 billion active monthly users, YouTube is the 2nd most popular of the social media sites and has a higher proportion of men using it. 55% of males online use YouTube, compared to 45% of females online. More than 500 million hours of videos are watched by its audience of predominantly 18-49 year olds every day, this equals an average of 2 million video views per minute! Video marketing is one of the hot topics for 2018 and we will explore it further in our top trends for 2018 blog.

3. Instagram

At number 3 is Instagram, with 700 million active monthly users. Owned by Facebook, statistics show that 90% of Instagram users are under 35 and the users are predominantly female. 53% of ‘Instagrammers’ follow brands on the platform, making it another popular choice of social media channels for businesses. For millennials, Instagram is considered their most important and favourite social network to use. Over 80 million photos are uploaded by users every day, and in June this year, they introduced the function to add Instagram Live videos to your Instagram Story for 24 hours, as well as the ability to save live video to your device, making it a particularly popular platform for live video functionality.

4. The Rest…

Following Instagram in fourth place is (the now not so popular) Twitter – that is unless you are a male and between 18-29. The platform has 328 million unique monthly users, most of which only use Twitter for an average of 2.7 minutes per day. A staggering 53% of Twitter users never post any updates. Snapchat is in fifth place with 300 million active monthly users, 74% of whom are under 34 years old and 70% of which are female. LinkedIn, in sixth place, has 106 million active monthly users and is the No.1 choice of platform for professionals and particularly B2B organisations. Fact: LinkedIn users are slightly less likely to use another social media network compared to users of other platforms. In seventh place is Pinterest. It has 200 million active monthly users and is the most popular network for women aged 18-64, with 42% of all women online using the platform vs only 17% of men online. Another interesting point to add is that 10% of people that click thru to an e-commerce site via Pinterest are more likely to make a purchase compared to if they were referred from any other network. Something to consider for the B2C marketers out there.

The Rise of Video Marketing

2017 saw another increase in the use of video marketing in campaigns and the statistics continue to grow as we get closer to 2018. If you’re unsure of which platform to use, the answer is don’t worry about it. They all have their merits. Facebook generates 8 billion video views on average per day according to Social Media Today and YouTube reports mobile video consumption rises 100% every year (Hubspot), so it’s no wonder that video has become increasingly popular as a marketing method and marketers are investing more and more in paid or sponsored social video. According to Hubspot, a staggering 80% of users recall a video ad they have viewed in the past 30 days and after watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online. Live streaming videos have also been in the limelight in 2017, with people spending 3 times longer watching a live social video compared to one that is pre-recorded. By 2020, 80% of global internet traffic will be attributed to video consumption and 48% of marketers plan to add video to their content strategy in the next year if they haven’t already done so. But not only is video being uploaded and shared on social platforms, it has proven to be successful within web and email marketing content too. According to Unbounce, including a video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%. In terms of email marketing, Syndacast said using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line boost the open rates by 19% and Hubspot suggests a video in an email leads to 200-300% increase in click-through rates. So, if you haven’t already incorporated video into your marketing plan, now is the time to do so.

Increasing Content for Mobile

The number of users web browsing on mobile devices increases +25% year-on-year and mobile is the number 1 choice of device for accessing the web and social media. By 2018, mobile content will account for 72% of digital ad spend according to eMarketer and the growth in businesses creating mobile-ready content is rapid. Businesses are creating more content for the smaller screen, including mobile-optimised websites, social media pages, videos, imagery and mobile-optimised emails. Tubular Insights recently stated that 84% of viewers are watching social video via mobile; therefore, creating video that seamlessly adapts to the size of screen it is being watched on is important for creating an effective user experience. According to Forbes, square videos take up 78% more space in the Facebook News Feed and get more engagement than horizontal videos. Mobile-only social network platforms, such as Snapchat, also continue to grow in popularity and are encouraging more time to be spent on mobiles. However, despite the favourable use of mobile devices, statistics show that mobile conversion rates are still much lower than desktop conversion rates, as people simply aren’t as ready to buy on the small screen. There are plenty of understandable reasons for this: people find it hard to navigate websites and make purchases on a smaller screen; people may not feel payments are as secure on mobile as they are on desktop; people might see phones as a device for browsing and entertainment, whilst desktops are the devices for making purchases. These are all issues which can be overcome with relatively simple strategies, such as: adapting your online content to fit mobile screens, introducing better access and ease of navigation across your website, providing a clear message that the online security measures are the same as desktop devices etc. Measures like these will improve mobile conversation rates and overall user satisfaction. Ultimately, you are playing into your competitors’ hands if you are not able to reach and engage with your audience through mobile and you are missing a trick.

Creating consistent content across multiple platforms is also important for delivering a smoother user experience online. Users rarely stick to one device and will often be multi-screening across several devices. Whilst mobile is the number one choice, many users still express preferences for visiting certain websites on desktop over mobile; therefore, although it’s important that organisations should offer mobile-optimised sites, in the meantime the desktop experience should not be sacrificed. This is why the majority of businesses are using adaptive designs in their content strategy, where layout and content are tailored for both desktop, tablet and various mobile screen dimensions. Another point to consider as part of a mobile content strategy is the creation of mobile apps vs mobile sites. Particularly for B2C businesses, the consumer preference for apps over websites or vice versa should be considered. Make sure you do your home work over which option your customers prefer.

E-mail Marketing

Did you know that 50% of smartphone users grab their smart phone immediately after waking up to check their social media networks and emails? This probably comes as no surprise as there’s a 50/50 chance that you do too. Integrating a mobile responsive email template into a businesses’ content plan is the bare minimum you should be doing, considering mobile email opens have grown by 180% in the last three years according to Email Monday. By next year, 8 in 10 email users will likely access their email accounts exclusively from their mobile devices and 79% of people already use their smartphone for reading emails; which is a higher percentage than those who use it for making calls. However, not only is mobile-optimised email content a necessity for successful email marketing. So too is utilising a rich variety of content and employing segmented email campaigns. Firstly ‘rich content’ can facilitate user interaction, for example videos, polls and infographics encourage user interaction, whilst simultaneously collecting consumer insights. Segmented email campaigns have an open rate that is 14.32% higher than non-segmented email campaigns according to Mailchimp; therefore, it is important to ‘clean-up’ and order your data regularly. GDPR will make this even more relevant in 2018.

A simple tip, if you are embracing email marketing in 2018. Before you start smothering your emails in graphics, videos, polls and fancy templates, first test your campaign and check that it displays effectively on different email platforms, such as outlook, gmail, yahoo, etc. – it is very common to encounter compatibility issues across different email clients and operating systems, which may affect your audience experience. Most e-marketing software platforms will allow you to do this simple and painlessly.

A beginner’s guide to keyword research

Keywords form the cornerstone of any SEO strategy. So whether you’re writing a blog post, or putting together your homepage text, identifying the right keyword to optimise a page is an essential part of attracting the right types of visitors to your website. Get it wrong and you risk driving visitors to your website that don’t represent your target audience or languishing in the depths of the search engine results, failing to be found. But get it right, and you create a channel for attracting and engaging with your ideal audience and generating a steady stream of new business opportunities. If this sounds good, the next step is choosing the keywords you are going to optimise your site for. But how do you know which ones are right for you, your business or organisation? With this beginners guide, we’ve outlined a very simple 4 step process for identifying the best keywords for your website.

Step 1: Brainstorming

The first thing to do before you start your research is to brainstorm some ideas.  What are your customers looking for? Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think of the first words that come to mind when you think of your product/ service. You could ask friends and family for their input. Don’t forget your clients and customers. Once you have some key themes, you can then come up with keywords associated with each category.

Now that you’ve got a few keywords in mind, try and think of some similar terms or possible longer phrases, otherwise known as ‘long tail keywords’ (niche terms that are more specific and have less traffic), which people may also use to search for your product/ service; these will give you even more variety. Even misspellings can make great keywords!

Step 2: Check out your competitors

It’s also a good idea to find out what terms your competitors are optimising their sites for. Visit their website and right click view source to discover how a particular page has been optimised. This will give you a clear idea of what keywords they think are important. Bear in mind that they might not be the best or right terms for you; however, it will give you some ideas.

You can also type your keyword ideas into a search engine and take note of the websites that are ranking highly for them. Again, take a look at how they have optimised their sites via right clicking on a page on their site and viewing source. If you’d like to invest some money in SEO, you can also use a paid for tool, such as SEMrush, to see what keywords your competitors are using. It costs money but can save time.

Step 3: Search for trends on oogle Trends

It’s also a good idea to see what’s currently trending in and around your industry. This could give you further ideas for keywords, or possibly help you narrow down your choices. Google Trends allows you to break your analysis down by region and also shows you related terms rising in popularity. Bear these in mind for potential keywords.

Step 4: Use Google AdWords Keywords Planner

This step is the most crucial, as this tool will help you understand how the keywords you’ve come up with are performing, how competitive they are and how much they’ll cost you if you were to undertake a PPC campaign.  Be sure to refine your search so that it includes the relevant search terms for your location. As well as showing you how the keywords you’ve chosen perform, it will also give you recommendations and help you come to a final decision about the most relevant keywords for your website.

And you’re done!

Now that you’ve got your initial keywords, you’ll need to implement the optimisation of your website for them. Be sure to review how your site is performing for your chosen keywords on a regular basis. Also, remember to keep researching those keywords; searching habits are constantly changing so don’t rest on your laurels!

Social Media Marketing in the General Election

A week on from the June General Election and Britain’s political future is facing fresh uncertainty. What was meant to be a clear win for the Conservatives, turned into one of the most surprising and memorable elections to date, with the Conservatives losing the majority and seeing Labour soar up the polls with their “for the many, not the few” manifesto. However, it wasn’t just the political parties’ manifestos which were catching peoples’ eyes; social media arguably took the front seat in this election, so with this in mind we’re taking a look at how the parties managed to do this.

Twitter

Corbyn and May both saw a big increase in their followings and engagement on Twitter.

Corbyn’s personal following grew by 45% from 850,000 to 1.2 million on Twitter, while May’s grew by 20% from 350,000 to 420,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retweets: 18K
Likes: 27K

Scrolling through Corbyn’s Twitter, you’ll find several tweets branded with Labour’s key message during the election: ‘for the many, not the few’. Labour’s tweets focused mostly on social issues, such as healthcare and housing, and were shared almost three times more than posts by the Tories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retweets: 1.7K
Likes: 3.3K

In contrast, May focused on a “strong and stable leadership” and reinforced her policies on terrorism with her 4 actions to tackle Islamist extremism.

Both parties relied heavily on video marketing to get across their message on Twitter and often these were the tweets that received the most engagement.

Facebook

In terms of social media, Facebook arguably took the main stage in this election.

Once again, Labour saw a 75% increase in the number of page likes over the general election period, while the Conservatives saw a rise of just 10%.

Posts on the Labour Facebook page were shared more than one million times and received more than 1.7 million likes between the election being called and the polls closing on June 8, whilst posts, pictures and videos by the Conservative party were shared 360,000 times in total during the same period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Likes: 1.5K
Shares: 734

On Facebook, Labour tried to appeal to the younger voters with their key manifesto promises, such as scrapping tuition fees and bringing back student grants. Labour also managed to win over young voters with its variety of celebrity endorsements, including the likes of Lily Allen and Billy Bragg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Likes: 9.7K
Shares: 3.7K

Meanwhile, the Conservatives focused on the issue of Brexit, a strong economy and once again providing “stable and secure leadership” for Britain.

Both parties also took full advantage of Facebook ads to target particular constituencies. In the last two days of campaigning, Labour adverts were reportedly displayed to voters in 464 constituencies, compared to Tory adverts in just 205. It’s also been reported that the Tories spent more than £1 million on negative ads targeted at Corbyn, in an attempt to win the majority.

Snapchat

Until recently, Facebook and Twitter were the main places for politicians; however, Snapchat most definitely saw a rise in its status in this General Election.

The app; which has more than 10 million daily UK users, worked closely with Electoral Commission to design geofilters; which would encourage young voters to register and share their vote.

 

 

 

 

 

A record 250,000 young people signed up to vote in the 24 hours before the election deadline.

YouTube

The parties were also quick to utilise the power of video marketing with YouTube.
Labour provided its 22,000 subscribers with several videos a week, featuring interviews with celebrities, as well as Corbyn himself and on key issues such as Brexit and the NHS.

In contrast, the Conservatives took a slightly different approach for its 21,000 subscribers, with videos highlighting the weaknesses of the Labour party. Their most popular video, entitled ‘On June 9th, this man could be Prime Minister’ received over 1.3 million views in the space of 3 weeks.

It’s clear that social media is becoming ever more present in politics and appears to be getting more people involved. However, will Corbyn and May be able to keep up this momentum across their social media channels once the furore surround the General Election dies down and the politicians have to knuckle down and start running the country? Only time will tell.

Facebook takes its fight against fake news to UK newspapers

If you’re partial to acquiring your news in a print format, you may have noticed something a little different about your newspaper this morning. That’s because from yesterday (Monday 8th May) Facebook will be rolling out ads in several of the UK’s top newspapers, including The Times, The Guardian and Daily Telegraph, to give readers tips on spotting fake news.

Facebook has already removed thousands of fake news stories from its site and plans to hire 3000 more employees to review content going forward.

However, this campaign marks Facebook’s first big move towards combating the rapid growth of fake news, after experiencing growing pressure from high profile individuals and organisations, including MPs, to deal with the ever increasing issue.

While fake news certainly isn’t a new phenomenon, propaganda has been a tool used throughout the ages to influence and control, fresh fears have been raised of late about its growing visibility and impact on key geo-political events. After speculation that fake news on Facebook may have interfered with the EU Referendum and likely influenced the US Presidential Election result, there has been an overwhelming outcry for social networking sites to do more. And with the UK General Election only a month away and France’s Presidential race just concluded, Facebook’s latest campaign seems timely.

Some of the tips you might see published in your newspaper include:

  1. Be sceptical of headlines
  2. Look closely at the web address
  3. Investigate the source
  4. Watch for unusual formatting
  5. Consider the images used
  6. Inspect the date the story was published
  7. Check the evidence
  8. Look at other reports
  9. Is the story a joke?
  10. Blatant lies

This latest move by Facebook in the UK follows on from similar campaigns in German and French newspapers and will no doubt extend to other countries across the globe in due course. Will Facebook be able to eradicate propaganda as a result of its endeavours? Certainly not. Will it be able to pacify the powers that be that it is taking reasonable measures to help combat it? Facebook will be hoping so!

How to Make Your Website Responsive on Mobile

No matter how big or small your business is, it’s important that your website is responsive across all devices, especially mobile. A recent survey found that 88% of consumers who search for a local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours, and 57% won’t recommend a business if the website isn’t responsive on mobile. Thankfully, with just a few simple steps you can improve your website’s ‘viewability’ considerably and give your customers the seamless experience they’ve come to expect.

  1. Re-evaluate the template you’re using
    If you’re using a DIY website building site, like Squarespace or Wix, and your current template isn’t responsive, it’s time to re-evaluate! There will be a plethora of responsive templates you can choose from to replace your current unresponsive one. Take a look at them and choose one that is best fit for your business. Even if it means you have to spend some time altering the layout and content on your website, it’ll be worth it in the long run. If you have a bespoke site, created by a developer, get in touch with them to discuss making your site responsive. It might cost you a bit of money but it will certainly help your site perform better in the search engines and improve your visitors’ user experience.
  1. Make navigation simple
    Avoid long navigation bars which require consumers to zoom or make it harder for them to click the right link, as this easily puts people off. Less is more when it comes to navigation bars, so keep your options in the 4-5 range and make sure each one has a strong title with  clear calls to action. The text size is also important as consumers need to be able to easily click the link.
  1. Keep the text short and sweet
    Mobiles can’t display as much information as desktops and tablets, so it’s a good idea to review your website’s text with this in mind. Can you be more concise and reduce the volume of text? This will almost certainly have benefits outside of improving the mobile experience of your visitors. Once again, you need to make sure your calls to action are clear and customers understand what your business does, and why they need your services. Typography is also important; make sure the text isn’t too small and the spacing is even as this will allow for easier reading.
  1. Make sure your images are optimised
    Images which aren’t optimised can slow down your website a lot and could potentially lose you customers if your site is taking too long to load. JPG, PNG, and GIF files are usually fine and there are many tools you can use, such as Optimizilla; which will optimise your images for you. Images which are too big can also reduce your websites responsiveness, so make sure you check the size of your images too.
  1. Use mobile specific features
    Adding interactive maps and providing icons for your contact details are great for customers using your website on their mobile. This way they can get in contact with you much more easily than having to re-type your details into a search engine.
  1. Avoid using pop ups
    Pop ups can be a serious buzz kill, especially on mobiles as often browsers don’t support them, so avoid using them as they can easily put customers off.

To conclude, a responsive website is a necessity. By making your website responsive, mobile visitors are more likely to have a positive experience, which means they’re more likely to turn into loyal customers. Your websites ‘viewability’ will also affect where you rank on search engines, so make sure you check your website is providing the best mobile and desktop experiences frequently. Once your website is responsive you’re well on your way to success!