The benefits of working with a local design agency are many, but I’ll admit it – in nearly 20 years in digital, I’ve had the pleasure of working with people all over the world. Database consultants and clients in Canada, designers in The Netherlands. CMS experts in Australia, plugin developers in the U.S.A. and development teams in Brazil, China, India and some in Russia too. I ran one project that alone spanned 26 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with websites in 15 different languages including Arabic and Greek with close colleagues being Italians working in Switzerland.

But nothing beats working with a local design agency. Why?

As a client, one thing has so many benefits – and that’s simply being local.

Working in the Local Time Zone

The first benefit is that you and your local design agency are, very obviously, in the same time zone. Anywhere in the United Kingdom, you’re in the same time zone as your design team, so it goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning so that it can be really appreciated.

When I had a dev team in China I could be in the office at 9am in the morning but it would be 3pm for them. Just as I was starting my day, so they were finishing theirs. So there was an overlap of just a couple of hours. If you add into the mix your flexible working hours and daylight savings, then there can be times when there’s the possibility of not being around at the same time as your team. There might be days when you can’t see or speak with them, so it really depends on how crucial your project is.

At the other end of the scale, there have been team members in the United States and that’s a country spanning a number of time zones. For Brits, east coast USA is OK, with Boston, New York and Washington D.C. all being just 5 hours behind. However, clients in San Francisco are 8 hours behind, so planning a meeting with them, you’ll catch them as they get into the office just as you’re supposed to be leaving.

So, in the grand scheme of things, having a local web designer or graphics team is just brilliant.

How Local is Local?

So, by time zone standards, Lands End and John O’ Groats are on the same time. The only problem is that they’re at opposite ends of the country. Surely you can get more local than that?

And that is another thing – exactly how local is local?

I live in the suburbs of my town and within a mile or two are a few pubs. The nearest one I’ve not set foot in for years. It’s not my cup of tea. Then there are a few more mediocre ones, a really nice pub and then “my local”, The Prince of Wales – my pub of choice is 2 miles as the crow flies but nearly 3 miles by road. It’s less than 10 minutes drive there or a 40 min walk home. That, to me, is local.

From where I live, Clever Marketing is local. It’s about 15 miles away and a 30 min drive by car, so that’s local. I live in Farnborough, Hampshire, but work for a design agency in Surrey. And that’s fine by me. I could have stayed in Farnborough and only ever been 10 minutes away from home, but leafy Surrey isn’t hard to get to.

It’s the time that it takes to get to your design team that’s important – there’s the initial meeting to thrash out the design brief, then the additional project meetings when things need clarification in person and also the training sessions, inspecting the work, sending design proofs over, delivering finished product etc. By being local to your creative advisors, you can be at each other’s doors in no time. In Woking, we have a mainline to Waterloo, so the capital is less than 30 minutes away. What’s more, clients can save on “London prices” because we have lower overheads and no table-football in our studio.

All that said, I am visiting an SEO client in Essex on Thursday. Whilst they are on the other side of London, the trip around the M25 should only be about 90 minutes each way. So, that’s nearly half the working day spent travelling and you need to decide if that’s OK to maintain on a regular basis. If you’re taking on the services of a top digital marketing agency like Clever, then that should be well worthwhile.

Your Local Marketing Agency in Surrey

Any business in Woking is within 5-10 minutes of the Clever Marketing office/studio. Be aware that the massive Woking town centre redevelopment can add a little time to that right now, with road closures and traffic redirection, but if you can walk to our offices, that’s good.

Guildford too, is close to our design studio, within just half an hour’s drive, as are Addlestone, Aldershot, Bracknell, Camberley, Chobham, Addlestone, Farnborough, Fleet, West Byfleet, Weybridge… So the counties of Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey are all really close.

The advantages of a local agency are:

  • the speed at which you can reach each other
  • the costs of travel and delivery…
  • local knowledge

It really pays to shop local and I’d encourage you to call Clever Marketing on 020 3146 4341 or email info@cleverm.co.uk for a friendly discussion about your next print or digital project.

Paul Mackenzie Ross, Digital Marketing Manager

Website Audits – piece of cake, right?

All you have to do is visit Hubspot or WebsiteOptimization.com etc. or any one of the many numbers of websites offering a free website audit, press a button and you’ve got a fully-fledged, audit of your website, detailing all the things you need to do fix it. All for free. All for just clicking a button…

Nope. Not quite.

They’re all good, these free website audit tools. They look at performance, mobile-friendliness, speed, SEO and security… But when you submit the URL of your business’ website you get an automated audit… and it’s not all there, we know.

Now that’s fine, nobody’s perfect, no tool is perfect, after all, these automated audits are like Swiss Army knives – they have a lot of things to do and some obscure things too. And if it’s not 100% then that’s OK.

But when you rely purely on the results of an automated audit to give you everything a webmaster needs in order to be able to optimise a website, then you’re not getting the full picture.

Let’s look at a couple of simple things an automated audit will not pick up…

XML Sitemaps

Take XML sitemaps for instance. They are essential for any website and, just as the HTML sitemap is a page for users to glance at your site structure, so the XML sitemap is submitted to the search engines and acts as the de facto, full-fat map of your site. The search engines crawl and index your site based on what they read in the XML sitemap and so these files are crucial to digital health and performance.

One tool that we used crawled the URL we input before spitting out the response that we had no XML sitemap.


Why? Well, the well respected top ten website audit tool seemed to be programmed to find the sitemap at /sitemap.xml

However, with the website being in WordPress the Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress likes to use /siteamp_index.xml and then include all the other aspects of your website as child sitemaps. The website audit tool didn’t identify this and thus failed this aspect of the audit.

It’s only experienced website design agencies, like Clever Marketing in Woking, who have years of experience in web design & development and can spot this straight away and audit your website correctly.

Website Security

Another automated website audit we ran showed that security was lacking. Why? Because there was no Secure Certificate and the site was not showing up HTTPS at the start of its URL.

Now an SSL cert is really important to securing a website but it is not the be-all and end-all of website security options. We had the login details for the website and were able to see that there was security plugin that performed a number of best practices for securing a website beyond SSL.

The trouble with an automated web audit is that it cannot tell whether you have taken security measures to protect your website. Only someone with those login details, experience and insights can spot whether you’ve taken those precautions or not.


These are just a couple of very simple examples of how an automated website audit will not pick up on some very basic aspects that are vital to your website. There are plenty of other examples too such as when an automated audit suggests you minify your JavaScript and CSS when you already are, etc.

What this means is that a Clever Marketing agency like ours is best placed to conduct a proper website audit. Additionally, we have access to some tools that are more cost effective when you do your website audit through us. We check for broken links, missing meta descriptions etc so we provide a full featured audit and are in a position to fix all the things that will make your website great again.

So, if you’re worried that your site needs to be faster, more secure, requires more optimisation to be seen in the search engines, your landing pages need to be converting more, then all you have to do is pick up the phone and give us a call. We’re on 0203 146 4341 or you can email info@cleverm.co.uk

2015 has been a huge year for mobile, and we’re sure that you don’t need us to tell you that mobile is one of the most important areas in which to concentrate your efforts going into 2016. 2014 was the year that browsing on mobile devices overtook that on the desktop, and mobile continues to grow in popularity, as does its influence upon shaping our browsing habits. Those brands who still haven’t optimised their websites for mobile run a very real risk of being left behind.

But it isn’t enough to simply make your website responsive, and then leave it that (we wish it was)! Much like the rest of the digital marketing world, the mobile dimension is constantly changing and moving forward, consistently improving the user experience. It’s no secret that consumers now expect websites to keep up with the newer, slicker phone models being introduced onto the market and to keep developing to make their online browsing even simpler and easier.

To keep you at the razor-edge of mobile digital marketing developments and help you to impress your users with a forward-thinking and easy to use website, in this post we’re discussing some of the most prominent recent changes in mobile navigation. In addition, we’ll be sharing some extra tips and tricks to help you keep improving your mobile navigation. Ready to get started?

Mobile navigation in 2015

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the most popular and trends that have occurred in mobile navigation last year.

Hiding navigation

It’s becoming increasingly popular for websites to hide their navigation off-screen, and to only reveal the menu when a user interacts with the website in some way – either by clicking or hovering.  There tends to be a symbol in the top hand left side of the screen to denote the navigation, which then expands.

Why is this becoming popular? Hiding the navigation is a quick and easy way to reduce the clutter on a website, meaning that it appears cleaner, simpler and more minimalistic.

Why do users like it? A symbol denoting the navigation is simple and easy to understand for a user, and being presented with a straightforward and clean-looking website also means they won’t feel confused about what they’re supposed to do – therefore they’re more likely to stick around for a while!

Hamburger menus

As part of this hidden navigation, hamburger menus are now common. We guarantee that you’ll have seen a hamburger menu on a mobile website before, even if you don’t recognise the name. A hamburger menu is a little symbol consisting of three horizontal lines, which expands when you hover over it. It’s clean and efficient and has come to be recognised as best practice in mobile navigation.

Why is this becoming popular? It’s an established way to denote a hidden menu and is relatively straightforward in terms of design. Much like hiding the navigation in the first place, it helps to make your website appear cleaner and more simplistic.

Why do users like it? A hamburger menu is almost universally recognised by users now, so it provides them with a quick and easy way to navigate around your website. And as we all know, it’s all about convenience and ease when it comes to mobile!

There has been some debate about the efficacy of the hamburger menu and its impact on the user experience; although there is no real data to back this up.

Three steps to improving your mobile navigation

As you may have gathered, simplicity and ease is the name of the game when it comes to mobile navigation. Therefore, it’s a good idea to limit the number of layers of navigation you have. This boils down to one of the golden rules of digital marketing as a whole – reduce the number of clicks it takes to give a user what they want. Three levels is probably a good guideline.

In addition, it’s not enough to have a simplistic and slick looking menu icon; copywriting has an important role to play too. Again, it’s all about making things easy – keep your copy clear, short and concise and it will work alongside your intuitive navigation to get your users where they need to be.

Where you can, consider using images in your navigation to visually demonstrate each category (supermarkets do this particularly well).

How’s your mobile navigation looking? 

Let us know if you need your local web design agency, Clever Marketing, to work on your mobile-friendly website for you. Call us on 020 3431 4346 or email info@cleverm.co.uk

It is getting harder for marketing messages to get through to people as busy lives and a fog of noise from multiple communication channels often gets in the way.

Increasingly it is making real commercial sense to focus on small groups of customers at a time – ones who share some kind of similarity in their interests, needs, job or stage of life and who you can present a more relevant or tailored offering to.

The more you can align your products, services and their related marketing to the preferences of these customers, the more appealing your brand or business will become. So here are 3 areas which can really help to get your marketing heard and acted on:

1. Determine how ‘digitally-savvy’ they are

Consider if their life, work and purchasing relies on utilising digital media as this will guide you on the channels you’re more likely to reach them through. Find out which channels they favour and don’t waste time on those they avoid. Are our customers responsive to direct mail or email newsletters? Do they respond to Facebook advertising or are they more about LinkedIn? Is Twitter the place where your clients hang out or do they prefer to be on Google+? Or how about online forums or Pinterest? If your clients aren’t so digital savvy then maybe print is your focus – magazines, brochures, flyers, even a quality prospectus could be the key to engaging your clients.

2. Find out how time poor or rich they are

This will guide you on how short or detailed your marketing messages need to be. The more time your target customers have on their side, the more they’ll allocate to reading and evaluating marketing messages before making a purchasing decision.

The less time people have, the more you will need to build your marketing messages around images, short videos, simple statements and easy calls to action. Also, consider when may be the best time of day and day of the week to gain their attention. Testing different campaign timings will give you the answers here.

3. Find out how much importance they allocate to this purchase

The more valuable a purchase is to someone the more time they’ll spend weighing up the options. Value may take the form of price or it can also, especially in Business-to-business (B2B) environment, factor in aspects such as risk reduction, reputation enhancement or hassle elimination. Knowing how much value your customers allocate to the purchase of your product or service will guide you on the volume, detail, look, feel and messaging of its marketing and sales collateral. For example, with some impulse buys it may just be a case of getting the price right, or ensuring the buying process is as quick and efficient as it can possibly be.

If you’d like more ideas on aligning your offering to different customer preferences please contact Clever Marketing.

Most businesses would like to think they’re easy to buy from. However, if left unchecked, evolving business processes or communications can risk confusing or putting the customer off altogether.

It is worth taking time out to double-check that your business continues to offer an easy purchasing process for its customers. On an annual basis you must re-evaluate whether the following points remain clear, concise and user-friendly, from your customers’ perspectives:

  1. Marketing and sales communications – both printed and digital. Do they perform well on smartphones and tablets if your customer base is a heavy user of this technology? Are they easy to understand with clear calls to action?
  2. Sales enquiry points – whether it’s a phone line, web contact/booking/order form or email address, find out how easy and pleasant it is to use. How quickly does it respond to customers and how good it is at keeping them informed of the next steps?
  3. Sales team – how friendly, understanding and efficient are your sales team. Are they able to quickly understand the customer’s requirements and propose the right solution for this?
  4. Product/service delivery – is this professional, efficient and positively add to the process of buying from you?
  5. AfterSales support and billing – if your product/service lends itself to billing after delivery, check that your invoices are clear in the presentation of your fees. How often is the fee above what the customer is expecting? Few will want to experience unexpected and unwelcome surprises and so you should consider how you communicate any potential budget overruns earlier on in the sales process.

Also, consider whether the after sales support you offer encourages the customer to be pleased and reassured by their purchase? The more special they feel; the more likely they are to recommend you. Think of ways to use the goodwill after the purchase to subtly position add-ons or further products or services which complement their current purchase.

If you’d like more ideas on how to make it easy for customers to buy from you, please contact the Clever Marketing team.

Print’s Not Dead!

26th September 2014