Digital Marketing in Challenging Times

Digital Marketing in Challenging Times

You know the drill by now.

Stay at home. Don’t leave the house. Unless, of course, you need basic provisions, one session of exercise, to collect medications, or to tend to a vulnerable relative or neighbour.

The effects of the coronavirus outbreak have been massive, both on a personal level and for businesses too. So, what advice does Clever Marketing have for firms in this current climate?

Is it a Good Idea to Cut My Marketing Budget?

As a business we understand that firms need to look at saving costs during challenging times. We saw this during the financial crisis of 2009 and, right now, there’s still a lot of uncertainty over Brexit. Now, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there are even deeper and more immediate concerns.

Right now is a good time to take a step back, and have a clear look at your business. Are you thriving or are you just surviving in the wake of COVID-19?

For some industries, particularly travel, hospitality, retail and leisure, the current situation is extremely challenging. Flights have been grounded, rail firms have sought government support, and the treasury has drawn up extraordinary plans of financial assistance for businesses and workers.

But can you secure your future through marketing?

If your business is quiet on the marketing front you may be forgotten or overlooked. Marketing visibility is crucial during a time when so many businesses have gone full digital and all employees are working from home where possible. If you don’t look after your brand it may not benefit when we all come through “the other side”. It is this very notion that forward-thinking businesses are focusing on right now.

A quote from a study by Harvard Business Review back in 2010 says:

“Firms that cut costs faster and deeper than rivals don’t necessarily flourish. They have the lowest probability — 21% — of pulling ahead of the competition when times get better…”

Let’s look at the pros of thriving through continued marketing spend…

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay Per Click campaigns get your message in front of the right internet searchers at the right time. PPC allows your product or service to stand above all others in a competitive and crowded marketplace.

At a time when your competitors may be reducing their ad spend on PPC, there is an opportunity here to make gains.

In terms of awareness alone, you can protect your brand through PPC. Brand campaigns will ensure that your intellectual property stays yours in the search engines, and they also make bidding on your terms expensive for your competitors.

Or how about the fact that you may actually just now have fewer competitors and so your ads may be cheaper? With fewer competitive bids, your PPC ad budget may stretch a lot further than it once did.

We manage individual PPC accounts with budgets over many thousands and have seen great successes over the years. From doubling enquiries for £100,000 products (and on the way to quadrupling these) to reducing effective ad spend from £5,000, with another agency, to just £1,000 a month. One client actually has too much work due to the sheer number of leads we generate for them every month.

PPC is a winning channel whether it be Google Ads or Bing Ads, we have a track record of success in paid search.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

More complex than PPC, Search Engine Optimisation gets you “free” organic results in search. If you keep up all the hard work that’s been invested in optimising your website then you will maintain rankings and keep ahead of the competition.

Anecdotally, our Digital Marketing Manager once worked on a large business advice website where he optimised the site daily. When he left there were no daily site updates in Google Webmaster Tools. Without the highly qualified staff, and no more attention to detail, a decade’s worth of effort was lost. The site tanked in the SERPs and eventually the project was abandoned.

The moral of the story here is look after your website, and your website will look after you. Keeping it in good shape means the search engines will appreciate your efforts and you’ll enjoy as much success as you’re prepared to put in.

Social Media

Remote working means that everyone is online right now. Your staff, your competitors, your clients and potential customers are all now digitally connected. For the benefit of everyone’s mental and social welfare, it’s good to talk.

Continuing to work on social media means that you keep talking, keep having those conversations. Whether it’s paid or organic, there’s never been a better time to be social.

Brands that have embraced social media and are regularly active, are the brands that people will engage with.

Updates to inform the world that you’re still open for business, that your staff are safe and to enquire on the well-being of your clients is a major positive. Use every social media channel that you feel comfortable with. And within those channels again use whatever tools are most appropriate – have you tried LinkedIn Conversation Ads for instance?

Inform, entertain, reassure. There is so much your business can be doing on social, so take to the airwaves or make sure your agency does for you.

To a Brighter Future

When we step out into the brave new world, things will be different. The world will be a different place and how you’ve readied and adapted for that change is key.

Businesses that are proactive now will be ahead of the curve when the new era comes. Necessity is the mother of invention and rising to the current challenges will make you stronger.

Clever Marketing, Hampshire Digital Agency.If you want to maintain your digital marketing in challenging times then speak to us now on 01276 534 680.

We’re here to assist with your SEO, PPC and social media, paid and organic, so take a look at our digital marketing services.

Marketing Your Business with Limited Resources

Marketing Your Business with Limited Resources

Marketing is an essential part of running a business. Without it, people won’t know that your company exists, and you’ll be hard pushed to find any customers. There are a wide variety of ways companies can market themselves, from the small but cost-effective local marketing initiatives to the big extravagant campaigns you couldn’t possibly miss.

But today we want to talk about those business owners who aren’t quite so quick to spend time or money, who maybe have a tighter budget, or who are held back by time constraints or even a skills shortage in their company. There are a lot of reasons why a business may have “lean resources”, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to market themselves at all.

Becoming a Juggler

In order to deliver marketing effectively as a business owner with limited resources, you need to become very good at juggling. In particular, you will have “four balls” you need to keep in the air at all times:

1. Marketing Strategy & Tactics

Your marketing strategy should be aligned with your business strategy and goals (see What’s the Secret to Delivering Meaningful Marketing). With a strategy identified, your tactical campaigns and initiatives are simply those individual initiatives designed to deliver to the plan. Coming up with the goals for your marketing campaigns, identifying the key channels you want to use, creating the resources needed for each one. Working out how you will approach each challenge and then deploying them.

2. Brand

Marketing is about so much more than individual campaigns. In order to market your business effectively you also need a brand and a brand identity that encompasses your proposition. That entails the creative elements of a logo and a visual style, as well as identifying your tone of voice – the type of language that you use.

3. Industry Landscape and Competition

You also need to understand the environment you are working in and your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your offer, versus your competition. Understanding this enables you to best position your value proposition. Also by reading more widely through marketing media (such as can provide other inspiration for new ideas to try or a new way to reach your audience. Monitoring the competitive landscape can be a great source of ideas, if you can invest the time into it.

4. Marketing Channels

Considering your target customers, you need to decide on the key channels that you will need to focus on that resonate with them the most. Will you be running offline or online marketing campaigns, or a mix of both? How much can you manage yourself or will any external resources be required?

Now we know that’s a lot to keep track of, especially when you have the normal day to day duties to do as well. But unfortunately, we’re not quite done yet. Those are just the things you need to be able to manage within your business and your industry. If you want to be really successful with your marketing, then you need to keep an eye on the ever-changing marketing world as well.

Managing a Changing Landscape

The marketing world is always changing. New technologies, styles or trends will impact the way you market your business, and what your customers expect of you, and the changes can happen at the drop of a hat. To give you an idea, here are some of the changes we have identified for the coming months:

General Changes

The digital marketing landscape is set for a huge overhaul during 2019 and 2020, and most marketing professionals are already working to get their businesses well positioned for the new changes. Voice search will become a bigger factor for online marketing, which means Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) practices will start to look very different. Growth will need to happen through multiple channels, meaning you can’t just invest all of your time and money into one marketing channel. Blogging will become more of an art form as search engines demand fresh content that isn’t regurgitated, and businesses will need to focus on search engines other than Google (like Bing, Yahoo,, Baidu or Wolfram Alpha) to see results. And that’s just the start! There are general changes to the marketing landscape happening all the time, and you need to be aware of them.

Google Algorithms

Google updates its algorithms 2-4 times a day, sometimes more – which means at least 700 updates a year. There have already been four ‘large’ updates this year, with multiple smaller updates in-between. If you’re relying on online marketing channels, this means you will need to stay on top of at least the major changes made to their algorithms so that you can stay ahead.

Google Ads

If you advertise on Google through Pay Per Click (PPC), you will also need to know when they change something, add something, or take a feature away. Google are pretty prolific when it comes to updates, and already this year there have been four big updates to Google Ads. If you don’t keep up with these changes, you will start to see fewer results from your campaigns, and consequently your Return On Investment (ROI) or Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) will drop.

LinkedIn Ads

Just like Google, LinkedIn has its own ad platform, and that too is changing. LinkedIn rolled out a range of new features in the last twelve months which are only just starting to get a foothold, which means now is the perfect time to get onboard. From video ads to new reporting interfaces and even a campaign manager, LinkedIn is trying to make it easier to market your business through them.

Clever Solutions

So, how do you manage all of this? How do you choose where to focus your efforts, time and money to get the best return on your investment? Frankly, how do you even know where to start with marketing when your business has minimal time, knowledge and staff to invest in marketing? The answer is simple – you ask for help.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital Agency.At Clever Marketing, we work closely with companies of all shapes and sizes who have limited marketing resources, but want to maximise those they do have. We can act as your outsourced digital marketing specialists, helping you understand where your skills are best used, providing you with extra resource where we can, and helping you get the most of your digital marketing efforts.

We can even help you create strategies for SEO, PPC and general marketing, and implement them for you. Our monthly fee structure means we are better value than hiring another employee – and you don’t need to buy us a birthday cake every year! If you would like to find out more, just get in touch with the team today.

What not to do on Twitter

What Not to do on Twitter (with real life examples!)

There’s no denying that Twitter is a fantastic social platform for brands of any size, particularly small or new businesses trying to make a name for themselves. It opens up a world of promotional and networking opportunities, and the best part? It’s free.

However, it’s not enough to simply open a Twitter account and post randomly about what your business has been up to. In fact, Twitter needs strategy and patience to work well, and there are a lot of brands guilty of using it in the wrong way.  In recent years, some businesses have even risked their company’s entire reputation through the mistakes they’ve made on Twitter. Read more

How to Get Started with Segmentation

If you’re an established business or have experienced promising growth recently, you may have noticed your data list growing. And in that list, you’re likely to have a number of different types of customer – not only in terms of their buying behaviour (returning, lapsed, big spender) but in terms of their personal qualities (gender, age or income). Read more

Improve Mobile Conversion Rates - We show you 5 ways

Getting Your Mobile Marketing Strategy In Shape

The notion of creating a marketing strategy solely for mobile is a slightly contentious one. Many argue (like this fantastic article from Moz) the point that, actually, we should no longer be distinguishing between devices.  These days, we all want to target users who are on the go, and using more than one device – therefore, every strategy going forward should be a mobile one.

Or, more accurately, one built with a range of devices in mind, reflecting the modern customer journey. Gone are the days where a shopping experience began and ended on a laptop, so it no longer makes any sense for marketing teams to work in isolated siloes.

But for the time being, value definitely still remains in optimising your strategy for mobile, particularly if you’re new to the digital marketing space and want to make sure your existing tactics are still viable for mobile users. So let’s start with the most obvious question.

Why is Mobile So Important?

Well, last year mobile usage overtook that on desktop when it came to browsing, booking and purchasing online. Mobiles and other devices such as tablets are here to stay, and ignoring them completely will only lead to frustration from your customers, not to mention a decrease in revenue for you.

Let’s take a look at what, according to Search Engine Watch (via Online Publishers Association/Frank N. Magid Associates), consumers are doing on mobile devices:

  • 99.5% access content or information
  • 63.1% access the internet
  • 62.1% access email

Now think back to your current digital marketing strategy. Are you meeting this demand for mobile-friendly content? Are you making it easy for your customers to interact with you on their mobiles? If not, it’s time to figure out why. And fast. Here’s just a few things you might consider along the way.

Understanding Customer Mobile Habits

The extent to which – and how – you’ll need to adapt your overall marketing strategy for mobile will depend entirely on the percentage of your audience regularly using mobile to access and use your website and/or content. Not just the general figures, as we have explored above, but your specific audience.

Decipher this percentage, as well as exactly which device they use (is it mobile or tablet?), what activities they’re doing (are they buying or just perusing?) and how much time they spend on your site (what is the average bounce rate – are they finding what they’re looking for?) and use these results to adjust your strategy. For example, if your product has a fairly high price point and you find that not many mobile users are converting, work on improving the checkout process or making it more secure. You might choose to switch tactics entirely and treat mobile as more of a lead generation tool. Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture are just two tools which can help you obtain these invaluable insights.

Making Your Website Responsive

We’ve discussed responsive web design at length on this blog before, so you may well already be familiar with what it means, but just in case, check out our previous post: Are You Designing Responsively?

In 2015, having a responsive website is no longer something which is going to make you stand out from the crowd. In fact, failing to design responsively will make you the odd one out, and for all the wrong reasons. Designing your site with mobile in mind ensures your busy, on the go customers can have just as pleasant and easy experience on your site as a desktop user: resulting in less bounce, and more conversion.

A lot of companies tack mobile on to the end of their website design, like an afterthought. However, for a truly successful responsive website, it is important to design “from mobile up” – with every design decision you make, look at it from a mobile user’s point of view. This should take traditional and clunky design devices such as carousels, hovers and slow loading pages out of your website design repertoire.

Keep it Short, Sweet and Relevant

So, you’ve got a responsive website and a fairly clear idea of how your customers are behaving on mobile. What next? Well, you need to start marketing.

Most consumers now have their mobile device within reach 24/7, which presents you with an incredible, always-on marketing opportunity. According to The Guardian, “…one of the greatest opportunities for marketers today lies in managing personalisation for mobile devices.

You may already be personalising your website and advertising, so how does marketing on mobile differ from desktop? Well for starters, you’re working with a more limited amount of space. When it comes to content, deliver a truncated version with only the most relevant information, and keep targeted ads short and to the point. Streamlining your marketing efforts means your customer is less likely to lose interest quickly.

Secondly, when surfing on their mobile your customer is likely to be on the go; whether they’re commuting or just trying to find a destination.  This opens up a number of opportunities for geo-targeting – the delivery of a specific ad based on a browser’s location. Take Starbucks’ lead: they showed ads offering discounted coffees whenever a mobile user passed a branch. Which, considering the ubiquity of Starbucks chains, proved very successful indeed.

In essence, the key to making mobile an integral part of your marketing plan is to embrace the changes it demands, rather than feeling limited by them. Understanding browsing habits, designing responsively and personalising ads based on location are just three ways to ensure you make the most of the “always –on” phenomenon.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital AgencyAre you ready to be serious about your mobile marketing strategy?

Call Clever, the Hampshire SEO specialists on 01276 534 680 or fill in our contact form to discuss your needs and make your website more mobile friendly.

Brand Collaboration: Is it Right for your Business?

Forming strategic alliances with other brands can be a cost-effective and mutually beneficial way to both market your business and produce content. Brand collaboration can take many forms; from actively promoting each other on social media, to co-branding and launching a new product.

Given its many benefits, it’s no wonder this idea is becoming more and more popular. In fact, more than 60% of start-ups and small businesses are now working together to find new customers.

Are you considering brand collaboration? If so, make sure you read our five top tips first to find out if it’s right for your business, and how you might benefit.

Be True To Your Brand…

Say you’re a health foods company. You’re approached by a large confectionery manufacturer who is interested in working with you. The exposure and brand awareness you’d receive off the back of the project would be significant. Do you start a brand collaboration?

In this instance, the partnership would most likely be ineffective due to a lack of brand fit. The values and image of a health foods company and those of a confectionery company are probably not closely aligned, making content creation and marketing difficult. A real life example of this was when McDonald’s was announced as a partner for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. With such different brand values, many found the partnership confusing and inauthentic (the fast food chain was accused of misleading people into thinking their food was healthy by public health advocates. Read more at Olympic Sponsors Were Warned About Sochi; Now McDonald’s and Coca-Cola Are Having a PR Nightmare )

The most effective brand collaborations occur when the brands in question naturally complement each other, but are not direct competitors. This way you are likely to have the same demographic, a similar tone of voice and desire to project the same message. The partnership between Innocent Drinks and vegetable box company Rocket Gardens is an example of good brand fit – they worked together to help teach children about eating healthily in 2012.

…But Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold

While it’s important to stay true to your brand and work with partners who both you and your customers see as a natural brand fit, don’t let that restrict your potential candidates to a just a few companies. It’s worthwhile to think about the future of your brand and the direction you’d like it to take five years down the line, as well as the image it has now.

Bottled water manufacturer Evian represents a brand who was bold enough to think out of the box – and it paid off. They collaborated with French designer Courreges to promote the label’s 50th anniversary. Although fashion and water aren’t a pairing that immediately springs to mind, the partnership worked to enhance Evian’s image as sophisticated and classic.

Identify Your Weaknesses

Brand fit isn’t the only thing you need to consider before choosing a brand to partner with. You’ll also want to audit your marketing and content activity to identify any areas where you’re weak, or haven’t managed to garner a huge following.

For example, you may have been concentrating on a select number of social media outlets and as a result, don’t have a presence on Pinterest. Identifying a brand who has a lot of activity and followers on this platform would be beneficial in widening your reach and getting your name out to new audiences. The impact on your marketing here would be much more effective than simply shouting again into an arena where you are already making a lot of noise.

Similarly, you may also choose to associate yourself with a brand who has certain values you would like to market yourself as having; but that you don’t necessarily have already. Think back to the health foods example – this brand could partner with a sportswear manufacturer, benefitting from the association with fitness as well as good nutrition.

Keep Your Customer Front of Mind

To help guide your decisions on what might be a good brand fit for you, always try to keep the best interests of your customers’ as your top priority. Looking through their eyes will help you filter what is a good fit and what isn’t.

Consider what other brands your customers may interact with or show interest in. Social media is a great place to research this, and surveys are also an informative route to take.

Invest Time Into Your Collaboration

For your partnership to be successful, you need to build a strong and profitable relationship with your brand partner. A collaboration is not something to be left simmering away in the background of your marketing landscape; you’re likely to get out exactly what you put in.

It’s key to spend some time at the beginning of your agreement fleshing out exactly what both parties stand to gain from the partnership, as well as the expectations you may have. Make sure you’re both clear on how success will be measured, so you can track how you are doing at any given time.

Agree who will be responsible for what. If you are creating a lot of content, both brands need to be clear whose remit certain tasks fall under in order to avoid any disputes (and delays) further down the line. A successful partnership is one that has been effectively and extensively planned; not one that has popped up overnight.

Clever Marketing - Surrey Digital AgencyIf you’re looking to get involved in brand collaboration but you think your brand needs a review and rework then get in touch with Clever Marketing now.

You can call us straight away on 01276 534 680 or fill in our easy contact form.

We’re quite happy to look at your brand, redesign your logo, create a consistent identity across all your marketing material.