google

What’s happening?

Google are officially rebranding Google AdWords – it’s been a long time in the coming, and after more than 17 years, Google are consolidating their Ad products to fall under one umbrella name & service. Henceforth, Google Ads will be the catch-all title for the vast majority of Google’s Ad tools. Other related products will fall into the categories of Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager.

Why?

After nearly 20 years of AdWords, what has triggered this rebrand, I hear you ask? Well, to answer that question we have to consider a few different strands. The official word from Google has come mostly in the form of comments from Sridhar Ramaswamy – Vice President of Ads & Commerce at Google.

Ramaswamy stated that the rebrand is at least partially a response to “consistent feedback” that the duplicity of Ad products offered by Google can lead to a confusing experience for the user.

Many have also predicted that the removal of the term ‘word’ from the brand name indicates an incoming departure from keyword driven advertising. Ramaswamy himself has been quoted saying the brand change “is indicative of where we have been directing the product” – but exactly how this new direction will play out remains to be seen.

When?

The AdWord rebrand was first announced at the end of June, but the official changeover is scheduled to take full effect on 24/07/18. From this point on, all users who wish to continue using AdWords will have to do so using the rebranded Google Ads platform.

Out with the old, in with the new

At a glance, we’ve considered some of the pros & cons of the new Google Ads interface.

Listed below are some of the ostensible & more significant differences produced by the rebrand:

  • Pro: advancement in reporting style – in the new Google Ads interface there is a greater level of detail afforded to the way data is displayed; including the ability to create graphs to visually display data from Ads.
  • Con: The major change in layout has meant those familiar with AdWords have had to learn how to navigate the new layout to find what they’re looking for; the new look is akin to the dashboard style used across other Google services. For the time being this change is making things a little frustrating for marketers.
  • Pro: Showcase Ads – this new Ad product allows advertisers to display a group of products (rather than just one) along with a small amount of text so that brands can more comprehensively introduce their business to a new prospect.
  • Con: Columns in the new Ad interface have been reset meaning specified information is no longer displayed when accessing Google Ads – the upshot of this is more time is spent  seeking out information, when you could already be processing it.
  • Pro: Promotion extensions – this new feature gives advertisers the ability to show and link to specific offers within Ad text. This new addition should result in far greater click through rates, which is always music to marketers’ ears…

 The bottom line

As with anything new, Google Ads has been met with a certain amount of reluctance; infamously, people don’t tend to like change, but we’re sure that brands and businesses will begin to adapt to the features of Google’s Ad rebrand – just as Google’s Ad products will continue to evolve based on feedback from users.

 

Chatbots

The demand for customer service via instant messenger has recently reached new heights; since the revelation that messaging apps are more popular than social networking sites, companies have been scrambling to find a way to use instant message to their marketing advantage.

The result? Businesses are investing in more forms of live chat – from those manned by humans, to 24/7 automated chatbots.

What are chatbots?  

Chatbots are a piece of automated computer software; they are programmed to mimic human conversation through a chat interface.

 As Artificial Intelligence (AI) develops, more advanced forms of chatbots are being released.  AI chatbots can utilise machine learning to convincingly replicate human conversation, and consequently improve the user experience.

For the most part, though, businesses are still using simpler chatbot software for customer service and marketing. In these instances, chatbots work on a rule-based system – they look out for trigger keywords and provide what is deemed to be the most relevant response. For example, if a user mentions a particular product and the word ‘stock’ the chatbot might reply with a stock update for the specified product.

Why the popularity?

In our world of convenience, user patience grows continually thin. We already know that mobile speed is an absolute must-have for successful websites and is even used as a ranking factor by Google.

Thus, it naturally follows that consumers don’t want to waste their time on hold when making a phone call or waiting for a response via email. Instant messaging provides a space where customers can submit a query and instantly receive a response. This service has business and marketing benefits too – quicker response time means the chance of your prospect going elsewhere before converting is greatly reduced.

The pros and cons: human live chat v chatbots

As with anything, there are pros and cons to both chatbots and live chat systems manned by human assistants. Here we weigh up the different considerations for both options:

24/7

 One of the most obvious benefits of chatbots is their availability. No matter what time of day or night, a chatbot can be active and open for queries – this is a pretty appealing prospect when the digital realm demands that information be readily available at all times.

Complications

Chatbots may be able to accept customer enquiries 24 hours a day, but one thing they can’t do is handle niche or difficult questions. The nature of a chatbots programming means that if a user asks a question which doesn’t correspond to a specific query or keyword, it won’t be able to help.

 A live chat assistant can be far more responsive to customer’s needs, meaning a more tailored customer service experience for the user.

The cost

Creating a chatbot is significantly cheaper than employing a team of live chat assistants. While having a single live chat operator may be effective for very small companies, in most instances one person isn’t capable of handling multiple enquiries at once – the upshot of this is delayed response time, which defeats the purpose of live chat in the first place.

 A chatbot can respond instantly to a large pool of enquiries at any given time, meaning no customer is left frustrated.

Human touch

Speaking of frustrations, chatbots aren’t without their own enraging issues. As touched upon before, chatbots can only respond to queries they’ve been specifically programmed to understand. They can even be tripped up by spelling errors and typos.

Comparatively, a human assistant would not struggle with a more complex query or typo. Having a real person responding over live chat means they can also provide the additional service of salesperson, adding to the marketing benefits of live chat.

A chatbot can –  in a limited function –  recommend products based on what they think a user is searching for, but it’ll never be as persuasive or convincing as a personal recommendation from an actual person.

To conclude…

When it really comes down to it, on a one-on-one basis a chatbot could never beat the customer service provided by an actual human being. However, on a larger scale, the waters become more muddied. What works best for your company will depend on your particular business and the size of your customer base.

 Many organisations take the middle ground, using chatbots in the first instance, with a small team of human chat assistants ready to take over when things get more complex.  

With the current speed of AI advancements, we’re certain that most of these chatbot flaws will soon be a thing of the past – but for now, best not to hand everything over to the bots just yet.

 

Whether you're a Millennial, a Generation Z, or just someone who spends a lot of time online, in this day and age we now expect to be able to get what we want almost instantly. Need somewhere to eat? Google it. Need new headphones? Amazon it. Need to get hold of someone? Facebook them

The internet has given us all the expectation that instant gratification can be had at the push of a button, but how impulsive are we when it comes to parting with our money? How has the online search game changed the way we shop?

Well, although it is much easier now to shop online than it is to elbow your way through in-store January sales, many will still choose to research a product before buying. This will vary between shoppers; some will choose to look at a product in a shop and find it cheaper online, and others will do some online research before going into stores. Either way, online research and instore/online shopping now come in hand in hand and that's something to keep in mind when creating your online marketing campaign.

Here are some of the ways search effects the buying process and what you can do to capture this traffic: 

Online Inspiration

People want, but they don't always know what they want. It's human nature; we get an idea but we want to know what everyone else is doing before making a final decision. So to start the research process we turn to a search engine; "cool room inspiration", "Secret Santa ideas", "hair inspiration", sound familiar?

With so many options to browse through its no wonder that people look online for ideas when they at a loss as to where to start.

Pinterest has built its empire on people's desire to be inspired. Losing the need for any written information, this visual platform gives us everything we need to get inspired all in one place. Social media is a great way to capture customers in their research stage. For visual inspiration, Pinterest and Instagram are great. To extend your reach and try to inspire those who didn't know they wanted to be inspired, Facebook and Twitter are very helpful too. Use hashtags to appear on relevant searches and capture this attention.

For more product specific searches, such as "flooring inspiration" a blog is a fantastic way to inspire and inform at the same time. Blogs are a vital way of not only inspiring customers but also for getting them to the products you actually sell, which is often where social media can fall short. 

Relevant, well-ranking blogs don't only attract organic website traffic, they can also give the customer examples of options they can get from you. Although they still may not be ready to make an actual purchase, your brand will be in their mind when they do.

Research and Rethink 

We want answers and we want them now, and luckily it's actually as easy as that. Of course, the internet is full of bias and misguided articles, but we still seem to trust a lot of what Google tells us. For instance, let's look at two of the biggest searches from the Christmas period:

"Which is better, Android or Apple smartphones?"

"Should I get an Xbox or a PlayStation?"

So following my initial search of "which is better, Android or Apple smartphones", Google gives me three relevant, recent articles. However, none of which give me my answer in the visible description, I could click but with my need for instant gratification my eye quickly goes to the "People also ask" snippet which gives me an instant answer: 

The top result in the snippet box actually seems a lot more bias, with a leading question of "Is an iPhone better than an Android". It seems like the same question I asked originally, but before i've even read the description it gives me the impression that Apple has the edge, later confirmed by the description, so I don't even need to read the full article. Despite this being an older article than the top result, it answers my question quicker. 

Without even searching for my next question, Google anticipates that I'm also needing advice regarding my Xbox/PS4 dilemma, another 2016 article lets me know that PlayStation comes out on top. So there we go, I'm getting an iPhone and a PlayStation 4 for Christmas (lucky me, right?). 

Of course, it's not as simple as that, many people will do further research before parting with the money particularly for these pricey items. Which is exactly why blogs are still so important for capturing organic traffic for those who do want more information.

However, it does highlight how important Google featured snippets have become, which is why we have previously written a blog about how to capture a snippet. With any of these products, a large part of it is personal preference, but for those with no opinion formed already, search research may be the thing that swings them either way. 

It's important to find out what your target audience is trying to research and create useful content that answers their questions, remain informative and interesting to get your opinion across - and do it quickly.  

Browse before you buy

In a way, search does also make the selling process far more competitive than when people shop in person. Although you may be able to find a product a couple of quid cheaper somewhere else, half the battle is won by the time you're in the store. Often, it's easier to be slightly unaware that a product is available for a couple pounds cheaper in a different store than to physically go store to store checking, and having to go back to find wherever the cheapest one was. 

But that's easy to do online so can make all the difference. It takes seconds to whip out your mobile phone and find out where to find the cheapest deal can be found. Amazon even makes a point of pointing out to you that you can find it cheaper somewhere else, which is great for me as a consumer as I look for that new PlayStation 4 of mine: 

Now I can see the cheapest option, the reputation of the seller and the delivery cost. If I'm quick I can pay a bit extra and get it tomorrow - instant gratification indeed.

Clearly, this puts pressure on ecommerce websites who now need to stand out in an over-saturated online market. Be sure to compare your prices and deals with your competitors, ask yourself: How much am I charging for my product/service? Is it still a good deal after delivery? Does my website make the product/service stand out from my competitors?

We recently did a blog on how to make your ecommerce website stand out, which you may find helpful. You can find it by clicking here

In Conclusion

The way we research online before means that creating relevant content is more important than ever to not only attract traffic to your website but to inform potential customers that what you're selling is worth buying, whether they buy from you instore or online.

Inspiring them to aspire to have your product/service is the first step, then its time to explain why you're the best place to make that purchase. Keep an eye on your competitors, the quality of your website and products, and what your customers need from you in order to make the most of search

If you want any advice on your online marketing, from website design to SEO we can help. Contact us today to get help from our friendly specialists.

Google Adwords The Basics

Unless you own a website or you have a keen interest in online marketing, you may not have heard about Google AdWords before. This platform plays a huge part in the world of online advertising, but many Google users may not know what exactly it is or what it does.

To help you better understand, we have put together the following simple guide to understanding Google AdWords.

Google AdWords Show First on Search Engine Results Pages

First things first, a brief introduction. AdWords is an online advertising platform developed by Google, which allows businesses to advertise on the search engines' results pages.

For example, as you'll see from the image below we have searched for ‘women’s clothes’. Now, the first 4 text results (marked with a green 'Ad' label) are AdWords Text Ads; which are followed by normal non-paid 'organic' results, which in-turn is followed by 3 more Text Ads (bottom of the page). On the right-hand side, you can also see Google 'Shopping Ads', which are a different style of paid-for adverts within AdWords.

All of these businesses are employing AdWords to show their adverts whenever someone searches for the phrase ‘women’s clothes’.

Every Click Costs with Google AdWords

Unlike offline advertising methods, you only have to pay for your Google Ad if it gets clicked, making AdWords one of the best advertising platforms on the planet in terms of ROI. However, managed poorly it will simply bring you lots irrelevant traffic that will not convert into sales or bookings. 

Managing AdWords can be complex, however, it's not rocket-science, and the AdWords tool allows you to organise your adverts into campaigns and groups, which then give you greater control, and organisation, of your adverts. 

In simple terms, you choose the keywords that work for your business and allocate a maximum click cost, which is essentially how much you are willing to pay Google for a person to click your advert. You organise your keywords into appropriate groups and campaigns, and then set a budget on what is the maximum you want to spend on each campaign. When you budget runs out, the adverts stop showing, until the budget allows them to again. So, the higher the budget you set, the longer your adverts will be displayed, and therefore the more clicks you can achieve.  

There are a great many complexities to running successful AdWords campaigns, and the depth of this complexity will depend upon your business, i.e. how many products and services you offer, whether your competitors also run AdWords campaigns, how popular your keywords are, etc.

Google AdWords Uses a Complex Bidding System

Though this may seem simple (pay for an ad = get shown on Google), it is really not that easy! As you can imagine, there are millions of clothing shops across the world. All of these clothing companies, if they’re marketing savvy, will be aiming to have a Google Ad on top of the SERPs. So, with so much competition, Google employs a bidding system to decide who gets those top spots, for how much time, and what cost per click.

It's more complex than this, however, you can envisage the AdWords bidding structure as a straight-up auction; whoever is willing to pay the most per click, wins! Google is the auctioneer, the product is the top spot on Google for say "women’s clothes", and the auction hall is full of eager clothing businesses across the nation, or even the world.. how much are you willing to pay for a click?

As I alluded to, this auction is not that straight forward, you can also win by providing high quality and highly relevant adverts, which land on highly relevant pages, within a highly user-friendly website, all scoring points with Google and meaning that you may pay less than your competitors for those top spots. Google wants advertisers to see a relevant advert to what the user searched. For example, I search "women's dresses" so I want to see an advert that suggests something relevant, and then I want to land on a page showing dresses i.e. not the home page of a clothing store website... unless it only sells dresses of course. So Google rates the relevance of your advertising, and they call this their quality score. You need a very high-quality score to keep your click costs competitive. The complexity runs deeper, but for now, we'll leave it there.

Google Adverts & Landing Pages

While this may seem a bit strange, Google Ads, more often than not, will not take you straight to the homepage of the website. Instead, they usually take you to something which is known as a landing page. Landing pages are often dedicated pages, but usually are the product (or service) specific page, that is most relevant to the term you searched e.g. "Women's Clothing".

For example, this is H&M’s homepage:

And this is a H&M landing page for ‘women’s dresses’:

As you can see, there is a distinct difference between the two. H&M’s homepage includes everything the website stocks, whereas the women's dresses section on the site is used as the "landing page" for the adverts for this search term; directing searchers who hit their adverts to the exact products that they were searching for.

Google AdWords does not impact your websites organic ranking

Though Google AdWords can indeed play a big part in increasing traffic to your website, and conversions, it has no direct link to the organic (non-paid listings in Google) search results pages. Even if you are running hundreds of Ads and spending millions of pounds, it will not increase your organic ranking.

Conclusion

 AdWords can be a fantastic tool for driving instant traffic to your website but consider the difference between extra traffic and extra customers/buyers. There is a significant difference between the two. Making AdWords work for your business requires intimate knowledge of the advertising platform itself, along with knowledge of your business, and its competitors. 

You can run AdWords yourself, however, if you want to maximise the ROI our experts are here to help, just click here to request a free quote today.

Should You Outsource Digital Marketing Strategy

Marketing your business online is a multifaceted task that often takes place across many different platforms. Nowadays, a typical digital marketing strategy might include any or all of the following:

  • Responsive website (fast, mobile friendly, optimised for search engines)
  • Conversion optimisation (tweaking content and layout for performance)
  • AMP development (faster mobile pages)
  • Blog posts and other content (including infographics, videos, etc.)
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc.)
  • PR and link outreach (e.g. articles, external blog posts)
  • PPC advertising (e.g. Google AdWords, Bing Ads)

You may also choose to combine the above strategies with more traditional avenues such as TV, radio and/or print advertising.

With the fight happening on so many different fronts, it's not hard to see why a lot of business owners decide to outsource some or all of their marketing to external agencies. Indeed, it's not uncommon to hire a different firm for each task: one company to design your website, another to write engaging content for your blog, another to handle your AdWords campaigns, and so on.

Outsourcing Digital Marketing

But is this a good way to get results?

The obvious benefit of this approach is that it allows you to hire a specialist for each part of your multi-platform digital marketing effort. You want a professional-looking website, so you hire an experienced web developer who's capable of providing this. You want to get your brand name in front of more people, so you pay a highly-rated PR agency to get the word out on your behalf. Nobody in your organisation knows the first thing about Google AdWords? No problem - hire a PPC expert to set up some campaigns for you.

On the face of it, then, choosing the best person or company for each job on a task-by-task basis seems like a pretty sensible tactic. The problem is that while PPC advertising, SEO copywriting, website design, et cetera are all distinct disciplines that require very different skillsets, they don't exist independently of one another. All digital marketing platforms are intrinsically linked, and trying to separate them all out can cause a lot of headaches.

Here are some examples:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a critically important part of website development that ideally needs to be taken into consideration at the planning stage. When building a new online home for your business, you might be tempted to hire a designer to create the website itself, then turn the project over to an SEO expert who can select the keywords and write the copy for each page. As a general rule, though, you'll definitely get far better results in the end if your website developer has a strong working knowledge of SEO too - that way, they can make suggestions from the get-go and help you to construct a highly-optimised site hierarchy instead of just hashing in some keywords as an afterthought. Optimising a website is significantly more than just content and keywords - it’s having a modern and responsive site architecture, handling URLs properly, hosting the website in a way that make it fast for the end user, and so much more!

  • If you're thinking of using Google AdWords to drive extra traffic to your website, you may be wondering exactly how much each click will cost you once your ads are up and running. The answer to that question depends on many different variables, but more than any other factor, the amount you pay when somebody clicks on one of your ads is determined by its quality score, which is derived from the combination of keyword, advert and landing page. The lower your quality score, the more you'll have to pay for each click (since Google don't like sending their users to irrelevant or low-quality web pages). But your average PPC manager can't achieve a good quality score just by fiddling around in AdWords - it requires collaboration between your web developer, copywriter and PPC manager to get those ads and landing pages just right.

  • Finally, let's imagine that you've hired a social media guru to grow your audience on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. In order to craft successful social campaigns and keep your accounts running smoothly, that person will have to co-ordinate their efforts with the person who writes your blog posts, the person who handles your PR, and possibly several other parties like your web developer, your sales team, and whoever is responsible for determining the overall direction of the company. That's a lot of plates to keep spinning!

The point is that - as the old proverb goes - too many cooks sometimes spoil the broth, and dividing up your marketing efforts can hugely diminish your results. Assigning each task to a different specialist opens you up to a lot of potential problems, especially if any of your marketers cannot see:

  • Accurate sales and traffic figures for your business
  • The growth plans you have in place
  • What everyone else is working on

Of course, there are numerous tools and pieces of software that can be used to co-ordinate several groups of people who are all working towards the same goal, but these solutions tend to only work as well as the people using them. No matter how you slice it, trying to synchronise half a dozen different agencies and get them all reporting back to you in perfect harmony can be a huge and frustrating task!

So is there a better way?

A simpler route to digital marketing success

You want to make life simple for yourself, but you're still keen to check all the digital marketing boxes and get your brand seen in as many different places as possible. How do you achieve both of these goals? Well, you could try one of the following:

1) Hire in-house marketing talent.

Instead of outsourcing your marketing efforts to external agencies, you may decide to hire your very own PPC expert, SEO guru, social media manager, etc. That way, all the necessary skills will be in your own office and on your own payroll.

The drawback: Hiring your own marketing team will cost a lot of money and use up a lot of time. You'll have to do all the legwork - posting job ads, looking through CVs, interviewing applicants - yourself, and if you're hiring several people, you'll have to do it all multiple times. Successful candidates might need to be trained up, and they may take some time to properly settle into your organisation.

And that's assuming you can even find the talent you need. Unfortunately, most skilled digital marketing professionals would rather work for an agency (where they would get to work on a variety of different projects) than for an ordinary business (where they would have to the same thing every day). If you do choose the in-house route, you may find that scouting out a suitable candidate for each position is harder than you expected!

2) Find an agency that does everything.

Hiring an agency means that you don't have to face the hassle of recruiting new employees for your own company, and if you can find an 'all-in-one' digital marketing agency who know how to craft engaging content, build successful AdWords campaigns, get seen on social media, AND design a winning website, this will also make it far easier for you to keep your digital marketing efforts tidy, efficient and effective.

The drawback: Marketing agencies that do everything are hard to come by. It's fairly easy to find a company that's great at SEO, or at social media, or at pay-per-click advertising, but finding a company with the skillset and vision necessary to do it all - and do it well - can be quite a challenge.

Additionally, some business executives may be reluctant to put all their eggs in one basket by entrusting absolutely everything to a single company. Will they be vigilant, honest and communicative when it comes to reporting back and keeping you in the loop? And what if this other company were to go under? Where would that leave you, the client?

Clearly, both of the above approaches have their pros and cons. But there is a third option: simply take a little from column A and a little from column B.

3) Hire a skill-rich agency and your own marketing executive.

First, you hire a talented person to serve as your company's internal marketing executive. This person will need to have great communication and planning skills, along with a good deal of digital marketing experience, but they don't necessarily need to be an expert on everything. They won't necessarily be the one setting up AdWords campaigns and tweeting the latest blog posts - their main role will be to co-ordinate your overall marketing strategy and communicate with the people carrying it out.

Once your new recruit is in place and the two of you have come up with a digital marketing plan that identifies goals and highlights key areas of priority, the next step is to find a digital marketing agency that's capable of delivering on your aspirations. You should still look for a company with a diverse array of skills at their disposal - after all, our original point about the multifaceted nature of modern marketing still stands - but since your internal marketing executive will be working closely with the external marketers, you don't have to worry about drifting out of the loop.

This approach is superior to the others for a number of reasons. Yes, you'll still have to interview, hire and orient a new employee, but it's just one person rather than a whole team. Yes, you're still entrusting much of the actual work to an external company, but it is just one company - which should keep things relatively straightforward - and you'll have a dedicated employee of your own to hold them to account, answer any questions they might have, and track their progress to ensure that your overarching marketing strategy is moving in the right direction.

Internal Marketing Executive - Responsibilities:

  • Planning overall marketing strategy
  • Coming up with new ideas for the company
  • Acting as a point of contact for external marketers (and providing them with extra info if needed, e.g. photos, videos, sales figures)
  • Ensuring that all work is completed to a high standard and in a timely manner
  • Using analytics tools to track progress of marketing campaigns
  • Keeping you in the loop

External Marketing Agency - Responsibilities:

  • Putting your marketing executive's vision into practice (this could mean anything from scheduling Facebook posts to contacting journalists or creating and managing PPC campaigns)
  • Making additional suggestions that will boost your company's profile
  • Monitoring / analysing progress and results
  • Reporting back to the marketing executive

Done correctly, this approach will ensure accountability, straightforward two-way communication, and steady forward progress towards your digital marketing goal.

Designer Websites is a talented team of developers, designers, SEO specialists and digital marketing experts. No matter what you're looking to achieve online, we have the skills to help you do it - contact us today to discuss your requirements.

ai in digital marketing

On the 25th of May 2017, Google’s AlphaGo AI beat the world’s best Go player in a three game match. The highly complex strategy board game is known for its difficulty and huge set of possible moves, which is what makes this victory such an impressive feat for the champion gaming bot.

Increasingly, we’re hearing about the growing capabilities of artificial intelligence, with many of us encountering and interacting with this technology in our everyday lives without even realising it. With audiences becoming more and more attuned to traditional advertising methods, as well as using a huge variety of tools and platforms to consume and distribute information, it has become the marketer’s primary focus to harness the latest technological innovations in order to reach and engage users.  In addition to the demands of consumers, marketers are also looking to exceed the expectations of their clients by using tools and strategies that will allow them to deliver their services more efficiently.

When they’re not busy toppling board game champions, these rapid changes to the marketing landscape are being led by Google, with the tech giant already playing a huge role in shaping the use of digital technology for both businesses and consumers alike. In fact, their CEO Sundar Pichai recently announced a move from ‘mobile-first’ to ‘AI-first’ over the coming years, which gives a strong indication of how instrumental this technology will be in the future of search. The same can also be said of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, whose own investment into AI technology and machine learning has been well documented, as have the efforts of many other influential companies and emerging start-ups.

While AI is often discussed in terms of its future relevance, it is important to remember that this technology is already being implemented by companies throughout the world, across a variety of industries. To provide us with an introduction to some of the tools and techniques that are being used, and to predict where this may lead us in the near future, here’s a closer look at how AI is shaping the world of digital marketing:

Ads

AI is already influencing ad creation, targeting and measurement, which is only set to increase over the coming years. One of the most interesting examples of these innovations in recent news was the revelation that Mattersight would be using voice analysis to deliver personalised ads on home assistant devices. According to reports, Mattersight will be using their voice analysis technology in order to deduce speaker personality traits, allowing advertisers to target users based on this information.

In addition to ad targeting, companies are also using AI to gather performance data that will allow them to measure the efficiency of their marketing efforts, which in turn will also contribute to greater accuracy in future campaigns. Google recently outlined how they will use this technology to provide attribution precision to users of their Analytics, DoubleClick and AdWords services, debuting ‘Google Attribution’ at their annual marketing conference. The aim of this service is to give users a clear picture of their marketing performance across devices and interaction points, allowing the contributing sources to gain their deserved recognition, as opposed to attributing all credit to the user’s last click.

While creativity is often the most downplayed aspect of AI innovation, it has actually been used to create visual ads for quite some time now. Back in 2015, M&C Saatchi created what was dubbed as the ‘world’s first’ AI Ad for coffee brand Bahio. This was powered by an algorithm which continuously tested design and copy changes, gradually eliminating elements which failed to engage while reintegrating those which proved successful. In more recent times, the same agency has used IBM Watson to create ad campaigns for Toyota, using behavioural data from Facebook to personalise the content.

The biggest obstacle facing AI ad targeting is the objection to data use, which will be particularly challenging in the European market, due to new European Union laws which will come into place in May 2018.  Companies who use data in what is deemed to be a discriminatory or irresponsible fashion could face huge fines, demonstrating the barriers that technology will face as lawmakers seek to ensure that legislation keeps up-to-date with these advances.

Visual Recognition Tools

While their use in security applications may be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to visual recognition tools, they are also proving to be incredibly influential in the world of digital marketing, both in terms of user engagement and in data gathering. From live videos to memes, a huge portion of our online interactions take place in the form of images and video content, which means that we must have the tools to enhance these mediums and monitor their impact on audiences.

Visual recognition tools have played a vital role in the development and widespread use of augmented reality applications, which have drastically enhanced the ability of brands to engage their customers and cultivate user generated content. Crucially, these tools bridge the gap between ‘real life’ and digital experiences, providing marketers with greater control and insight into user journeys, and providing unique experiences which encourage addictive use (as is exemplified by the surge of business using Pokemon Go to attract customers in summer 2016).

The most recent example of visual recognition being used to enhance online search is the announcement of the ‘Google Lens’ tool at this year’s I/O conference. Combining image recognition and information about the user’s location, the tool uses the camera feature on Google mobile devices to provide detailed information about these locations or objects. This information ranges from simply identifying an unfamiliar object, to performing more complicated tasks, such as logging into a wifi network using an image of the password sticker on the router.

Aside from the obvious ways in which these tools are able to enhance user engagement, they also provide tech companies with the ability to capture data and further enhance their learning ability. Despite the differences in how Facebook and Google are using visual tools to serve users, their aim to use them in order to understand and respond to user needs is fundamentally the same, as this Variety article points out.

Content Creation

If you regularly read news articles and reports online, it’s highly likely that some of the content you’ve consumed has been composed using artificial intelligence. The most famous of these tools is ‘Wordsmith’, a platform created by Automated Insights which turns data into coherent pieces of content. Wordsmith has been used by several high profile names in the industry, including The Associated Press, who have used it to generate sports coverage and quarterly earning stories, freeing up journalist time and extending their ability to cover multiple events.

To give you an idea of how prominent these tools could soon become, technology research and advisory firm Gartner estimated that by 2018, 20% of business content will be authored by machines, listing reports, press releases and legal documents amongst the range of content that could soon be produced using AI. This is supported by the number of content writing tools that have popped up in the past two years, one of the most recent being PingGo, a start-up which allows users to generate press releases based on answers to journalistic questions on their chosen ‘story’. The company was founded by Sarah Lee, the owner of a PR firm, with the aim of making press coverage more accessible to small businesses and projects that do not have the budget to invest in traditional PR.

Although most content writers are quick to point out that machines lack the ‘humanity’ needed to inject personality into writing tasks which require a high level of emotional sophistication, research shows that audiences are finding the content produced by bots to be increasingly informative and coherent, evidenced by Christer Clerwall’s study ‘Enter the Robot Journalist’. For now, computer-generated content still falls short in terms of its readability and persuasiveness, however, this could drastically improve in the coming years.

Another limitation of current content production technology is its reliance on human input, which is required in order to map out the content and provide the facts needed to produce it. This could change as computer intelligence improves, providing content bots with the ability to understand and produce natural language. Back in 2014, Google’s Ray Kurzweil predicted that computers would be more intelligent than humans by 2029. Considering the progress that has already been made in the past few years, it is not difficult to imagine that bots could become capable of highly sophisticated writing in the not-too-distant future.

While it’s safe to say that AI marketing is still a developing platform in the world of digital communications, it is far from being a distant, futuristic entity that has yet to be harnessed. Brands across the world are using AI throughout their campaigns, while tech companies are piling resources into pioneering the technology needed to facilitate these services for users and businesses alike.

Are you looking to work with a forward-thinking organisation who can provide cutting-edge digital solutions for your business? Get in touch with Designer Websites today to find out more about our bespoke website services.

Dementia Tax Google Ad

If you have been following the recent political campaigning for the snap election on June the 8th, you may have read about the recent criticism regarding the Conservatives ‘Dementia Tax’. This policy, which may require the elderly to pay for their care at home with the value of their house, has come under fire by opposing political parties and the public alike.

The policy coined the name ‘dementia tax’ due to the likely-hood it will be the sick and elderly who will face the brunt of this new policy. As many people would also like to leave their home to their families once they pass on, this proposal seems to have struck a chord with many British families.  

In response to the negative press the Conservatives received for this policy, they decided to use Google Ads to advertise their own version of the policy under the title ‘The So-Called ‘Dementia Tax’ – Are You Getting the Truth?’ whenever someone googled the phrase ‘dementia tax’.

Here’s a look at why buying Google Ads for ‘Dementia Tax’ backfired on quite a big scale for the Conservatives.

  • Buying the adverts for ‘dementia tax’ legitimised the term Dementia Tax

Despite the general consensus, Dementia Tax is not the actual term for Theresa May’s policy. However, by buying the adverts for the ‘dementia tax’, the term has now become legitimised with around 448,000 exact match results on Google Search.

By legitimising the term, this also provided journalists with every right to run articles with the term ‘dementia tax’ which lead to an onslaught of articles criticising the Conservatives tactics.

A lesson to take away from this if you’re looking to use Google Ads for your business is to ensure you bid for the correct term and provide users with the exact thing they are searching for. The issue with the Conservatives advert was that if someone was searching for ‘dementia tax’, they most likely already knew about the negative press the term was receiving. 

Dementia Tax Legitimised

  • Google Ads are open to everyone, even your rivals

 Soon after it was discovered that the Conservatives had bought a slot on the front page of the ‘dementia tax’ search, with their article ‘The So-Called ‘Dementia Tax’ – Are You Getting the Truth?’, the Labour Party also bought their own Google Ad for ‘dementia tax’. Their article named ‘The Dementia Tax – Get the Real Facts’ with a meta description ‘The Tories Have Failed to Tackle the Social Care Crisis’.

Not only did this article undermine the Conservatives article, it also made it clear to the public that these were bought adverts. Because it is an advert, it may lead the users to believe they will receive a skewed version of events by clicking on it.

Dementia Tax Rivals

  • Google Ads cost money per click

Traditionally, Google Ads are used by businesses that wish to advertise what they’re selling. This is because the sale of their products will even out the cost of the advert.

In the case of the ‘dementia tax’ Google Ad, the conservatives are not gaining any revenue through their Ad and are instead losing money advertising for this term because it is purely just information on the policy.

Another unintended effect of this campaign was that some Twitter users even proclaimed they would click on the ad only to lose the Conservatives money.

Dementia Tax Cost

  • Google makes it clear that an advert is an advert

As can be seen in the pictures above, Google Ads come with a neat little ‘Ad’ box in light green next to the article. This makes it obvious to the user that this search engine result is an advert which has paid to be in the top position. Although it has been found that 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online, this may not work as well when the advert is for an article.

Many users will have a preference for their source of journalism, and so might bypass the Conservatives ‘dementia-tax’ Google Ad altogether. Advertising about policies is marginally more difficult than advertising a product, and the Conservatives lack of understanding in this department is what led to their downfall with this campaign.

After reading this list of how not to use Google Ads, if you did want some help with your own PPC Advertising our experts are here to help. To request a quote for help with PPC, just click here.

by Alana Spencer, Ridiculously Rich founder and BBC Apprentice winner 2016

Many inspirational business success stories start with humble beginnings, and my handmade cake business is a textbook example of how something small can grow into something huge.

Ridiculously Rich (or Narna's Cakes, as it was known in the early days) started in the kitchen of my parents' home in Aberystwyth. Inspired by a chocolate-making book given to me by my mum, I began whipping up my own sweet treats when I was still in my teens, and after some early success selling homemade cakes and chocolates to my friends I felt compelled to take things further. I would make all sorts of tray bakes - brownies, rocky road, that kind of thing - and sell them at local markets and other events in Ceredigion and the nearby area. This proved to be a good way of making money, and people seemed to like what I was offering - so much so, in fact, that I was eventually asked to supply a couple of local shops with goodies to sell!

From there, my business grew and grew. As you may be aware, Ridiculously Rich is now co-owned by Lord Sugar, who invested £250,000 to help grow the company into a nationwide success. When I became the latest BBC Apprentice winner, I think a lot of people were surprised by Lord Sugar's decision to invest in what began as a small homemade cake business, but his faith in me is already paying off, and with our regional ambassadors now representing the Ridiculously Rich brand all over the UK there are even bigger and better things still to come.

While Narna's Cakes started out as a grassroots, do-it-yourself sort of enterprise with little to no online visibility, the Internet has been crucial in getting the business to its current level, and our online efforts will continue to form a very important part of Ridiculously Rich's future success. Modern technology - the hyper-connectedness, via the Internet, of everyone and everything - makes it easier than ever to grow a small business into a big success; no matter where you live or what sort of niche you occupy, there are all kinds of opportunities now available to people who know how to seize them.

I hope that these tips will inspire you and help your business (whatever that might be) to reach new heights online.

1. Start with a winning website.

Your website is the foundation - the hub, if you like - for all your online marketing efforts, so it's important to get it properly spot-on before attempting to score big wins elsewhere. Things like Wordpress make it easy for IT novices to create nice-looking websites nowadays, but there's still a lot to be said for going to a bespoke web development agency and working with them to create a truly professional site for your business. An experienced pro will know how to:

  • Create a fast-loading, smooth-functioning website that users will love (and you'll find a doddle to manage)
  • Represent you and your brand in the best possible way online
  • Get your pages ranked highly on Google and other search engines

2. Think carefully about keywords.

The Internet runs on keywords.  If you want people to find your website on Google, Bing, and other search sites, you need to think very carefully about the words and phrases that you want to show up for. One good approach is to make a big list of all the search terms that you think are relevant to your business - my own version of that list, for example, might look something like this:

  • handmade cakes
  • salted caramel slice
  • buy chocolate brownies online
  • baked goods

And so on. Once you've got a list of keywords covering every aspect of your business (every product you sell, every service you provide, all the different words people might use, etc.), paste that list into a tool like Google's Keyword Planner to find out how popular each keyword is. Use the most searched-for phrases on appropriate pages of your website, ensuring that each keyword is represented on one page only - if done properly, this will get your site showing as a result for each of the terms you targeted.

This is another area where it's a good idea to consult a professional web developer - they will have a good grasp of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and know exactly how to fine-tune your website in order to maximise your chance of ranking highly within Google's results. Beware, however - many of the companies out there claiming to be optimisation experts are actually just salespeople looking to make easy money. Make sure you ask them for examples of times where they improved a client's traffic and sales, and don't be afraid to ask for a reference from the customers they name.

3. Be seen on social media!

Google isn't the only tool people use to find things on the Internet - social media, too, can be a huge driver of leads, purchases, and brand awareness. There are many different social media platforms to choose from (Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest...) and while some people manage to do well across all of them, it's generally a better idea to pick the handful of social platforms that best suit your business and focus your energy on them.

For instance, if you sell very aesthetically appealing products, it might be a good idea to promote them on Pinterest, whereas a less visual business may do better by joining conversations on Twitter and advertising their professional credentials on LinkedIn. Snapchat and Instagram are good for sharing photos/videos of the inner workings of your company, while Facebook pages are great for collecting customer reviews and interacting with your audience via messages and comments.

Whichever social site you choose, be sure to stay active once you've set your account up. If a potential customer searches for your business and finds a Twitter feed that hasn't been updated for months - or a Facebook page on which people's questions are going unanswered - this may damage that customer's perception of your organisation.

4. Think outside the box

But OK - all of your competitors have websites, all of them are on Twitter, and all of them are going after more or less the same Google keywords. What can you do to really distinguish yourself from the other businesses in your industry?

Once you've established your business online, there are all kinds of different ways to grow your business. All you need is an idea! This could be an unusual, attention-grabbing social media campaign that portrays your brand in a good light, or it could be a huge business initiative that leverages the Internet's ability to connect people across huge distances. Whatever you come up with, the infrastructure to do it almost certainly already exists online. You may need some help from your web developer to turn your ideas into realities, but don't worry - a good developer will always be up to the challenges you set them!

Here's one example. As mentioned above, Lord Sugar and I recently started selecting regional ambassadors to represent the Ridiculously Rich brand at food festivals, farmers' markets, and other local events across the UK. Would-be ambassadors apply online, and if they're selected, we send them everything they'll need to set up their very own Ridiculously Rich stall and sell our cakes in their area. By promoting this money-making opportunity online, we're able to reach eager cake lovers in every corner of the country, and each approved ambassador gets their own dashboard on the Ridiculously Rich website to help them manage everything. This initiative has already proved hugely popular, and it looks set to grow even more over the coming months!

5. Provide the best possible service at all times.

While it is possible for businesses to achieve massive growth via online marketing avenues, that growth is often accompanied by a decline in quality. When you've got a bricks-and-mortar shop that only serves people who walk through the door, it's relatively easy to ensure that each customer has a good experience; when you're serving thousands of people online and sending your products all over the world, it's far harder to maintain that high standard.

As your business gets bigger, you'll inevitably have to accept that some things are simply out of your hands. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your reputation doesn't suffer as everything else builds up:

  • Keep an eye on your website. If people are interacting with your website instead of an actual company representative, it's up to you to ensure that your site is doing a good job. Be sure to look at the site on a regular basis to make sure that nothing has gone wrong; you may also want to register your site with Google Search Console, as this will inform you if there are any issues that may affect user experience and/or Google rankings.

  • Choose your courier wisely. Do you send products to your customers through the post? If so, it's crucial to select a courier / delivery service that will do you proud. Above all, the two factors that will most affect the customer's lasting impression of your business are 1) whether their order arrived on time, and 2) whether it arrived in good condition. This is partially up to you, of course - you're responsible for ensuring that everything is packaged properly and posted promptly - but all your hard work may be spoiled if you leave the final stage of the ordering process in the hands of someone who's happy to let your customers down. Be sure to do your research - other companies will have left reviews online to help you avoid shoddy services.

  • Handle any complaints in a speedy, polite, and helpful manner. Just about every business gets the occasional complaint or bad review - it's not the end of the world. In fact, it's possible to turn a negative comment into something positive if you (or the person you've appointed to interact with customers) handle the situation properly. Be polite and apologetic and do your best to resolve the problem in any way you can. Your aim should be to make the unhappy person happy, but if you can't do that, you can at least demonstrate to other people who read the bad review that you take customer satisfaction seriously and don't take complaints lying down.

The team at Designer Websites, who I've been working with recently, gave me a lot of great insight into the world of doing business online and how to do it properly. If you're keen to grow your business online, I would definitely recommend them!

BBC Apprentice Winners


Christmas is often a highly stressful time for businesses and customers alike, which makes it an ideal opportunity to earn year-round loyalty, by going the extra mile for clients and consumers during the festive period. Whether you’re a retailer or B2B service provider, we’ve put together a few tips to keep in mind before and during the Christmas holidays, which point out ways in which you can use your marketing channels to be a helpful business this year:

Christmas Gift Guides & Quizzes

Gifts are one of the biggest Christmas dilemmas for most, which means that it's highly likely that many of your existing and potential customers will be actively looking for this type of content. This can be provided in the form of blogs, infographics, quizzes and more, depending on your resources and how creative you'd like to be. Gift related content can work well for many types of businesses, but of course, is particularly effective for retailers who are looking to market a specific range of products. It can also see you through to the very end of the buying period, if you're able to target last-minute shoppers who are frantically looking to find a suitable gift.

Advice-led Content

Along with gift guides, there are many other ways that you can tailor your content and services to suit the festive season, whatever your business may be. To do this, you’ll have to consider how the Christmas period affects both your organisation and your customers, in order to create resources that are both useful and engaging. For example, if your business provides financial services, it may be useful to publish advice on topics such as spending and budgeting, which is a prominent issue for many during this time of year. This content can be tailored to suit virtually any sector, and will depend on both the services you provide, along with your target demographic. When properly executed, it can provide a welcome boost to your SEO efforts, and work to improve or renew customer confidence in your product/services.

Social Media Engagement

It's common knowledge that you should be using social media to extend your marketing efforts and customer service all year round, however, these efforts should be reassessed in time for Christmas. This relates to both your own outreach endeavours, as well as customer contact, both of which carry additional weight in the case of online retailers. In terms of outreach marketing and promotion, you should be on the lookout for relevant hashtags and commonly asked questions, in order to make the most of the useful resources that you’ve spent time putting together. You should also be keeping a close eye on your inbox and brand mentions, in order to address customer queries and complaints as quickly as possible. 

Email Updates

Email marketing is particularly important for retail businesses in the run up to Christmas, naturally in order to promote deals, but also as a direct means of sharing the resources we mentioned in our first point. In addition to it's value as a promotional tool, however, email is also vital to the process of aiding and informing your customers, allowing them to plan their holiday spending and activities efficiently. For example, email allows you to provide customers with stock updates, which inform them when an item is close to selling out, or is back in stock, allowing them to plan their purchases more efficiently. In addition to this, it's also the most direct way to share information about your closing times and altered Christmas hours,  to ensure that you make every effort to avoid confusion. 

Rewards

Christmas rewards are the most simple but effective way to make your customers feel appreciated at Christmas, and can be executed on almost any scale, depending on your resources and budget. One of the most simple way to reward customers is by providing free resources, much like those discussed in our first and second points, although this can also be extend further than tips and guides. One example, could be free printables, which can be offered as a one-off resource, or even as a daily offering in the run up to Christmas. This would work particularly well for businesses in the creative industries, as well as those targeted at families with children, who may offer craft and learning resources to keep little ones entertained in the lead up to the big day.

This also extends to gift vouchers and competitions, which can be integrated with both your social media and email marketing campaigns. The channel you choose, will largely depend on how exclusive you would like your reward to be, and whether you are simply using this as a gesture to all existing and prospective customers, or as a way to reward your most loyal followers. 

Would you like help with your content creation, social media or email marketing strategies? Get in touch with the Designer Websites team today to find out how we can help, or follow us on Twitter for more digital marketing news and tips!

If you're having trouble generating relevant site traffic that will convert into paying custumers, then you should very much consider using infographics as part of your content marketing efforts. With a huge number of tweets and videos being uploaded to social media every day, getting your content noticed can be a difficult task, so what you need is something that will stand out and grab the attention of your target audience - something like an infographic.

Infographics are a way to visually represent information and data and make these things easy to comprehend. Rather than displaying a page full of written information, infographics break down that information into an image-based format, making it easier for the user to digest.

It's been scientifically proven that the human brain loves infographics. Your brain can process information very quickly when it's illustrated using an image - certainly a lot faster than when you're reading through lines and lines of plain text. And infographics aren't just great at displaying data; they're also a great way of gaining natural links. A well-designed, well-targeted infographic will be shared all over social media and on relevant websites. This is the type of link building that can earn big rewards from Google in the form of improved SERP rankings.

If you're thinking about incorporating the use of infographics into your digital marketing strategy, here's how you can ensure that your infographics will stand out from the crowd and provide you with plenty of engagements and conversions:

Keep it Simple!

The reason why infographics are so beneficial is because they display info and data that is easy for the user to consume. Therefore, it's extremely important that you create an infographic that is both visually appealing and easily digestible. If there is too much going on with your graphic, then the person viewing it will lose focus and they will not be able to understand the message you're trying convey.  Stick to one style, limit the number of colours and fonts, and ensure that there are clear visual connections between the various sections of your graphic. Above all, aim to keep things simple and clear.

Make it Stand Out!

Your infographic needs to stand out from the crowd - there are plenty of infographics out there, and consumers are unlikely to engage with it if it's similar to the hundreds of others they've already seen. Your graphic needs a design that will grab the user's attention and stand out from the rest; in other words, it needs to pack a punch. As with a news article or blog post, if your infographic's headline doesn't provoke the consumer's attention then they're probably not going to interact with it. If your graphic isn't unique and attractive, consumers and other websites are less likely to share it. Remember that the main purpose of an infographic is to display information and data that is easily digestible in a way that will attract the target audience's attention.

Be Relevant!

The infographics that are most likely to drive conversions are ones that appeal to the target audience's needs and concerns. One mistake that many people make is creating an infographic that aims to be universally popular rather than targeting a specific audience with specific interests. Your infographic should be interesting for your target audience, rather than for the whole world. Figure out what content your audience shared the most and drove the most traffic recently, and then you'll be able to come up with a topic that will interest your audience and gain conversions.

Make Sure it's Easy to Share!

An infographic works best when it's being shared across social media platforms (like Twitter or Facebook) and other websites. Of course, this can't happen unless you make it easy for people to share it. Once you've created your graphic and posted it to your site, you should share it across your social media accounts and make sure you're using a social sharing widget to allow readers to easily share it on their own accounts (this will help your infographic to reach people outside your own follower base). We also recommend that you make the graphics HTML code easily accessible so that other websites can display the graphic whilst linking back to your original post. This is an excellent way to build high-quality, mutually beneficial links - the website sharing your graphic will benefit from hosting your engaging content, and you'll benefit from the inbound link.

If you take all if these points into consideration, you should be able to create an infographic that is engaging and will result in a healthy number of conversions for your business.

Need help with your content creation or social media strategies? Whether you need us to create an infographic or an entire website for your company, we at Designer Websites are more than up to the task - contact us now to request a quotation!

We are repeatedly reminded of how important it is to enhance our online presence with engaging content, but what use is a great infographic or a highly informative blog tutorial, if no one clicks through in the first place?

A great headline can make all the difference when it comes to engaging your audience, so it’s important to get this right in order to give your painstakingly thought-out content the best chance at success. Of course, no two pieces are the same, and no ‘one-size’ approach will always be suitable, which is why we’ve put together a list of various techniques to keep you inspired.

No matter who you’re targeting, or what the piece aims to achieve, the correct use of the following techniques can massively increase the engagement rate on your content, making the hours you’ve spent creating it worthwhile:

Write With Authority 

If you’re able to generate a sense of knowledge and authority surrounding your piece, then potential readers will be more likely to regard this as a useful source of information, and consider it a worthwhile read.
Examples:
‘The Essential Guide to ______’
‘The Best Way to _________’
‘Everything You Need to Know About _______’

Take Advantage of Title Generator Tools

If you’re a stuck for ideas, or you simply want to shake things up a little, then title generator tools can be a great way to create unusual, striking and thought-provoking headlines. Used in reverse, these tools can also make a great writing prompt if you have a subject of interest or keyword that you would like to target, but aren’t feeling particularly inspired.

Target Your Intended Reader 

If your piece is targeted towards a specific audience or readership, then why not make this obvious in the title? Engaging with related communities and influencers is, as we all know, a vital element of content marketing, which means that getting the right eyes on your piece is crucial. If a tile actively calls out or mentions people in a certain profession, or with a particular interest/hobby, they are far more likely to feel a connection to your piece right away, increasing the chances of them clicking through.

Convey a Sense of Urgency 

We’re used to urgency being used as a sales technique, but it can also be remarkably effective when it comes to sharing your content too! Whether you’re delivering a warning, or suggesting a change in behaviour, encouraging your reader to act is always a great way to capture their attention and draw them in.

Use the Power of Lists 

They may be everywhere these days, but there’s a reason why the ‘listacle’ is such a popular format for blogs and online articles. If a piece of content is organised and assigned value by placing it into a numbered list, it not only provokes curiosity, but also suggests that the information will be presented in an easy-to-digest format. Both of these attributes combine to not only to make the piece highly appealing on initial appearance, but also make it compulsively readable once the reader has clicked through.

Use Sensationalism

This is one to be careful with! Readers are becoming more and more attuned to the ‘clickbait’ strategy of luring people in with a controversial headline, only to leave them disappointed with bland content, or a poorly thought-out sales pitch. Despite this, when used correctly, a controversial statement/provocative question can still be used as a great starting point, prompting readers to challenge or decipher the reasoning behind your opening statement. 

Experiment 

If you work in digital marketing, it’s highly likely that you’ll already be familiar with the concept of A/B testing, so why not extend this to your creative content? While you may not wish to edit the title of the piece itself, you can still make alterations to the copy used to promote your piece, as well as the title image used to accompany it. By comparing the results gained by these advertorial headlines, you can gain a better understanding of what is encouraging readers to engage with your piece, and use this information to get the most from your content.

Provide Solutions to Problem Questions

If your piece has a tutorial element, or aims to demonstrate an alternative approach to an existing practice, then you should definitely pitch your blog/article as a problem solving piece in your headline! Of course, you may find the traditional ‘how to’ to be a bit bland, which can be remedied by adding additional value to the information you will be providing. Inform your reader that you will not only be explaining how to do something, but will be highlighting the best, easiest or correct way to do it! 

Let the Facts Speak

If your piece is based on experimental research or even a single revelation, you should exploit the value of this in your headline. When presented with a figure, fact or statement, it stands to reason that the curiosity and problem-solving instincts of your reader will provoke them to discover more; an aim which can only be achieved by reading your article!


Find out how the team of copywriters and content marketing specialists at Designer Websites can help you to produce high-quality, attention-grabbing content here.

by Joseph Valente, Managing Director of ImpraGas and BBC Apprentice winner 2015

 
Joseph Valente
I'm a big believer in doing things your own way. Here in the UK, you're told from a young age that there's a specific route you're meant to take through life: pass your GCSEs. do your A-levels, go to university and find a job once your degree's in the bag. But I didn't choose that path, and I doubt that my life would be as good as it is right now if I had. Things got off to a bumpy start when I was expelled from school at 15 years old, but this setback quickly turned into an opportunity when a local plumbing company allowed me to join their team. I agreed to work for free because I knew that the experience and the practical skills I stood to gain would be far more valuable than cash in the long run.
 
In 2006, I decided that I wanted to take the next step towards a career as a tradesperson and enrolled on a plumbing apprenticeship course at Peterborough College. After that, I trained in London and became a qualified gas engineer. In 2012 - by which time many of the people I had known in school were graduating from uni and taking their first uncertain steps into the world of work - I took out a £20,000 loan and started my own business, ImpraGas. At first it was just me and my van, but the company soon began to grow, and now I've got a whole team of gas engineers, a fully-staffed office, a fleet of vans, and Lord Sugar as my business partner.
 
Joseph Valente and Lord Sugar
 
The reason I mention all of this is to illustrate that there's always more than one way of doing things. Tradespeople should be more aware of this fact than anyone else: I've spoken to countless people within the plumbing and gas industries, and many of them have stories that are very similar to mine. Taking up a trade often goes hand-in-hand with choosing not to go to uni, and if you were to ask the average tradesman or woman, they'd probably tell you that at some point they made a conscious decision to reject the 'standard' path that goes school > university > job.
 
And yet, for a field that's all about doing things differently, the trade industry is in many aspects surprisingly set in its ways. Most of the tradespeople I meet rely mainly on word of mouth to find new work, and those that do bother to actively promote themselves tend to stick with old-school platforms like newspaper ads and the Yellow Pages. While there's nothing wrong with any of these tried and tested methods (word of mouth in particular will always be valuable in this industry), it seems to me that people are potentially missing out on a lot of lucrative work by ignoring the possibilities the Internet has to offer.
 
We recently relaunched the ImpraGas site with some help from the team at Designer Websites, and I have to say I learned quite a lot over the course of this project. Now that the new and improved version of www.impragas.co.uk is live and we're starting to reap the benefits of all the hard work that went into it, I'd like to share a few suggestions with my fellow tradesmen and women on how they can grow their businesses on the World Wide Web:

Have a website.

Okay, this probably seems blindingly obvious, but you'd be amazed at how many plumbing and heating companies don't even bother to tick this box. Your website should form the foundation of all your online marketing efforts, so make sure you've got one and make sure it represents your business in the best possible light. With more and more people browsing the Internet on smartphones nowadays, it's probably also a good idea to go for what's called a responsive website (a site with a flexible design that changes to fit the screen you're viewing it on).

Get on Google.

Instead of leafing through the Yellow Pages every time they need a plumber, most people these days just go to Google. If your website's done right and properly optimised, you'll hopefully get some referrals from Google anyway, but the most important thing for tradespeople is to get listed with Google My Business. There's no fee for this; all you have to do is fill in some basic details about your company - what you're called, where you're based, what area(s) you cover - and Google will start including you in its local results when somebody nearby searches for the service you provide. You know when you Google something and the first thing you see is a map with local businesses dotted around it? If you want your company to show up on that map, signing up with Google My Business will give you a much better chance of getting there.

Google Local Results

Sign up for social media.

There are a lot of people on sites like Facebook and Twitter. A lot of them are probably located near you, and some of them could one day be among your most loyal customers. Set up a Facebook business page and ask all your friends to 'Like' it, then create a Twitter account and get involved in the conversations that are local to you and/or relevant to your trade. Both Facebook and Twitter are free to use, so what have you got to lose?

Get people to link to your website.

There are two reasons to ask people to link to your site. The most obvious benefit of a link is that people might click it, take a look at your site, and perhaps end up giving you a call or sending the link to their friend who needs a new boiler. But links are also important in the eyes of Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. As far as they're concerned, when somebody links to your website they're basically giving you a seal of approval, and the more seals of approval you get, the more confidence Google and the others will have in your company and its website. This will mean that you're more likely to show up towards the top of Google's results pages. That being said, quality is more important than quantity when it comes to links, and it's EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to make sure you're not getting links from websites that are spammy or low-quality as these can actually do more harm than good as far as your Google rankings are concerned. You ideally want links from popular, high-quality websites that are reasonably relevant to the field you're in.

Britain is still suffering from a skills shortage at the moment, so there's lots of work out there for skilled, qualified tradespeople like us. However, we as an industry need to realise that an overwhelming majority of people now use the Internet to find the right person for their job, and if we're not willing to embrace the online revolution and make an effort to be seen online then we'll quickly get overtaken by other tradespeople who are.
 
If you need a website designer or someone who can assist with your company's online marketing efforts, I'd strongly recommend that you contact the team at Designer Websites. They're friendly, they're professional, and they're exceptionally skilled at what they do - click here to request a quotation for your project.

BBC Apprentice Winners

Mobile Ad Optimisation

Did you know that 70% of mobile searches lead to that person taking action within an hour?

That action could be a customer calling through to your customer service team, making an online enquiry, visiting your bricks-and-mortar shop, relocating to a desktop PC to finish their transaction, or - if the procedure is simple enough - making a purchase, signing up to your newsletter, or downloading your ebook right there and then.

We Are Social conduct a study into the digital landscape every year. This year's study shows that the percentage of total page views that take place on mobile phones is increasing year on year:

Mobile Study

This is why devising a mobile strategy for your paid search adverts is more important now than it has ever been before.

The landline is a thing of the past. Mobile devices now dominate the communication world, and we're not just talking about making phone calls and texting - we're talking about social media, emails, free messaging services, and much more besides. But young people today aren't just communicating with friends and family members via their mobiles; they're also communicating with businesses like yours. Perhaps they're conducting a search to find out where your shop is, maybe they're passing time on their daily commute with a spot of online shopping. Whatever they are looking for, it's important that you and your business are visible in the right places at the right times.

It is no secret that people - including your customers - are conducting more and more searches using portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. We have been told this on a daily basis by Google, other search engines, and SEM influencers since the age of the smartphone began.

Google reportedly processes more than 3.5 billion searches every day. Last year, the search giant announced that over half of those searches happen on a mobile device. This is just one example of why mobile marketing is a must for any modern business.

How can Designer Websites help with your mobile ad campaigns?

Here at Designer Websites, we have a team of experience PPC specialists who can help your business to get the best possible return from Google AdWords and other pay per click platforms. Before we optimise your paid search campaigns for mobile devices, we will develop a detailed, mobile-specific strategy that's tailored to your business and the market you operate within. This strategy will take the following factors into consideration:
  • How your customers are searching on mobile devices
  • What their situation and intentions are in that moment
  • What type of marketing message they are most likely to respond to

Getting results for your business

Below is a graph showing one clients' conversion performance after we implemented a mobile-specific advertising strategy for them:

Mobile conversion increase

We can clearly see that, while this company's mobile conversions were always higher than tablet and desktop conversions, their mobile conversions grew significantly after we implemented a comprehensive mobile strategy. Furthermore, this business's mobile conversions are continuing to grow even now, with each month surpassing the previous month's total.

So how can you reap the benefits of mobile marketing using paid search? Here are four tips from the mobile search experts here at Designer Websites:

1. Create mobile-specific adverts

The adverts that you see when browsing the internet on your phone are formatted differently to the adverts you see on your desktop PC. In order to ensure that your adverts look great on the small screen, it is vital to create adverts that are formatted correctly.

Creating mobile-specific adverts not only helps with the formatting of the advert, it also helps with the performance of the adverts as a whole. Generally, mobile-specific adverts have a higher click-through rate (CTR) and a higher conversion rate than non-mobile-specific adverts shown in a mobile search.

2. Create relatable ad copy

Creating ad copy that is relevant to your customer's current situation is key.  Consider this example:

A potential customer is enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of cake whilst out shopping. She suddenly remembers that she wanted to find some luxury curtains for the living room, and so she reaches into her bag, pulls out her mobile, and types (or speaks) 'luxury curtains Cardiff' into her Google app.

As luck would have it, you run a fabric store just around the corner from that tea shop. However, since your ad copy doesn't state your location or feature a call to action such as "Come visit our Cardiff store", it is likely that this particular lady will just scroll past your advert.

The same goes for online stores: you cannot guide customers to your shop because you don’t have one, but you can point out to them just how easy it is to buy from your site using their mobile phone. Possible calls to action could include "Buy direct from your mobile" or "Easy purchase from your mobile device". 

People will be able to relate to these adverts because they are addressing their situation at that time. This leads to a higher click through rate and a higher conversion rate.

Mobile CTR increase

In the graph above, we can see that - after implementing more relevant ad copy - this client saw an increase of nearly 3% in their mobile CTR.

3. Create mobile ad extensions

Mobile ad extensions are exactly the same as desktop ad extensions, but they conform to mobile formatting, making them better-looking and easier on the eye. They also provide customers with vital information when they search for your product or service using a mobile device.

It is said that roughly 1 in 3 searches are conducted because the user wants local information. It is vital that you provide this information to them, and this is why location extensions are a must. Not only do location extensions provide users with the ability to search for your business on Google Maps and use a sat nav to find your location, they also provide additional info such as opening times.

Call extensions are another must-have for any mobile advert. The call extension gives searchers the ability to call your store or your customer service desk directly from the search results page.

4. Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly

We're always amazed by the number of mobile adverts we encounter that don't direct users through to a mobile-optimised website. We're always saying that it's crucial in this day and age to have a responsive website, and that truth is getting harder and harder to ignore as mobile users increase.

If your mobile ads are to be successful, your business will need to provide a website experience that is fully optimised for mobile users. The key to mobile advertising success is to make the whole experience as seamless as possible, and this means that your website has to render quickly and correctly on every mobile device.

Not sure if your website and its paid search campaign are optimised for mobile users? Contact us for advice, or follow us on Twitter for more SEM and web design news!

Whether you’re looking to promote a new product or share your latest blog, email marketing is a great way to encourage customers to visit your website. Unlike social media, email has a far more ‘permanent’ nature, due to the fact that users must actively dismiss posts as opposed to simply overlooking or bypassing them. In order to ignore or ‘opt out’ of a particular message, users must delete the item from their inbox, making this a great way to catch and hold the attention of customers.

It’s all very well having gained a list of emails, but it’s what you do with this information afterwards that will really create a lasting impact for your brand. By acquiring this information, you have established a bond of trust between yourself and your customers/audience, and it is important to ensure that this sense of trust is implemented correctly. Emails should provide useful, engaging content for your customers, and should reflect the services advertised when you encouraged them to sign up in the first place. This refers not only to content of your emails, but more importantly your subject line, which could mean the difference between someone opening your email or sending it straight to their junk folder!

In order to help you get the best from your email marketing campaigns, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts in order to help you provoke interest from your readers, and avoid being categorized as spam. 

Devices to Avoid

Spammy Text
Over-use of ‘sales’ language as well as the excessive use of capital letters and/or punctuation can trigger spam filters, which means that the intended recipient will miss out on the content of your email altogether. Even if a message with a poor quality subject line manages to make it to its intended destination, words like ‘free’, as well as unnecessary exclamation marks and other potential triggers could cause the message to seem useless or untrustworthy to the reader, leading them to disregard and delete the email without even viewing its content.

Poor Personalization 
When used correctly, personalisation can be a great addition to the subject line of your email, but it's important to avoid unnecessary/template style personalisation in order to improve the impact of your campaign. Subject lines which name the recipient can often be off-putting as opposed to engaging, creating no real value and chipping away at your precious character count.

Overly-long Titles 
Due to the large volume of emails being received by audience members, it is of great importance to provide straightforward and easy-to-comprehend information for them to digest. Long-winded and overly descriptive titles take too long to read and react to, making them unappealing for the average recipient. Due to the multitude of emails which will undoubtedly surround yours, it’s important to make your email stand out. The title should of course, provide some clue as to the content, but this should be seen as more of a gateway as opposed to an exact outline. 

Techniques to Implement

Appropriate and Intelligent Use of Punctuation 
While excessive use of punctuation marks and symbols can harm the impact of your line, using these sparingly and effectively can attract the eye of the viewer and encourage them to click on your email. The best example of this would be the use of question marks; a proven way to provoke interest in your reader. Not only do questions cause them to wonder how the information provided affects them, it also arouses a general sense of curiosity regarding the subjects mentioned. 

Target Your Audience
As mentioned previously, poor personalisation can do more harm than good to your campaign, but if used correctly, it can attract the desired response without seeming gimmicky or desperate. Effective subject line personalisation encompasses a range of approaches, from location targeting to demographic-led language. For example, offers or suggestions which relate to the recipients specific locale are sure to gain a better response than those which give more general information. This step could also relate to the language you use and the subjects you choose to emphasise, based on your audience demographic. 

Use Witty, Engaging and Inviting Language
Having considered the previous point regarding audience awareness, you can then decide what type of language is best suited to target your chosen demographic. Conversational elements are usually a good choice, as they avoid seeming cold and robotic. It can also be impactful to pair this with humour, although as always, you should consider whether or not this is an appropriate angle for your recipients.

Controversy is also a great way to get people clicking on your emails, as it provokes an emotional response from the reader, causing them to question the statement while reflecting on their personal reaction to this information. It is important, however, to use this tactic with caution, as it can sometimes be frustrating for readers who find there is no valuable pay off for their action.  

While we have noted that ‘sales’ language can be detrimental to your efforts, appropriate calls to action can, in fact, be beneficial when used correctly. This involves techniques such as invoking scarcity, which could range from advertising a ‘limited time’ offer to stating that a product is low in stock or is selling out quickly. Customers feel compelled to act due to a fear of missing out, prompted by the suggestion that they must act quickly to gain the advertised benefits.

Experiment with Length and Numbers 
As mentioned in the ‘devices to avoid’ section of this post, overly-long titles can cause the reader to switch of immediately. Using uncharacteristically short titles could be an interesting tactic to consider, as they will stand out visually in a cluster of emails, and will also provoke a need to reveal additional information. For those looking to apply a more conventional approach, 50 characters or under is a good figure to stick to.

Numbers could also be a great addition to your subject copy, as they offer something visually unusual for your brain to analyse and become attracted to. In the context of lists, they also work just as well as they do in blog post titles, by appealing to the human brain’s desire for short and easy-to-comprehend information. 

Test
As is the case with most marketing techniques, the best way to gage which subject lines are working for you is by measuring the responses they receive. This can be assessed in a variety of ways, from viewing how many of the emails sent out were opened, to the quantity of voucher codes redeemed as part of an offer circulated via email. When using services such as MailChimp for example, you will be able to use subject line research tools to get ideas, and try AB testing your subjects to see which performs best and meets your desired aims.



When used correctly, subject lines can massively impact the efficiency of your email marketing campaigns, first by getting them noticed in an inbox, and then by getting the recipient to click on them. Like any other online marketing strategy, you may have to try a few different approaches before you find what works best for you, but in time you should find yourself writing eye-catching and engaging subject lines with ease. Just remember to keep your copy clear, concise, and free of errors, whilst also following the guidelines mentioned above.  

For more Online Marketing tips and SEO news, follow Designer Websites on Twitter!


The main purpose of pay per click advertising is to drive high quality traffic from your target market to your website for the lowest cost possible. To do this depends on the relevance of your adverts, your keywords, and your landing pages, both to each other and to your target market. 

Once your keywords, ad groups and landing pages are completely synergised, you will be rewarded with a higher position in Google's SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), and you will pay less every time someone clicks your ad.  You may also see a metric called “Quality Score” increasing.

Quality score is one of the most important metrics in a Google advertising campaign. Quality score is scored out of 10 (1 being the most expensive and 10 being the cheapest). If and where your ad will be shown on the SERPs is all down to your quality score.  After a recent update, the default quality score for newly added keywords is 6; however this is subject to change very quickly. Quality score is  calculated by an algorithm based on the following factors; 

The relevance of your ad copy - When you are organising your account, it is important to ensure that your keywords are in a tight-knit ad group; this enables you to create ad copy that is relevant to all of the keywords in your ad group. This means that when a potential customer enters a relevant search query into the Google search box, your ad will be relevant to their search. Which leads us nicely onto the next point... 

Click-through rate (CTR) - Even though no one knows just how much weighting CTR has on Google's quality score, it is pretty obvious that Google count this as one of the most important factors, if not the most important. 

If your advert is relevant to the searcher's query, they will click on your ad and enter your site in the hope that they can find a solution to their problem through your company. The more people who click on your advert, the more likely Google are to realise that your website is relevant for this particular search and increase your overall quality score accordingly. To increase your click-through rate, make sure that your ad copy is relevant. 

Landing page - You have now created the tight-knit ad group and created a relevant advert that reflects your keywords. Now you need to think about where on your site you are going to send your traffic. Obviously, you need to send people to a page that is relevant to your keywords, and to your ad copy.

For example, let's say you are creating a campaign for a web design agency that specialises in ecommerce websites, but also provides customers with various digital marketing solutions. The company owner has asked you to create a campaign that focuses on their responsive ecommerce website design service. You will need to point your adverts to your ecommerce landing pages, not your digital marketing pages, as this will decrease the relevance of your adverts, meaning that they will not be shown as much, if at all. Furthermore, if your ads are pointed at irrelevant landing pages, every click you receive will be really expensive, and most importantly, potential customers will click onto the website, see that they are on the wrong page, and leave, increasing your bounce rate.

Unfortunately, people do not often have time to look through your website to find the exact page or product that they require. The less clicks it takes for them to find what they need, the more engaged they will be, increasing the likelihood of the customer completing your goal (e.g. signing up to your newsletter, downloading your e-book, purchasing a product, booking an appointment, or making enquiry about your company). When your tracked goal has been completed, this will be recorded in AdWords as a conversion. An increased click-through rate at a lower cost means that your cost per conversion is decreased, and your return on investment is increased! 

Would you like our professional digital marketing team to manage your paid search campaigns for you? Click here to request a quote, or give us a call on 01146 339050.