The Importance of ‘Local’ In Search Marketing Strategies

September 29th, 2016 by Nathan Fletcher


person using phone to navigate maps in city

In the last few years, digital marketers have become ever more aware of the benefits of harnessing the ‘local’ elements of their PPC and SEO strategies. With Google users increasingly mobile, reactive and on-the-move with varying mobile devices, it has become imperative for SEM pros to focus on ‘I-want-to-go moments’ – those moments in the brain of a digital user that encourage an actual, tangible in-store-visit.

It’s therefore important for digital marketers to adapt to this local search environment and cater to the needs of users applying the ‘local’ to their individual consumer journeys. This is more pertinent considering that a significant uplift in ‘near me’ and ‘local’ searches has become apparent in recent years, as users become more aware of digital opportunities in their geographical proximity. Reaching consumers at multiple touchpoints of the consumer journey is gaining ground in the digital arena, as influencing consumer routes towards a purchase becomes increasingly complex.

Consumers are changing their attitudes and behaviours towards digital marketing, relying less on brand loyalty and more on spontaneous choices. Digital marketers need to adapt to this in order to make a real impact.

And I’m sure that most of us have used Google to make purchasing decisions at some point, so if we are really going to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes when outlining a digital marketing strategy, it makes sense to advertise to the local, spontaneous needs of digital users. Search marketing certainly has a direct influence on consumer intentions to visit a store, especially as new media becomes more sophisticated and adaptable to users.

And true to form, Google folk are very much aware of this.

In come Promoted Pins, a new, local touchpoint of digital advertising. Advertisers will now be able to pay for advertising ‘pins’ in Google Maps, making ‘local business’ imperative to the make-up of Google Maps. Likely to instigate an increasingly concrete connection between digital marketing and direct in-store foot traffic, this will offer a new way for SEM pros to communicate the ‘local’ elements of their marketing strategies to potential customers.

local search marketing google maps

Directions to a Promoted Pin are as close as we’ve got so far to actually driving users to a store, linking the local strategies of digital marketers to the local needs and behaviours of Google users.

And building on Google ‘Promoted Pins’, in-store foot traffic beacons are set to be another huge update, mapping the direct relationship between search activity and store visits. But to what effect?

Google will estimate ‘store visit conversions’ by mapping a user’s location history to their search activity, allowing digital marketers to evaluate the benefits of their ‘local’ search marketing more effectively. This will be anonymous and aggregated, so a conversion will not be tied to an individual user click, but it will offer a new mode of tracking the consumer journey that is likely to alter the way PPC and SEO pros report and strategise on their accounts.

With the introduction of Promoted Pins and in-store beacons, digital marketing and in-store visits could soon become increasingly synonymous.

And by offering new ways to harness consumer micro-moments, whilst focusing on the impact of ‘local’ touchpoints in the consumer journey, these Google developments could be a leap towards understanding the increasing complex digital user. By exploiting the fact that 84 percent of consumers conduct local searches at some point in their individual consumer journeys, the potential for this is certainly growing.

What’s clear is that three out of every four people who search for something nearby using their smartphone end up visiting a store within a day, and 28 percent of those searches result in a purchase.

(WordStream, http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/06/01/google-maps-local-search-ads).

So, why would digital marketers not want to get the most from this? It’s a no brainer to us at We Are Boutique!

And as advocates of the consumer journey, the digital gang at We Are Boutique are excited to see how Promoted Pins and in-store foot traffic measurement will feed into ‘local’ strategies and impact upon the power of paid and organic search. Micro moments are fundamental to the effectiveness of search marketing, as influencing the consumer journey in a single search moment is something that can push a consumer towards a sale or meaningful action on-site/in-store.

Digital marketers must therefore be at as many touchpoints as possible in order to reach consumers at every possible moment of purchase intention. It will become even more fundamental for digital marketers to be in the right place at the right time… on purpose!

Agency-client relationships

September 22nd, 2016 by Simon Bollon


client meeting

Customers have moved and evolved

Marketing is in a period of fast change. Technology and the rise of digital has changed the marketing landscape and the role of the marketer and agency has been rewritten.

Consumers now have a plethora of information at their fingertips, loyalty has diminished and decision making processes are influenced by a greater number of elements than ever before. Consumers utilize influencers and their own bespoke research ahead of brand messages directed at them. Audiences are more cynical, less receptive to the ever growing volume of marketing messages and as such have become more selective. Permission marketing has impacted greatly and brands need to earn the right to communicate, gain trust and in turn engage a consumer. Only then, will ‘selling’ convert a customer.

Traditional selling approaches through marketing are delivering diminishing direct returns whilst driving increased market/product awareness and/or desire.

Customer journeys have become more complex and navigating your way through the vast array of channels can be confusing and daunting. Customers choose the channels in which they wish to engage – not brands, the channels themselves, or agencies. That means brands need to be at every touchpoint with the right message, at the right time.

The historic processes of segmenting audiences and making well-supported assumptions about the demographics that engage across platforms is becoming less relevant as society moves and evolves.

Brands themselves have had to adapt and evolve to changing consumer behaviors and in turn so have agencies.

Total adspend in the UK is set to grow by around 4.5% in 2016 but ‘digital’ is set to grow at a much more rapid rate whilst mobile alone will see 35% growth in spend. McKinsey and Company estimates global adspend will grow to $2.1 trillion in 2019 with digital accounting for more than 50% of that spend.

This increase of digital disruption in customer acquisition models has created digital dilemmas. Further, the early focus on digital being an acquisition channel is now changing and those brands that use digital purely as a route to sales growth will be left behind by those who win hearts, minds and heads through strategic digital implementation.

The ‘I need’ has changed the agency game

Having undertaken a research piece (more on that another time) on why clients use agencies and what they expect from them, we have seen a clear shift. The volume of reasons has multiplied due to the complexity of the landscape and there’s an increasing requirement for brands to engage with agencies who offer solutions around understanding customers; who they are, where they are, how to engage them, how to use disparate channels appropriately, access to competitor activity and more. All these things proceed activation of campaigns so agencies have become rich in knowledge and data like never before.

Further, scale and/or buying power have become hygiene factors for many clients (though, understandably and rightly, not all) because price is not a key persuader in agency selection when customer understanding and market complexity are top of the ladder.

The fundamental media agency model has changed little in 10 years beyond a diversification of service delivery rather than value proposition. This will change.

The need of many clients has changed.

Think and Do.

Overwhelmed by channel opportunity, many brands and marketeers could be forgiven for focusing on implementing actions rather than ensuring those actions are cohesive to the long-term strategic plan. Indeed, long-term strategies are becoming difficult to develop due to the speed of change and as such we tend to favour long-term objectives, delivered through mid-term strategies and short-term implementation.

At this point I am drawn to the workshop of Roger Harrop who talks about ‘Staying in the Helicopter’ and this should resonate with those leading marketing teams, developing marketing strategies and leading agencies; ensuring a bird’s eye view of everything on the table will ensure better strategic implementation.

At Boutique we have a focus on ‘Think and Do’, which means we understand that balance between strategy and implementation. Activating a PR, media or digital campaign (or ideally, a combination of them all!) that isn’t embedded in long-term objectives or short-term strategies will ultimately fail. Therefore, we only implement when we’re confident that we’ve developed an appropriate strategy.

Agencies evolve

Born in 2011 we’ve grown up in a period of dramatic change. It means that it is core to our culture to remain nimble and flexible, open to change and disruption. It also means that we have moved from a ‘media buying agency’ to a media communications agency delivering strategy and implementation across the fragmented media landscape.

Whilst no longer fresh terminology, the acronym of an agency of POEM (Paid, Owned, Earned Media) still resonates with us internally as we cover all areas through core disciplines in media, digital and PR.

Income split

With agencies having so many disciplines it is easy to retain a structure of silos with individuals focused on their core discipline. The problem with this approach is when agencies remain implementation-focused with strategy only cascading in short bursts, structured around actions and ‘to do’ lists. Further, those silos are disrupted as people watch TV on tablet devices, PR strategies blend with social and SEO becomes content-focused in which the PR team leads through their ability to communicate brand stories most effectively.

At We Are Boutique we have remodelled our structure so that client engagement comes through two divisions; Client Services and Implementation. The Client Service team is focused on integrating with a client’s business, putting us inside that business, developing better understanding and harnessing tighter partnerships. Doing so creates agile collaborative partnerships that thrive. We call it intimacy.

That allows the implementation team to focus on their core strengths of doing.

All is underpinned through strategy. That’s why we Think and Do. Only, we do it better.

 

We Are Boutique is a multi-disciplined agency working across paid, owned and earned, with core skills in media, digital and PR. We believe that strategy comes first and better results come from hard craft combined with creative thinking.

A modern agency structured around the ever-evolving world of disparate communication, we work with clients to whom we can add real, sustainable and measurable advantage.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help navigate you through the plethora of communication channels, contact Simon at simon@weareboutique.co.uk or call us on 0113 394 8990. We love to talk.

How to earn consumer attention

September 13th, 2016 by Thomas Selby


disinterested polar bear

Here’s a fact: On mobile, 1 second of loading time costs 27% of conversions.

What does this mean?

People have lots of easily accessible options, are continuously bombarded and don’t want to wait. They’ve already decided what you have to say isn’t of interest, in fact most of them don’t want you to talk to them at all.

Or at least so they think; the battle for attention is all about relevance. This has been true when selling into businesses for a long time – the shift in consumer attitudes, however, is more recent.

I’ve sold to business for my entire career and understand battle for people’s attention and consideration. So now for the first time we can discuss B2B and B2C sales tactics in parallel.

So how do we do it? You have to be:

Sharp

Punchy

Relevant.

Sell without selling.

I often hear the term ‘adding value’ which sounds great but is often unqualified, are you actually adding any? Real value can only be defined by the person you are selling to. In order to do this, you first have to look inward and create a strategy for who you want to work with, why?

Anyone who knows of Simon Sinek will be familiar with the concept of starting with ‘your Why’. If you aren’t familiar, this video is an absolute must watch:

Once you understand this, create a refined list of people you want to work with then build content around that audience.

Sharp, Punchy, Relevant content. Then give it to them for free – sell without selling.

This is where you add the value. If you’ve worked out the why, identified the who and given them something they need for free, you will earn their attention. This works for both businesses and consumers. We do it through reports or thought pieces, more recently brands have found effective ways to replicate this in a consumer marketplace.

It’s called submissive advertising – there’s an article about it here.

Do you see what I did there?

A week in the life of…

September 9th, 2016 by Simon Bollon


weekly task list

MD Simon has had a busy blogging week – so if you’re curious what life is like as an agency MD, keep reading…

MONDAY

To bring some life to the agency on a Monday morning we have an internal, full team meeting first thing. We cover everything from important meetings of the week through to knowledge share. Each meeting will have a presentation of some sort focused around personal development or education. The meetings always create a buzz as people return to their desks and it ensures the week kicks off with a positive vibe.

The remainder of Monday morning this week was spent with a client discussing long term plans and strategies. As an agency we have a real focus on creating client intimacy and therefore working with clients who offer total transparency on their goals and objectives makes us better. We love to challenge and be challenged and this client specifically has very heady targets so the conversations take us from media communications to recruitment, strategy to brand. As a business-obsessed individual I love the time spent with other business leaders. How others lead teams and develop growth plans intrigues me.

I split my time through the week across my core responsibilities of finance, strategy, growth, clients and people. As a growing agency the people element takes more and more time. Be that recruitment, assessments, lending an ear or providing leadership and guidance. Fortunately, I am a very people focused person and love the time I spend one on one or planning on people improvements. On Monday afternoon I spent time developing our KASH assessment model. This is a company-wide review system of individuals focused on ‘Being Boutique’ and creates measures on Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills and Habits.

TUESDAY

Tuesday starts with a brainstorm for a potential client and the meeting focuses on social strategies which is an area in which we think the client is flagging. Some solid ideas are banded about but with a big group it can be difficult to retain a focus in the latter stages! I call it to a halt as ideas become beyond off the wall and the content gang leave happy with the ideas to be developed further.

I grab 10 minutes with a client when they come in on the afternoon for a 100-day review to check in with them before the more formal review process kicks in. Again, that time getting under the skin of a client’s business is powerful and I share my notes with the Client Service Manager later in the day.

With an office move imminent (work starts in 5 days at the time of writing) I have a couple of hours with the contractors to refine the detail. It’s really exciting to be moving and with a doubling of office space it’s a sign of our intentions to staff, clients, partners and the broader media world. Our plans of growth are picking up pace!

WEDNESDAY

On Wednesday we take the full team to see the new space, present the layout plans and talk about developing into a World Class agency. Fortunately, the plans are well received (or at least nobody told me they didn’t like them!).

With two client meetings on Friday I jump between pre-meeting-meetings to check everyone is happy with how plans are developing. After a one on one catch up on life, workload and client updates with Sarah our Head of Earned Media, I shoot off early for dad duties.

THURSDAY

Thursday is a team day out at Doncaster Races. A reward for hard work and performance. The sun shone, we lost loads of money, drank too much and laughed a lot. A fab day all round!

FRIDAY

Friday, as you’d imagine, starts with greasy sandwiches and hangover tales before aforementioned client meetings. The team split for the meetings and I’m delighted that in my meeting the client has put on lunch! Much needed. The meeting is a mix of a 2016 review of the TV activity, looking at performance, so it’s full of data. Fortunately, my haze has cleared and the numbers tell a positive story and provide supporting evidence for 2017 planning. We then run through audience data before finishing with an open ended conversation on ‘new and next’ ideas that the client might like to consider.

Friday PM is spent at the new office and our neighbour (The Foundry Restaurant!) kindly invites us for a glass of wine to welcome us. A lovely gesture. I think we’ll become the best of friends over the coming months!

The last action on a Friday is a round up email that I send to the team providing updates from across the business. With three divisions it’s important that the full team knows what’s happening across important client news, business updates, financial performance, new business and marketing. It’s a solid way to end the day before throwing everyone out at 5. Most go to the pub. I don’t know how they do it!

The MD’s Media Week

September 9th, 2016 by Simon Bollon


man in bed reading news

This week it’s the turn of MD Simon to lead the social takeover so as part of that we’ve grabbed 5 minutes with him to ask about his media week…

I’m an early riser (3 school age kids and a dog!) and sadly, I confess to being one of those that checks emails within 5 minutes of rising. As I grab the first coffee of the day I will have a quick flick through the BBC ‘Most Read’ articles on the app and then check the Sky Sports feed. I love everything sport and, unsurprisingly, find Sky Sports is so focused on their televised content (football, cricket, boxing, rugby…and more and more MMA!) that my dwell time is limited on the site (worsened by the fact my team is now in the third tier of English football!).

At some point in the morning I will check out Instagram. It’s my latest social love affair. I tend to flick across social media channels and between my personal feed (@SimonBollon) and the company feed (@WeAreBoutiqueUK).

Insta is my fav. Its full of positivity, happy vibes and as a person whose head is often on a desert island, up a mountain or in the gym, I find it motivating and I love the escapism of it.

I try to get the train to work as often as possible which means 16 (yes, exactly 16) minutes in the car during which I will flick across radio stations. TalkSport is a go-to but if I want music I’ll flick endlessly – I have no loyalty! As a Harrogate resident I have to doff a cap to Stray FM. It’s a brilliant local station that has embraced social and digital (their content is ever improving) and they’re clearly passionate about being a major part of the local community. They’re a fine example of how radio has gone beyond airtime to embrace digital changes to their advantage. Its revenue and listening figures are testament to that!

On the train I read or listen to podcasts. I love TED Talks and as an MD I am obsessed with teams, work ethics, people management and how to make my business better. That hour each day is critical to my own self-improvement and when I have to drive I miss the opportunity to escape in my earphones or a book.

The working day is hectic. I will take the odd break to clear my mind, check out my fantasy football team (I’m useless), flick through Facebook and maybe a news portal (i100, the Guardian or Telegraph). I try to make sure I read through The Drum, Marketing Week et al. to keep up to date with industry developments and I will always scan the headlines of Prolific North. We work with so many agencies there’s often a report on one of those agencies growing, developing and winning business so I like to drop them a note of congratulations.

Knowledge share is a big deal in the office so people will always send interesting articles, news on the industry etc. They vary from the new biz team sharing news and thought pieces to the digital team sharing a knowledge bomb! They’re good for conversation and provoking thought around the office.

My evening media exposure is limited. I spend very little time in front of the telly but I can tell you that Smyths Toys’ frequency on kids’ TV is still too high! Fireman Sam (Or ‘Ne-nor Sam’ as he is known in the Bollon household), Tom and Jerry, Power Rangers and Family Guy are the favoured programmes across the various boys in the house (I have 4 sons!).

I use Facebook on an evening. I’ve found that Facebook has become an aggregator for the brands I follow. My feed is rarely populated with friends’ content as people post less but consume more. I’ve become very selective about the brands I follow so if you didn’t know, content is king! I find the evolution of Facebook fascinating. It used to be people moaning, it’s now brand video. I watch my 13 and 20-year-old sons engage with it and it’s the same across generations. Video rules!

I might have a flick through the Daily Mail website as well but keep it a secret. I run an agency, it’s important to get a view of the wider world. That’s my excuse!

WhatsApp-ening with Facebook??

September 1st, 2016 by Louise Trent


Facebook and WhatsApp

You may or may not have heard the recent news that WhatsApp has changed its privacy policy to announce that its data about its customers will now be shared with Facebook… unless opted out in your settings within 30 days.

Facebook settled a whopping $22billion deal with WhatsApp to buy the company back in 2014 and it seems this announcement marks the first big step to make use of the additional 1 billion bits of data.

Facebook will now be able to access your profile information such as your phone number (but don’t worry… not your messages!) to then match up with your Facebook profile to enable more focused targeting on Facebook and Instagram. In addition, businesses will also be able to send you direct messages on WhatsApp such as order and delivery information.

As you can imagine, a number of people are feeling an element of betrayal considering WhatsApp founders promised that the upcoming deal with Facebook wouldn’t affect their privacy on WhatsApp. In their company blog post in 2014, WhatsApp posted:

Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible: You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address. We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work. We don’t know your likes, what you search for on the internet or collect your GPS location. None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that…

Although some brands are seeing this as a real marketing opportunity, others are understandably hesitant to be one of the first to start contacting their customers through WhatsApp at the risk of looking, well, a little creepy! The job will now be for Facebook to effectively match up its data with WhatsApp’s to ensure that anything it does target using this new information is even more relevant to the user than before, otherwise those brands who would be willing to dip their toe in these murky waters are likely to be cautious of the backlash!

Not only that, but the Information Commissioner (ICO) has announced that it’ll be looking into the deal and says it’ll be transparent about what the deal means for its information.

Eek… watch this space. Good luck Zuckerberg!