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Digital Trends 2013

With a new year comes new challenges, and we're here to help you achieve your goals. At Blueleaf we like to think we're spotting digital trends that could make you more money and improve your digital marketing. As a result, there's a link below to a report of the top 5 trends in digital for 2013. We hope you find it of value and enjoyable.  Please feel free to distribute it far and wide. Click here to view the PDF

If you have any questions about this report or just fancy a bit of chat  don't hesitate to call us on on 01829 260600 or drop us a line.

Written by Rob Smith

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Planning to make a difference

There is much I enjoy about being a Producer, but one area that brings me great pleasure is the thought that we have made someone's day better. It might not always be on a grand scale, and it might even go unnoticed as a specific experience, but it will have registered with the customer on some level. If we have made it easier for someone to find the information they need without frustration, shown them the ideal selection of gifts, or saved them time when booking a meeting room, their experience will be positive.

How do we plan for these friction free interactions? We make it our business to understand the people using the system, and then design the experience around them.

As it's unfeasible to keep a crowd of users in the corner of the office to consult throughout the project we undertake research and create personas - descriptions of certain types of people who will be using the website. A useful persona focuses on the goals of a user, their attitudes, and their behaviours. To remind us that these documents act as stand ins for real people each is given a name and represented by a photograph. This enables us to make design decisions throughout the project based on real people with real objectives. At every stage we can ask questions such as 'will that instill confidence in Jane to buy that gift?' or 'does that save Mark time?'

Of course personas don't replace actual people but it's a great starting point until user testing can be undertaken. But that's a whole other topic...

By Jenny Lomax 

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SEO: Is your site ready for the Google Updates?

So what’s changed?

I‘m Scott Evans AKA ScottEO (too confusing having two Scott’s in the office); if you haven’t guessed already I look after our clients SEO and search marketing interests. I want to explain why the recent algorithmic updates by Google have shaken the SEO industry, and why now, more than ever it’s important to get your site built ready for an SEO campaign.

You’ve probably read lots of chilling articles about the penguin update, but I’m not going to ramble on and give advice how to counter this, for the most part you have to go with the flow. One of the main reasons I joined the Blueleaf team was because I believe that optimising and achieving results for a site that is unprepared for SEO is becoming increasingly difficult. By unprepared I mean such key aspects as URL structure, site structure, content and website depth. Historically SEO companies used manipulation techniques through heavy anchor text link building to force Google to rank a site. The penguin update has changed all this, no longer can SEO companies take any random website and start throwing links at it, then sit back and expect results. No lazy SEO man, NOT FOR YOU!

Preparing for SEO

Over the course of my career working with marketing directors and managing directors I have noticed one common theme; many have a backwards approach to digital marketing. Often the basic plan for launching your new website online looks like this.

 

The Stressful Approach

 

The Smart Approach.

The push and the pull

It’s often pressure from above to hit a website go-live date which causes SEO to be overlooked at development stage. Now more than ever it is vital. You cannot expect an SEO company to rebuild your site structure, and if they did they would struggle with designing it with the user in mind. We combine two simple methods, push and pull. The push relates to pushing visitors to the relevant pages, guiding them with simple site structure and navigation. While the pull is utilising search marketing methods such as SEO and PPC; you want to build optimised pages ready to help the site pull people in. You do this through ensuring your primary SEO landing pages are not 4 or 5 levels deep in the site directory, while ensuring other important factors like URL’s are clean and include keywords. This is a pretty big part of the jigsaw, and often when building your website you have one chance to get it right.

It’s the balance between the push and the pull that has always been important, but often ignored. People expect their website to be found with no SEO campaign and don’t incorporate this in the development stage. Cost cutting usually means that SEO doesn’t factor into build. Its only when the website needs traffic then SEO is considered. This is a backwards approach which is thankfully now starting to change. Smart marketing managers need that assurance, and are switching onto the fact that their site needs to be optimised and built for pulling in traffic.

 

Google keeps us guessing

The penguin update changed the face of SEO, it was a killer for manipulation methods and aggressive link building, but it was the rebirth of well optimised websites which produce great content. Before you could take a poorly optimised website, tweak a few little things and start some heavy link building activities. Now the penguin has arrived and while link building still works, SEO companies cannot push as hard as they once did and cannot rely on their formerly trusted manipulative techniques. This means that the site's structure and on page SEO is now more important than ever.

So ensure you find a web agency that does cater for SEO and search marketing, as at some stage you’re probably going to need it. You have to schedule time for SEO in the development stage and your web agency should offer and provide keyword research and planning. Be forward thinking and take advice on how SEO forms a part of your website.

Image source: https://seogadget.co.uk/beware-of-the-google-over-optimization-update/

Written by Scott Evans

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It's the little things that count

As our pockets are being squeezed ever more, there seems to be a general lack of loyalty to any one store. Discounting is definitely driving sales. So in this harsh retail environment, how do you turn fickle consumers into repeat customers? There's a great article on the Econsultancy blog about ASOS' after-sales email and how it really improved the blogger's perception of the brand and encouraged him to shop there again.

Interestingly, I had just shopped for the first time at Ocado and had an equally impressive experience. What made the difference to me wasn't the intuitive app or the great offers but a simple text message to tell me that, Myles in Onion van reg XXXXX would arrive at the agreed time to deliver the order.

Why was it so impressive? It was personal and friendly, just like ASOS' after-sales emails. Something so simple and small made the biggest impact and has meant that I shopped at Ocado again.

When planning your sales strategy, remember that after-sales is just as important yet doesn't have to be complicated or expensive, just personal and friendly. After all it's the little things that count.

If you need any help with your digital strategy, contact Adrian Lomas or Rob Smith on 01829 260 600 or hello@blue-leaf.co.uk

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New online marketing service launches

We’ve made a name for ourselves with the design and build of beautiful, effective websites that deliver real results for our clients. But that’s only half the story. The other key ingredient of any successful website is driving lots of the right kind of traffic to the site. In our never-ending search for ways to help our clients get even better results, we’ve decided to launch a new in-house online marketing service. This will enable us to provide a comprehensive approach to Search Engine Optimisation and Pay Per Click, twinned with our already outstanding design and build credentials.

This will offer even better results than you’ve already come to expect from our expert team.

If you need help with creating or refining your digital strategy, email rob@blue-leaf.co.uk or call him on 01829 260 600.

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Give your marketing a check, mate

Blueleaf's Creative Director, Chris Jones, recently attended the Future of Web Design conference in London. Whilst there, one of the speakers told a story which really struck a chord with Chris and demonstrated how the simplest concepts are sometimes the most effective.

Apparently, the speaker's father was a world class chess player and taught him to play chess. One of the most important and valuable lessons he was taught was to always take the time to walk around to the other side of the chess table and take a look at the game from his opponent's point of view. Seeing things from a different perspective often helped to spot the winning moves.

Need I say more? This can be applied to all aspects of marketing, from web design and user experience through to advertising and direct mail; taking the time to understand your market and see things from their point of view can help you to spot those winning moves.

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SME's still see websites as one-off projects

Retailers and bigger businesses are making their websites work for them by investing in resource and expertise to continue to get the best out of their online presence. From our viewpoint, many SME's are not investing anywhere near enough into their website to get the results they initially expect to receive. There are three main areas where we believe SME's fail with their websites - the scoping process, the use of ongoing marketing expertise and the assignment of appropriate internal power.

 

The scoping process

I've run many scoping sessions for our clients over the past few years because it's a great time to start thinking about how to run your website once it's launched. The main issue is that as much as we try to educate them,  business owners or managers are often not looking far enough ahead. They don't consider how they are going to use their website in the future, and how it forms the basis of a lot of their marketing activities. My advice here is to think at least one year ahead and consider all the marketing activities you may accomplish in this time. How will you use the website to support those activities? Think about email newsletters, news items, expertise pieces, events, landing pages, updating work and skillsets - the list could go on!

 

Use of ongoing marketing resource

Once your website is built, it's true that you should be able to easily update it yourself. What is not true is that your investment should stop at that point. SEO, as much as it's frequently misunderstood and confused by many, is a powerful tool to get the right traffic to come to your website and convert this to enquiries, sales, or whatever your goals are. PPC can also help, as can email marketing. Not setting aside budget for these is a frequent mistake and leads a lot of SME's to come to conclude a year later that their website 'isn't really working for them' and probably, never has in their view. My advice here is to budget at least 50% of your website build budget for online marketing following its launch. If you can budget nearer 100% that will give decent momentum for the 6-12 months following launch. This of course depends on what kind of site you are and that's based on a standard lead generation b2b site for an existing business. An ecommerce site may need slightly deeper pockets to get off the ground quickly if it's brand new and needs to gain trust.

 

Assignment of appropriate internal power

This, above all else, is probably the most important part. Very often, the website is assigned to a marketing manager who already has a lot of other projects and responsibilities. This is the correct place for the project, but often it's an area woefully under-resourced. Your site should be given attention almost every day. Whether that's chatting with your agency about the progress of search engine rankings (and if there's anything they need on the site to help), creating new content, keeping an eye on social networks, spreading your website content across these networks, and so on. There's a lot to do to keep a website well maintained and above all, successful. The more likely route unfortunately, is that no extra resource is assigned. The site gets a burst of activity every few months and the company generally sees the new site they loved when it went live, as a failure.

 

In summary

This is not a general attack on SME's. We're an SME ourselves and we have the same challenges as any other business, but we make sure we set our website and team up to be able to win, and to win consistently. If you're about to embark on or launch a new website, and the three tips above make you squirm a tiny bit, now is the time to take action and set your website up to succeed. It is your website after all!

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Cookie Law Advice from Blueleaf

With the EU Cookie Law coming into play in May, we've been working away here at Blueleaf to find the best solution for our clients. Rob Smith, Blueleaf's Strategy Director, runs through what we've learned about the legislation and whilst not intended as legal advice, he does give some great guidance to help you... We're delighted that Rob has been asked to take part in a UKFast round table about this very subject. Subscribe to our Youtube channel here to be kept up to date.

UPDATE: To support our advice, IT Pro has published an article announcing that the ICO have given assurances that as long as you can show that action has been taken, then you will not be fined. Read it here.

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Former Fuse8 chief exec Nigel Hunter becomes non-exec director of Blueleaf

Nigel Hunter, former chief executive of Fuse8, has joined us as a non-executive director. He is the third non-executive director to join the agency, following Spencer Gallagher and Peter Hoole, and will support our growth strategy. Nigel also previously served as managing director of An Agency Called England and resigned from Fuse8 in September.

Adrian said, “It’s great to welcome Nigel on board to help take Blueleaf forward. His drive and enthusiasm, coupled with his digital agency knowledge and experience will be invaluable.”

Nigel will advise us on operations and strategy and we're really pleased that he's joined Team Blueleaf.

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Adrian's predictions for 2012

As MD of Blueleaf, a multi-award winning Digital Agency, where changing technology has a huge impact on our everyday business, my predictions for 2012 reflect our new digital age. Rapidly changing world As information is available at the press of a button and we can share our ideas and thoughts instantly; now more than ever before, companies need to be able to adapt and keep up to date, using all the channels they have available to them, but limit the content to core content for maximum focus.

Cloud Sourcing The paperless office (yeah right), but it does mean that anyone can work from anywhere which has massive upsides but needs the downside managing tight such as implications for HR, team-working and leadership.

Multiple Jobs Enabled by the advent of new technology, the latest generation seem to have multiple jobs. I think it's a fantastic way to put your toe in the world of running your own business by starting something on a shoestring from home, with little overheads, and growing sensibly. It's something the economy needs - more enterprising leaders.

Mobile Mobile technology is big now, will it get smaller? No chance. Not only will this grow for business use, but for everyday actions like setting an alarm at home, or recording your favourite programme.

Augmented Reality This is no longer science fiction. It's early days, is it gimicky? A little yes, but by being creative we will find fantastic solutions that add value either in the brand experience or by using it to view in 3d.

Geo-location This can be used to magnificent effect by smaller businesses with products to offer, targeting customers in the local area to get them through the door.

Social Media The use of social media continues to grow. The whole way in which brands work has changed; now brands have to listen and rather than telling the population what to buy, the population tell brands what they want. But engage - everyone loves to be listened to, but they need a genuine response. More one to one engagement please.

In general, jump in there and enjoy it; the world is only ever going to go one way and it's essential we help things to move in that direction. Digital is not the future, it's now. Enjoy 2012.

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