How to Empower Your Remote Employees for 2022?

Remote Employees

A recent post-pandemic survey revealed that 70% of the employed workforce have requested to go utterly remote by 2025. This makes it safe to assume that remote work is here to stay. But how can businesses navigate through these uncharted waters?

The task, although demanding, is doable for businesses of all sizes. This article highlights five ways companies can build a sustainable remote workforce for 2022.


1. Reinforce what company culture means – remote or not.

Work culture, ethics, and morals aren’t decided by the miles between your employees but rather by the employees themselves. So, as a business leader, ensure all employees understand that work culture isn’t dependent on location and that they play a proactive role in its sustenance. 

Pointers to consider while reinstigating work culture:

  • Inclusiveness: Ensure no employee feels left out and encourage a sense of collective belonging and shared vision.
  • New Rituals: Create avenues for team rituals where employees can bond besides work. For instance, virtual music or movie nights!
  • Mental Health: Encourage leadership and executive teams to ensure teams are well to do and are not on the verge of burnout. 


2. Engage, educate and empower your employees.

Your employees were familiar with a particular fashion of work, and now that has changed. Thus, if businesses want their employees to up their game, they need to empower them with the necessary training. This would help boost not only employee confidence and morale but also business productivity and efficiency. 

Encourage employees to upgrade themselves via webinars, educational and skill-based sessions. An easy start would be using webinar software that enables businesses to conduct online sessions without any hassle. Additionally, educate employees on the best practices to maintain a healthy work-life balance to identify and avoid potential burnout. 


3. Understand what has changed after going remote.

Asking your employees for feedback and inputs would be the best way to understand what has changed in your business after going remote. Developing a culture of open-ended communication is essential if you are going to improve processes.

Here’s a simple checklist on how you can reevaluate your business processes:

  1. Understand what going remote has cost your team in terms of communication, technology needs, expenditure, and rapport.
  2. Elaborate on the processes and workflows that need immediate attention. Take feedback on implementation methods from your employees.
  3. List out all the potential problems you’re able to identify – lack of communication, inaccurate documentation, erroneous expense reports, etc.
  4. Map these problems to potential solutions. This can come in the form of process changes or even the adoption of new technology.


4. Evaluate the adoption of cloud technology

Staying efficient during the remote work process goes beyond having a good laptop and Wi-fi connection. The right cloud technology can play a significant role in removing all barriers which prevent your employees from achieving their full potential.

Here’s how businesses can adopt the right cloud technology

  • List which of your business processes are broken and need fixing.
  • Understand how these broken processes affect your workforce.
  • Prioritize and map them into short-term and long-term goals.
  • List possible software that can help fix your challenges.
  • Test run and understand if the software fits your business needs.
  • Train employees to start leveraging cloud technology.




5. Automate your expense management process.

The Finance teams have been one of the most badly affected during the pandemic. This is because this process has traditionally always been one-on-one. However, with distributed teams, Finance teams are expected to work as usual and bridge the physical gap, all with no extra help. 

Additionally, with the rise in expense fraud after companies have gone remote, Finance teams are further pushed to exhaustion with manual verification of all business expenses and operating costs. Thus all business owners must consider expense management automation to take the burden off Finance teams and safeguard their financial bottom line.

Benefits of automating expense management process:

  • An expense report software ensures accurate expense report submissions with automatic data extraction from receipts.
  • It comes with an advanced policy engine that checks all expenses at the source of expense creation to ensure no expense fraud, duplicates, or error-ridden reports get by.
  • It has centralized and secure data storage that eliminates the need for employees or Finance teams to store physical receipts and reports. 
  • An expense software ensures every submitted expense stays compliant with IRS regulations without any added effort.
  • It provides Finance teams complete control and visibility into all business expenses and costs. It also ensures faster reimbursements with no extra effort, time, or resources.

 

Conclusion

The pandemic has caused a continental drift of sorts to the economy. With most of the global workforce going remote, it comes down to business leaders ensuring that this transition is seamless for their employees.

Additionally, with processes changing overnight, it is easy for businesses to check whether their operations need mending or not. While some changes may require your business and leadership teams to upgrade, others may need employees and processes. 

Studies suggest most businesses that managed to stay afloat and thrive even during these times have upgraded their human workforce and adopted modern software to help address daunting business challenges. 

Be it the adoption of an expense report software or chat application or any other productivity-related software – now is the time businesses need to take the plunge to ensure business success and scale. 

3 Tips to Consider When Starting Your Own Retail Business

Retail Business

Many retailers may underestimate the challenges of starting a retail business. The first few years can be a bit difficult, and while it may seem simple enough to get it started, there are several factors you need to focus on to make the business succeed. You will also have to ensure that you get coverage for your retail store and keep it protected.

On the other hand, the retail business can be pretty lucrative if you go about it the right way from the start. Your commitment and hard work will pay off in the end. Of course, you should also believe in the products you sell to convince consumers that they are worth buying. When times get tough, your loyalty to your products will provide you with the motivation to push forward.

If you are determined to get your retail business started, here are some tips to help you.

 

1. Determine your niche

The first step to take for your startup retail business is to find out what your niche is. You could already have something in mind or maybe pondering as to what would be the most suitable for you. There are some things you can look at to help you come up with the best choice. First, identify the things you love to do and the products you find interesting. Your passion plays a significant role in the success of your business. Think about the possible obstacles your chosen niche may face, so you are ready to face them head-on should they occur. At the same time, consider whether you are willing to take the risk, should these obstacles be more challenging than you thought. Ultimately, you want to earn from your business. If you find that the competition is a bit wary about getting into the type of business you are planning, you may want to rethink your decision. This can signify that your idea may not be as profitable as you imagine. Once you have identified your niche, check out your competitors and see if you can learn something from how they market their products or improve the methods for your business.

 

2. Come up with a budget

Before you even start opening your business, you should have a budget for your business. Because you are just beginning, you should focus on what your startup will cost you. Sad to say, it can be tough to start a business without money. While you may opt to do online selling instead of having a physical store to lessen your costs, you will still need to have the cash to get your retail business on the way. Apart from the usual expenses such as your equipment and payroll (if you have employees), you will need to consider your monthly rental if you decide to have a physical store. Additionally, you should be able to cover the cost of the items you purchase for your store, among others.

 

3. Find your suppliers

It is essential to find suppliers you can trust. They will ultimately be your partners who will provide you with the best merchandise at the most reasonable cost. There are a few things to consider when you choose your supplier. First, they should be able to work around your budget and must provide you with quality items. You should also be able to rely on them to deliver what they promise as scheduled.

Starting a retail business may be tricky, but once you have established yourself, you can expect to reap the rewards of your hard work.

Ready-to-Use Text Message Templates for Businesses

Illistrated SMS marketing concept, with a giant phone sending messages to people

With the pandemic forcing businesses to increase their digital presence, there’s never been more pressure to ‘cut through the noise’ to gain new customers while retaining existing ones. A survey from Esendex shows that 30% of people receive more than five emails from businesses every day, compared to just 6% for text message; and they’re 10% more likely to read messages sent through their phone than via email too.

But how do you catch your customer’s attention and actually get them to engage with you? James Bosley, marketing manager at Esendex, has put together some quick and easy SMS templates that’ll be useful for various teams across your business.

 

Debt collection

It can be time and money intensive chasing customers that have outstanding debt. It’s also a difficult-to-raise topic that must be handled with sensitivity and care. The onus lies with businesses to ensure their customers feel supported while offering various payment options.

Statement/invoice

 

  1. Dear [customer name], your latest statement is now available to view here [link]. Please remember to make the minimum payment of [amount] before [time period], by [method].

First reminder

  1. Hi [customer name]. You have an outstanding balance of [amount]. Please visit [link] to make a payment as soon as possible or call [number] to discuss the matter further. Thank you.

     

  2. Hi [customer name]. Unfortunately, we have not seen any payments for the last [time period] days, we just wanted to make sure everything is ok. Please call [phone number] to update us on your current situation and to avoid any further collections activity. We are open [dates and times]. If you have been in contact with us in the last [time period] days to update us on your situation, please ignore this message
SMS marketing final payment reminder example message

Final reminder

 

  1. Dear [customer name], unfortunately, we have still not received payment for the outstanding sum of [amount]. We urge you to reply to this message within the next [time period] to avoid any legal action that may be taken to recover your debt.
SMS marketing example message of overdue payment

Payment options

 

  1. Dear [customer name],
    Your payment of [amount] is now overdue. We want to give you some options to help.

    Make a part-payment
    Set up a payment plan
    Talk to us
    <once customer replies>
    Thank you [customer name]. Please follow the link to make a secure online payment, or call [phone number] [link].
SMS marketing thank you for payment example message

Thank you

 

  1. Thank you. Your payment of [amount] has been received and will be processed within [time frame]. Your authorisation code for this payment is [number]. If you’d like to turn on payment reminders for your account, reply with ‘remind me’.

Customer satisfaction

One of the most important parts of running a business is ensuring that your customers are kept up-to-date and are happy with the service and/or products you provide. Running regular surveys are a great way to receive feedback and get to the heart of what your customers want.

 

Notifications, reminders and alerts

Deliveries

 

  1. Hey [customer name]. Your [product] from [company name] has been dispatched and should be with you shortly. While you wait, would you like to check out some [product] we think would go well with your [product]? We’ll even throw in a 10% discount for you.
  2. Your parcel is scheduled to be delivered between [time] and [time]. If this is no longer convenient, please reschedule – [link].

Appointment management

 

  1. Hi [customer name], your appointment is at [time] on [date]. Please confirm if you can make it.
    Yes, see you there!
    I need to reschedule
    <if the latter>

    No problem, your current booking is now cancelled. Follow the link to rebook online or text us back if you prefer:
SMS marketing message of an appointment reminder example message

Feedback

 

  1. Do you have any specific feedback about your experience you would like to share with us? Please reply with any comments you wish to share.
  2. Hi [customer name], thank you for your recent enquiry with us. Was your question answered? Y or N.

 

<If customer replies yes>

 

That’s great! Out of 10, what rating would you give the person who spoke to you based on their helpfulness?

Thank you. Finally, would you recommend us to a friend or colleague? Please provide us with a score from 0-10 (0 being definitely not).

  1. We hope you had a good experience with [company name] today. We would love it if you could spare a few minutes to fill out our customer feedback survey [link]. There is an opportunity at the end of the survey to be entered into a prize draw to win [product]. Thank you.

Marketing

 

Sending marketing and promotional messages can be a great way to reward loyal, returning customers, while enticing potential customers to make their first purchase.

Welcome message

 

  1. Hi there, welcome to [company name]. You will receive updates on your orders as well as exclusive deals right here in messenger. Is there anything else we can help you with today

    [Give options]

  2. Hooray! Welcome to the [company name] family. You’ll never struggle with [problem] again! We’re always happy to help and love receiving feedback too, which you can submit via our online form here <LINK>. Why not follow us on our social media pages too where you can keep up-to-date with [insert words here].

Flash sale

 

  1. Get FREE shipping on all orders placed today. No minimum required. Shop now: <LINK>.
  2. Hi [customer name], flash sale – for the next 3 hours only! Get 30% off on all [product] before [time].
  3. Hi [customer name], show this text in-store to get an EXTRA 20% off on all [products]. Strictly for this weekend only and while stock lasts.

New products launch

 

  1. Hi [customer name], the wait is over! The NEW LIMITED EDITION [product] has arrived. Hurry and shop now before they sell out [link].
  2. Hey [customer name], we’ve just launched our new [product] range and would like to offer you some exclusive deals. Check out [link].
SMS Marketing example message offering discount

Personalised offer

 

  1. Happy birthday [customer name]. Enjoy [percentage] off site wide on your special day by using the code [code] at the checkout. Valid until [date].
  2. Hi [customer name], we have it on our records that you’ve previously purchased a [product]. We have some similar [products] you might like and would like to offer you an exclusive discount on them using the code [code]. Valid until [date].

Referral programme

 

  1. Love our [products/service]? Recommend us to a friend and you both get [discount] when they [sign up/order] using the code [code]
  2. Will you help us spread the word? Give your friends and family [discount] off their first [insert word here] when they use your personal referral code [code]. You’ll get [discount] when they do!

Business Continuity

 

It’s equally as important to keep in touch with your employees as it is to keep your customers in the loop. Alongside recruitment, businesses can use SMS messaging to notify employees of new or upcoming shifts, and to relay crucial information in times of an emergency.

Business critical communications

Temporary office closure

 

  1. Good morning. Overnight we had a power outage at the [location] branch/store, which we’re working hard to fix. Please log on remotely and await further instruction. We thank you for your patience.
SMS marketing example message of office closure warning

Local emergency

 

  1. ATTENTION! There has been an emergency in [location]. Please confirm your location and status as SAFE or REQUIRE ASSISTANCE by responding to this message with your employee ID number. If you require emergency assistance please dial 999.
  2. ATTENTION! A member of staff in the [location] office has tested positive for Covid-19. If you have been in contact with this person since [date], please inform your line manager. Please visit the NHS website for more information and advice.

Mobilise teams

 

  1. ATTENTION! Mains pipe damage alert at [organisation name] [address] your assistance is required. Please confirm receipt of this message and estimated time of arrival for yourself and your team as soon as possible. For more information, please contact [person in charge] on [phone number] as soon as possible.
SMS marketing example message of a local mains pipe bursting

Shift management

 

  1. We have an available shift this [day] from [time] to [time]. If you are available for this slot please reply directly to this message.
  2. Hello. A [job title] is required this afternoon at our [location] branch/store. If you are available to work, please contact [name] on [phone number]. Thank you.

 

 

Employee surveys

 

  1. Hi [name]. We work hard to ensure we’re an employer of choice and would to hear how you find working at [company name]. Please could you spare a few minutes to fill in this feedback form <LINK>
  2. Hi [name]. [Number] a year, we like to gather feedback from our employees through a short feedback form which you can find here <LINK>. The survey should take no longer than <time> to complete, but will provide us with valuable insights. Please note that you can leave your name, or remain anonymous if you prefer.

 

 

Employee recruitment and onboarding

 

SMS messaging can be used to alert job hunters to new opportunities, set up – or rearrange – interviews, and assist with the onboarding process. With a 95% open rate for SMS, it ensures fast communication between the business and its employees and prospective employees, and is less likely to be missed.

 

Recruitment

 

  1. Hello [Name], we have an exciting job opportunity in the finance sector, based in London. If you are interested please reply MORE INFO to this message or call the team on [Phone number].
  2. Hello [Name]. We can confirm your interview on [date] at [time] with [Interviewer name]. Please attend [Location]. Thank you.

 

Book Staff

 

  1. Hello [Name], [business name] requires extra staff on [date] in [location]. If you’re available to work, please text back or call [phone number]

 

Onboarding

 

  1. Hello [Name], welcome to [company name], we’re excited to have you on board. Your first day will be at our [location] office, please arrive at [time] on [date]. If you have any questions please contact [manager name] on [phone number].

The Most Productive Colour to Paint Your Home Working Space

Home office with blue walls, white floors, and blue / white / grey furniture

The work from home order has now been lifted by the UK government as part of the easing of coronavirus restrictions. While this means some of us will be heading back into the office full-time, many businesses have adopted a formal hybrid working model, meaning we can work from home part-time.

This is welcome news for employees who have reported a better work-life balance as a result of home-working over the past 18 months. Many of us feel more productive at home due to the ability to concentrate better.

We may have been working from home for a year and a half now, but it’s never too late to upgrade your home office decoration. The colour of your space can have a big impact on your productivity, mood, and mindset throughout the workday. Here, we discuss the best colours for your home office.

 

Blue for productivity and focus

Blue has so many connotations. Many of us think of rolling sea waves or a bright blue sky. Overwhelmingly, we perceive blue as calming. It’s a grounding colour, which means it works well as a base hue in our home office.

The colour has also been found to be mentally stimulating, leading to productivity benefits. A University of Texas study found that blue-green rooms were the best for productivity gains. This combination of calming and stimulating makes it the perfect colour for a home-working environment.

While we need to remain focused and productive during our workday, a calming influence is also helpful. With 79% of UK employees experiencing stress at work, anything that creates a feeling of serenity is welcomed.

 

Yellow accents for creativity

Is there anything more positive than a bright burst of yellow? The colour is associated with joy, sunny days, and creativity. However, because it’s so attention-grabbing, it can be overwhelming.

Yellow offers many benefits, including stimulating creativity and boosting our mood. It shouldn’t be discounted as a colour in our home office, but we recommend making it an accent colour instead of the main colour of your walls.

If you’re looking to benefit from the mood and creativity-boosting effects of yellow, use it in your decorations or accessories. You could have a sunny yellow notebook on your desk for your creative ideas. Yellow flowers – whether real or fake – on your desk will allow you to take advantage of the colour’s properties as well as the stress-busting benefits of plants in your office.

 

Golds and silvers for a successful mindset

It’s no surprise that we associate gold and silver with wealth and success, because we most often see these colours in jewellery and decorations. While it might seem a bit decedent to kit your office out in these colours, their associations with success might just give you the boost you’re looking for.

Gold in particular can remind you of your successes. Think about it; what comes to mind when you hear “gold medal”? Exactly.

If opulent gold isn’t your usual style, you can incorporate this colour into your home office in subtle ways, like a gold vase for your flowers or gold photo frames.

 

Things to consider

Now that you know some of the most productive colours to include in your home office, it’s good to know how to incorporate them. Blue or green are great as a base colour but stick to muted shades. Pale blues and greens, like Cumulus Y354 from Tikkurila, suit everyone.

When it comes to colours to avoid, red isn’t a good colour for your home office. While it’s well-established as a power colour, it’s not necessarily a good colour for a working environment. Not only does it inspire feelings of frustration and anger but it can also increase your heart rate and induce feelings of stress. Some see this as a benefit, especially if your job is high-energy, but in the day to day, it can have a negative effect.

 

Many of us have spent a sizeable chunk of time in our home offices over the past 18 months. While many will be heading back into the office full time, some of us will be able to continue our home-working either in a full-time or part-time capacity. It’s never too late to redecorate your home office, so why not incorporate some of these productivity and mood-boosting colours?

Bridging the Gap Between Online and Offline Retail

laptop computer on wood table with supermarket aisle blurred background online shopping concept

Historically, retail has shifted from offline to online. Argos, for example, was famous for its in-store catalogue experience before branching out to become one of the most successful e-commerce brands in the UK.

As shopping online became more popular, we began to see online-only retail pop up, such as market leaders ASOS and Amazon. But what about when the shift happens the other way around, and online stores go physical?

In this article, we’ll discuss how pop-up shops are allowing online brands to reach customers in person. We’ll also explore some of the most successful online shop pop-ups.

 

The popularity of pop-up shops

Pop-up shops brought £2.3 billion to the UK economy annually prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We could see this rise again with most restrictions eased. 80% of global retailers who have opened a pop-up shop said it was successful, with 58% saying they would do it again.

While the pandemic put a pin in pop-ups, there were still some successes. In April 2020, Tesco opened up a pop-up supermarket for NHS staff at the Nightingale Hospital so they could access essentials. Similarly, Costcutter opened up pop-up shops in 20 NHS hospitals.

Pop-ups can come in many forms, from hired event venues to empty stores – and even storage containers! Superdry perfectly captured its vintage-inspired brand through its pop-up store housed in a branded storage container.

 

Online retail goes offline

Many big-name brands, including Primark, Louis Vuitton, and Disney, have seen success through pop-up shops despite having flagship stores across the UK. We’ve also seen traditionally online-only retailers use pop-up stores as a way to connect with customers in person.

Pop-up stores offer online brands the opportunity to build brand awareness – many brands cited this as the main reason for launching a pop-up shop. Online stores can achieve more sales, better market visibility, and even social media engagement if the pop-ups are interesting enough.

Below, we take a look at a couple of successful examples of pop-up shops launched by online-only brands.

 

Depop-up shop labelled a success

London-born shopping app Depop was founded in 2011 and is partly credited for the rise in consumers buying and selling second-hand clothes online. The company exists online only, with no physical stores, but it launched a live pop-up event in 2019 that “brought the app experience to life”.

The event not only saw vendors selling unique second-hand clothing, but it also incorporated talks, DJ sets, and DIY workshops. The talks centred around how the brand’s primarily young female audience could make the most of its features, with panel discussions including “How to Build an Empire From Your Bedroom”. The brand prides itself on users recycling one-of-a-kind items, and many of its other talks focused on this and sustainability.

Maria Raga, Depop’s CEO, said: “This event is an opportunity for us to showcase the creativity that takes place on our app and to surround them with other inspirational creatives from the fashion, art, music, and design worlds.”

 

Amazon pops up to say hello

If there’s one online-only store that comes to mind for everyone, it’s Amazon. The online marketplace has grown exponentially since it started as a virtual bookstore, expanding to sell almost anything you could imagine.

The company has run a number of pop-up shops, with regular events across the USA. In a similar vein to Depop, the company hosted five days of pop-up fashion events in London, which featured more than just a retail experience. The fashion and beauty events included DJ sets, makeovers, and styling sessions with Amazon Fashion stylists. Additional days included yoga sessions with author Ella Mills and acoustic sessions with musicians Tom Grennan and Nao.

The brand also has themed pop-up stores that allow customers to examine items that they might not want to purchase online without testing out first, such as beds and hardware.

 

Our shopping experience has pivoted largely to online shopping, and we’re seeing this through the closing down of many established high street retailers. This doesn’t mean in-person shopping is dead, though. Online retailers are now bridging the gap and offering unique offline experiences at an affordable price. While many are hiring dormant stores, we’re seeing more mobile pop-ups emerge, allowing these retailers to be flexible and reach more consumers through these new means.

6 Signs Your Digital Advertising Campaigns Are Underperforming and What to Do About It

Ad Campaign

By Gez McGuire MCG Digital Media & Lead Accelerator founder

Poorly performing paid search campaigns could be costing businesses tens of thousands of pounds every month.

Pay-per-click is often a victim of its own success. With even the most basic of setups delivering results, marketing managers and agencies can see it as a fit and forget solution. A closer look however, will often reveal significant wastage.  

Lead Accelerator founder and AI marketing expert, Gez McGuire, reveals six of the most common issues and how to address them. 

 

1. You struggle to maintain consistent results

Often businesses find that the amount of traffic driven by digital marketing is inconsistent, or in gradual decline. One of the key factors affecting this is a much too simplistic campaign structure. Having just one ad running for a given search term is rarely if ever the best approach. Multiple ads optimised for different times of the day, different devices and locations provide much more oversight on exactly what is and isn’t working. In this way each campaign can be assessed, tested, optimised and scaled to achieve consistent results. 

 

2. PPC visitors aren’t converting into enough enquiries

In some instances, businesses can be seeing good or even high levels of traffic to their website through PPC, but visitors are simply failing to take the next step to get in touch. In this case it is often where potential customers are being driven to rather than the advert itself that is at fault. A poorly optimised landing page will be costing businesses £1,000s in lost revenue. 

In the past, addressing this issue meant creating a single landing page with a clear and direct call to action. While this principle remains correct, there are now a series of advanced features that can supercharge conversions. Taking advantage of the latest advances in AI and machine learning, it’s now possible to quickly and effectively create intelligent landing pages that use multiple multi-step forms. Geared a lot more towards website visitors taking immediate action, we’ve adopted this approach across all of our clients and are seeing conversions increase to as much as 30 to 40 per cent.     

Introducing AI and machine learning eliminates the need for a “one-page-fits-all” approach to conversion optimisation by delivering the most relevant content to each visitor. Through analysis and learning AI powered landing pages send visitors to a landing page variant where they are most likely to convert. 

 

3. Your competitors seem to be everywhere and are stealing your share of voice

Smart businesses make sure that they have multiple touchpoints with their prospective customers. Engagement in the form of conversions or enquiries often happen after the 9th or 10th time that a prospect sees a relevant and timely ad.

One effective way to do this is through remarketing. Incorporating a tracking pixel onto a website or landing page allows businesses to retarget prospective customers across digital platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. 

There will soon be a shift in the way that digital marketing is carried out when the use of third-party cookies is phased out, impacting the way thousands of advertisers use platforms such as Facebook to target their desired audiences. One way advertisers can stay ahead of this change is to gather as much first-party data as possible, through the implementation of remarketing pixels and data collection, from lead generation.

Creating your own multi-touchpoint campaign funnel will be important and ultimately, rewarding.

 

4. You cannot identify how and where to scale your campaign reach

Many companies with sizeable digital marketing budgets still have very limited ability to leverage their campaigns as a result of a poorly thought-out strategic approach from the offset.

Time and again we have re-structured clients’ digital campaigns to allow for greater transparency in terms of understanding where the greatest engagement and opportunity lies in terms of campaigns / devices / time segments and many other factors.

This leads to being able to be data driven when making key decisions in terms of where to spend budget as being informed by results is far more effective than anything else.

As a result, we can easily identify where to reduce ad spend and where to scale it up and the results are always impressive, with an average reduction in waste of approximately 25% and an increase in productivity of 20% – 30% in terms of increased conversion rates and lower cost per enquiry / sale.

The main takeaway here – do not take your in-house marketing manager or incumbent agency’s word when they say that nothing more can be done to improve your digital campaigns. We’ve heard that and within 30 days turned things around in a big way.

 

5. You do not have full autonomy or ownership of your digital strategy

All too often the ownership of many companies’ digital marketing lies with either one person in their marketing department or with the incumbent agency that manages it.

This is very dangerous as we’ve seen accounts spending £30,000 per month where the main people in the business don’t know how to even access it to view performance.

In these situations, a company can be given very bad advice by their in-house staff or by their incumbent agency. Meaning that not only could they be missing out on opportunities to streamline and increase the efficiency of the campaign, but they could also be wasting a significant portion of their ad spend.

Companies that find themselves in this situation often have to play a difficult game to get a fresh perspective from someone else but it’s ultimately worth it. If this describes you then act today to start putting things right.

 

6. Your marketplace is just too expensive to advertise in and you don’t know a way around it.

Sometimes it’s just too expensive to advertise in an online auction, such as Google Ads, for certain sectors as the click costs can run very high. This is due to advertisers in those sectors ramping up their bids in order to dominate the paid search results.

This may seem strange but we’ve seen this happen when a company receives venture capital investment, for example, and one of their marketing strategies is to play the long game, as they can afford to do this. They can therefore pay high costs to get enquiries as they know most of their competition cannot afford to do this.

However, there are multiple advanced bidding strategies that can allow advertisers to compete in very expensive markets without paying the inflated costs that their competitors have created.

Take a look at all of the smart bidding options that allows advertisers to set goals in terms of target cost per acquisition, return on ad spend or even to target by impression share. The suite of bidding options available allow advertisers to test and measure different campaigns in the same auction until you find one that works for you and your sector, and your budget.

Advertising vs Organic Interaction: Influencers Are Having to Address Their Content

Illistrated graphic or an influencer sitting on a speaker, with likes, comments, and other information coming out of it

For many years now, social media influencers and online content creators have been somewhat forced to disclose whether the posts they are sharing are in fact a paid-for advertorial or not. Just as we see on television and in magazines, it is clear what is an ad, and what is not – so why should things be different across social media?

 

In today’s world, many would say that social media influencers and the content they share is much more impactful than that of more traditional forms, and so the need to honestly disclose ads becomes even more important. Which is where the Advertising Standards Authority, also known as the ASA, comes into play.

 

The ASA is the UK’s advertising regulator, ensuring that ads across UK media stick to the rules put in place. From influencer marketing, to print and broadcast, the ASA monitor it all and everything in between.

 

And Amelia Neate, senior manager of Midlands-based influencer marketing agency Influencer Matchmaker uncovers why the enforcement of such disclosure is now important as a new era of ‘genuinfluencer’ has arrived.

 

With the arrival and accessibility of platforms like TikTok and the expansion of content creation from the everyday social media user, there has been a collective shift for generation Z in particular, who have become bored with the celebrity show boater and are more focused on the authenticity and human behind the screen.

 

Cultural conversations via influencers have caused movements such a Black Lives Mater, MeToo and even more recently the #FreeBritney campaign that set out to understand and remove the conservatorship that Britney Spears was under post her mental health struggle in 2008. While other media platforms like LadBible and ArchBishopofBanterbury have prided themselves on redefining entertainment – often taking ordinary people with relatable circumstances and making them part of the conversation.

 

Like the above outlets, while they are able to monetise with paid for advertisement ahead of videos, it is imperative that the authenticity still comes across in their storytelling and therefore content from real people, addressing real life situations is imperative to the success of the viewership.

 

Whilst many popular influencers take pride in appropriately labelling their paid for content, the ASA recently threatened to name and shame influencers failing to stick to the guidelines.

 

These days, the GenZ demographic are more sustainable, more ethical and more educated. They want full transparency from brands and from social media, with recent research stating that 82% of followers agreed the importance of influencers disclosing their personal use history with the product they are promoting. But with ASA guidelines being regularly updated, some influencers have struggled to keep up.

 

And, with it not just being a paid-for advertorial or post that needs to be disclosed influencers must consider how the rules can vary dependant on a typical sponsored post vs integrated videos on YouTube, affiliate links, PR products and press discounts.

 

Previously, when the industry was in its infancy, brands would send out products to their favourite influencers in the hopes that they would be authentically mentioned on their platforms. Whilst this is still the case, such products must be disclosed as ‘PR product’.

 

To some, this may seem slightly overboard, however in this industry, influencers must be conscious to make their audiences aware of what might qualify as a means of payment in order for the consumer to make an educated decision about the purchase of a product based on that influencers testimonial of a brand. If this is backed by a true and genuine story that equally connects their recommendation, then it will clearly better connect with its audience.

 

For example, health and fitness influencer Carly Rowena made her mark on the industry because of her love for fitness and nutrition. And, after many years of being recognised for her easy-to-follow workout videos, Instagram posts and blog posts, Carly has teamed up with Halo Fitness to create her very own range of activewear. Because of her genuine love and passion for finding the perfect workout gear for many years, it seemed a natural and obvious choice for Carly to launch such a collection.

 

In the next year, 63% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget. Instagram is also extending its shopping features, testing its Shop tab, which will allow users to click and view extra product details quicker.

 

The introduction of these features will certainly be the becoming of new sponsored ad additions for the ASA guidelines and with more consumers demanding such transparency influencers must keep ahead of the curve when it comes to genuine and purposeful content in order to reach a profit.

How to Choose the Right Link Building Agency

Man working at laptop on graphs

Outsourcing to link-building agencies is an excellent option for businesses that lack the in-house expertise and knowledge needed to implement relevant campaigns. However, choosing the right one isn’t always as simple as it sounds. After all, for every legitimate firm, there are always a few that practice Blackhat techniques like deception, ghosting, and spamming, to name a few. And you could end up getting the exact opposite of the desired outcome if you partner with one of them. Therefore, you must select a suitable link building agency like Ocere. In this guide, we’ll cover a few things that you’ll need to consider before you commit to a firm. If you want to know more, keep on reading.

 

 

1. Alignment

Alignment is one of the essential things you need to expect from the chosen agency. They need to align with the goals of the business. Only by defining and understanding your link-building objectives can they reach a favourable outcome. Moreover, they need to know your definition of success, specifically the metrics you’ll use like domain authority, social shares, and referral traffic. So, before anything else, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do the strategies of the agency make sense and can help your company achieve its goals?
  • Is the expected timeframe reasonable?
  • Are your objectives aligned with their methodologies?

 

2. Transparency

A reputable link-building company will always be transparent with its clients. After all, there are very few secrets when it comes to the strategies used in search engine optimisation or SEO. However, if they fail to respond to reasonable inquiries about their workflows or processes, it’s usually a sign that you should look for another agency. Additionally, you’ll want to walk away if they make unrealistic and exaggerated claims about their services. This is because they’re either using questionable practices or are not as good as they make themselves appear to be.

 

 

3. Roadmap 

Once an agency has a good idea of your goals for the business, they’ll create a roadmap that will indicate how they plan to meet your expectations. However, if they take too long to respond or can’t give you an answer at all, it could be a warning sign. When you get right down to it, how will you achieve the desired outcome if they can’t map out the process for you? In these cases, it’s usually a good idea to seek out other options.

 

 

4. Price

Cost matters in the procurement of any goods or services, and link-building isn’t an exception. No matter how good an agency is, if it’s going to cost you a small fortune to gain access to their expertise, you won’t see any returns on your investment. One way to get around this challenge is to collect a few options and compare each one’s services and fees against the other. In this way, you’ll find one that won’t just fit your needs but also your budget.

 

 

5. Reviews

These days, many turn to online reviews for any products and services they need. They’re a better source of objective insight than the companies behind them when all’s said and done. If you want to find a credible agency, you’ll want to do the same thing and look for feedback and testimonials from past and present clients of the chosen companies. Reading through customer experience might appear to be a tedious endeavour. But doing so can give you what you need to make a better-informed decision and, in turn, help you avoid choosing the wrong companies while knowing where the right ones are.

 

 

6. Turnover

Few people realise the difficulty of building links, especially with an unmotivated and disengaged staff. If the agency has a high turnover rate, it poses a problem to its operations and clients. In addition, they won’t likely be able to deliver results if they’re unable to maintain positive internal relationships amongst their teams. So ,make sure that you keep this in mind before committing to any firm.

 

 

Conclusion

Selecting a company for your link-building needs might be a tricky affair, but it isn’t difficult. By considering the abovementioned factors, you’ll be able to choose one that can generate the links your company needs to establish awareness of its brand, maintain authority, and generate leads and conversions.

7 Ways Entrepreneurs Grow Their Organizations

Woman with a small textile business using the phone and laptop to grow her business

Are you an entrepreneur who wants to expand your business, having already survived those first few crucial months of operation? If so, it’s important to realize that the same set of skills that got you this far might not be what’s needed to move to the next phase of growth. Startups have one goal, in most cases, and that’s to endure the first year of existence without falling prey to competitors, a lax economy, and negligible profits.

From there on out, phase two begins, and navigating the waters of early growth can be much more challenging than anything you encountered during that initial year of existence. What does it take to build a customer base, create effective systems for long-term expansion, craft marketing campaigns that work, satisfy the customers you’ve already acquired, use the reams of data at your disposal, and learn to face off against experienced competitors without falling back? Here are some of the most workable tactics for not only doing all of the above, but doing it in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

 

Create a Time Budget

Financial budgets are all-important components of any successful enterprise. If you made it this far, you likely have one that works. But far too many owners struggle through phase two (early growth) because they lack a detailed, day by day time budget. Begin by making a list of every must-do task for each day and list the amount of time it takes next to each one. Then, arrange the items based on your best guess for where it should occur in the overall order. Test out this daily time budget and fine-tune it over perhaps a week or two. Then, do the same thing with weekly chores, making sure to place them into the day schedules where they belong.

 

Use Fleet Management Systems

If your business uses vehicles for any transport function, including customer delivery and branch to branch cargo shipping, installing fleet tracking software is one of the simplest, least costly solutions for boosting profits and ramping up efficiency. The key to the whole effort is getting real-time business insights via live GPS tracking of every vehicle in the fleet. In the digital age, it’s safe to assume that all your competitors use fleet tracking, so even if you prefer the old way of using radio controlled (non-digital) techniques, growing your organization will be that much tougher.

 

Automate Key Marketing Tasks

To save time, automate as many marketing and promotion strategies as possible. Of course, there’s still a need for personal customer contact in certain instances, but things like welcome messages (new customer emails), special offers for frequent buyers, requests for feedback after purchases, and dozens of others can be set to auto pilot if you select a capable software product and hire an IT pro to install and optimize it.

 

Focus On Supporting Customers

So many owners talk the talk about making customer support job one, but few follow through on the hype. For growing entities that are just out of the startup phase, paying careful attention to customer needs is essential. This is one of the few areas of operations that pays guaranteed, long-term dividends.

By making sure all customer’s questions are answered and complaints resolved, you’ll be learning the fine art of dealing with the very people who look to your organization for their needs.

 

Don’t Fear Data

Once any organization begins to grow, there are huge amounts of data available like customer analytics, marketing test results, return on investment, expenditure efficiency, and many more. This ocean of information is one of the core features of working in the digital era. Keep in mind that you don’t need to crunch every number or analyze each piece of data that comes to you. Focus on several areas that impact your particular niche and learn how to use the numbers to your advantage. Most of all, don’t fall into the trap of being intimidated by masses of data or the temptation will be to just ignore all of it and miss potentially valuable insights.

 

Use Multiple Channels

Though it can seem overwhelming at first, do your best to promote and market in several channels. For example, today’s e-commerce consumers tend to use more than one channel for buying. Make sure your organization is there for prospective customers when they want to engage you via live chat, on social media, through email, with text messages, or over the phone. This omni channel strategy is simply a smart way to be where your customers are. Think of the modern adult who typically orders food and personal services on a smartphone or tablet, makes large purchases from a home-based desktop computer, orders an e-book during a text conversation with a friend, or check their social media comments for suggestions about the latest shoe styles.

 

Don’t Be Intimidated by Major Competitors

No matter what field you do business in, you’re bound to face competitors who are larger, more experienced, and have vast resources they can deploy whenever needed. Every new entrant into a commercial niche must deal with the very same challenge. The good news is that new players have a couple of unique advantages the established organizations don’t possess. First, consumers are willing to give a new name a chance. The fact that your entity is a fresh face in the crowd is intriguing to many customers who are eager to try your products and services, out of curiosity if nothing else. Second, if you build a powerful website and work the e-commerce angle diligently, you stand the chance of outpacing many traditional businesses who have not yet fully embraced digital marketing.

The Great Digital Overhaul(age)

Blaack HGV with green tech bianry code on it

Digitalisation has transformed every sector in recent years. The implementation of technologies like artificial intelligence and automation have streamlined processes, improved data accuracy, and allowed businesses in every industry to become more efficient.

One sector that has been slow in its adoption of technology is logistics and haulage. In a pre-pandemic PwC survey, only 28% of transport and logistics providers rated themselves as digitally advanced.

However, digitisation is picking up in the sector. In its whitepaper, Using Digital to Drive Your Transport Business Forward, Mandata found that digital adoption is a priority for two-thirds of hauliers in 2021.

Here, we discuss how digital technologies are transforming the logistics sector in 2021 and beyond.

Back-office digitisation increases productivity

When we think of innovative technologies, we might focus on virtual assistants and robotics, but sometimes the best digital solutions are the less glamorous ones. For many years, hauliers and logistics firms relied on manual or paper-based processes to manage planning, jobs, and invoices.

Gone are the days of using spreadsheets, or even easily misplaced sheets of paper, to carry out your operations. Now, transport management software allows you to manage your processes, from order right through to invoice, in one fully integrated system. Not only does this allow you to be more time-efficient, because it eliminates duplicate data entry, but it also offers real-time visibility on reporting or job status updates for key stakeholders like customers and colleagues.

 

Route planning software makes journeys more efficient

In days gone by, your drivers’ deliveries could be impacted by a poor route choice or unexpected traffic. One late delivery can have a knock-on effect on the rest of the day’s deliveries, which can impact profit made on each job, your customer satisfaction, and potentially your customer retention rate.

Route inefficiencies can also cost your business a lot of money – and in a sector with already razor-thin margins, this is the last thing you need.

With real-time status updates and ETAs available, your transport planners will be able to see if there’s anything holding up your drivers and, if necessary, divert them. A live arrivals board will allow you to easily spot any journeys encountering issues and view delivery countdowns.

 

Mobile apps for drivers improve accuracy

Drivers are also benefitting from the technological innovations driving change in the sector. In recent times, many planners would send their drivers a list of jobs via WhatsApp, SMS or even phone calls, which was difficult to track and follow. Prior to that, many relied on paper sheets handed to them at the start of the workday. Paper proof of deliveries also presented a lot of issues for drivers.

Mobile apps for drivers are making their day-to-day tasks easier, allowing them to carry out essential parts of their work in one place and paper-free. They can access their jobs for the day within the app and update them when they’re complete.

One of the most powerful tools for hauliers in these apps is electronic proof of delivery (ePOD). Paper-based PODs were the standard until recent years, but they were prone to being misplaced, lost, or even illegible. Electronic PODs allow drivers to easily capture confirmation of their delivery, whether that’s via a photo or a digital signature. The ePOD will automatically match back to the correct job and when the jobs are ready to be invoiced, the ePODs will automatically be attached. This results in less duplication of work while also providing the ability to complete invoicing in a few clicks, cutting down on hours of manual work.

Many sectors have reaped the benefits of digital innovation, but until recently, haulage and logistics companies have been left behind. We know the industry struggled with the impact of COVID-19, with 73% of hauliers reporting that their cash flow significantly reduced in the first UK lockdown. However, we’ve also seen priorities change as a result of these extraordinary circumstances, as many hauliers are choosing to focus on digital adoption this year.

7 Ways to Boost SEO in the Fall

Man outside in the autumn checking his phone

People find new businesses in many different ways. Some get a referral from a friend. Others see a shirt they like and ask a stranger on the street where they bought it. While these can help your business grow, one of the most effective options is to leverage search engine optimization. People are searching for services and products online every day. They use their smartphones and computers to find exactly what they are looking for. With the right SEO, your business can rise to the top of the list. Here are some of the best ways to boost your SEO this fall and in the months to come.

 

Create Seasonal Content

A great way to engage your audience is to use seasonal content in your SEO. Discover what keywords are trending and how it relates to your business and create content around that. You’d be amazed at how many people want to find seasonal sales on things like home décor, clothing, and even technology. Maybe you aren’t launching an orange tablet this season, but you have cases that can be customized with fall messages. The important thing is to consider your products and your audiences to find the best SEO keywords to use.

 

Use Internal Links

If you aren’t using internal links in your blog content you are missing out on a big SEO opportunity. When you want to get found for certain keywords, and you have relevant content, link back to it from your blog. It’ll tell the search engines that you have something valuable to offer with those keywords and make you jump closer to the top of the list when people search those words. It’s a great way to build your SEO and connect with new customers who are searching for products like yours.

 

Compete for Relevant Keywords

Keyword research is boring. Let’s face it. Searching for what keywords are popular and which ones relate to your business isn’t the fun part. But when you can tag along with trending searches, you can easily start competing for those relevant keywords. You’ll have more success in the fall for instance if you create content around those trending fall searches. Take some time to learn about what your customers like and what they are searching for in this season. Use what you discover to compete for those keywords.

 

Add New Products

The fresher your portfolio, the more interesting your content is to the big search engines. When you add new products, it gives the search engines even more reasons to pull your content to the top of a relevant search. With a great product description, a good photograph, and an excellent title, your products will get found by just the right people. Creating relevant and new products helps your SEO in the fall and all year long.

 

Get Creative With Your Marketing

It’s easy to get stuck in a marketing rut. If it’s working for you, then keep doing it. But find ways to get creative with how you connect with new clients. Marketing for accounting firms, tech companies, and even healthcare may seem unnecessary, but it’s critical to leverage creative methods of finding new business. The best marketers use a combination of data and unique ideas to help reach their target market year-round. This time of year is all about pumpkin spice, apple cider, and cozy sweaters, so think about how to incorporate those into your fall SEO campaigns.

Your website should not be static all year long. By adding fresh marketing campaigns, new products, and even regular blog posts, you can be sure your business will be near the top of the list for search engines. A fall marketing campaign on your site makes it fresh, fun, and applicable to the season we are in. It’s in your best interests to use your creative team to write content, make graphics, and direct a marketing campaign to encourage new sales in the fall months.

 

Use 3rd Party Review Sites

This strategy is two-fold. It gives your company credibility when there are good reviews. It also adds another location to put your website link. During different seasons, you can add in fresh content to help people know what’s happening in the fall and other seasons. Third-party review sites are an excellent part of a good SEO strategy no matter what industry you are in.

PayPal Launches Cryptocurrency Trading in UK

Man sitting at a laptop

Digital payment pioneer PayPal—a world leader of the “revolution” using technology to make financial services and commerce more convenient for more than 20 years—has now announced the launch of a new service enabling its customers in the UK to buy, hold, and sell cryptocurrency.

 

Discover opportunities and risks in cryptocurrency before transacting

The initiative signals the company’s first international expansion of its crypto service beyond the United States market and is touted to encourage customers to research and discover opportunities and risks in cryptocurrency before transacting.

Four cryptocurrencies are available—Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash—for buy and trade via the PayPal website or mobile app, where customers can view real-time crypto prices and explore educational content answering common questions.

The service drops into the crowded space vying for best trading platform UK, giving the many others such eToro, Libertex, and Fineco Bank a run for the money. Depending on where you look for advice, eToro is rated by many reviewers as the overall best platform in the UK, offering 2,400+ stocks from 17 UK and international markets, with zero fees.

 

Bitcoin breaches $50,000 for the second time

As investors seek to diversify their portfolios—and notwithstanding the extreme volatility of cryptocurrency assets—crypto has emerged as an investment destination of choice, especially for a younger, well-heeled demographic seasoned and confident in all forms of online transacting. Recently Bitcoin breached $50,000 for the second time in two weeks, defeating a previous sell-off that failed to dent the appetite for the currency.

PayPal believes that it offers an environment that customers know and trust, and for as little as £1, traders can enter the cryptocurrency realm cautiously, affordably, and securely. PayPal boasts 400 million consumers and merchants in more than 200 markets.

Customers can fund their PayPal crypto account from a bank account or debit card, choose from pre-determined purchase amounts, or decide their own purchase amount, with no fees to hold cryptocurrency. Upon sale, funds are shipped quickly to the customer’s account for spending in the usual way.

“The pandemic has accelerated digital change and innovation across all aspects of our lives— including the digitisation of money and greater consumer adoption of digital financial services. We are committed to continue working closely with regulators in the UK and around the world to offer our support—and meaningfully contribute to shaping the role digital currencies will play in the future of global finance and commerce,” Jose Fernandez da Ponte, PayPal’s Vice President and General Manager, Blockchain, Crypto and Digital Currencies, said in a press statement.