Cash only is no income come 2030

Often, it’s hard to think about how much the world has changed in reality during our lifetimes. The younger you are the easier it is, after all, change is a particularly well executed process this millennium. However, if you, like me, are just a bit, or a lot, older than the Gen Z’ers, change can be quite a tough thing to quantify and its scale hard to appreciate. The classic examples are frequently based on technology; look at the internet, look at computer hardware, look at mobile phones etc. But one of the oft overlooked sectors is money. It’s almost been 3 years since the five pound note became polymer rather than fabric, ok it had been cloth since 1853, but governance moves slowly no matter the century. Now theres a good chance anyone reading may have had or know someone who has had a child in the last 3 years, they will never know about the notes we can pretty much guarantee most of us had become accustomed to. Strange, but let’s take it a step further, while not fully adopted till a decent while later, contactless payments began in the UK in 2007, a year after chip and pin became compulsory for over the counter shopping. This means, there are children starting their secondary education who have probably never known the idea of signing receipts for authorisation of a purchase, even the possibility they see ‘having to type a pin number into a keypad’ as a rare inconvenience, let’s not even start on cheques! So, considering the fact we can now swipe our phones over a console to pay for fairly considerably sized purchases it’s probably worth asking: We’re contactless, are we also going cashless?

 

With only around 35% of UK payments in 2017 made with cash, it was around 60% a decade before, you can truly see the rate of progress away from physical transactions. More and more people are becoming almost wholly reliant on cards and electronic wallets to take away the burdens of carry all their liquid capital around with them. As usual the most progressive and ‘laid-back’ countries are the one’s really progressing this narrative. While Britain’s rate of 35% is fairly good as a worldwide comparison, places like Sweden and Canada are when the cashless revolution is really taking hold. Canada is slowly doing away with coinage, comparably to New Zealand, having taken the penny out of circulation in 2013 and likely on the move to make 5 cents redundant soon as well. They also boast less than 30% of transaction volume as cash, significantly less than the UK but not good enough to take the payments crown. Sweden snatches victory in these terms, having lowered its total cash transactions to a mere 19% countrywide. This feat can be viewed with even more awe considering that some of the top financial bodies in the country believe it will, effectively, be a cash-free utopia by 2030.

 

Bearing all this in mind it’s best to analyse the ideologies behind champions and dissenters of this new paradigm. Most supporters of the move towards electronic payment, much like the even-minded amongst their opposites, stress that they would not support the pseudo-dystopias frequently seen in popular science fiction where all transactions are meted out via a swipe of some internalised bio-tech across a scanner. Simply put they think electronic payments should become the ‘normal’ way of things, with small reserves of cash kept by establishments for situations in which, for whatever reason, digital methods are not possible. Even most supporters of the cash system back this form of futurisation but with slightly less emphasis on the ‘normal’ and more complicated checks and balances placed on the mediator software and companies.

 

The benefits of embracing the move are several-fold. As mentioned, and not worth underestimating, the fact no one will be forced to carry germ covered, weighty and, hand-‘perfuming’ cash creating a hopefully cleaner and less stinky society, corporately, having to use less physical space and storage devices is invaluable. The other reality of the change in monetary usage is the upgrade in security and safety. One of the most prevalent forms of crime throughout history is robbery, from pickpockets to highwaymen via pirates and through to muggings, people have been stealing other people’s money for basically as long as the concept has existed. The ability to hold all of your money ethereally within a digital sphere only accessible via a secure electronic device is a vastly better solution than carrying around a hefty safe, or even if you own a business, having money in a till or locked office, lest we overlook burglary, ram raids and shop hold-ups. It means better security for your company in another way as well, financial fraud is something it seems is becoming more and more prevalent in the media, having only a limited, trackable, online channel of finance, money flowing in and out via spreadsheets apps and databases, means doing your taxes and being audited has never been simpler and hence possibly, never cheaper.  The advent of the cryptocurrency is the constant enigma of the modern finance market, is it taking off or is it fading into faddy obsolescence? either way it is interesting to consider as a medium. Effectively acting like universal mediator currency to transfer funds from one person to another without any need for bank transfers, government interventions or conversion. It seems the goal of these currencies is to create a safe haven outside of the current fiscal system where monetary checks and balances are kept track of and their validity checked entirely by computer systems, essentially removing human error and greed from the financial oversight of the world, but not from its creation or the ownership of this oversight, it costs a lot to ‘use’ bitcoin in real terms so lots of people are making money being essentially bitcoin brokers even if they can’t influence the way the currency is traded, making it a true double edged sword in terms of value to society.

 

Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and roses, as mentioned there are those who don’t think moving wholly to a cash-free community is a great move, and they do have their reasons. The main reason, rather ironically, revolves around security as well. Holding all of one’s wealth in a virtual space is very good at stopping you being mugged or pickpocketed on the street, but humanity is nothing if not innovative, so what happens when you get digitally mugged? The general rise in tech and computing savvy individuals as the years roll on also means an increase in the ability of people to devise methods of extracting information and therefore, money via electronic means. With every iteration of banking software, ATM, online banking, wallet apps, those wishing to steal are repelled briefly before producing new work arounds and so the cycle goes. As is the case for most lines of questioning about cash-free the real problem is not that cash holdings are diminishing but more that having electronic means without any form of paper based back-up system exposes even multi-billion pound industries to the possibility of just having to cease any form of trading if say; a information leeching trojan horse or worm is released upon them, a server buckles under the load, or god forbid a prolonged power-cut fries some systems. The only other real objection towards the increase of electronic transactions is again rather disturbingly based on human nature. Study has revealed that giving people easy access to financing digitally can have a strong correlation with consumer debt. The ability to go into a store and buy something without having to see a cashier or even type in a pin number means the line between when people spend and how they view each transaction has become skewed. With less deterrent surrounding purchasing and a much easier customer journey comes the fact people don’t keep a true idea of their financial situation as well as they may like. And what happens when you suddenly find you have run out of money that month? You can probably go on the banks website or app and apply for another credit card or loan, easily accessible with background checks done, sometimes, in well under an hour. Consequently, some correlation has been observed between the rise of low cash society and debts compared to household incomes, a scary thought.

 

Whatever your view point on the future of cash, I’m sure we can all agree it has an interesting and uncertain time ahead. Maybe in another 12 years we will actually have all gone the way of the Swedes and the children born of 2031 will have no real concept of a wad of notes, a couch full of change or ‘making it rain’!

 

Power of the Influencer

In 1990’s hundreds if not thousands, true statistic unknown, of women walked into their hairdressers and asked for ‘a Rachel’. 2019 not 1995 it would likely have been a trending hashtag within, and for, a day. Sufficed to say at the pinnacle of friends fever the most popular hairstyle in the land was Jennifer Aniston’s famous barnet. It can be seen as one of the biggest early viral phenomena, long before the widespread uptake of the internet and without a gif in sight. It also is one of the earliest and biggest displays of celebrity shadowing, the subtle art of copying things someone famous does, other great examples being things such as the way princesses dress or which boots footballers wear. While poor Jennifer was an innocent tend-setter these latter two are more blatant advertisements. Frequently famous women will be supplied with their dresses for free by aspirational or in many cases established designers under the proviso they are credited when they are inevitably asked ‘who are you wearing?’. Football as a sport is a highly charged hotbed of sponsorship and advertised activity their shoes are no different, often big money footballers will associate with only one brand of sportswear, with it becoming their uniform on most visible occasions, in return for a lot of fiscal advantage of course. So, endorsement has been around about as long as the very concept of celebrity, what does that mean in 2019? It means the same thing it has always done … but more!

The rise of internet has effectively meant almost anyone, with the will and wits to match, though some only need the lack of wit to be entertaining, can become a ‘pseudo-celebrity’. I put pseudo-celebrity in inverted comas there because the amount of reach most of these people have is likely to even out strip the amount of people someone would meet in their lifetime a mere century ago, the concept of celebrity has moved on a lot even in the last 30 years. In this era then how is celebrity endorsement handled, simply put in the same way it always has been, lots of celebrities are offered the chance to advertise big expensive things with recompense for tv adverts, magazine shoots and being a ‘brand ambassador’ in their everyday lives, more on this later. The interest comes with these pseudo-celebs and their role. Now they may ‘only’ have an audience of a few tens of thousands, maybe even a few hundred thousand, fans however, generally they come at a much lower cost than those people tens of millions have heard of. Hence the role of Influencer is born.

In simple terms an influencer is anyone who has an online presence that a company may consider to hold sway over an interesting demographic or audience and hence could be a useful way of marketing. The key notes to understand about the practice of Influencer marketing are these, it is not a fool proof method of engaging anyone and the laws governing it are not as concise or clear as those around celebrity endorsement, just because its true for Messi doesn’t make it clean for your Influencer.

 

Some of the most notorious influencer channels, in fact almost all influencer channels are centred around social media. The biggest channels are currently Instagram and YouTube by quite a large margin, though this shouldn’t be expected to continue forever, maybe as little as 7 years ago it’s likely Facebook would be running a much closer race and numbers of YouTube users has diminished recently, dropping in line with the rise of streaming services like Twitch. What do these influencers do? Essentially influencers are generally allowed a lot more freedom over their product endorsements than old-school celebrities. Often influencers have their own ways of using their social media channels and its frequently shown that using an influencer to market should be fit seamlessly into their normal schedule. The modern world of online celebrity, though it may not seem it is a hotbed of routine and order, no red-carpet appearances or press conferences but the pressure of constant and regimented content creation is a lot more work than wearing particular clothes to your day job.

 

So, what makes for a good Influencer marketing campaign. Let’s take a look at a few of the pros and cons of using an Influencer to market your product or increase brand awareness.

 

Why not go straight to the big one, costs. As previously mentioned, when comparing the relative cost of celebrity endorsement and influencer marketing its very easy to focus on the fact influencers are generally much cheaper and less demanding. It shouldn’t be neglected that most of those over 25 were born to an existence where the internet did not dominate all things and almost all influencers parents likely held ‘normal’ jobs. They weren’t sent to stage schools or born to aristocracy many of them are very happy to be making money in some way other than serving drinks, fixing pipes or answering phones all day and as such have a greater appreciation for financial recompense. On the other side of the argument is the looming reality that in 2019 hiring an influencer is not the inexpensive task it was in 2015 or earlier, more companies are jumping onboard and with demand comes a rise in prices. Alongside this general rise it should be considered that the costs associated with an influencer marketing plan can outstrip those of classic periodic advertising campaigns as it is often effectively hiring an employee, maybe only for a month, but that is a continuous month of oversight and pay rather than a discreet cost of a stable message as an advert.

Second let’s consider the idea of popularity. The nature of influencer marketing trades its usefulness in essence on popularity. This is of course true of celebrity in a general sense, however, influencers, being for the most part regular people means they are under a more continuous scrutiny than most celebrities. Their every post and mention are scrutinised by their (and other peoples!) followers in essence as soon as it is put into the online environment. This can be both a blessing and a curse. It creates instantaneous fervour, the influencer you are employing for peanuts just had a post on the front-page of this week’s hottest platform, they grew their audience 3-fold within 2 days while promoting your product! Or maybe your influencer just had a genius insight about why we call them chicken breasts … and a mob of feminist vegans shut their twitter feed down with bilious comments within a few hours, it cuts both ways. Often, it’s best to back the favourite horse, the safe bet, maybe it won’t make you a millionaire in one race but it’s better to win a tenner consistently than fall at the first fence.

Finally, it’s worth considering the value of specificity. Many times, the most vaunted aspect of a celebrity endorsement is the fact people want to follow a trend their celebrity is involved with, a subconscious yearning to be part of the culture. However, this may not be the biggest benefit to the business. The biggest benefit is likely that this form of advertising has for a long time been the most specific form of targeting outside of posters in your own shop window. Celebrities of all shapes and sizes are actively sought out by the potential marketee just by the celeb going about their lives making movies or playing sports, zero effort on the part of an agency with a target audience almost wanting to see the advert, it’s the dream! Applying this to the Influence, they make their own content, effectively marketing themselves and their audience is an already made target market susceptible to the opinions of the advertiser and hence more likely to buy or remember the brand. Of course, this does throw up its own problems. For a truly great marketing campaign the audience needs to be accurately profiled to make sure they are the right fit for the product as well as to make sure they’re real! What with the power of this sort of marketing there now exists a lot of companies available to create false audiences for social media users. On top of this in recent months there has been a rise in and subsequent crack down on Influencers marketing potentially harmful substances and practices to children, something becoming an increasing problem with the easy availability of Influencers to an unfiltered public.

 

Sufficed to say influencer marketing is only set to grow in 2019 with over 60% of marketers questioned in a recent survey suggesting they will be spending more on this strategy during the year. As with celebrity associations and traditional advertising strategy Influencer marketing needs to be treated with a certain amount of reverence. Just as there has been a tonal shift in most other forms of advertising the facts being uncovered in this forms infancy suggest the things that work best are open and unambiguous endorsements coupled with proven usage. So going forward influencing or marketing make sure you’re honest and clear however you get it done and you can’t go wrong.

How apprentices can be good for business

A quick little prologue to today’s entry. It’s often hard to create truly personal content in this sort of corporate context, especially given that we try and make so much of the articles that fill the bloggo-sphere straight lace, unopinionated and informative. But, who said we can’t try and use a mix of both. Consequently today we are going to discuss the efficacy and advantages of using apprentices in your company, with particular reference related to our company and the staff who work here, Seelocal.

First it’s probably best to discuss the origins of Seelocal. It was created as sister company to 8-digital, a channel marketing company started in 2008 by two well-travelled and experienced entrepreneurs. As 8-digital grew and took on more customers with more varied needs there arose the need to employ more members of staff. Consequently, the partners bought two new members into their small cadre, those two were Laura and Alex (names have not been changed, let’s just hope they don’t mind). Being very much of the world and brought up to respect hard-work, and with an understanding of the opportunities they had been afforded, the partners had hired Laura and Alex as apprentices. Alex was a commercial whizz with great business acumen and a good head for marketing theory, while Laura was an eager brand creator and designer with a creative flair. To help cope with the increased demand and new services they got asked for the partners decided to split the business keeping 8-digital as a B2B channel marketing enterprise and creating Seelocal to deal with online marketing for small to medium businesses, uniquely, in their own localities. Having excelled and flourished during the time they spent as apprentices the partners felt Laura and Alex were the natural fit to take on the challenges of building this business from the ground up, made them into partners in the new business, and they didn’t disappoint. Several years on Seelocal has become a local advertiser with an ever-increasing influence and several big names on its books! Sufficed to say this experience has informed the policy of Seelocal from its very earliest incarnation. Now in its third year as an innovator and marketing expert the company goes from strength to strength, but pays homage to its humble origins by employing a bevvy of dedicated and go-getting apprentices.

One of those apprentices, though too humble to consider themselves go-getting, is at this very moment writing this blog. So, if you’re after unbiased reporting maybe best to stop there! If, however, you’d like to hear more about the possible benefits of hiring an apprentice for your business, lets continue.

Currently apprenticeships in the UK are undergoing something of a renaissance. Having been popular for many hundreds of years in manual industries, in more recent times the reduction of primary and secondary industry in favour of tertiary and quaternary meant the number of apprentices took a steep dip. However, in the late 2000’s, especially when university applications far outstripped places even after the huge increase in tuition fees, apprenticeships were flouted by the government as a viable alternative for the youth to further education. Given more structure, more funding and governmental support they soon began to become a mainstay of the employment industry. Without being heavily supported and subsidised by the government their growth would likely have been much less prolific. The way this works is while an apprentice is in place the business pays them as it would a normal employee. They do, contrary to some people’s belief, still have full employment rights and in most cases enjoy the usual holiday and healthcare benefits of their peers, however they are exempted from the usual minimum wage rules and held to a significantly lower level. Coupled with this apprenticeship programmes involve out of work training in theory and practical skills associated with an academic institute. The main bulk of governmental subsidy comes in here, they will, for the vast majority of young apprentices pay all their education for them and the business. The fiscal side of things can be boiled down to, ‘the business will receive a young inexperienced but willing, and with a good ability to learn, employee. They will give on the job training for somewhere between 1 and 3 years, paying them likely half or less the wages of a regular employee to hopefully, by years end, be able to perform all the tasks anyone else might’ the cost is usually one day or less a week out of work training. So far so good? There really is nothing else to say, no big catch, if you have an able and obliging person who wants to learn your trade but has no experience and you’re willing to take them on at a reduced rate of pay while they learn to be an effective member of your team you should definitely consider the possibility of taking them to a college or recruitment company to see if they will take them on as an apprentice.

Many employers will still see apprentices as 16-year-old children with no desire to work or learn that still cost you a lot of money. The reality is decidedly different. With the growth of the apprenticeship market and support for apprentices by learning institutions never having been higher, there is a decided move towards these roles becoming the way people who really want a skilled but non academically driven career follow. You have to remember, todays 18-year olds, who would have been going to university in 2008/9, are a decade later contemplating apprenticeship as a possibly more profitable course of action, both in terms of financial stability and future prospects. While apprentice numbers have grown significantly in the construction and manufacturing industries where the true heart of the modern wave of roles lies are in the finance and tech sectors. Almost any vocation can have an associated apprenticeship programme, with almost purely beneficial information being passed on both in work and outside, a clean un-cluttered style of education. As for the argument of naivety or inexperienced juvenile applicants; I sit here, a 30 year old apprentice doing something I never really believed I ever could, surrounded by several other apprentices from 17-25 and completely unable to dissect their considerable abilities, after their 9 months of training, from the people who have been in the industry decades, they having trained them of course. The take away, the advertising industry, like so many others doesn’t require 7 years at medical school or 1000 hrs flying a plane as an entry point. It requires hard work, dedication and desire. That is rarely more present in a 40-year industry veteran than a complete novice. If you’ve got the time, patience and a bit of money you really can create the next generation of marketers in your companies’ image. A point proven by 2 young, enterprising marketing apprentices, and the company they built with a view to being the best online local advertiser around. They really are the living proof it works.

Audio Advertising : Future Sound or Past Hearing.

There is an inherent mistrust of the advertising industry over some less than scrupulous tactics and methods employed by a handful of advertisers down the years. It’s fairly clear people don’t feel they can trust anyone who is trying to sell them something, if they are aware of it. Unfortunately, adverts, though by no means the only, are by their very nature the most ostentatious of these methods. When you consider people bemoaning adverts what is it that springs to mind? Maybe its parents complaining about unsuitable adverts on Saturday morning tv, it could be people on your commute groaning about how their periodical is now more ad than news, or possibly muttering in the cinema about the fact the popcorns almost gone but the film has yet to start. In my (a relatively ‘young’ British observer’s) experience the one media with advertising that is infrequently maligned for it, is the audio industries. In recent times, audio advertising has been given something of a boost via the introduction of new forms of auditory output both physical and digital. The creation of music streaming services, a massive growth in the podcast market and a digitally enhanced resurgence in radio listeners have all made their own contributions.

It’s often stated that the sense most linked to memory and therefore best able to create emotional attachment is smell. Frequently cited is the ability to remember long gone events from one’s childhood via a familiar smell. If this is true, perhaps we can suggest sound to be the strong second place. I’m certain we have all created an emotional connection with some audio, be it a piece of music, certain radio stations, or even the voice of certain celebrities, be they in the sphere of audio-media or another. This creates an ideal opportunity for marketers to use the desire for these connections to introduce their product to listeners in a manner they find hard to distinguish as even having been subjected to far easier than a pictorial advert in a written work or video ad midway through a gripping sports contest even.

The blog aims to look at the latest trends in audio advertising across three major fronts: radio, streaming and podcasts and vocal assistants

Radio

In the earlier part of this millennium there were a lot of people who believed they would be witness to the quick and unceremonious killing of the radio stars by not only video but more importantly by the ability to have video when and wherever we liked via the internet and digitisation. Perhaps this was naivety on the part of those people, or maybe it just has yet to pass but the first truly global media broadcast system is if anything in the midst of a resurgence in popularity. It may have been the overlooking of the quiet progress of the audio industries, often lost in the wake of visual systems, but the radio boom shows no signs of slowing growing as it has in the UK, though also elsewhere, by an eyewatering £170mil in revenue in the last few years from its admirable 2016 high of £526mil.

In reference to the earlier discussion about the amount of people moaning about audio adverts it also does to discuss the safety of radio adverts. Given the current culture surrounding fake news, social media spats and general media distrust it stands to reason that the radio, oldest, de facto wisest and most deeply legislated of all the available mediums is trusted far and above any other. This does extend even beyond the mainstays of the BBC channels to the new wave of commercial stations. Over the past decade several high-profile presenting teams and back room staff from the publicly funded organisation have made the move to privately owned enterprises with great success a sure sign, were there any doubt, that the market exists.

The creation of this competition in the market as it does with most any such conflict leads to innovation. This includes associations with new forms of digital media, of course they use social media to great effect, both on and off air but are also coming more to enter the world of podcasts both as a form of highlighted catch-up service, should they not have one, and also as extra branded content cheaper and easier to produce than regular programming.

While radio has not been considered a usual go to for advertising in recent times, its continuing growth is hard to overlook. Given its, let’s not over egg the pudding here, super-liminal way to affect people’s thoughts the power of voice and song is not something to be taken lightly.

Streaming and Podcasts

One thing is certain in the world of new media, broadcast television is no longer king. The amount of people taking up streaming services such as Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium, Netflix, Spotify or even using television catch up services has grown exponentially over the past several years and far outstrips those using paid television services on a regular basis.

Currently Spotify boasts nearly 217 million concurrent users, Around 100 million of these pay for the privilege of an ad free membership. The others get given a couple of ads every 30 minutes of listening time as well as on app start-up. Most other audio streaming services like SoundCloud and Google Play Music have followed suit, creating financial models based around receiving advertising in varying quantity for a certain fee.

Many of these companies most notably due to its vast reach Spotify determine user data, their age, gender and listening habits, its usability on mobile devices producing even more in-depth audience analysis such as listening locations and social media usage. Combine this with information readily available based around their financial information and the picture of each member is quite a rounded one. This all means as opposed to less interactive forms of audio like radio, advertisers are able to target extremely effectively, making use of analytical and reporting tools to determine the efficacy of their message.

Podcasts are booming in the UK, with around 6 million adults listening to at least one a week. The volume of weekly listeners has grown dramatically in the last five years – from 3.2m in 2013 to the current over 6 million. Of that number 76% said that they have followed up on an ad or sponsored message from the show, very promising engagement figures. Almost all podcast listeners tune into radio too. Radio and TV broadcasters are embracing the medium featuring regularly in the iTunes podcast chart. TV broadcasters are increasingly interested in podcasts as a source of material for TV shows, or as an extension of established series

Research carried out by Ofcom shows that UK listeners access podcasts from the BBC, YouTube and iTunes. Other sources included online and streaming services such as Spotify, Google and news sites. These continue to invest in podcast firms to help diversify their audio offerings, a plan expected to take Spotify’s paid subscribers past 100 million in the near future.

Effectiveness of advertising in this medium must not be understated. The increase of uptake of podcasts is across all age and social ranges, but the fastest growth is among young adults, 15-24 years old, well-educated and with higher earnings. This target demographic can often be one of the toughest to crack for advertisers but frequently the most highly prized, being as they are, possibly lifelong liquid consumers. The biggest advantage of the systems in place for podcast advertising is the low chance of listeners being distracted by activities as they tune in. While this may be a detriment, the savviest listeners more readily identifying marketing tactics, it does allow, brand messages conveyed over the medium to be far more likely to be absorbed by the audience.

Vocal Assistants

Very much the newbie of the group in terms of time on the market vocal assistants, have had an unprecedented speed of up-take. Vocal tech is developing rapidly, understandable given that the more interaction with the customer base effectively gives rise to new innovation in recognition and move towards true artificial intelligence. Amazon has said that 100 million Alexa driven devices have been sold since their introduction to the market in November 2014. Even more importantly Apple has said the use of Siri on over half a billion devices, having been shipped with the application in well over 1 billion iPhone handsets since its adoption in late 2011.

Experts speculate that within the coming year, voice searches could make up around 50% of all searches, the figure is hotly debated but most agree that around 55% of teenagers and 44% of adults use some voice search feature on a daily basis.

Obviously this is a huge potential market for advertisers to exploit, luckily for the most part it takes little to adapt marketing strategy to be usable in this new environment. While google, amazon and the other big tech giants are doing most of the work creating the ability for the software to ‘read’ and listen marketers only need to come to consensus (hasn’t happened on most things yet!) as to how people will search vocally. For a long time, search engine searches have not been driven so much by the searcher but more by conventions put in place by the engine’s creator or advertisers. If you want to search fast and efficiently for something cut down your request to its constituent parts, remove conjunctions, the questioning phrase and any surplus information and type the resultant jumble of words into your search engine. No one talks that way, so in future voice assistants will have to learn to not only search for the important parts of the request but also to remove extraneous elements that could be as simple as the word ‘in’ or as complicated as replacing localised slang terms.

It’s unlikely from the evidence above that audio advertising is something that can remain in the background of the marketing communities’ thoughts for the foreseeable future. Whatever form it takes the inherent trust and gravitas put upon, and provided by, the human voice is too important a tool to be consigned to the scrap-heap of advertising history. Best to stay abreast and keep your ears open for the coming of the audio revolution.

Visual Searches: A Lens on Pinterest’s Interests

In the digital world one activity tends to rule over any other, at least as a starting point. Long gone are the days of finding the address of a new page from a friend in the know or just guessing the obvious, today search is king. Naturally in a world where almost everyone is carrying a camera it makes perfect sense to migrate your searches from the world of a few well-chosen words to that of a single picture … I hear they are worth quite a few words anyway! Visual search uses images be they photos, screen captures or digitised impressions as the basis for an online search either via direct comparison or detection and dissemination.

This has some great practical implications, don’t know what something is? Take a picture of it and search for its name online. Got someone in police custody who won’t tell you their name? get that mugshot online and find their Facebook page. Trying to sell something and want as much advertising reach as possible? … you get the idea.

Lots of big platforms have taken on the challenge of creating and curating their own visual search engines. Most notable being Google, Amazon and Bing, big hitters in the all-round and product search world. However, one of the visual searches gaining the most popularity, and in the news for its continuing enhancements of its visual search, is the online memo-board Pinterest.

The most modern visual search technology uses AI to understand the content and context of its input images and returns a list of not only related results but results with some synergy to the original. This has a veritable raft of uses in eCommerce, especially for interior design and fashion retailers. Visual search allows the seller to suggest items related by style, theme or even material to the shoppers search giving them a broader power to influence sales across ranges rather than just on a specific line.

Pinterest has gone through several iterations of visual search tools beginning in 2017 with Lens, fairly swiftly followed by the introduction of Shop the Look. This became an automated service capable of recommending beyond the initial purchasers findings, for the first time removing human input from the process of buying associated items on Pinterest. Soon after, personalised results for Lens Your Look arrived automatically creating lists of items that matched your style.

In June Pinterest released news about the new form of its visual search engine. Complete the Look, a new search tool created specifically for the Home Decor and Fashion categories, makes style recommendations for multiple items in a photo; clothing and accessories or paints and soft furnishings. It’s recommendations consider the full suite of surrounding objects and details in a photo such as; season and weather, subjects body and measurements, simple aesthetic elements like colour and cut, and even images locations relative to available light.

Unfortunately computer models for fashion design and suitability can be very subjective, in the end it’s the person who wears the clothes or decorates the room who knows what style they like best and its impossible to negotiate the entire spectrum of taste but early usage and testing by Pinterest has apparently been very promising, and more accurate with its recommendations than previous versions.

Pinterest’s tools compete with the likes of Google Assistant’s Lens, which can identify certain objects, translate and detect text, find similarly styled clothes and much more. Earlier, Amazon introduced StyleSnap for ideas based on user submitted pictures from social media, camera shots or even online magazine articles.

As you can imagine this sort of unbroken ground has sparked quite a lot of interest in the marketing sphere. Below you can find some important information about the efficacy of Pinterest and its advertising: There are over 600 million visual searches on Pinterest every month. Pinterest are on course to make over $1 billion in ad revenue per annum by 2020. Brands can target 5,000+ categories via visual search advertising on Pinterest. Pictorial Pinterest Ads have around an 8.5% conversion rate; 21% of Pinterest users use text searching less when they can instead use visual search.

Pinterest so far hasn’t shared when Complete the Look searches will be made available for normal Pinterest devotees but I’m sure we all agree, looking at the figures, it’s an amazing step that could have some interesting ramifications in the world of digital advertising should it become a more mainstream process.

Sources:

Business Insider

Heap Analytics

eMarketer

Pinterest

Medium

What is Local Awareness Score?

One of the most common problems you’re likely to face before you begin a marketing campaign is deciding exactly what your campaign is going to ‘be’. Sometimes its hard enough deciding what it is your business does never mind how you want to present that to your target audience. Over the epochs marketing strategy hasn’t just evolved, it’s grown, almost exponentially since the advent of the technology age. Given that now you have so many options as to what the goal of your campaign should be; are you convincing people to have more contact with you? trying to find people interested in an offer you’re promoting? only attempting to increase your sales periodically or produce recurrent user spending? should you be promoting your business as matter of principal whatever you do? A lot of those questions can be a yes for just one campaign, and for another, none of them may be relevant. So how do you know what the aim of your campaign should be?

Developed, designed and extensively tested by the team at Seelocal, Local Awareness Score, LAS, is a proprietary algorithm to help determine and eventually enhance regional awareness of your business. LAS allows our marketing specialists to assess and explain the best form for your advertising campaign to take. It means the performance of all SeeLocal campaigns are to the exacting standard we have become exemplified by. More than that, it means all our customer’s budgets are employed in a way that will deliver great results.

So, how does it work? Well, we take quantifiable key performance indicators, from web data and previous campaigns, including but not limited to: previous campaign click-through rates; target location domain authority; overall site visits; and target audience interaction frequency rates. The LAS is calculated using our unique formula which will create a score between 1 and 100, this we can then use to decide the best course of action for your companies needs. The score produced by the algorithm will show your online visibility in your target location and based on this our campaign managers will recommend the type of campaign you should run to give you the best ROI. Scores under 50 would likely mean we suggest you run a brand awareness campaign to help develop a closer relationship and a greater number of contacts related to your brand in your target market, meaning your next campaign should have a much greater uptake and engagement. Scoring over 50 means it’s likely time to start lead generation campaigns. Your brand is well established in the local area and now is the time to pursue potential customers using offers and incentives to generate relevant conversions.

For most customers all we need is access to your Google Analytics records, we can take it from there. The best bit? With every Seelocal campaign you run your LAS updates monthly giving you a real-time impression of how your business is becoming more recognised in your target market. Meaning every campaign you run will increase your LAS, effectively, directly increasing your ability to engage with your target audience.

You’ll be able to access your LAS as well as all your collated data on the Seelocal Platform, wherever and whenever you like. It will allow you to see how your campaign outcomes affect your LAS and just how well your project is progressing. With a Local Awareness Score aiding your campaigns you know you’ll be reaching the right people, in the right way, to get the results you need.

The Benefits of Personalisation: Lets Get Personal

The business of targeting in advertising, as I’m sure many reading this realise, is an ever evolving and complex concept. How can we determine that the marketing we create is going to most efficiently reach those most likely to be susceptible to it? In the past, I’m afraid to say this was both more simple and much harder than the present, 100 years ago you marketed directly and physically where you thought people would acknowledge it and having such a physical presence it either worked or it didn’t, continuous investment was just paying the printer again if you didn’t get the response you wanted last time. In 2019, with everyone in the developed world, and most in the developing, having some sort of digital footprint, the complexities of marketing correctly have grown hyper-exponentially and if you want to get the most bang for your buck you need to personalise all of your marketing from blog content, products, emails, ads and much more.

The advent of a vast network of growing data spanning the world has meant the reserves of relevant information to marketers has greatly increased. Touch points such as consumer behaviours, purchase histories, review submissions and retail links clicked, mean content, fully personalised to even specific individuals, never mind demographics and groups, has never been easier to conceive and create.

A study conducted by One Spot, (2017) questioned 350 marketing execs, found that around 65% of those using email marketing as a primary tool in their campaigns thought dynamic personalised content was the most effective tactic in they could employ. Around 60% of marketers said real-time data in emails such as: context sensitive signals like the recipient’s location or relevancy to known purchasing habits, was deemed effective/highly effective in their experience. Furthermore engagement rates for those who incorporated personalised content in their email campaigns is shown to be higher than those who refrained. In the studies’ analysis, average order value was found to increase by 5%, and conversion rates by 6% in those with personalised programs. Far more significant, at least to the CFO’s eyes, companies using personally targeted emails had an income of around 17% more through their campaigns than a non-personalising marketer.

It doesn’t have to be necessarily related to direct contact in one form or another between business person and client either. With the growth of intelligent computing systems more and more businesses are creating bespoke automated ways to interact with those they service. Businesses like Netflix, a whole handful of social media platforms and Amazon are already using automated processes and the power of personalisation to get ahead in their fields. Logging on to your account, at almost any media service or social media website, instantly renders a page full of the banners, carousels, advertising posts, design combinations and more that can all, with minimal or no human input (besides all the information you have plugged into the account and others!) over the years are all personalised for you.

Undoubtedly personalisation of your marketing can have a large impact on how effective your campaigns can be. So next time you template an emailer, put the finishing touch on that html ad, or even create some informative blog content remember: Relevancy begets Relatability begets Revenue.

Meet our Partners: 8-digital

Last week we told you all the great ways that you can benefit from our partner programme, whether you are a customer looking for an easy way to achieve all your marketing goals, or a business wanting to offer additional services to your customers. It’s a win-win for everyone involved

Well, this week, we’re going to start introducing the wonderful partners that we’ve already begun working with, so i’m excited to introduce 8-digital – one of our first partners!

Who are 8-digital?

8-digital was founded in 2008 and has evolved significantly during the past 11 years. This year they were acquired by Gorilla, one of the leading channel marketing companies and became the EMEA arm of the corporation.

8-digital specialise in helping vendors measure, grow, enable, and manage their partners, delivering, performance driven, channel marketing solutions at scale. One part of their offering is full service digital marketing including pay per click, display advertising and retargeting campaigns.

How does being a SeeLocal partner help 8-digital?

8-digital run a large scale operation with clients all over the globe so they never have a quiet day. Here are the main benefits that 8-digital utilise by being a SeeLocal partner:

1. Exclusive ad inventory

SeeLocal has access to 94% of all online audiences, including exclusive local ad networks that are unavailable anywhere else. This allows 8-digital to offer their customer’s access to publishers that their competitors can’t!

2. CampaignGuardTM AI technology  

By utilising SeeLocal’s unique technology, 8-digital’s account managers are able to easily maximise their client’s campaign performance and ensure budget isn’t being wasted.

3. Easy campaign management

The SeeLocal platform makes it quick and easy to manage, edit and check results for hundreds of accounts, across multiple networks at once – saving 8-digital’s account managers time and frustration!

4. Advanced reporting dashboards

The SeeLocal platform offers advanced reporting dashboard with real-time results and 8-digital’s account managers can schedule automatic reports to send to their client’s, or generate custom reports at any time.

“Not only does SeeLocal help us to manage our staff resources more efficiently, it has also helped us to grow our client base through customer referrals that are looking for a full-service digital solution.”

Mev Dzihic, Managing Director of 8-digital

If you’d like to find out more about working with one of our partners, or becoming one, please get in touch today.

How can you benefit from the SeeLocal Partner programme?

Collaboration has changed our world. When two (or more) great forces come together, it’s no wonder that something great is born – take Larry Page & Sergey Brin for example; when the duo teamed up to experiment with search algorithms, they founded the company that we all know today as Google. Another great collaboration of the same historical influence – Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, responsible for making the world a better place with their delicious ice creams.

With this in mind, we thought – you know what? How about we collaborate with companies offering complimentary services that our customers need, to offer them everything they want in one, nice, easy package. And with that, our partner programme was born.

That sounds great, but what exactly is the partner programme?
The SeeLocal partner programme enables us to work with digital marketing agencies, videographers, radio stations, local newspapers, online community publishers and other companies that offer services help our customers achieve their local marketing goals.

Not only is this hugely beneficial to our customers but it’s a great way for businesses that qualify as partner’s to expand their customer base and offer their clients additional services.

Okay, what are the benefits?
So glad you asked! There’s tonnes of benefits for everyone involved but to make it simple, we’ll break it out:

For our customers – SeeLocal campaigns are awesome, obviously, but we know that 360 degree marketing makes any form of advertising campaign even more successful. By partnering with businesses that offer services that support SeeLocal campaigns, our customers can access everything they need to achieve their marketing goals in one place, without having to reach out to multiple agencies. And because we only partner with businesses that we trust, you can be rest-assured that you’re not working with any cowboys.

For our partners – SeeLocal gives our partners the opportunity to host a market leading self-serve ad platform on their website, with the ability to white-label. Not only can our partners add value to their business by offering their customers additional services without any hassle, SeeLocal also helps to generate extra business by lead referrals and up-sell recommendations. Win win!

Sounds great! How does it work?
The SeeLocal partner programme is designed to benefit our customers, our partners and us! We often find that customers approach us with local marketing needs that require additional services such as needing a website or video content created. Whilst we offer ad design and landing page creation, we’d rather recommend our customers work with a trusted partner for their other needs. This way, we can focus on what we’re experts at, our customers can get everything they need easily and we’ll help out our partners by referring leads!

Our partners will have access to host the SeeLocal platform on their own website and to help explain the partnership and all the benefits to their customers, we’ll also run email and display advertising campaigns for each partner and provide them with digital brochures.

For our partners that want to keep things under-wraps (don’t worry, we won’t be offended), we offer a white-label solution that includes all of the benefits of being a SeeLocal partner but is completely branded to them.

We’re already collaborating with some great companies, which you can check out here and we can’t wait to partner with more! If you’d like to find out more about working with one of our partners, or becoming one, please get in touch today.

 

 

Facebook adds a click to WhatsApp tool, could this affect your marketing strategy?

Facebook is changing the world of digital marketing and has bought out a tool that allows advertisers to use ads that users can now click on to open a chat on WhatsApp. This tool will help advertisers to expand targeting and therefore increase the chances of people sending a message.

So how does it work…?

With this update advertisers can create news feed ads with a call-to-action button that users can select to open a WhatsApp chat with the business. This call-to-action button appears at the bottom right of the ad. To be able to use this function advertisers must have both a WhatsApp business account which must also be connected to Facebook ads manager.

The benefits…

The benefits of this click to WhatsApp tool makes it easier for users to communicate with businesses in a more personal manner without the hassle of a phone call. Companies with WhatsApp business have access to multimedia messaging including, free calls, free international messaging, and group chats. It also offers customisation and quick replies to the customer. This new tool benefits the business by making them more discover-able and accessible to their audience.

Whats in it for marketers…

With Facebook’s click to WhatsApp ads, marketers can initiate conversations with potential consumers through an encrypted platform. In addition to being able to message consumers, this new ad campaign will also show traffic, conversions and post engagement.
Facebook have also announced that they have plans to roll out WhatsApp ads in the app’s status feature this year, however they have not yet announced a specific time frame for when this might come into action.

Why Customer Retention Marketing Is Important For Small Businesses

Customer retention is the process of engaging existing customers to continue to buy products or a service from your business. Better customer retention means longer lasting relationships. Below we have stated why customer retention should be important to you?

1. Drives referrals

Customer retention helps to build up loyalty with your customers so that they are likely to refer you to their friends in the future. Word of mouth advertising is one of the most effective means of advertising that you can use, however it is something that only comes from loyal happy customers. Customers are usually happy to tell people about your business if they have received excellent.

2. Retained customers will provide valuable feedback.

Receiving feedback from your customers is very important. Statistics show that customers are more likely to become loyal to a company if they are a company that implements the feedback that they receive. Customers who make frequent purchases from your business are more likely to know the areas of your business that needs improvement and how you could make service for them better, which in turn creates a better services for new customers and therefore lead to increased retention rates and sales for you.

3. Repeat purchases from repeat customers equals repeat profit.

Statistics have shown that existing customers are more likely to spend more money with you than new customers, this is because they value and trust your business and believe that you offer a superior service compared to your competitors. In addition, your long-term customers are far less price-conscious than new customers this is mainly due to the fact that they are loyal to your brand so willing to pay the price for your service.

Businesses are constantly under pressure to meet customer expectations while providing exceptional customer experience. If you need help with customer retention then fear no more, SeeLocal is the perfect solution. We can help drive additional revenue to your business to help you reach out to new and existing customers through targeted audience technology and help drive business qualified leads. SeeLocal is a local online marketing platform that has access to all available online networks from one place, allowing businesses to easily run campaigns across multiple platforms.

Advertising for Black Friday

Black Friday, traditionally is the busiest retail time of the year for American business marking the beginning of their holiday season after thanksgiving This time of year is fast becoming a British phenomenon too, along with Cyber Monday that comes just a couple of days later.

Last year the British public spent a whopping £1.4bn with British retailers online only across the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Year on year the amount increases massively, so this year is set to be the biggest yet!

With this in mind, businesses who have not previously got involved, should really carefully consider it, as the opportunities it provides  In order to get the most out of the event, why not get started early and increase brand awareness in the run up to 23rd November.

With just a month to go,  increasing brand awareness ensures that when it comes to searching for the best deals, customers remember your brand over your competitors, so are more likely to recognise your brand when you have offers on, and might even organically search for you to see what deals you have to offer.

In order to achieve this awareness though, starting advertising campaigns in plenty of time is key. Highly targeted, online advertising campaigns are a great way of first, building brand awareness before the event, then increasing website traffic during black Friday weekend.

Every year we see companies beginning their black Friday marketing far too late, meaning they see little or no return on investment. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming more and more popular here in the UK- it’s time businesses understand and get involved by being prepared early.