Subtle Secrets of SEM Success

Having developed a local advertising platform, we like to think we know a thing or two about how to create a successful and engaging marketing strategy. Search engine marketing, as well as optimisation, play a key role in forging positive impressions for your local advertising campaigns and producing great ROI for your efforts. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin when you want to create truly successful PPC campaigns so here are just a few of the secrets we follow every time to make gauging and certifying success for your local advertising campaign.

Targets

It’s hard to accurately consider your campaign’s results without adequate benchmarks to put against your data. Determining your key performance indicators (KPIs) will allow you to effectively monitor and grade your performance, as well as give a basis for comparison when you make alterations. Defining what your KPIs are before the campaign starts also makes it easier to determine which areas are over or underperforming when results are not as expected, meaning changes to the systems involved will have a higher efficiency.

KPIs should ideally be clear concise and realistic. In local advertising campaigns, normal KPIs are measured in possible interactions with the audience such as; the click-through-rate, or keyword performance; and possibly the cost verses lead generator; such as cost per click, or cost per conversion. Rating these against known factors can mean creating an overall picture of the local advertising environment, when people convert best, what it costs to generate a lead or even what avenues work best to generate engagement in your content.

Keywords

Here’s the kicker of all PPC, there is no quick route to achieving great results, and a lot like SEO there is always someone waiting in the wings to take your spot. The biggest ideologies in local advertising campaign management is repetition and implementation. Even if analytics are showing great things there should always be a good amount of time spent on considering how to refresh, retry and hone keywords on each advertising platform independently. Even well managed campaigns require constant consideration and refinement if nothing else to stay ahead of the competition.

Remember great ad copy and the most accurate keywords drive real high-quality leads. Keywords themselves are the means for delivering your ads to the best customers at the most opportune moment, they, coupled with your bid, determine the frequency with which your ads will show. Ensuring keywords are creating the right kinds of traffic by reviewing a report of search terms as often as possible. They should be used to help determine what keywords could be used, removed or used as negatives to promote the right sort of traffic to your product. While some local advertising may rely on building a good click through rate, brand awareness for example, If you just base your keyword usage on clicks and don’t see the relevant conversions they are not really working to create good leads. It is especially important to consistently be updating keywords and content to reflect the current climate and status of the industry advertised. Peoples perceptions and the terminology used can change in the blink of an eye more so now than ever before, continuous assessment is the best way to develop meaningful and attractive searchable phrases.

Tracking

We spoke in the last part of the keywords about the problem of relevancy. Having something in place that creates traffic is great, however the traffic needs to consist of an audience that may convert and become leads. The best way to make sure you use the right terms to attract the correct people is by having a better understanding of their habits and ideals. The best way to generate these overviews of the ‘average customer’ is using tracking which allows more information procurement to help broaden knowledge of those who visit a page’s habits, where they go after and where they came from. Tracking not only helps capture the information of the people who convert but can be used in other ways to assess how people move around the web page and streamline the conversion process as a whole as well as provide insight as to what sites may be useful for use in display retargeting etc. Using all these techniques and applying what they teach to campaigns in the future, or implementing as soon as observed means solid, dependable leads that work for you as well as giving real ROI.

Chase

Arguably the most important part of any lead generation local advertising campaign is what comes after the campaign has done its work. Having leads is all well and good but they aren’t providing any ROI until they have been full converted into a paying customer. Chasing the leads up in the most effective way is key to a profitable campaign. There are many ways to do this, from retargeting to email campaigns and telemarketing, the best solution is always a combined strategy that gets the brand in front of the target with an eye-catching incentive to buy, always considering over saturation and spamming will immediately annihilate the lead. Campaign management platforms often have the ability to create effective remarketing solutions aimed at  multiple audiences allowing a good overview of all local advertising activities and providing support to convert leads into customers in a fast paced and competitive environment.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little round up of local advertising PPC strategy and look forward to more tips and tricks in the future. Don’t have the time to implement them yourself, let us do the work for you, contact us here.

The face of Social in 2020

Social media is evolving fast and more big changes are on the horizon for next year.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for and how it could impact your social media experience.

The end of likes

Well, not entirely, but the use of likes and emoji reactions are set to change in the future. With the powerhouse Facebook trialling removing counts from select Instagram profiles and soon on the flagship product itself.

They postulate this may help address the growing concerns over mental health and social media proliferation of negative self-image. It may also be a somewhat cynical move to enable the business minded gamification of likes at a later date. Whatever the reason the literal ‘faces of social media are sure to be changing tac in the next year.

Micro-communities

The users in the early internet era were highly engaged, butfor the most part separated into small communities of forum users. The rise of social platforms ended that, pushing everyone into multiple huge sets of online groups, which gave us better interactivity but far less identity.

As big platform politicking, unreliable algorithms, and the fear of fake news have grown, there has been a move back towards smaller, dedicated social networks where there is a feel of being more in control of the experience and personal data. Messaging apps and private areas within other platforms will continue to grow in popularity. With a continuing cycle of over-population followed by exodus to other platforms likely following in the coming years.

Alternate realities

Facebook has suggested for years that Virtual Reality was where it wanted the platform to move in future, which lead to its purchase of Oculus Rift in 2014. While that dream is still somewhat unrealised for the public, they have announced plans for Horizon, an envisioned huge user focused virtual world for multi-user interaction. Frequently referred to as the real-world equivalent to Ready Player One’s Oasis, it will likely be much more centred towards social interaction than a useable alternate reality. The beta test begins within 12 months.

Augmented Reality, already a mainstay of Instagram and Snapchat filters, looks likely to only grow in relevancy, though most notably we can expect more marketing application of AR in social advertising with utilities like Snapchat’s Geofilters being a great example.

 

AI social

Having maligned algorithms earlier this one could be surprising, but Artificial intelligence and machine learning are at a point where simple tasks can be performed pretty reliably. In 2020 bots and new forms of machine agents will become more widespread and visible in many of online communities.

They may well be used simply as help guides, finding information and people we may want to see, at its core, a hyper sophisticated ‘people you may know’. In the background programmes like these will keep evolving to moderate and analyse our interactions both for greater content awareness and eventual marketing efficiency.

The Fake News Cycle

The growth of technological masterpieces like mo-cap avatars, virtual influencers, deep fakes and politicised misinformation campaigns means what should and should not be in the media will be continuing to change in the next year.

We are yet to see a truly ground-breaking marketing manoeuvre using fake content as its corner stone, but you can guarantee anything that gains consumer engagement will soon be used for this purpose. Likewise, celebrities will start investing heavily in ways to both sell and protect their digital visage.

Social commerce

E-commerce, specifically the Facebook marketplace and apps like Shpock will grow ever more possible in our social arenas, moving past traditional digital shopping with their ability to monetise connectivity and sharing experiences.

A new Instagram storefront is likely to blossom exponentially taking its no nonsense rich image filled profiles and becoming a socio-digital sales portfolio of sorts. The afore-mentioned bots and personalisation algorithms will extrapolate the platforms’ user data and habits into more consistent and relevant ‘other people bought…’ etc. sections.

More legal scrutiny

The unfortunate backdrop to all of the above is the fact confidence in social media as a whole has been soundly tested of late. Privacy, digital surveillance, advertising data protection, abuses, failed unhealthy media mediation, and much more have all taken their toll.

The sad news is this is unlikely to be going away any time soon and even with government mandates and new in-house programmes in place to tackle issues, we can expect more regulatory moves and a glut of cases in the courts. The silver-lining? As more regulation happens, and social as a whole grows and spreads, businesses will take note and hire far more staff to control their online presence. A win if you’re looking to become a social media expert…

Geofencing and its role in marketing

Often some of the hardest businesses to make great digital marketing process work for are the ones that have geographical audience limitations. How can we effectively advertise for a hyperlocal business who only want their effective marketing reach to extend to the edge of their village? The usually accepted answer to this is persistent but subtle strategy to as much of the populous as possible, creating as many touch-points as possible with everyone. All well and good, but in reality, the efficacy of typical ad campaign likely won’t achieve desired results, that’s where geofencing comes into its own.

 

Geofencing as a concept is not necessarily a new concept. If you’ve ever been to a supermarket and noticed the trolley has magnetic wheels you’ve definitely been through a type of geofence. They can be best compared to – a virtual ‘movie laser grid’. In more detail geofencing is service by where an app or other software uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi or mobile data to activate an action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual location boundary.

 

While the majority of this blog will concern itself with geofencing’s application in the marketing industry it does have a lot of other uses within a vast range of businesses. They can be used to both interact with digital devices and monitor movement inside or between different fences. Some push messages and notifications to phones; others allow for the automation of business timekeeping; the checking in and out of company property; and some of the most common are used at logistics handling companies to track packages and provide real time data to their customers.

 

So, how does it work and what can it do for your hyperlocal marketing strategies. Well in simple terms making use of a geofence requires a software/app developer to create a virtual boundary around a location in a GPS or RFID-enabled application. This may just be a ring pulled out around a location on Google Maps, integrated with APIs, when developing their app. This digital fence will then trigger the programmed response when a location-service enabled device enters, exits or stays in that area.

 

The marketing application of all this is the last piece of the puzzle. The programs that run this sort of software can enhance visibility to the audience in the targeted area exponentially. Social media has become a much bigger player in the marketing ecosystem and takes full advantage of geofences with its advertising arrangements: Snapchat has its geofilters, that can add visible branding to consumers images when they are near certain participating locations; Facebook and Instagram use geofences to allow their stories and posts to be location tagged, visible to billions; and most social media with the capability to display advertising use geofences to allow better targeting of its platform users content. Push notifications are a fairly consistent part of the current mobile application infrastructure. The worst thing to be in marketing is forgotten, even if your marketing message isn’t visible it’s better to be in the consciousness of those you want to appeal to; so some applications use push notifications when people travel near points of interest to re-engage them. The fences can be used to engage with audiences or crowds at events allowing messages to be distributed or coordinated mass social media interaction, a very cost-effective way of reaching those already in the vicinity of the business.

 

The key things to consider before undertaking a geofencing project are:

  1. Know your audience, it’s all well and good to put up a fence around your business to retarget the customers and sales you’re missing out on, but if your goal is improved foot-fall the likelihood is the customers are not passing your location in the first place. Geofences can be set up anywhere, learn your target market and their habits, those places are the key locations for you, not necessarily your front door.
  2. Test different things, if your geofences don’t seem to be having the desired effect the ability to move them does exist! Starting out small is always the best way, maybe just a medium sized ring around the location you selected in from above. But things change, audience habits can shift due to the smallest of factors, and it is very unlikely to find your ideal location first time so starting small, A/B testing and progressive upscaling are key to a successful strategy.
  3. Stick to the point, one of the key limitations of geofencing and push notifications is their impact. Notifications are often limited to around 100-150 characters so making an impact in each and every message, as well as using great marketing first principals regarding calls to actions etc, are absolutely essential. Be direct, but interesting and incite engagement before a confirmatory ending that draws the recipient further into your process.

 

Geofencing is a great, and currently under-utilised, tool for the marketing community, but its popularity is growing at a great rate, now is the time to consider how it could help you.

Geofilters: A nice change of place

Snapchat has a huge, and we mean huge, following. It boasts that it added more users in 1 year than Twitter did in 4, but the other facts speak for themselves: Over 300 million active users; over 400 million snaps sent every day; it reaches 41% of 18-34 year olds in the US on a daily basis; and is the most popular social platform amongst users under 24. Its stories feature has been co-opted and altered by all of the big social players including Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. No wonder it is one of the largest social touchpoint creators in modern digital marketing.

This is bolstered by some of the unique quirks that help Snapchat stand out from the crowd in terms of digital marketing. Being a video/picture only platform, with interesting retention mechanisms, means it has much lower uptake by many big businesses, who feel the effort to create content is not worth the pay off. This may sound like it isn’t an advantage but bear with me! As opposed to most social media this means Snapchat is far less inundated by large monopolising companies using digital marketing agency services. This means it can be perfect for small or medium businesses, with a good social media following culture, especially with under 30s, to make contact with their audience unimpeded by competition; in a way that can’t help but meet the modern marketing content ideals, of being affable and authentic.

Some slightly more relevant stats for all you marketers out there :-

  • Young Snapchat users visit Snapchat more than 20 times per day.
  • They spend an average 25+ minutes on the platform every day
  • On average 60% of Snap Ads are watched with the sound turned on, quite high compared to the other large video advertisers.
  • Total spend on Snapchat ads is expected to grow to over $700 billion in 2020
  • A sponsored filter across the US can cost between $450,000 and $750,000 per day
  • 55% of Snapchat users report that they follow one or more brands or businesses on the platform
  • More than 50 percent of Snapchat users will open a brand’s story, and more than 85 percent of them will watch the entire story
  • A Geo-filter ad delivered nationally will be seen by 40-60% of Snapchats daily users

That last point is bold for a reason. Today we’re going to talk about Geofilters, what are they, why should you care?? The premise comes care of the rich filter system in Snapchat, by which snaps can be overlaid with images and styles that move, sometimes according to what is being captured. This feature is highly utilised by digital marketing creators already, who pay Snapchat to add filters they design to the application which are then distributed to the user base who effectively become walking advertising, sending the snaps out to all their followers with corporate messages emblazoned about their person. These filters, as mentioned above cost a lot to commission and add to the platform, but many will create an immense amount of brand visibility. However, there is another form of filter that may work better for some companies to roll out a less branded message. A Geofilter is a feature Snapchat added to the app in 2014 but which has been quietly improving ever since, and now allows anyone to design their own Geofilters. Using in built location services, the same stuff that helps Google know your location, the app ‘sees’ where you are, and makes a location specific filter available to you to use on your snaps. These can take many forms and even be somewhat editable by the end-user but their key to marketing lies in their availability dominated by location. Much like targeted local advertising using people’s location to advertise to them produces much better engagement consistency than advertising that does not target using location. Anyone can design a Geofilter, they can be submitted via the Snapchat website for free, however, Business related Geofilters are paid for. Users can also design for a wedding, party, or event and it will be available for a limited period of time on the app in a small location boundary around the venue. These are also paid, but with prices starting at around £3.50 it usually represents an almost insignificant investment compared to its event advocacy power.

Dime a Dozen: The Catalogue of Cheap Companies

What’s your company worth? In real, cold hard cash, do you know? It’s pretty likely very few businesses employees or even management will ever know that until they come to sell because the value of a business is constantly changing, fluctuating with the markets, with each added project, every sway of popular opinion and pension payment. Well, what if when the time came it turned out your company was only worth a measly £1?? It happens more often than you think and there’s often a juicy story behind it, so let’s take a peek behind the curtain at some of the most amazing businesses that sold incredibly cheap! Most for just £1 (or less!)

 

Lehman Bros Europe

The financial crash of 2008 was felt worldwide and caused a lot of upheaval and turmoil as far as the financial sector was concerned. One of the key figures at the centre of the controversy was economics powerhouse Lehman Bros. They filed for bankruptcy at the height of the crisis and were soon parsed out and bought up by other, less destitute financial institutions. The European arm of the company was acquired by Nomura Holdings for a paltry $2. (yes, I know technically more than £1 but still pretty small!)

 

Lotus Formula 1

While the automobile manufacturer had been producing cars in the UK since the 1950’s its somewhat niche productions and handmade methods lost some of their lustre in the latter part of the century and so come the mid 2000’s was beginning to struggle. The Lotus Group was made up of many different manufacturing sub sectors and were divided up as and when god enough offers were made, in 2015, after many years as a shareholder in the F1 arm of the business, Renault, an already huge name in the sport, procured the necessary shares (6,744,444!)

and became the official ‘parent’ of Lotus’ racing endeavours with a token purchase payment of just £1.

 

BHS

At it’s peak British Home Stores was considered by many as a mainstay of the British environment, running as it had, from 1928 few town high streets were without one in its hay-day. However, a relatively slow and unabashed lack of development in the modern age meant the company was losing customers and money hand over fist as the 2010’s began. In 2015, down almost 10% of its sales from two years previous, surrounded by a whirlwind of media controversy Sir Phillip Green sold the company to an investment firm for just £1. The fallout being the eventual break-up of the company which at that point employed 12,000 people and had a pension fund of around £100m. Most extremely disgruntled that their ex-owner had taken a large bonus the previous year amid rising company profits.

 

Chelsea FC

Roman Abramovich oversees one of the most affluent football clubs in the UK, Chelsea FC. How it came to be so however is a much-vaunted fable of this style of rock -bottom pricing. In 1982 Chelsea was not one of the UK’s most soluble clubs, it had debts of around £1.5m and the Landlords at its home ground of Stamford Bridge were on the verge of evicting them. The then owner sold the club to a wealthy hotel mogul, Keith Bates, who used his business savvy and not inconsiderable fortune to turn the club around. When he came to sell in 2003 Chelsea were once more a top tier team and Roman was willing to pay 140 million times Keith’s initial £1 investment

 

Millennium Dome

The Millennium Dome was conceived by the government of the UK in 1994 as a way to mark the Millennium. It was to be a hyper-modern pavilion exhibition space on the banks of the Thames. Unfortunately, when it opened to coincide with the 1st January 2000 it was not packed as any would like. It didn’t reach it’s first year goal of 6 million visitors and as such was seen as an overpriced money sponge. The government briskly passed the space on to Meriden Delta, an investment consortium, who within 4 years managed to broker a deal with telecoms giant O2 to license the dome as a performance venue, and thus The O2 was born, from a sale that cost Meriden’s investors the princely sum of £1.


 

Bonus!

 

Terminator Franchise

It wouldn’t do to end without the tale of the Terminator. James Cameron had the monopoly on blockbuster movies for quite a while back in the early 2000’s. Titanic is without doubt the biggest blockbuster of the 1990’s and Avatar not only held the record for highest grossing film of all time (until recently) but also essentially single-handedly kickstarted the 3D cinematography trend. Having said all this, everyone starts somewhere and Cameron was no exception, before he made The Terminator he was basically a nobody in the world of cinema, so, given how well the movie holds up it’s no surprise he needed some backing to get the project off the ground. So what’s a man to do when he’s got nothing but a script and the shirt on his back, sell the rights of course! So he did, to producer Gale Anne Hurd. This gave him the money he needed to go on and produce two incredibly well received movies in the franchise and become the household name he is today. How much did he sell for … you guessed it $1 not even £1! Since then some have said the Terminator properties have taken a dip in quality without their original father at the helm … but Mr Cameron gains the rights to his creation back this year … he’s planning to keep hold of them this time.

 

 

 

Rebranding: Making a new mark

One of the biggest crises a company can face is the chance that something about the way they do business is hampering their ability to generate new customers or keep their old ones. When all avenues have been investigated, potential impacts weighed, and nothing can be done you may come to the realisation that what you could do with, is to re-brand. If you own your own business, you probably remember the process by which you initially branded your company. Perhaps you had a fantastic commercial concept and built your brand identity on the tenets of companies in the same industry, or maybe you woke from a feverish dream with a beautiful logo in your mind and had to put it to use?? Whatever started the journey eventually there is a turn-off on every road, sometimes to get where you want to be you may have to stray from your straight path.

 

The best way to think of re-branding is not as destroying and starting again, it should usually, excepting the direst of circumstances, be a sort of recycling keeping and improving what works, and removing only the things that don’t. This blog is just a very loose set of guidelines to help you start rebranding your business, the true fact of the matter is there are no hard and fast rules. What works for one company may not for another, but the founding principles are the same. First a warning: Never start a full rebrand because things ‘look a bit tired’. Changing brand is not something to take lightly, if you don’t like your logo any more, or how your website looks, do not think you need a complete overhaul, those things can be sorted much more easily.

 

Research

The start of all projects rebrands or otherwise should be based on intense situational knowledge. It’s likely if you are rebranding you have a good reason in mind, note it down, you will be going through a lot of opinions about you company, you should never lose sight of the purpose. Speaking of opinions, why not start there. You should contact and review the views of your business, from every person you can who has and is likely to come in contact with it. It will often be surprising what you learn, modern society, even with its social connections, still has a disconnect between businesses and those who use them. Use a survey, send out emails, make calls, whatever works for you, just make sure you understand what people know of, like, dislike and would like from you. Your research should also include as much information as possible on your closest rivals, their successes and failings and allow it to guide you along a better route

 

Tone of voice

Once you have determined your key features, strengths and weaknesses its best to draw up a plan on how to deal with, counteract and enhance these features respectively. This documentation should always be at the forefront of the designing teams’ minds when making decisions. The first of which can be developing a tone of voice. A company tone of voice dictates how the company structure will communicate as a whole. It gives a guide, specific or broad, as to how all internal or external written or verbal communication should feel. This will likely quickly become a primary decision between a ‘corporate’ voice or a ‘personal’ voice. After deciding one way or another the full outline of how the voice should be implemented can be fleshed out according to how you wish to appear both to staff and customers. The voice will likely be implemented in all communication direct from the company to the public, client base, employees, visitors and governing bodies. This first step is broadly interchangeable with the second chronologically, but I think it works better this way round as any documentation published for subsequent phases can use the tone of voice and could be a good way to measure internal responsiveness to the change.

 

Visuals

It’s probably the bit you’ve most been looking forward to since you had the idea of rebranding, unless you’re one of the designers! We are taught not to judge a book by its cover but so frequently we don’t apply this to our business dealings. A flashy website and an interesting logo go a long way to improve customer interactions. Creating a new visual identity is a great way to bring fresh feel to your business but remember, we humans are creatures of habit. Usually, to keep close connectivity with previous customers and aid the acquisition of new ones its best to change your logo as little as possible while still making it more contemporary AND trying to keep in line with competitor’s styles also. The rest of the visual style should ideally sync with, contrast or compliment, the logo which is likely the keystone of your overall identity. Its key at both the visual and tone of voice phases you make sure to encompass every touchpoint you have with customers and staff members, it doesn’t do to just change logos or move some images on your website but forget letter heads, memos, training videos or building signage.

 

Documentation

As with many things the bureaucracy is what ties the whole process together. After the decision-making stages take all of the process so far and make sure it is all documented properly. This is usually compiled into a document known as a brand guideline, the brand guideline should be a document created using all of the visual and tonal corrections you have made, that itself contains detail on how to reproduce the company branding. Some of the things it should include are: –

  • Company ideology
  • Gamete of company colours with their relevant numeric values
  • Rules around usage of colour
  • Rules around usage of logo
  • Company tone of voice
  • Usage of and acceptable imagery
  • Acceptable fonts and use with colours
  • Legal copy and instructions
  • Links to relevant resources

Along with any other company specific changes or key indicators that fall outside those categories. Access to the brand guideline should be made available to all employees, partners and any outside contractors or the media who may be creating or using assets related to your business.

 

Implementation

Having performed the previous steps with diligence the final step (well almost) should be easy, but also the hardest. All that work will mean the transition to your new look company should be as smooth as possible, almost seamless. Follow the brand guidelines you created and as quickly, but thoroughly, as possible convert everything that needs converting to your new style, look, and voice. By the end of the process you will be officially rebranded, and your new journey can begin. But wait, there’s one last step …

 

Reaction

A wise man once said, “The start of all projects, rebrands or otherwise should be based on intense situational knowledge” and now you are rebranded you are at the beginning of new journey, your next project. So, as instructed the best thing to do is to begin with knowledge. Start surveying everyone you can, by any method as discussed earlier about their thoughts on your new brand. Returning customers and employees are the most useful assets here. People are far happier working for and with a company they feel embraces an ethos they believe in and hopefully your staff and customers will reflect this if asked. Remember, in rebranding there is no end to the journey, there can always be tweaks made as and when they become apparent through your researching. Just follow the information you have, processes you’ve created, make all relevant changes to your brand guides, and the process of reinvention will forever be a more joyful and less daunting task.

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.