Google ups the ante on mobile friendly websites

Google is back with another of its search engine ranking algorithm changes.  This time, it is all about your site being mobile friendly. The new algorithm, which goes live from April 21, 2015, will be placing emphasis upon sites being responsive. A responsive site is one that adapts to the screen size of the device a visitor is using to access the site; e.g. desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Google has officially stated that Responsive Design is the preferred design pattern for its Google ranking bots sent to check sites, and that those not meeting these standards will see themselves dropping down the rankings on mobile search results.

You can click here for more details about the update and click here to check whether your site is mobile friendly.

As a rule, we build sites to a responsive standard. So, if you are at all worried that yours might not meet these new standards, get in touch and we will be delighted to help.

And climbing another two places in this year’s charts is…

Every November B2B Marketing, the leading international information provider for business marketers, publishes its annual B2B agencies benchmarking report. In their own words, “The B2B Agencies Report 2014 is a comprehensive examination of the B2B marketing agency sector. It’s an indispensable resource for B2B marketers seeking to evaluate and appoint specialist B2B agencies. It provides exclusive insights into key trends and detailed breakdowns of performance of the leading players.”

We were delighted last year when brandformula & Lamb broke into the top 30, coming in at number 28. We are even more proud now as, when discounting agencies’ non-B2B marketing activities, we have climbed a further two places to 26.

Reflecting upon this, we owe a couple of big thank yous.

Firstly, to our team who have worked so hard throughout the year to produce work of such a consistently excellent quality.

Secondly, to each and every one of our clients who have supported us so well during the year. We cannot achieve what we do without that support and more so with the trust that is placed with us to deliver their campaigns.

Happy Social Media Week!

You could be missing more than just great talks if you weren't aware of Social Media Week…  It is Social Media Week this week. If you knew that, great. If you are attending one of the free or paid for events, even better. But, if you are in a marketing role and this is news to you then consider this a wake up call.

Every marketing team in every industry needs to be actively monitoring social media, even if they are not themselves proactive in social channels. This is because your customers, whoever that might include, use social media and have the potential to post about you. It is not just for protection though that you should pay attention. Opportunities can occur via social media. I gain something new almost everyday from someone in my network. It might just be a good pub fact or an unexpected smile at a great photo that snaps me out of a grump, but it just as easily might be a new business lead or some insight that helps me be better at my job.

That's why Social Media Week should not be passing you by. Just search for #SMW14 or #SMWLDN on Twitter and you will pick out something helpful, I'm sure.

I want to share a recent example to reinforce my point, and I do have a point I promise.

We started working with a niche broker recently to generate content and distribute it across Twitter and LinkedIn. While researching and developing the strategy for them, we discovered that a Tweet had been published about them back in 2010 saying how great they were. This Tweet went unnoticed for four years until we ran a simple search on the platform for brand mentions.

Now, it has obviously not caused any harm to their brand having this post floating around the World Wide Web, but there were a number of opportunities missed because this wasn't picked up.

1. Make them feel special - if someone compliments you, it is courteous to return the sentiment. When Ryan in the OC told Marisa he loved her and she replied with "Um, thanks" how do you think that made him feel? Rubbish, that's what! (Yes I did just reference the that bad?!) So our client missed out on the chance to appreciate their customer's comments and further strengthen their relationship.

2. Share the love - a public thumbs up can be retweeted and shared so other customers and prospects can see it. It can also be sent around employees to show they are doing a good job. Any extra benefit was lost by this tweet not being picked up.

3. Ambassadors are hard to come by - to have a customer actively praise you is rare, especially for a financial services brand. Therefore, you need to grasp these moments with both hands and shout it from the rooftops. Many of your 'fans' on social media are passive. Once you find an ambassador, it is essential that they are nurtured to maintain the relationship. A recommendation from them costs nothing. Advertising, marketing, PR and sales activity, however, definitely cost more than nothing.

Yesterday, I attended Five Ways to Drive Social Value Across the Customer Journey, a Social Media Week event run by Rob Blackie, Director of Social at OgilvyOne. I found it reassuring that much of Rob's content confirmed the theories and processes that my team and I already apply on a daily basis. However, this notion of the fan to ambassador ratio within followers was something that got me thinking. With 22% of fans being ambassadors and 55% of ambassadors not even following your social media, the time to start thinking about the importance of these relationships is now.

So my point is...if you work in marketing, you simply have to be more active on social media even if you do not want to post content. Become one of the +300 million active LinkedIn users,  +270 million monthly active Twitter users and +200 million Instagram users. That’s quite a lot of people…they must be onto something! It is only by taking more of an active interest in social media that you will get more comfortable with the channels, spot opportunities and protect the reputation of your brand.

If you have totally missed Social Media Week, don't worry - every week is social media week for us and we'd be happy to meet up for a coffee to talk about how your business could make use of the various channels.

Less Poking, More Broking! What the industry wants from social media

The insurance world is overcoming its fear of Social Media and realising the growing need for having a presence on channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter. However, knowing why and where to be on social media is not enough. The key to success is in knowing the types of content to deliver and how to deliver that content to the right audience. Social media is about engagement and encouraging your audience to, believe it or not, socialise with your brand. Although the clue is in the name, it is all too easy to forget that communicating via these networks should be focused on what your audiences want to gain from following you.

The buzz surrounding the #BIBA2014 and #BIBAFever hashtags last week demonstrated that brokers are catching up with the idea of online socialising and increasingly turn to these channels seeking relevant and timely information.

So what do brokers want?

According to Insurance Age’s latest Spring Sentiment Survey, the majority of brokers (86%) want product information, implying that insurers’ content on social channels should be a visually appealing, informative showcase of their products.

However, content should never be 100% selling, and needs variety to spark attention and engagement.

Respondents could select more than one option, and over 45% said they follow insurers hoping for opinion or thought-leadership pieces via social media. 44% think the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn should be used for business updates during surge claims events, while only 11% are impressed by amusing posts.

What types of content do you engage with most??


[photo credit: Rosaura Ochoa]

LinkedIn showcase pages - are you ready for April 14th?

In my current digital communications training session there is a slide which talks about how fast the digital world changes and how businesses, if they want to remain successful across social channels, have no option but to adapt quickly. A prime example of the relative speed businesses are now required to move at is illustrated through LinkedIn’s recent announcement of the switching off of the Products and Services pages on April 14th. The Products and Services tab on a company's LinkedIn page has for some time been a key point of focus for marketers, providing an effective platform to profile what the business offers, who the most relevant contacts are for that offering, alongside recommendations left by clients for those products and services. With the often complex nature of financial service websites this was a nice, simple and clean overview that aided cross selling, lead generation, and in some cases, SEO benefits.

What is a showcase page?

LinkedIn introduced showcase pages at the end of last year as part of their move to become more of a publishing platform, encouraging more in the way of rich, regular content. Products and Services were often fairly static and gave a user no reason to return multiple times. A showcase page is structured in almost exactly the same way as the main company page and can be accessed via its own URL or on the right hand column of your company page.

What are the key elements of a showcase page?

Initially, they allow you to add a large attention grabbing banner across the top of the page, a short introduction and a URL to lead visitors to the most relevant section of your website.

From there it is all about content, content, content as you are provided with the ability to add an endless scrolling feed of posts.

What has been lost from the Products and Services pages?

Firstly, there is no way of profiling key contacts or running promotions like you could before. There is also no way of migrating the recommendations that you have earned on the current Products and Services pages. This has caused a fair amount of discontent and uproar among the LinkedIn community who feel largely that this is change for change sake and that they are losing valuable digital real estate - not to mention the time and money they have invested in getting those pages set up.

Ten days left

As of the 14th April, unless you embrace the change and start to implement showcase pages, your LinkedIn company page will lose any reference to your current products and services.

What I would say initially though, is that this should not be rushed. Showcase pages should only be set up for areas where you have enough commitment to producing enough engaging content to post on a regular basis. They are not a direct replacement for your Products and Services pages. They require a different approach and some strategic thinking to get it right.

I have seen Products and Services overview pages with 30 or more individual items within them. Setting up and maintaining 30+ showcase pages isn’t practical, and I don’t believe it would add any value. You need to focus on the dynamic areas of your business where the teams produce a lot of content, attend a lot of events and where you can find a lot of relevant material across news sites that you can aggregate and introduce as useful reading.

Why are they doing this?

In my opinion LinkedIn does not want your company profile page to be a static summary of your website, they want it to be a go-to source of information in its own right, a place where people converse, share and post collaboratively. Whether this is because they want to sell more advertising, or because they want brands to provide better content to the existing audience, that’s up for debate. Ultimately they want you to stay on the website for as long as they can keep you there.

What I am sure of however, is that this is not a change you can afford to ignore. If you want to talk about how we can help you, or if you just want to connect, feel free to add me on LinkedIn.

Playing the generation game in UK Insurance PLC

Do you know your Baby Boomers from Generation X, Generation Y and for that matter the newly appointed Generation Z? Generations X and Y already dominate the UK workforce by more than 65 per cent and culturally, they pose significant challenges for businesses and their relationships with customers.

I’m a child of the Baby Boomer generation (only just I might add!), having been born between 1945 and 1960. I find myself regularly noticing the differing subtleties between the Baby Boomer group, Generation X (1961-1980, or early 50’s-30’s) and Generation Y (1981-1995, or early 30’s to 19). What’s interesting is the rate at which those differences are becoming more apparent.

Within the next 5-10 years, Generation Y will come to dominate the purchasing market. From that point on, a whole new raft of deciders will prevail. Generation Y is driven by a high exposure to the media, the convenience of immediate access, on-demand services and an utter dependence on technology. Time magazine called them 'the most threatening & exciting generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution'.

As customers, they expect far greater levels of engagement, accessible to them anywhere and at any time. For brands or organisations, it’s important to understand how your future target market wants to be communicated with, and through which channels, especially online.

In the workplace, employers would do well to understand the new and dynamic motivations of Generation Y. They require their roles to be more challenging and interesting, all whilst demanding clearer definitions of their career pathways than previous generations were ever afforded. This equally translates to their purchasing motivators.

Understanding the differences between these ever changing demographics will enable you to harness the right channels now to build relationships with new and existing customers, clients and partners. Failing to do so will hinder those future relationships, and stifle business growth.

It gets scarier

I’ve not really spoken about the scariest and most compelling generation of them all.

Anyone with younger families will no doubt notice the monumental differences in how their worlds are completely and utterly reliant upon constant connectivity to everything via technology. This new generation is being shaped by the legacy of the economic downturn, global warming, wiki-leaks, cloud computing, mobile devices, living their lives online & in public, self media production, unlimited internet speeds, instant access to all forms of music, video and the complete globalisation of everything. These technoholics, entirely dependent on their mastered IT skills and likely to launch nothing short of a full-scale panic alert during a power cut, have been branded Generation Z.

Generation Z will reshape the corporate world. Career multitaskers, they are far more likely to be found moving seamlessly between organisations, assuming short term roles whilst remaining plugged into digital media, eating 3D printed food and being permanently chauffeured by driverless cars.

And the most interesting part of it all? Generation Z started in 1995, which means they’re already moving into the workplace.