How has Digital Marketing had an Impact on your Business?

Here at the UK Blog Awards, we know how difficult it can be to develop a strong and successful social media status. The awards were founded to recognise the best in individual and company talent across the UK around Blogging.

The power of networking virtually and face to face across a multitude of industry has proven to connect individuals and companies like never before. That is why, we could talk, Tweet and Blog all day about how beneficial social media is in business and across industries. However, we felt it would be worthwhile to showcase stories from business and bloggers that have experienced this journey first hand!

We hope you enjoy and don't forget to say a big virtual hello to our fab contributors!

 

CEO Shelley Hoppe
Website/ Blog:
Twitter:

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]1. When did you set up your first social media account?[/highlight]
We set up all our social media channels when we were first established, exactly five years ago (we just celebrated our fifth birthday!). We’ve been steadily growing our following ever since, but particularly in the last couple of years our social media has worked really hard to promote us properly and bring in top quality leads. Our blog has been working especially well – in terms of SEO, directing casual surfers to the website, and in terms of just providing good quality, unique content.
It’s a trust thing – you have to build and cultivate a reputation, online presence, company tone and personality. It takes time to show people who you are and what you’re about, but when you do, you see your hit rates skyrocket. After we started focusing our blogs to a core of key customers we noticed more of the people that matter the most to our business found our content genuinely valuable. It’s so gratifying to see the blog and social media sides of the business now become real business workhorses.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]2. Can you remember your first Tweet?[/highlight]
Oh my, no, sorry! I’m sure it was something complimentary; I’d be a rubbish troll.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]3. When you joined the world of social media did you jump in with both feet or research what it entailed?[/highlight]
Oh, research first, definitely. We’re a creative digital marketing agency so social media is pretty much central to our modus operandi. We had to figure out who our customers and clients were, the kind of social media posts that resonated most with those personas, what channels they principally operate on and why.
For instance, business leaders and influencers typically interact on LinkedIn, so we built up a portfolio of thought-leading content there. But on the other hand, people didn’t really care for business stuff on Facebook – they were more engaged with things like pictures of our staff nights out or the random videos we made on Pancake Day. We worked out that Facebook was a much better place to talk about the lovely people and culture in our company. Basically it became a recruitment tool, and just because of that we received applications from creatives that inherently spoke our language. I’m delighted to say they’re still with us today!

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]4. Were you ever dubious that social media would be a phase/fad? If so, why?[/highlight]
Never! When Southerly was born there was no doubt at all that social media was the powerhouse that it is. But in any case, without the concepts of Web 2.0, Southerly wouldn’t be Southerly. Digital marketing and social media distribution go hand in hand. That said, you should still establish exactly why you’re using a particular social media channel and to whom you’re directing that content. There’s no point dedicating time to populating a social media channel where you’re not getting any return.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]5. Do you have a marketing plan? If so, would be willing to share some insightful tips?[/highlight]
As with pretty much any digital marketing plan, the idea is to build trust, build awareness of our brand, and attract new customers. But as I mentioned before, where once we adopted this strategy to find new business in places like Facebook, we quickly realised that this was a much better tool to build personality and recruit new talent – we don’t use that to chat about business at all.
The best insight I can give you is simple – patience. We always say the digital marketing game is a marathon, not a sprint. Whether you just want to increase your blog traffic by so many readers, or whether you want more clients picking up the phone, it’s not going to happen overnight. Gaining that traction and attention requires building trust.
The long game is trying to get the tone of your blog and social media posts right, perhaps create and upload free downloadable resources like whitepapers that will be valuable to your audience. For the first three to six months our blog wasn’t bringing in the right sort of leads. But over time, we started getting more and more appropriate enquiries. We slowly built up a critical mass of content, created good quality back-links and identified the specific audience personas to whom we wanted to target our content – another vital step if you want to build your online presence.
We did that last year. The number of blog subscribers and people downloading our resources grew and now strong leads are coming to Southerly with proper budgets in place.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]6. What was your original USP when you started your social media marketing as opposed to where you are now?[/highlight]
I’d say it’s always been the same. I’d like to think that we portray a high level of trustworthiness and genuine thought leadership, without being unapproachable or laden with jargon. Ultimately I think, and hope, that it’s an honest and fun personality that comes through.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]7. Do you have any interesting facts and figures as to how digital marketing has impacted your business?[/highlight]
See above re: Facebook comments, company culture and attracting the right staff.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]8. Where do you see your digital marketing campaign leading to in the future? What are your goals?[/highlight]
Our goals remain the same. As we’re a digital marketing company, social media marketing is pretty inherent to what we do. But I’d like to expand our resources into more live action work. So for instance, hosting online how-to workshops as live webinars or Google+ Hangouts. One of the nicest things I hear is that our resources have been of real value to someone, so finding more and more innovative ways to help our audience is something we relish.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]9. Finally, how do you think an awards programme such as the National UK Blog Awards can help individuals and businesses be recognised for their Blogging achievements?[/highlight]
In terms of gaining recognition and networking it’s a fantastic thing. The actual award show of course gives everyone the chance to connect with fellow bloggers, aspiring writers and leading commentators, plus a little healthy competition can do wonders in getting people to push boundaries. And from a recruitment perspective, you could do a lot worse than putting prolific individual bloggers and the orchestrators of commercial blogs in the same room together. Aside from that, the dedicated social media campaigns and individual stories and media that surround it all year long push up the presence of the whole thing organically. Quite simply, it’s blogs working for blogs working for blogs. I think there’s something pretty cool about that.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Elliot Simmonds

Website/ Blog:
Twitter:

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]1. When did you set up your first social media account?[/highlight]
In terms of a business social media account, Twitter and LinkedIn were two of the first things we setup – concurrently with our website. We always intended to blog and so social media outlets such as these were an integral

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]2. Can you remember your first Tweet?[/highlight]
I actually can’t – although there’s a cool tool which Twitter actually offer to help solve this problem, which you can find here:
It turns out our () first tweet was actually a re-tweet – nice to know we started off socially, as we mean to go on!

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]3. When you joined the world of social media did you jump in with both feet or research what it entailed?[/highlight]
We jumped in with both feet! Social media is a really important part of what we as a company offer to a lot of our clients, so it makes sense to practice what you preach.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]4. Were you ever dubious that social media would be a phase/fad? If so, why?[/highlight]
I’m not sure it can be called a phase or a fad, but it’s definitely a part of the marketing mix people focus on a lot at the moment, and I’m not sure whether that will always be the same. There was a stage when PPC was THE thing to be doing, and then SEO through aggressive link-building, and other things. Now, PPC and (white hat) SEO are just seen as parts of the marketing mix – and social media is getting a lot of time – but this might change in the next few months with things like wearable technology coming on to the scene.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]5. Do you have a marketing plan? If so, would be willing to share some insightful tips?[/highlight]
I suppose it’s two things. Firstly, most of the above – don’t put all your eggs in to one basket with marketing as a slight change in trends (or a Google update!) can take it all away from you. Second, I tend to be in favour of things which are an investment initially but which keep on giving – blogs are a key example of this as every post you write is something you can be found for on search engines for years after. Just remember to keep the content to a high quality!

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]6. What was your original USP when you started your social media marketing as opposed to where you are now?[/highlight]
I don’t think our USP has changed really – Rippleout as a consultancy is only a few months old, so maybe that will alter moving forward. Our USP in terms of social though is that we try to combine practical tips about the ‘how-to’ of marketing (i.e. how to create a child theme in Wordpress) with the ‘why this works’ elements – we cover a lot of consumer psychology for instance. I think this creates a set of social channels which are both useful and interesting.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]7. Do you have any interesting facts and figures as to how digital marketing has impacted your business?[/highlight]
No hard and solid facts and figures – and I think potentially that’s one of the issues around social media, it’s hard to calculate a solid ROI – but I know anecdotally that a good number of our current clients have visited out social media accounts and have been either convinced or re-assured by the type of things we talk about.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]8. Where do you see your digital marketing campaign leading to in the future? What are your goals?[/highlight]
In terms of the future, I think the goal is always to keep increasing your audience and your influence, but with the important qualification that that audience should be engaged and relevant. For most businesses that would be potential leads and clients, although at Rippleout we’re more than happy to have students and lecturers as well, as we do cover some quite in depth elements of psychology and it’s always interesting to hear opinions from academia.
Tactically, I’d like to move in to making more use of video content – it’s not really something we do at the moment as we’ve not really had the need, but with YouTube now the world’s second largest search engine it’s made sense for a while, if you can, to be active on video sites.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]9. Finally, how do you think an awards programme such as the National UK Blog Awards can help individuals and businesses be recognised for their Blogging achievements?[/highlight]
Obviously, there’s the recognition for those taking part and winning or being shortlisted – last year was a fantastic event and there were a whole range of businesses and individuals in attendance. In addition to that, there are also the opportunities for businesses to make connections with bloggers in their niche who might act as another channel for promoting their products or services. Some of the top bloggers have thousands of followers, so a good review of your new face cream or ski shoes is something which could result in a bit of buzz and uptake. It’s definitely worth thinking about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Managing Director Lisa Morton
Website/Blog:
Twitter:
Google+:
LinkedIn:

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]1. When did you set up your first social media account?[/highlight]
As a company, we jumped on the Twitter bandwagon in 2010, although individually, we'd been involved with social media for much longer.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]2. Can you remember your first Tweet?[/highlight]
We had to look this up, but it was shouting about the launch of The Rock (the £350 million regeneration scheme in North Manchester we worked on, rather than the wrestler).

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]3. When you joined the world of social media did you jump in with both feet or research what it entailed?[/highlight]
We were keen to get involved, although we were a bit wary in the early days and it took us some time to truly find our feet and start using it with confidence. However, I think that a lot of the experience is tacit – and no amount of research can completely prepare you for how the specifics of social will work for your company.

Having said that, despite being only four years' back – this was when social media was arguably in its infancy as a marketing tool. Ahead of rolling out a social presence for clients these days, we'll create a detailed usage policy, carry out a comprehensive review and highlight the ways their competitors and peers are using it to see what practices they can imitate or improve upon.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]4. Were you ever dubious that social media would be a phase/fad? If so, why?[/highlight]
Not really. I think from its earliest days, people have been striving to use the web in a social way, but it's only recently that the necessary technology and infrastructure has come to fruition. The evolution of modern social media platforms has simply made it much easier for people to move the types of interaction they've always engaged in into an online format.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]5. Do you have a marketing plan? If so, would be willing to share some insightful tips?[/highlight]
Yes. In the past couple of years we've been moving away from solely focusing on 'traditional' PR – transitioning to a full-service agency that can provide the entire spectrum of off and online marketing and PR services. It's been a real sea change in terms of the way we work and we've learned several valuable lessons along the way.
I think the biggest tip we could offer would be for companies/managers to ask themselves 'why?' Too many companies approach social (and wider marketing activities) out of a knee-jerk sense that it's something they should be doing, or because they've seen a competitor do it well.
By questioning what it is they're looking to get out of it, companies can plan ahead, set goals and key performance indicators to ensure that no time or effort is wasted, and discern how any successes they've had in these areas impact the business's bottom line.
While it's exceptional in terms of cost and the potential for engagement – social media marketing can quickly become a time sink that doesn't achieve much for (or even detracts from) a company if it's not approached in a methodical way.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]6. What was your original USP when you started your social media marketing as opposed to where you are now?[/highlight]
I don't think our USP has changed much. Both then and now, we focus on bringing new and exciting digital marketing techniques to core areas that we've serviced with traditional PR for the best part of two decades.
We're a relatively old and trusted name within our sphere, so by offering the best of both worlds – we've helped to encourage even the most technophobic or wary of companies to expand their horizons when it comes to social media and other online marketing methods.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]7. Do you have any interesting facts and figures as to how digital marketing has impacted your business?[/highlight]
Since we decided to make the transition to a full-service agency, we've completely overhauled both the way we do business and the methods we use to seek out new clients.
We're immensely proud to be one of the first UK partners of US inbound marketing giant Hubspot and its team has proven invaluable in helping us get to grips with this new methodology. While we still rely on word-of-mouth and contacts – the vast majority of our new enquiries now come through the web and our new set-up has enabled us to work with companies and within fields that we'd never have even considered before.
In the first 12 months since we started blogging, we saw a year-on-year traffic increase of well over 300%. Similarly, since we began to track leads and roll out bespoke, gated content with a view to data capture – we've witnessed a vast influx of qualified leads that've generated a wealth of new enquiries at a fraction of the cost we'd have previously incurred.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]8. Where do you see your digital marketing campaign leading to in the future? What are your goals?[/highlight]
We'll continue to hone our offerings – using both quantitative and qualitative data from real people, clients and prospects to provide more of what our prospective customers want.
In regard to long-term goals, we'd like to add to the specialist digital marketing staff we've already taken on and bolster our PR offering by providing as many digital services in-house as possible.

[highlight background_color="#3c3d3f" text_color="#FFCE08"]9. Finally, how do you think an awards programme such as the National UK Blog Awards can help individuals and businesses be recognised for their Blogging achievements?[/highlight]
While I don't think traditional media will ever go completely out of fashion, blogs are certainly giving the papers a run for their money at the moment. It's amazing how rapidly they've risen to prominence – carving out a substantial piece of the media pie for themselves and in many cases, out-performing traditional news outlets.
From a corporate point of view, not having a blog is pretty much akin to imposing an SEO penalty on yourself these days. Our blog is the crux of our digital marketing strategy and we'd urge every company to take advantage of this low-cost, high-potential avenue.
Given blogging's prominence among both businesses, the modern media landscape and relatively niche hobbyists – we think the awards are a great idea that'll highlight the work of the best and brightest and show those who aren't involved what they're missing out on.

We hope that you enjoyed reading these company social media insights as much as we did.

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