Recent changes in the Google’s algorithm can affect your page ranking and sales

Paul Dobson, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School


According to a number of reports Google has implemented a substantial search engine algorithm update in January, plus a number of smaller ones in February 2020 … But what does this mean for businesses?

The Google search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking signals to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs) and we’ve seen these changes have a direct impact on the Google Analytics results and effectiveness of the customer journey to gain sales for businesses. An example of this, is the page ranking has changed to be more themed based.  However, there are ways for businesses to enable their website to be high up in the SERP. These include :-

1.  Snippets Dominate More Search Clicks

Google has changed over recent years with the aim to deliver better search results for the reader, examples include providing the answers through featured Snippets which appear above the organic results. For example, I’ve search “how to walk in snow”

For your website to take advantage of this, you need to provide clear answers to commonly asked questions in your website area of interest. These featured Snippets are evaluated and boosted to the top depending on their quality, with the results that 54.68% of clicks from Google come from featured Snippets. There are various ways to create featured snippet at the top of the page but the key ways include :-

  • Create something better than the current Answer Card / Provide updated information, and Google will prioritise this ‘Freshness’
  • Take the most frequent People Also Asked questions, listed in the Google search, and create content to match*
  • Focus on the most frequently asked types of questions: “How”, “Is” and “Why”

2. Keywords no longer work

Trying to pack key words into landing pages is no longer effective.  Google is using more natural language and wants to independently rank websites and use them as quality data sources.  Your website needs to be written as a natural language rather than trying to pack key words at the top, and consider the long key words that readers may use to find your website.  In addition, you need to consider your website as an overall themed area rather than a mixture of items or topics, for example if you’re selling car parts do not include information blogs on other areas such as toys, or if you do include other areas setup robot.txt and sitemap.xml so that Google does not to index them and get confused. 

3. Mobile User Experience (UX) affects your ranking and Sales.

On some of the websites that we use for student demonstrations of Customer Experience, (CX) User Experience (UX) and Google Analytics (for example https://aubergedechabanettes.com/ ) we can see up to 80% of the hits to the websites are from smart-mobiles in some weeks. A website that is not mobile compatible will lose customers especially as mobile access is a growing trend. How people find information using their mobile devices is also getting more advanced, so your website must be easy to read, grab people’s attention and then can answer their questions or keep them entertained.   If you own a business based at a property such as a Hotel, Restaurant, Bar and Beauty Salon, local SEO is vitally important. Studies show that 4 in 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines using their mobile devices. Google now allows customers, at a click of a button, to navigate to you, call you or even book directly. 

4. Websites Optimize for Voice Search such and Alexa and OK Google

With the growing use of mobile devices and home devices, voice searches are becoming an increasing trend. These searches are not only done on phones, but they can also be performed on home voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo, Samsung Smart TV, Voice Pod, etc.

Questions asked via voice instead of entering search queries are going to make short choppy keywords less relevant and therefore search terms have become more conversational and targeted. This increasing use of voice searches has already had an impact of Google’s algorithms and Artificial Intelligence systems since the search engine needs to do more work to get the relevant information that the user is looking for.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the way forward.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an important technology behind Google to deliver better search results to its users to create personalized experiences for consumers.  The AI has been learning the characteristics of what makes websites of high quality or not, then classifies these web pages and determines their rankings.  Therefore, high-quality content is essential for effective SEO strategies. Users want content that is relevant, helpful, and timely, so Google tends to place websites with consistently themed high-quality content with higher search engine rankings.

If you’d like to know more about becoming an expert in using data driven strategies to lead businesses to success including how to use data to analyse, design and test elaborate customer experience systems in the customer journey to optimise growth, plus learning to work in development environments for Fitbit, Alexa and Google home and mobile devices/smartwatches/ smart home devices as well developing using cloud computing, have a look at our MSc in Customer and Data Analytics.


Author :-

Paul Dobson is a Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School in Digital and Strategic Marketing. He is actively involved in supporting local and EU charities and businesses especially hospitality businesses such as hotels and restaurants. Further details can be seen at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmddobson/

Ultimate Google Ads Guide for SME’s: 3 steps to increase return on Ads spend

Eerik Beeton, MSc Digital Marketing Management student


Return on Advertising Spend
Increase return on Ads spend with these 3 steps!

There are a few reasons why your Google Ads might not work as well for your business as it seems to work for your competitors. Make sure you follow these three steps and you’re guaranteed to be more productive with your Google Ads.

Many businesses have struggled to make most out of their digital marketing efforts and have employed strategies where they use an external marketing agency to handle paid digital marketing. I’m here to suggest that outsourcing Pay Per Click and Cost Per Mille (PPC/CPM) is not sensible anymore in the 2020’s. Why would you pay someone else to do what you can do yourself?

To prove this to you, the next three steps in this blog will bring to your attention some issues around outsourcing your Google Ads and how to do it yourself to both save money and increase the effectiveness of your paid ads!

1. Exploit automation, lose that agency and save up to half of the cost

Historically, making your ads has been time-consuming and has required a lot of technical input from marketers to stay in top of the game. Year 2019 was the year of automation, this also changed how PPC works. Now your PPC can be automated with budget diversification and smart audience targeting, making the use of an agency inferior. I’m listing more handy tools throughout this blog so keep reading!

If you buy click-based advertising services (Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), a service provider will usually charge a 10-20% of the ad spend and a minimum monthly fee for their work. If your competitor advertises their services in-house for £300 per month and you outsource this service, then your advertising spend on Google AdWords is £150-200. This gives your competitor 30-50% higher advertising budget and an advantage.

As the average return on advertising pounds spend on google is 1 pound spent, 2 earned, you’re most likely giving your profits away using  a marketing agency.

2. Optimise and save up to 69% on your Ads

Understanding you Ad quality score can help you to create better campaigns and improve your digital marketing as a whole.

Poorly optimised Google Ads are a costly mistake, not only are they more expensive but they won’t get your business the leads they are after.  Once you get your Ads optimised, your Ad spend can be decreased by 69%.

Maybe the most important part of your Google Ads optimisation is that they need to be eligible for Google auctions. This means that your ads need to focus on a few strange terms like Quality Score, Maximum Bid and Ad rank. Ad rank is influenced by the maximum cost-per-click (CPC) you choose for your ad and your ad’s Quality Score. In the following, I will explain how you can create the best quality score for your ads.

To improve the quality score of your ads, focus on the following 4 strategies

  • Use keyword planning to increase relevance of your adds by making ad groups based on keywords
  • Optimise your ads for higher Click-through-Rate (CTR) by using focus keywords and Google Ads extensions, like call to actions and contact options.
  • Improve the quality of your landing page. This can be achieved by (re)targeting your ad and landing pages using long-tailed keywords or by using Dynamic advertising.
  • Be patient! Google’s algorithms will take more than a few days to improve the quality score of your Ads and being patient is the key to measure the improvements.

If reading pages of descriptions is not for you, I’ve also included a 4-minute video clip on the strategies for your convenience.

3. Set tracking and retarget customers to get 3x more leads

Retargeting Ads are 76% more likely to be clicked on than regular Display Ads. Therefore, building accurate conversion tracking is important for improving the results of your advertising. This is important as it will show how the customer actually behaved on the site.

Often, micro-conversions, such as referral browsing, shopping cart additions,, are ignored in tracking. However, they are essential metrics that tell about the quality of traffic and enable accurate re-marketing to visitors who completed a specific activity. This can also be used to track the performance of your paid advertising and to make changes accordingly. See the short video below on how to set you tracking!

The importance of setting conversion actions to help your customer tracking is essential; if you’re not sure how to do this here’s a link to a Google Ads article that explains it step by step.

Lastly, understanding the whole customer journey and to assess all the steps is important. By setting tracking and using retargeting can feed into 3 times more leads for your campaigns.

Future-proof your Google Ads revenue

Google has focused heavily on machine learning and keeps finessing the technology in order to deliver helpful and frictionless customer experience. There have been some setbacks in the technology and most of the features are not fully functioning for the SME’s, but this said: – The year 2020 will be the year to look out for improvements in:

Next big things in the early 2020’s

Google has focused heavily on machine learning and keeps finessing the technology in order to deliver helpful and frictionless customer experience. There has been some setbacks in the technology and most of the features are not fully functioning for the SME’s but this said: – The year 2020 will be the year to look out for improvements in:

MSc Digital Marketing Management students preparing for placement and connecting with the region

When we started the MSc in Digital Marketing Management (FT and PT available), we were determined that students would get credited work experience working with partners. To set up the placement there is a whole module dedicated to the preparation of the placement (which is three months long). Details of when and how to get involved are on our earlier blog here.

Charlotte Cunningham is working with Valentine Clays in Fenton. The placement will be focusing on a strategic digital marketing plan and improving their SEO performance of their main website, along creating website content for their sub-companies LoveClay and Art in Clay.

Charlotte Cunningham
Charlotte Cunningham

Eerik Beeton will be completing his placement with a Staffordshire local IT Company, CoRE Educational Ltd. During his placement Eerik will improve the SEO performance of the company’s e-commerce site selling refurbished IT.

Eerik Beeton
Eerik Beeton

Lewis Copeland is working with Hilton Garden Inn in Hanley on behalf of RBH Hospitality Management. The placement is focussed on developing and implementing a strategic social media plan for the opening of the new hotel.

Charlotte Gooding will be completing her project placement with City Stage Crews Ltd. The project will focus on implementing a digital marketing strategy due to the business currently not having one including creating a website for the business.

Charlotte Gooding
Charlotte Gooding

Sohnia Butt will be undertaking a project at The Mitchell Arts Centre in Hanley, Stoke on Trent. The project will focus around the social media marketing, email marketing and website revamp to increase sales with their target audience

Sohnia Butt
Sohnia Butt

Amber Mottershead will be completing her placement in her current employment at Stone Cricket Club. The placement will focus on developing and implementing an improved digital marketing strategy. This will include building a new website, monitoring the Google Analytics, developing a clear and consistent brand identity and managing multiple social media channels.

Grace Thomson will be completing her placement with Staffordshire University in the Careers Team. Grace is focusing on implementing a social media strategy with an aim of increasing brand awareness. Grace is also working on increasing website traffic.

Grace Thomson
Grace Thomson

Leah Mahon will be completing her project placement at creative recruitment agency, The Candidate in Manchester. The project is focused on creating a content marketing/SEO and social media strategy to increase reach, particularly with client audiences.

Leah Mahon
Leah Mahon

Daniel O’Sullivan is now working for Port Vale Football Club he will be developing the strategic direction of the markerting plan.

Craig Holdcroft, will be completing his placement with The Donna Louise Trust, a charitable organisation located in Stoke On Trent. The initial plan will be to extend the digital reach of the charity with the aim to grow followers and charity engagement within the Staffordshire and South Cheshire area. 

Craig Holdcroft who will be working with the Donna Louise Trust
Craig Holdcroft




Keair Bailey will be developing the website and social media content for PeakMyRun

Jordan Hubble will be working with the Staffordshire University Student Union

Sophie Lawrence is working with Stoke City Football Club. The placement will entail content creation and SEO to display the impact and raise awareness of the Premier League Primary Stars Project.

More to be added as the placements are confirmed.

All of these students and course tutors Prof Jon Fairburn @ProfJonFairburn and Kat Taylor @kattayloruk will be attending the Digital City Festival in Manchester on Thursday 12th March if anyone wants to connect there.
#DCF2020

Need help with Digital Marketing in 2020?

The MSc in Digital Marketing Management is one of our awards to meet the changing demands of industry. Marketing is going through a fundamental change with ever more marketing carried out online – a major consequence of this is the incredibly detailed data that is generated which leads to data driven policy.

The marketing industry is booming, examples from our partners include, Synectics Solutions in Newcastle under Lyme, Don’t Panic who organise many digital award nights and conferences or alumni who have set up businesses such as Jill Quick, or Louise Holland

To get our Masters students ready for the industry we have two modules:

  1. ‘The Management of a Digital Marketing Project’ – this module will prepare a tri-partite agreement between the student, the academic staff and the organisation as to the focus of the project, existing benchmark measures, what is to be achieved and how to make the project sustainable (so that it can continue after the student leaves). This is carried out between January to March/April
  2. The Work Based Digital Marketing Project – a credit work experience (450 hours) to deliver the project with the organisation concerned. (April to August)

The project can be in any type of organisation e.g. private sector, public sector, charity or a university. It is desirable but not essential for the work project activity to take place at the premises, or it could be a mix with some days in the company and some work off site.

We have built in flexibility to the work-placement so it could be that you would like a portfolio of tasks to be completed rather than just one main project. Examples could be – creation of a digital marketing strategy, audit and re-launch of social media, budget and investment plan for marketing, devising and implementing a training plan for existing staff.

As the module is part of the course then paid remuneration is not required. However, we would expect travel expenses and any other identified costs of the project to be paid – these can be discussed and agreed before the placement starts.

Below are profiles of some of the students on the course so reach out direct to them if you are interested or if you want to discuss it with a staff memebr contact Jon Fairburn 01782 294094 jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk

Alex Bedford

Alex Bedford
Alex Bedford

I have a lot of experience developing and leading teams to achieve results. This is proven through a history of achievement working with Active Lives Education, Cheshire Football Association, Birmingham County Football Association, Walsall Local Authority, Sported UK, Sports Across Staffordshire, and The Football Association.

I have a keen interest in Digital Marketing. I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Digital Marketing Management.  I have experience in creating and managing marketing and communication strategies and also have experience in website management, email and text marketing, social media management, content curation, and online paid advertising.

I currently run a business called Active Lives Education however am looking for a project that helps me gain further experience in digital marketing, to develop my skills and develop a career or business in this field.

Contact information – Linkedin profile email alex.bedford@activeliveseducation.co.uk mob 07468583274

Amber Mottershead

Amber Mottershead
Amber Mottershead

I hold a foundation degree of science in Film and Television Production and have recently graduated from my BA degree in Events Management (2 year fast track) which I gained a 2:1 in. I have a large work experience portfolio from volunteering to paid work. For 4 years I was a manager of a Children’s play centre then moving onto the cash manager of B&M. I now work as an Events Assistant at Moddershall Oaks. For my volunteer work I have experience of working for the likes of Channel 4, Woman of the Year and Stone Food and Drink Festival. I have also worked several corporate events such as the Hotel Marketing Conference and Land Rover.

I have skills within Web design, as well as using all social media platforms for brand building. I also have quite a good understanding with photoshop and other computer software that may be needed, I am a quick learner and can pick up things fairly quickly.

Ideally, I would like a placement within a sector that holds Events, but I would be open to offers. 

If you would like to follow my LinkedIn, this can be found at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amber-mottershead-ba48b1166/ or email me Amber1210@live.co.uk

Or if you’d like to have a look at some of my volunteer work you can find this on Instagram: @amottevents 

Lewis Copeland

Lewis Copeland
Lewis Copeland

I have recently graduated from my BA Events Management (2 Year Accelerated) in which I achieved a first-class honours. I have previous work experience as a bar supervisor for three years as well as voluntary work experience with Channel 4, The Stone Food and Drink Festival as well as being a student representative for my course.

I currently work for The Student Hub at Staffordshire University as a Digital Marketing Ambassador. In this role I manage multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) as well as improving the overall engagement and reach of the platforms.

I am able to use social media platforms to build and uphold brand image. I have experience in using analytics to improve the reach of posts as well as identifying demographics which not be being reached and making steps to target them.

Ideally I would like a placement in tourism, events or hospitality but I am open to offers.

If you would like to connect with me, my LinkedIn is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lewis-copeland-10268515b/  or Email me at: lewis_copeland@hotmail.com

Sophie Lawrence

Sophie Lawrence
Sophie Lawrence

I have recently graduated with a First-Class BA (Hons) Degree in Events Management and have now started studying MSc Digital Marketing Management. I have a large work experience portfolio from both paid and volunteer work. I have been a chef for the past three years at The Orange Tree Bar and Grill, I also hold a range of customer service skills which I have been able to develop by working at a bar and on a hotel reception. To broaden by experience in events management I have volunteered at numerous events such as Woman of the Year 2018, Stone Food and Drink Festival and The Royal Oak Gin festival.

I have skills in web design, brand building and analytics, I can also use all forms of social media and some computer software which may be required. I am a reliable team player who learns quickly, I enjoy expressing my creativity when carrying out jobs and ensuring all tasks are completed to the best of my ability.

If possible, I would like to find a placement within the events, tourism or hospitality sector although I am open to other opportunities.

Please find me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sophie-lawrence-05367414a/) or email me (sophielouiselawrence@gmail.com) if you are interested in my expertise.

Charlotte Gooding

Charlotte Gooding

I have recently graduated with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) Events Management and am now currently studying MSc Digital Marketing Management. I have a wide work experience portfolio varying from paid work to voluntary. Over the last three years I have been a bar staff member for Stonegate pubs working for Walkabout until it closed down in April this year and now Yates Newcastle-under-Lyme. Within my role at Yates I tend to work on the bar and occasionally the kitchen, but recently I have taken on the role to be more involved in the social media for the business. To help to widen my knowledge of events and volunteers I volunteered for the Stone Food and Drink Festival in 2017/18. 

My main stills revolve around social media and helping to design promotional material. I am a reliable person with work ethic and put all my effort into anything that I do.

My ideal placement if possible would be within the events, tourism or hospitality industry. However, I am willing to try anything new that may broaden my knowledge and skills 

Please find me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-gooding-66867314a/) or email me (charlottegooding@live.co.uk) if you would like to contact me.

Aaron Shaw

Aaron Shaw

I recently graduated from Staffordshire University with a 2:1 BA (Hons) degree in Business management and I’m now studying an MSc in Digital Marketing Management. I am a team leader at the Staffordshire University Students’ Union. This role requires excellent communication skills, the ability to delegate tasks to the team I am managing and making sure the venue (LRV and Verve) is running as smoothly as possible. This has taught me a multitude of transferable skills within customer service as I have developed my interpersonal and leadership skills. This is reflected within my dedication to the Staffordshire Stallions American Football as a team player and a defensive captain.

I’m currently looking for a digital marketing placement for my work based digital marketing project. This will give me a chance to utilise the skills and knowledge that I have learnt within my masters and apply it to a professional environment. Any opportunity to be able to get this experience would enable me to further my employability.

My degree has given me an insight into a variety of different aspects within Business Management. This has given me fundamental knowledge on topics that also relate to the MSc in Digital Marketing Management. I have extended my academic skills and abilities by studying into a specialised area of Business.  An MSc has enabled me to have a greater understanding of analytics, search engine optimisation and the ability to design a global digital marketing strategy.

If you would like to contact me, my details are;

LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/aaron-shaw-ba20a3150

Email – aaronjamesshaw1994@hotmail.co.uk

Leah Mahon

Leah Mahon

I have graduated with a BA (Hons) Journalism and I am now studying my MSc in Digital Marketing Management. Throughout university, I worked as a venue member for Staffordshire University’s Student’s Union in front and back of house customer service roles and as a Student Ambassador. These roles have instilled me with strong interpersonal skills and self-organisation through working in these multifaceted positions.

I have experience working as a Trainee Journalist at The Sentinel newspaper and Staffs Live, where I was responsible for researching and writing feature and news content for print and online publication. I utilised my qualifications in Reporting and Shorthand at 100WPM from the National Council of Training for Journalists, ensuring accuracy and time management.

I am an experienced CRM Marketing Assistant, where I was responsible for curating content for email marketing campaigns and market research. Studying Digital Marketing has developed my knowledge within integral marketing theories, brand development and content curation/SEO. I am now implementing this in the creation of my own lifestyle blog, The Wordsmith.

I am interested in opportunities in the content marketing sector, and I am open to writing diverse content in an array of industries.

My contact details are:

LinkedIn   –    https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-mahon-b15627121/

Email       –    leah_mahon@outlook.com

Grace Hague

If you are a business owner and you are looking for a driven, creative and hardworking individual that has a keen interest in digital marketing, SEO and business development…then look no further!

I am currently looking for a placement within an organisation that will help me gain further knowledge and experience in the digital marketing field.

I have recently graduated from Staffordshire University with a 2:1 in Tourism Management. My main interests lie in SEO, content curation, analytics and brand building through social media.

I have consolidated experience working in fast-paced environments, working in a team, customer engagement and I have the desire to learn and help businesses grow!

So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch via LinkedIn or email!

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/grace-hague-12846b10a/

Email: Grace_Hague@mail.com

The power of branding #racetowin 2019

Prof. Vish maheshwari, Associate dean and professor of marketing


It is that time of the year again when festivities are in full swing for the imminent arrival of Christmas. There is a special feeling around mostly ‘merry’ but with a touch of somewhat uncertainty about few other developments that I would like to avoid discussing on this occasion!!

However, concentrating on the interesting #racetowin approach from most retailers to acquire as much customer interest, awareness and conviction (in the form of business), it is fascinating to see and experience how power of branding and varied marketing communication strategy is put in action.

From emotion to cognition, symbolic to functional and logical, social to societal aspects, but all with a touch of empathy, being crafted by retailers to connect with their customers at the time of this wonderful festive season. Below are some of the examples to understand application and delivery of brand essence through impactful storytelling:

McDonalds’ Christmas advert portrays close bond between Archie the imaginative reindeer and a young girl called Ellie, displaying the love and togetherness for families.

(Image: McDonald’s)

As usual much awaited each year, John Lewis (and Waitrose) advert this time aims at combining the sense of joy, love, compassion, excitement and friendship between a little girl Ava and a young dragon called Edgar.

(Image: John Lewis & Partners/PA)

Whereas, Boots have focused its advert around practicalities and struggle to find the right gift for your loved ones and is part of its wider festive campaign ‘Gift Like You Get Them’. This is alongside the launch of its new and creative approach through developing various personas to find perfect gifts using curated edits online called Boots ‘Boutique’ covering both offline and online platforms.

On the other hand, the online retailer Very.co.uk has focused its Christmas campaign around important aspect of community spirit promoting a powerful message of social responsibility and sharing the joyfulness of festivities by ‘act of giving’ and collectiveness.


Finally, it’s the return of Amazon’s singing boxes again for third year in a row but with a better emotional touch where the delivery of Christmas gifts through these boxes claim to play an important part in bringing smiles for your loved ones and create wonderful festive memories.

The examples above demonstrates that the concept of delivering brand essence and identity through meaningful interactions. Using relevant messages helps in connecting with customers through different attributes across all channels of integrated marketing communication. It also develops a recognisable brand image for recollection and reconnection with a positive impact and assured conviction during ‘selection/choice making’ stage as part of buying behaviour process. It reinforces the power of brand and branding that goes beyond mere physical and experiential attributes of a product or service.

To end – it is important to assert what philosopher Stephen King once stated that ‘products can be quickly outdated but a successful brand is timeless’


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

What makes an entrepreneur?

June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School


We’ve been celebrating Global Enterprise Week at Staffordshire Business School this week and have welcomed some fantastic guest speakers.  What’s been very evident is that there is no one reason or way to start your own business – each guest speaker has had a uniquely individual journey and experience. In some instances, they have fallen into self-employment, in others, it was a well thought through and planned decision to do so.

So what makes a successful entrepreneur?

There are so many lists out there that can offer you the top 3 or 7 or 20 traits you must have to be a successful entrepreneur.  This is my list based on what our guest speakers shared this week!

Passion & determination – if you are to succeed, you need to be passionate about your business proposition.  What’s the point of setting up a business in something you don’t like or believe in?  However, passion alone will not be enough.  It really does help if you love what you do, but you need to be prepared for setbacks.  I can promise you that things won’t go as smoothly as you hoped. There will be times when you question whether you did the right thing.  That’s when you need to be resilient and, as they say, ‘keep calm and carry on’.

Strong work ethic & self starter – when you work for yourself, it’s very easy to have a lie-in when you don’t feel like working without realising that time is your most precious commodity.  Even when you don’t feel it, you have to push yourself to make that phonecall, finish the report or knock on the door.  You need to be disciplined.  One friend, when he didn’t have any work, used to go to the cinema or meet friends for a coffee.  Another friend would purposely post leaflets around the neighbourhood to promote his business.  Can you guess which one was most successful?

…but also a good finisher – basically, you won’t get paid until you finish the job.  And, you need to finish the job in good time.  So don’t procrastinate.  Sometimes, ‘good enough’ is better than not getting the job done in time. You won’t get repeat business if you don’t deliver on time.


Creativity – you don’t necessarily have to have a new-to-the-world invention or be able to design amazing advertising campaigns, but you do need to be a good problem solver and find ways around problems that come your way.  That’s being creative! 


Keep an eye out for opportunities – Be a purposeful networker.  You don’t have to be an extravert to develop a supportive network and you never know what’s around the corner!  Nearly every contract I received resulted in further business, either from the same organisation or as a result of them passing my details on to a third party.  For example, as a result of writing Mintel reports, I was contacted by the chief executive at the time asking if I could act as an expert witness in a court case.  The timing wasn’t great and I had to juggle domestic commitments and workload but saying yes to this one phone call provided me with the opportunity to be one of a handful of special marketing experts – and it paid well!

Know your worth – friends may ask for freebies or big discounts sometimes with the promise that you’ll get lots of publicity.  If they value you, they will pay for your services or goods.  Occasionally, they may be able to offer you something in kind, such as your first review or office space.  I got a free hair cut from my hairdresser when we spent the time it took to cut my hair discussing how he could improve his pricing policy.  It was win-win and neither of us took the other person’s services for granted. As an expert witness, I realised no one queried how much I was charging, so I increased my fees by £50-£75/day for each new quote.  I never got turned down….

And finally,

Be prepared to learn – constantly!   If you weren’t successful in getting a contract – find out why.  If you made a mistake, learn from it.  Get feedback whenever you can and look at ways to develop new skills.

Digital Entrepreneurship – A Game Changer

Professor Fang Zhao, Staffordshire Business School


Digital revolution is in its full swing now. Digital technologies become pervasive and ubiquitous, disrupting and reshaping business models and processes. According to the estimation of McKinsey Global Institute (2017), by 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers, about 3 to 14 percent of the global workforce will have to change their job categories thanks to digital disruption. Digital technologies have also created and grown the gig (or sharing) economy and generated new entrepreneurial opportunities and new types of entrepreneurship called digital entrepreneurship. The forecast is that digital entrepreneurship may add $1.36 trillion to the future world top ten economies and could generate 10 million additional jobs by 2020 (Nanterne 2014).

What is digital entrepreneurship?

Based on our team’s research, digital entrepreneurship is a distinctive concept signifying a strategic mindset and transformation, through which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organisations pursue business opportunities and create new and transformative services/products, processes, digital ecosystems, markets, business models, and ventures involving digital technologies.

What are the opportunities for businesses and organizations?

There are many opportunities that digital technologies can give rise to, in terms of the growth of digital entrepreneurship. In short, they present three key opportunities: connectivity, scalability and speed. Social media, one aspect of digital technologies, plays a key role in connectivity through network relations which may lead to co-creation and co-ownership. Digital connections are the veins of new venture creation linking creative people and focusing minds and actions on making something people want. On the other hand, the scalability and fast speed allow start-ups to scale up and down quickly and extend their reach across borders and time zones. 

What are the key challenges?

However, the low barrier to use digital platforms increases competitions and minimizes the chances of distinguishing one’s products/services from its rivals. There are also intellectual property issues, cyber security, data protection, to name a few. Digital entrepreneurs need to learn fast to upgrade their capability and skills. New learning becomes a continuous part of venture and business capability development. Knowledge bytes are a daily venture building feature as learning and working become integrated and fused in the digital entrepreneur’s world. Last but not the least, technology is just a tool, just a conduit, just a pathway, the goal is the business. The ultimate objectives that you use technologies for your business count the most. 


For further discussion on the topic area, please contact Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise in Staffordshire Business School, Staffordshire University at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week at Staffordshire Business School #GEW2019

#GEW2019

ALL WELCOME

Monday 18th Nov 2-4pm LT111/113 Julia Roberts

Professional skills for the self- employed Communications and Events Professional

Julia will start with a small talk on how her career developed and then will follow this with some workshop activity.

Tuesday 19th Nov 10.00 – 11.00 LT 02 Ashley Emily Whitehead

Building brand identity: the case study of Simply Great Britain

Tuesday 19th Nov 1.00-2.00 R101 Science Centre Emily Whitehead

Building brand identity: the case study of Simply Great Britain

Tuesday 19th Nov 1.30 – 1.50pm Flaxman Film Theatre Dr Tolu Olarewaju

“The Hult Prize is both the world’s largest student enterprise competition and the  world’s largest movement for social impact. Students from universities around the globe compete to win $1,000,000 in start-up funding to start a business that solves a pressing social issue. This year’s business challenge concerns climate change and is our chance to show the world that our institution is dedicated to Impact. Come and find out how to compete this year and the benefits of engaging with students from every part of our planet.”

http://www.hultprizeat.com/staffordshireuni

Friday 22nd Nov 10.00 – 12.00 S205 Mellor (IT lab) Jonathan Westlake

10.00 – 11.00 Good online tools for digital marketers

11.00 – 12.00 Good online tools for entrepreneurs and the self employed

These are practical workshops come early to ensure you get a seat.A

Speakers profile

Julia Roberts is a communications consultant with over twenty two years of professional work experience within Creative Communications and Marketing including Digital Media, Public Relations and Event Management.

Julia is also the founder and creative director of the Ginger and Spice Festival The Ginger and Spice Festival was crowned champions of British Food Fortnight Competition 2017 and was selected as regional finalists at the Rural Business Awards in both 2018/2019 and 2019/2020.

Her business Rocket Communications and Events Ltd was shortlisted as a regional finalist in the Rural Business Awards 2019/2020.

Julia Roberts - Entrepreneur in Residence

Emily Whitehead

Emily Whitehead Ltd provides highly experienced training, coaching, consultancy & speaking, delivering to a wide range of businesses and organisations. Specialising principally in marketing & communication strategy, leadership & management, business structure, environmental planning & management, this work is carried out for both private clients and within funded projects (most recently ERDF projects in Staffordshire & Leicestershire). Other projects have included work with Staffordshire CC, Stafford BC, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, Staffordshire University Business School , Keele Sustainability Hub, UKCPA, WiREUK & National Forest.

Operating under Emily Whitehead Ltd, Simply Great Britain has a mission to change how Britain views small, micro business one story at a time. Working within a membership community model, Simply Great Britain celebrates, supports & connects its members both online and in person.

Jonathan Westlake

Jonathan is an IT specialist. Exposure over the years to a wide variety of business contexts ranging from small firms to large organisations.  He has extensive experience of business techniques and transformation technology used by business. He was also instrumental in setting up Wavemaker Stoke and also runs his own small business. He is also vice-chair and secretary of the British Computer Society North Staffs branch.

Digital Marketing Tools That Will Help You Understand Customer’s Journey

 Adjaou Mohamed Adesola, MSc Digital Marketing Management


As technology evolves, the digital marketing bar is being raised higher for more transcendent usability and intuitive user interaction. For such, accuracy, speed and ease are the punch that will keep your clients loyal for the long haul. According to Gartner, consumer experience is the practice of designing for and reacting to their interactions to meet and exceed their expectations in order to increase consumer satisfaction, advocacy, and loyalty.

Highlighted below are some of the digital marketing tools that will give you competitive advantage.


Website Analytics tools

User-centered design is the first checkpoint you put your customers through. According to Brilliance, 75% of stores losses sales due to cart abandonment. So, how do you avoid cart abandonment? By having an intuitive navigation. Website navigation is like a table of content. The navigation should be organized, easy and grouped. Having complex and lengthy navigation creates confusion with your end users. For instance,

Imagine being at a new airport with 3 terminals and 6 floors and several concourses, you need to reach terminal 4A in under 10 minutes. How will you reach the gate without proper sign boards? A website without proper navigation is like an airport without proper signs. Your users will get frustrated and take off, hence leading to high bounce rate. How can you solve this issue? Create a website with a uniform design style, color scheme, and typography. Besides, include navigation tools within your website.

UX design involves creating something that users love, while analytics help designers/businesses understand what the elusive thing is. Analytics provides businesses with a measurable benchmark. There are four types of analytics.

  • Predictive analytics: Used to test scenarios and make suggestions.
  • Prescriptive analytics: Check on new trends and determine the optimal patterns.
  • Diagnostic analytics: Tracks and reveal trends over time.
  • Descriptive analytics: Indicates how many and how often.

Today, web analytics tools can perform all the above. If combined with research, measurement, and analysis, then business can create and maintain businesses that meet clients’ needs. You can achieve this using the following tools.

  1. Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics offers analytics that helps businesses increase their conversion rates and track visitors. Besides, it helps to identifying barriers to conversions. Thanks to the use of Engage feature. Engage uses behavior based data to display notifications to site visitors. Using Kissmetrics, marketers can specifically set the following behavior based actions: Lightbox, dynamic content modal, announcements, bumpers, and notifications. Marketers can design triggers that prompt these actions for instances, when a customer is idle for a certain period on the website, he/she is prompted to take some action like signup for newsletter or display related products that they may be interested in. This helps reduce bounce rate, and thus leading to high ranking. The tool is pricy and not affordable to SMEs, besides being a good tool.

Image Source: CMS Wire


Social Media Digital Marketing Tools

According to the Wall Street Journal, an average American spends 37 minutes daily on social media. Thus, every business should leverage on their marketing using the following platforms.

 

  • Twitter Native Platform

Currently, twitter has 326 million users. Do you want to get more out of Twitter and aren’t sure where to start? Creating an engaging and impactful strategy can make the difference. Firstly, you need to find your own voice. As a business, establish a well-defined brand strategy by creating fresh and original content that reflect your core business values. Besides, try and resonate with your audience in a positive way.

Planning and organization are key to great marketing. One of the best ways to get much out of Twitter is to join chats. There are chats for almost every topic. The key success to twitter chats is to be an active participant by following people, replying to their messages and keeping the relationship going even after the chat has ended. If there is no chat that relates to your brand, consider starting your own.

Although planning ahead is always great, the best tweets are created on the go. Ensure you capitalize on the trending topic and world events. However, as a caution, never use a tragedy as a branding opportunity. As a rule of thumb, don’t use one-sided marketing. Your Twitter marketing strategy should be a mix of organic tweets @replies, and Twitter Ads. Nonetheless, maintaining a Twitter account requires certain level of commitment and training. Besides, you must be weary of parody accounts, which can negatively affect your business. In 2019, businesses should watch the status updates to encourage conversation between its users.

 

  • Facebook Power Editor

 

Specifically designed to run hyper-specific advertising campaigns. The tool often issues new targeting and budget-friendly features for all users. In order to get more out of Facebook Power Editor, you must understand Ad basics. Use of catchy headlines, engaging images and strong Call to Action dictates how well your ad will perform.

Image Source: Neil Patel

The catchy headline, and strong call to action makes the above ad more appealing to the target audience. Currently, Facebook Power Editor is only available on Google Chrome, thus, users of other browsers are not privy to using this powerful tool. Currently, Facebook is testing CTAs to be used on stories create on pages. This something to watch in 2019.


Conclusion

Customer experience requires a health check. One of the ingredients to this challenging task is knowing the ins and outs of your customers’ behaviour. In digital marketing, communicating with your consumers and anticipating their needs and problems even before they arise is what you need. Getting the right tool to address customer experience is what will give you a competitive advantage since the war will not be won on product features or price page.

 

Twitter: @AdjaouMohamed 

LinkedIn: https://t.co/rAg1jZKEzi

 

How to Speed up your WordPress Website

Xinyu Zhang, MSc Digital Marketing Management student


Plugins can often help us implement some specific functions so that people who don’t understand the code can also add features to the website, thus avoiding re-development. WordPress, as a mainstream content management system with many themes and plugins, makes its extensibility to the fullest extent. Currently, many famous blogs, news media, music sites, Fortune 500 companies and celebrities are using WordPress, such as favourite blogs like TechCrunch and BBC America on WordPress. How do you get the best performance out of your WordPress and let it fully demonstrate the benefits of your content in modern web pages centring on speed, search engine optimisation and user experience? This blog will introduce some new plugins.

Ready to work

After we use WordPress to build a website, as the website develops more and more visits, we often encounter unsatisfactory opening speeds in the foreground and background, and even exhaustion of memory. Aside from the speed of the network, there is still a way to improve performance from the WordPress. Since WordPress only allocates 64M of memory by default, we have to modify this default parameter; otherwise, it is easy to cause an error: “fatal error, allowed memory size of xxxxx bytes exhausted”.
First, you need to open the WordPress WP including a directory to find the file of default-constants.php.

The first is to increase the memory limit for running WordPress and the second chart is to raise the memory limit obtained by the background supporter. This grade is more appropriate for modern server’s hosting services.
It is modified and saved.
Restart the server to see the effect.

Add AMP functionality to WordPress

Recent changes with Google search techniques will make Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) increasingly important (Dopson, 2018). AMP is Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages.

As the name suggests, it is to speed up the loading of the mobile web to enhance the experience.

From the official statistics, the webpage average speed has increased by 4 times after use it. At the same time, it is Google’s AMP Project advocating a solution for speeding up mobile networks. WordPress provides full support for AMP pages. You only need to download two plugins and enable them to add an AMP version to your WordPress website.

Even if it is a free version, you can get quite a bit of structured content, including site names, individual text tag translations, logos, GTM, GA, structured data, etc.

You can also add a cache for WordPress

Having a slow-loading site is a serious problem because it can be catastrophic to your bounce rate. As is well known, if websites are not loaded quickly and reliably, they are more likely to leave the site. 47% of Internet users want to load in the site within 2 seconds. It is worth mentioning that a delay of one second can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions.

WordPress occupies a massive amount of CPU resources. Generating a normal page often involves dozens of SQL queries and second-level runtimes. Hence, dynamic page statics for WordPress is the best choice for optimising performance.

This is Autoptimize critical. Such a plugin not only combines various scattered JavaScript and CSS in the page but also optimises the order of loading locations, which can significantly reduce the number of HTTP requests and the problem of repeatedly rendering pages. Meanwhile, this plugin will generate some custom JS and CSS files.

Optimise WordPress images

Website image optimisation has always been a significant content. Compressing images can not only make the website faster but also improve SEO optimisation. Therefore, I recommend a WordPress image optimisation for the friends of WordPress website. Plugin ShortPixel is a full-featured image optimisation plug-in based on image compression, which provides a very comprehensive image optimisation option, including:

  • Image Compression
  • Picture cropping
  • Picture adjustment
  • Image backup recovery
  • PDF compression

All the work can be handed over to ShortPixel, and it will do the job for you in the background supporter.

Automatically add related articles

To help a website improve its Google ranking, “visitor stay” can be extended by highlighting additional topics the readers might be interested in (Dobson, 2018).

The addition of related articles has allowed some users to stay longer on the website. Some topics cannot be clearly explained in an article, and readers are able to understand it through related articles better. I recommend Related Posts for WordPress. This plugin works best, which can go to the other articles cited and then recommend according to the label and classification.

According to the reports, the number of Internet users using search engines has steadily increased, so that search engine optimisation becomes more important than ever. Yoast is known as the best SEO plugin because of its various powerful features: Internal link suggestion, Redirect manager Keyword report, XML site map, content and page analysis tools. As a simple and easy-to-use SEO plugin, Yoast SEO can provide webpage snapshots for search engine optimisation, evaluation of page readability, content length, alt attributes, keyword, title tags, meta descriptions, outbound links and URLs, etc. Furthermore, the basic optimisation elements can be easily done with Yoast SEO.

The Yoast plugin, like an advanced version of the plugin, offers a freemium model. However, most users still prefer to use the free version. There are a lot of advertisements and sales information on the free version. Although it does not affect the use, seeing it for a long time is still annoying. I will provide a plug-in for advertising to use or hide the back-end advertising content of SEO Bloat hidden Yoast free SEO plugin.

 

LinkedIn: Zhang Xinyu