Awareness and Corporate Social Responsibility

Storm Barratt, Course Director, Staffordshire Business School


Almost never a day goes by, when we aren’t reminded that “today” is National, International or even Global “something” awareness day or week or month. From the ever-popular Christmas Jumper day to my own particular favourite – National Squirrel Appreciation Day (!), from National Allotment week to Fairtrade fortnight to National Bed month.

All of these campaigns are designed to raise awareness and/or funds for some serious and not so serious issues. So, why as a business, would you want to know this?

Firstly, all businesses have basic ethical and legal responsibilities; however, the most successful businesses establish a strong foundation of corporate citizenship, showing a commitment to ethical behaviour by creating a balance between the needs of shareholders and the needs of the community and environment in the surrounding area. These practices help bring in consumers and establish brand and company loyalty.

It is considered normal for businesses to balance the other stakeholders’ needs with those of the shareholders during the decision-making process. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goes even further, making the general public a stakeholder and shows that the business wishes to actively improve things for everyone.

Image Source: www.growthbusiness.co.uk

For any business making a profit is still key and, of course, the needs of employees, customers and suppliers must be satisfied if the business is to survive. However, Corporate Social Responsibility has become far more important over the last few decades with consumers worrying about how the products they buy were made and how companies that they buy from are run. On many company websites there will be narratives of how they look after the environment and all the CSR initiatives of which they are a part.

Corporate social responsibility comes in many forms. Even the smallest company impacts social change by making a simple donation to a local food bank. Some of the most common examples of CSR include:

  • Reducing carbon footprints
  • Improving labour policies
  • Participating in Fairtrade
  • Charitable giving
  • Volunteering in the community
  • Corporate policies that benefit the environment
  • Socially and environmentally conscious investments

The growing popularity of National Awareness Days can tap into these initiatives helping a company both internally and externally.


One internal perspective is if your employees can see that the business is taking a caring approach, by raising funds for charity for instance, involving the staff may mean that they become more motivated to engage with each other working towards a common goal. In fact, whilst “Wear a Christmas Jumper to Work” day seems an opportunity to raise a smile amongst colleagues as we approach the long dark winter months, the serious aspect is that the jumper wearers are raising money for a great cause.

Another perspective is using “Awareness Days” to help a business promote their product or service (all the better if this can also highlight the CSR approach taken by the company). The issues can make an ideal marketing tool for a business, providing inspiration for marketing content.

By adding context to an awareness day, a business can plan their content by linking a day to their product or service, so for example an artisan baker could showcase their expertise and knowledge during Real Bread Week, or a nutritionist could use National Allotment Week to encourage healthy and organic eating whilst promoting their own healthy eating programme.

It’s not just about direct promotion though. Awareness days can provide a great opportunity for a business to engage in conversation with future consumers via social media using hashtags associated with the cause, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This will allow people to find and contact you, consequently building your audience.

From engaging with employees to good PR to corporate social responsibility, supporting a national awareness day is a great way to show which values are important to you and your business. It can differentiate you from your competitors and allow you to build partnerships with charities and organisations that share your beliefs. With the potential to build trust as well as give a little back, it’s a win-win situation for all.


Become a responsible leader of global business.

Do you want to be at the forefront of modern enterprise? Our BA (Hons) Business Management and Sustainability course challenges the traditional interpretations of enterprise and will open your mind to a broad range of contemporary themes in business.

Our emphasis on ethical business and sustainability will position you to create long-lasting value for your organisation and you will learn the practical skills needed to become a responsible business leader.

Need help with Digital Marketing in 2021? Opportunities from Staffordshire Business School

The pandemic has illustrated how important a good website, good ecomerce offer and good social media are to business. Those that already had these established have been able to keep taking orders and in many cases to pivot their business.

We are now offering again the opportunity for a student placement to assist you with your digital marketing needs. Have a look here at projects completed in 2020 to get an idea of what is possible.

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 essential for the work project activity to take place at the premises – many of the projects have been remotely delivered due to COVID.

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.

Below are some of the current students – either reach out to them directly or contact jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk

Jessica Bell

Jessica Bell
Jessica Bell – Ideally, I would like a placement within events or tourism, but I’m very flexible and I am open to offers.

I recently completed my bachelors degree in Tourism Management, in which I obtained a First Class honours. I am now studying a masters degree in Digital Marketing.

I am extremely enthusiastic about travelling and understanding different cultures around the world. I decided to take an internship during my gap year where I worked in a prestige country club in South Florida for 7 months and later I worked in a country club in Connecticut for the remaining 5 months. After I completed my degree my manager in Connecticut asked me to go back to work for them for another year in 2019. During my time in America I worked in the front of house as a bartender and server, I worked events, worked on the reception and worked in the office helping to plan events and create content for the clubs website. Aside from working in America, I also have voluntary experience working for the Stone Food and Drink Festival 2018, as well as becoming a student representative for my course. 

During my time at university I worked with a number of different softwares including SPSS, Excel, PowerPoint and I also obtained a Microsoft Office Specialist for Word in 2019. I also have experience working with small social media advertising campaigns to build a brand image

Overall I am strong team player, I have good work ethics and I’m a fast learner that can work independently as well as in a team if needed. Ideally, I would like a placement within events or tourism, but I’m very flexible and I am open to offers.

Further contact details can be found from my LinkedIn profile or email jessica.bell9107@gmail.com

Paige Sinclair

Paige Sinclair
Paige Sinclair

I have recently graduated with a 2:1 in BA (Hons.) Event Management. Previous to that I completed a National Vocational Qualification level 3 in Hospitality supervisor and leadership at Cardiff.

I am currently working as a team member at Staffordshire University Student Union bar. For my volunteer work, I had experience working with Channel 4 and at the Stone Food and Drink Festival.

Before this, I helped out at events that were hosted by the college which includes the chef forum and local MP conference, and at a hospitality competition. The skills that I have are customer service, good at solving problems, have a positive attutude to everything I do, good communication both written and oral, time-management, reliable, and confident talking to new people. I also have computer skills that include Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and confident in using social media. Additionally, I am opened minded and can adapt to new environments as well as willing to learn new things.

Linkedin here or email at paigesinclair97@hotmail.com

Verity Adams

Verity Adams
Verity Adams

In 2018 I graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Computer Science at Keele University. Whilst undertaking my degree, I worked as an IT Intern for a houseware distribution company. After graduation, I started working as a Junior Graphic Designer for Dee Set, a company that focuses on driving growth, market share and ROI to a large range of clients, such as ASDA, Tesco and Wilkinsons. I then quickly progressed into a more senior Graphic Designer role within a Digital Marketing company, BWAR Ltd. I opened my own Digital Marketing business ‘Yello Dog’ in December 2019. To assist me with running my business and further my knowledge and experience of Digital Marketing, I decided to apply for a MSc Digital Marketing Management Degree at Staffordshire University.

My work experience and qualifications have provided me with an extensive and broad skillset. My Computer Science degree has enabled me to understand the technicalities associated with building websites, computer software and assist with many digital trends of today. My role as a Graphic Designer has provided me with an understanding of brand identity, digital marketing and social media. Owning my own business has given me the opportunity to obtain and work with my own clients, identify ways of marketing my own business and manage my own projects and deadlines.

Linkedin profile and email me verity@yellodog.co.uk

Sruthy AB

Sruthy AB
Sruthy AB

I have graduated with 1st class BSc (Hons) Computer Science and 1st class MBA (Post-grad) degree in HRM and marketing specializations. Due to my keen interest and evolving technologies in Digital marketing and its immediate growth in a new dimension, I am pursuing my 2nd Master in digital marketing management with Staffordshire University.

I have  gained eight years of corporate experience internationally  with leading IT companies from leading markets such as Asia (India), Middle East (Dubai) and Europe (UK ) with wide range of expertise in the field of business technologies management, solutions automation (such as ERP/CRM/ED-Tech/E-learning solutions), SAAS model implementation, digital marketing management & content creation, performance analysis, brand management, SEO and corporate website management including email & online marketing, PR & CSR activities promotion and media management etc.

I am currently looking for a project with a reputed organisation that challenges me with my expertise & skills to excel in my career and helps me to gain further experience in digital marketing & management. Moreover, being multilinguistic I am always a great team player and I want to help organizations to grow in the new dimensions of digital marketing and experience its potential. Ideally, I would like a placement within IT sector, but would not mind if it’s an exceptional offer from other fields. Contact information – Sruthy AB | LinkedIn /Email Sruthyab@gmail.com

Sandra Decowska

Sandra Decowska
Sandra Decowska – bilingual in English and Polish

I have graduated with a BA (Hons) in Tourism Management at Staffordshire University with Upper Second (2:1) and I am now studying an MSc in Digital Marketing Management.

Bi-lingual – fluent in both Polish and English.

Recently, I have experience working as a Planning Distributor at TK Maxx Newcastle-under-Lyme. In this role I am working closely with the planning and distribution team. This role is office based within a very busy, fast-paced environment.

This has taught me a lot of transferable skills such as computing skills, implementation new team strategies, efficiently manage the office duties, dealing with administration, customers and suppliers.

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.

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

Linkedin or email me sdec2977@gmail.com

Arnold Tembo

Arnold Tembo
Arnold Tembo

I have recently graduated with​ a BA (Hons) in Business Management. Having grown up in a small family business which sold food and beverages, I have been able to gain insider knowledge of how to run a business successfully. When studying Business Management at university I successfully created a business from scratch working within a small team.


I have previously worked as a Healthcare Assistant and much recently as a Call Handler at an urgent care centre. By working in these positions, I have learned to become a more compassionate person, as I show more kindness and empathy towards other people in my daily life.

I have a passion for Digital Marketing that is why I am pursuing a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Management. The master’s course has taught me how digital marketing strategies can be applied to a business and given me extensive knowledge on different marketing tools. For the last year I have been running a blog on Instagram and WordPress. This experience has made me efficient in creating content that connects with diverse audiences and have gained solid understanding of different media platforms.

I am a highly creative individual on the other hand I am extremely analytical, what separates me from a lot of people is my enormous desire to learn. I am looking for a placement in an organisation that will help me gain further experience and knowledge in Digital Marketing. If you would like to contact me, email me at : tembo.aj@outlook.com

If you wish to take a look at my blog, you can find It on Instagram: arnoldwrites_blog or if you want to take a look at my blog on WordPress: ARNOLD WRITES – BLOG (wordpress.com)

Niamh Beer

Nimah Beer
Niamh Beer – runs her own Etsy shop

I have a BA (Hons) English Literature (2-year fast track) where for my placement I worked with my own small Etsy Business and focused on the importance of Social Media in the online marketplace. Creating my Etsy shop enabled me to learn about SEO as well as the use of their marketing services as well as those which are provided by different social media platforms.

 My interest in the sector is within social media as I feel like I understand it well and have been a user for more than a decade. I have used my knowledge of Social Media to run a Twitter account for a small business a family member was starting and help with brand building. This was great experience for me as I was able to learn what went well and what could be improved on. I currently am applying the skills I am learning in my Digital Marketing Management MSc to my own Etsy shop which has seen great improvement. I am experienced in using analytics as well as identifying different demographics, I also have the ability to create Marketing Communications Plans and Global Digital Marketing strategies.

I am a quick learner and am always enthused to learn more in order to further my career. I am looking for a placement which can enable me to enhance my skills and can challenge me. Email me b010250h@student.staffs.ac.uk

Jack Dutton

Jack Dutton
Jack Dutton experienced in film and video

I currently have a BA Experimental Film Production (First class). My experience ranges from volunteer to paid work, as well for my own interest. My main skills lie in social media and videography, which I have an extensive knowledge of. I have a range of experience creating content whether it is for business or different groups. Primarily this is promotional materials, such as logos, business cards, and videos such as trailers or adverts.

I have a keen interest in Digital Marketing, specifically around content curation and social media management. I am currently undertaking an MSc in Digital Marketing Management. Before starting my course, I have worked with Staffordshire University to introduce prospective students to camera equipment and walkthrough the film courses at the university. In addition, I have worked with Stoke Council to go into schools to deliver presentations around anti-smoking, and then work with groups of students to produce these anti-smoking messages into short films. I also currently hold an FLT licence which I gained whilst working at B&Q .

At present I am looking for a project or work placement that helps me further my experience in digital marketing, in order to develop my skills and pursue a career in the future within the industry.

Contact information: – Email: jackadamdutton@gmail.com

James Gooch

James Gooch
James Gooch lots of expertise in sound production

I have recently completed my BSc (Hons) Sound Design in which I obtained a 2:1, this focussed on sound for visual media. I strengthened my skills in digital media, including sound for film, TV and games using tools such as Logic Pro X (Certified Pro), Pro tools ultimate and Adobe Audition and Premiere. I comprehensively studied music production and technology including use of industry standard hardware. Within this time I also improved my skills using Adobe Photoshop and completed my certification as an associate in visual design. I also obtained experience within Microsoft Office, namely Word, PowerPoint and Excel. I also have a lot of experience with virtual meeting rooms such as Microsoft teams.

Within my pursuit of an MSc in Digital Marketing Management I have gained skills and knowledge of content marketing, marketing strategy and planning, SEO, email marketing and social media marketing. I would love to further my experience in all of these aspects of digital marketing specifically SEM gaining hands on experience with PPC and other digital marketing tools.

I have recently been successful acquiring a digital marketing role within a B2B company in which I can further my knowledge and experience in social media, content curation/creation, SEO, website management, visual design and analytics. Within this role I am gaining experience with tools such as Zoho, WordPress and Google analytics.

My experience mostly consists of customer facing roles, this includes seasons abroad with PGL Travel in Spain and France, Customer team member at Coop (ongoing) as well Student Ambassador for Staffordshire University advocating the university on open days as well as with the Unibuddy chat service (ongoing).

Don’t hesitate to connect with me on my LinkedIn

If you would like to discuss how we can benefit each-other please contact me: Gooch.James@hotmail.co.uk

Global Entrepreneurship Week at Staffordshire Business School #GEW2020

Hazel Squire, Head of Department Staffordshire Business School


#GEW2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a collection of tens of thousands of activities, competitions and events aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere to start up and scale a company.

This November 16 – 22, as part of GEW 2020 Staffordshire Business School together with Staffordshire University Innovation Enterprise Zone will be hosting a range of activities aimed at both local businesses and students.

As a nation, the impact of COVID-19 means we are all seeking and finding new ways of doing things. In an effort, to build resilience and come together in leveraging the power of new ideas and innovation we will be launching our Innovation Enterprise Zone https://www.staffs.ac.uk/business-services that will give businesses access to:

  • Skills development and support
  • Researchers, student talent and experts
  • Grants and business support programmes
  • Innovation infrastructure and incubation facilitates

Announced last year, Staffordshire University was one of 20 University Enterprise Zones (UEZs), launched with a £20 million investment by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation. 

Furthermore, be inspired offers a full year of start-up support including: information, advice and guidance from an experienced team of business advisers, regular meetings with industry mentors of your choice, full business processes induction, industry-led specialist workshop sessions, networking opportunities, access to personal growth software, access to personalised legal documentation, a £3000 tax free grant and, as your idea grows, access to investment opportunities. Information detailing how to access all this help will be provided at the be inspired session on Friday 20th November.

Finally, Enterprise Education has never been more important, as it allows us to equip future generations with the skills and mindsets, they need to navigate a world of work that may not even exist yet. Through entrepreneurship activities, learners can gain key entrepreneurial skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, risk-taking and teamwork. Entrepreneurship can offer alternative pathways for young people, improving their skills, employability and life chances, while supporting wider economic and social development.

Thus, Enterprise Education is embedded in to all our courses and as part of GEW Staffordshire Business School will be providing a week of challenging enterprise activities working with guest speakers and the be inspired Graduate Start up Programme.

Here is a list of all our free and exciting activities – to book your place use the links provided in the table below:

MONDAY 16TH NOVEMBER

10-11am Being an ethical business: “Street Kids”
Presented by Dr Andrew Taylor
(Session open to all Staffordshire University students)
11-11.45am         Official Launch of the Innovation Enterprise Zone
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
11-12pm Improving the Customer Experience
Presented by Professor David Collins
(Session open to all Staffordshire University students)  
2-3pm Why SMART goals do NOT work! –
Goal setting to achieve more in challenging times
Presented by David Hyner
(Session open to all) 

*Our Innovation Enterprise Zone is one of the only 20 awards around the UK and is embedded at the heart of our campus, IEZ offers unprecedented access to specialist advanced materials, manufacturing and digital facilities, research, student talent and funding to support and accelerate innovation-led growth.

TUESDAY 17TH NOVEMBER

11-11.45am Advanced Materials Incubator & Accelerator Centre  
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
1-5pm Staffs Got Talent! – Innovation challenge  

*Introduction to our new Incubator and Accelerator facility, what it is and how it supports start-ups and SME’s. Delivered by Kelly Bradley. Programme Manager

WEDNESDAY 18TH NOVEMBER

10-11am The Pitch Competition – virtual workshop
Presented by Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean
(Session for Staffordshire Business School students in Level 5 & 6)  
11-11.45am          Advanced Manufacturing Prototyping & Innovation Demonstrator
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
11.30-12pm Digital Entrepreneurship Research and Practice
Fang Zhao, Associate Dean
(Session open to all Staffordshire University students)

*Whether you are looking for research and development advanced manufacturing techniques or process improvement – hear how we can help you succeed! Delivered by Rachel Wood. Programme Manager

THURSDAY 19TH NOVEMBER

*An outline of the programme, benefits of knowledge exchange and how to get involved. Delivered by Marc Wootton. Programme Manager

11-11.45amDigital Innovation Partnerships         
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
2-3pm Meet the Entrepreneurs: Panel with Q&A
Jane Pallister, Jonathan Westlake, Emily Whitehead
(Session open to all) 

FRIDAY 20th NOVEMBER

11-11.45am Intelligent Mobility Innovation Accelerator  
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
2-2.45pm The Small Business Leadership Programme: Meet the team & overview
Professor Jon Fairburn
(Session open to all)   

*This webinar is an introduction into our dedicated project SCIMIA and other wide support for businesses, Delivered by: Marek Hornak – Head of Employer Partnerships and Enterprise

#GEW2020      #ProudToBeStaffs     #StaffsGotTalent       #staffsinnovation

Digital marketing students deliver for business

The MSc in Digital Marketing Management was developed to deliver the technical, strategic and organisation skills for this industry. As such the course includes a substantial project with an external client and this work is credited as part of the award. Carrying out a project at the height of the pandemic was even more challenging than usual with everything needing to be done remotely and ongoing changes to adapt to the new situation – so Congratulations to the students below for these excellent projects.

If you are interested in enrolling for this September we are putting on virtual course information events – 3.00-4.00pm 1st September register here or
3.00 – 4.00pm 10th September register here

Eerik Beeton carried out a project for The Waterfront Gallery, in Milford Haven, West Wales. This has involved developing the ecommerce offer on the website, creating social media channels Facebook, Instagram and helping to recruit volunteers for the gallery.

Eerik Beeton who carried out a project at the Waterfront Gallery in  Milford haven, Pembrokeshire
Eerik Beeton who carried out a project at the Waterfront Gallery in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire

Charlotte Cunningham created a completely new website for Simply Hygiene which is already on the first page of google search due to excellent SEO optimisation. She has also started her own digital marketing company, Sharkey’s Digital Marketing and has also accepted a position as the Marketing Manager for The Aston Care Home group and The Learning College in Stone.

Charlotte has a new marketing job with the Aston Care group in Stone
Charlotte has a new marketing job with the Aston Care group in Stone

Craig Holdcroft carried out a project for the Donna Louise Trust developing the website and social media. He has also started his own marketing business, Holdcroft Digital Marketing while at Staffordshire University, completing projects for a number of Micro and SME’s.

Craig Holdcroft
Craig Holdcroft is running his own agency and part-time lecturing for business and marketing.

Grace Thomson started a student peer blog for the Staffordshire University Careers Studio and this has now been incorporated into the main careers website for the University. The project included providing guidance and training for students across the different faculties in blog writing and social media. The blog has already achieved 23,000 reads in the short time it has been up.

Grace Thomson
Grace Thomson

Amber Mottershead carried out her project for Stone Cricket Club providing a new website and turbo charging the social media channels on twitter, instagram and facebook. She now has a new job as marketing and events executive at The Retrofit Academy

Amber is now the marketing and events executive for the Retrofit group
Amber is now the marketing and events executive for the Retrofit group

Here’s a short film

If you want to find out more about the course please contact

Paul Dobson (Course leader) or Kat Mitchell or Jon Fairburn

Sign up to our virtual course information event here – 3.00-4.00pm 1st September register here or 3.00 – 4.00pm 10th September register here

Support for micro & SME’s businesses: Survive and Thrive

Project leads: e:Prof Jon Fairburn @ProfjonFairburn and e:Kat Taylor @KatTayloruk

There are two parts to the Survive and Thrive project – a series of webinars and 1 to 1 business support. This project aims to support businesses in Staffordshire and the surrounding regions.

The webinars are designed to be interactive and resources to download during the webinars will be made available, as well as examples and the opportunity for chat and questions. If you are unable to attend the webinar then you can watch a recording.

Several of the webinars link to each other and we would encourage you to sign up for all of the webinars.

Practical Hints and Tips for Small and Micro-businesses occurred on Staffordshire Day (May 1st)Recording here

How to critically assess your business operation and ask really good questions in light of Covid 19 – 2pm May 21st Recording here

How to Create Clear Messaging & Develop Customer Relationships Online – 2pm May 28th Recording here

Strengthening your business and its future prospects: adapting your operations and supply chain management 2pm June 4th Recording here

Are you in the right place? How to connect to the right audience & analyse your performance 2pm June 11th Recording here

E-commerce 1: A fun, no techno-babble guide to having a go with electronic commerce! 2pm 18th June Awaiting editing

E-commerce 2:  A detailed navigation of the e-commerce strategy template introduced in the E-Commerce 1 webinar 2pm June 25th Recording here

How to manage your staff and their wellbeing out of the lockdown and beyond 2pm July 2nd Recording here

Introduction to advanced operations for key social media platforms 2pm July 7th Recording here

How to develop & integrate email marketing into your business 2pm July 9th Recording here

Managing change, risk and longevity – what does the future hold? 2pm July 16th

Register here

Applications for FREE 1 to 1 business support are NOW CLOSED (All businesses that are due to receive help have been contacted).

CONTACT INFO Prof Jon Fairburn or Kat Taylor

#SurviveandThrive #Staffordshire #Staffsbiz #Businesstips

Preparing for the New Normal – How accommodation providers in France are rethinking and adapting their services and what can we learn from this?

Paul Dobson, Senior LEcturer,Staffordshire Business School


It’s been a challenging, confusing and worrying time for most industries during this current Coronavirus Crisis. But the hospitality sector in particular stands to be one of the hardest hit as it struggles to contemplate how it can continue to trade successfully keeping social distancing in mind, coupled with a rapidly shrinking economy.  As part of Staffordshire Business School’s support to organisations I’ve been supporting the local and international hospitality sector and as the French businesses are ahead of us in coming out of lockdown I’ve noted some points to help prepare UK organisations.

After 2 months enduring some of the strictest lockdown controls in Europe, France is slowly opening up its economy and society. And the vast, hugely varied accommodation sector, which historically welcomes visitors across the world, is undergoing a rapid and radical revolution to ensure it can continue to attract customers in these unprecedented times.

The newly forced need to keep distance and natural sense of personal safety has fallen well into the hands of some of the self-catering sector. Private homes and villas, especially those that can offer generous outside space as well as little or no contact with others, have seen a huge demand since the 11th of May when the French Prime Minister officially declared that travel up to 100km was now permitted. The public, who have been largely “imprisoned” with massively limited scope to be outside their own homes since the middle of March inevitably have an overwhelming desire for a change of scenery. However, this is not a universal permission and policy, and restricted zones still exist across France, and indeed many local governments, even in the less-infected “green regions” are enforcing the continuation of heavy trading restrictions and forced closures of accommodation providers. But where these rules do not apply, the flood gates have opened and demand, all from customers within the 100km radius, has been significant. Also worthy of note is that the average length of stay has seen a dramatic increase for this time of year.

That’s not to say that this is return to normal times for these accommodation owners. French hospitality organisations have had a massive increase in questions about sanitation, personal responsibility and uniform industry standards on cleanliness and contact that the UK accommodation businesses will need to be prepared for when lockdown restrictions are relaxed. As of today, these restrictions haven’t been totally clarified in France, and only “best practice” guides from local tourism authorities exist online. Some of the leading booking platforms and websites for this sub sector are advising “safety gaps” between customers of, for example, 24 hours to allow any surfaces to become less likely to cross contaminate in the future. What is apparent from discussions with French hospitality businesses is that there is an increased desire for customers to have  “direct online contact” with the service rather than through  online booking platforms.  This could be a welcome shift in attitude as this not only allows peace of mind for the customer, but also less commissions for the business owner to pay to the booking platforms which have come under much public criticism and scrutiny of late because of their high charges. One of the French businesses I’ve talked to has had an 800% increase in Facebook messages, their analytics has shown an increase in both mobile and desktop visitors to their website and the number of emails has increased by over 200% compared to last year.

The B&B (Chambres d’hote) and Hotel sector have reported an uphill challenge. With a mix of different guests under their roofs, all with potentially varying attitudes to respecting the new government guidelines, this poses a significant threat to their short- and medium-term existence. However, those that can offer genuine space, especially outside, have a clear advantage over those that cannot. Going from one restrictive box to another isn’t likely to be a great draw for the new discerning needs of the Covid-19 era traveller.  Forced confinement has brought about a new desire to be out and about in nature, and burn off all those excessive calories consumed since March.

But with the high season fast approaching during which these businesses would traditionally run at maximum occupancy, the reality is that these organisations will be forced to not only give “buffers” in between guests checking out and the next ones checking in, but also run at a lower occupancy to ensure that interaction between different customers is minimized. Therefore “Making Hay whilst the sun shines” will this year inevitably bring about a lower yield, and reduce the vital cashflow which sustains many of these businesses during the quieter months. 

An example of changes implemented is the hotelier Tim Bell and Ingrid Boyer in the Auvergne region of Central France. Tim has developed their website to include a link to their Covid-19 guidance on their home page (see https://chabanettes.com/). This is updated on a regular basis and outlines their commitment to client’s safety.  He implements rapid alterations to its usual offerings and has created the foundations for business continuity and customer confidence.  He has also set up a Facebook forum for like minded accommodation owners in Europe seeking support and advice. Tim collates industry data, statistics and best practice ideas from all over the accommodation sector and share his opinions and advice with the group.

The sector in which he operates is having to rethink more radically about its traditional services to ensure competitivity and customer confidence. This ranges from the provision of catering which is leaning initially more towards a “Room Service” culture to a complete overhaul of the check-in/check-out customer touch points, looking to technology and globally recognised physical safety barriers to reduce risk of viral spread. For an industry which relies heavily on close, personal contact for their reputation and overall experience, keeping a balance between customer satisfaction and safety is proving challenging, but not impossible. Clients now expect a more sterile and distanced world, with supermarkets leading the way in some innovation and rethinking of the customer journey that the hotels are learning from, such as one-way corridors.

Until the world is safely vaccinated against the virus, the accommodation industry will have to adapt quickly and radically to guidelines, legislation and customer fears. History has told us that businesses that do this will have the best chance of survival, and those that don’t not only fear a downturn in business, but also a very visible online reputation for ignoring what is now the number one priority for the 2020 traveller – Safety.

Chatting with chatbots

Keair Bailey, Msc Digital MArketing Management


Chatbots are the cost-effective way for a business to stay engaged with their customer 24/7, this blog will discuss why businesses should be including them in their next marketing implementation.

On a very simple level, a bot is just a bit of software that can carry out pre-determined actions on its own without being actively controlled. This is discussed in further detail by Neil Patel who describes it as a “wind up toy”, you build it to carry out what you want it to, you wind it up, and then you let it perform the action it was designed for.

The Customer comes first

The first advantage that a business will notice when introducing chatbots to their marketing is the speed in which the bots reply to customer support messages. This is extremely important as its very common for customers to get very frustrated when made to wait for a human over the phone on through a chat. There is no way to accommodate enough human customer support workers for every customer with a query which results in long wait times. TheModernFirm did a study on customers who have had to call in order to reach customer support, these numbers were found:

  • “67% of customers hang up out of frustration when they can’t reach a real person.
  • 75% of customers think that it takes too long to reach a human being.
  • 72% of callers who reach an automated/recorded phone line will hang up.”

These problems will result in lower customer loyalty and eventually a loss of profits.

Implementation of a chatbot would eradicate these problems, A chatbots response is immediate and a customer can have their query solved in a matter of seconds. Customers are also more likely to reach out for support if they see a ‘Live Chat’ button.

More information

Businesses today put a lot of emphasis on knowing everything about their customer, this is normally done through primary research. Information such as what a customer is buying is available as a company can just look at sales statistics, however, products that a customer is choosing not to buy is harder to work out as there are far more variables involved. The best way to gain this information is straight from the customers their selves, this is made possible by the mighty chatbot. Email doesn’t result in as accurate information due to the back and forth nature, a live chat allows the customer to reply naturally which leads to more accurate information.

Modern Evolution

LearningHub stats show that Chatbots will power 85% of customer service by 2020 and by 2022, chatbots will help businesses save over $8 billion per annum. If these stats stay true, which information is leaning towards, companies who HAVEN’T introduced chatbots into their marketing strategy will be left behind. Customers will simply stop doing business with company’s that require extra steps to get what they want. Together with the cost efficiency of the chatbot, It makes less and less sense to continue to pay a human to do an AI’s job. Speaking of humans, its very common for somebody working customer support to make a ‘human’ error, this could be something as simple as interpreting the meaning of a question slightly wrong which can lead to frustration or a loss of sales from the customer.

They’re taking our jobs!

While the AI in a chatbot can usually accommodate for most requests from a customer, it’s very easy for a chatbot to get stuck if a customer’s query is slightly different to its base algorithms that its been taught. Also, as a chatbot learns from the responses it receives from a customer, it can sometimes make the wrong decision internally due not being able to actually choose which decision it wants to make, it is just following the code. An example of this is a Microsoft chatbot used on Twitter being taught racist and misogynistic responses by customers in less than 24 hours, to avoid this, the chatbot must be optimised properly.

Conclusion

There is an endless supply of advantages when it comes to assessing chatbots, they can save your company money and time, improve your customer relations and customer loyalty and ultimately create a better brand image. Although, an influx of AI and bots makes the whole customer service process very impersonal and cold as suggested by Neil Patel. Neil also suggests that chatbots should most definitely be used in their marketing strategies but the businesses should also be careful as to not “water down” their marketing.

“All good things in moderation”.

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