How social media helps small businesses to grow

Lucy Harvey, BA (hons) Marketing Management student

Are you struggling to get your small business a strong following on social media platforms?

Small businesses are often mistaken for believing that social media marketing doesn’t need to be implemented for their company as they already have a loyal, communal following that are aware of who and what they stand for. However, this mindset is limiting the possible audience in and around the local area who aren’t aware of your business, but require your services, which your competitors could easily steal just by being on social media.

A successful social media campaign will include the following steps, in order to see a growth in traffic and overall sales:

  1. Create a marketing strategy plan and a set of smart objectives
  2. Research your audience, current trends and market place
  3. Post engaging content to social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, such as competitions, stories, images, videos and polls
  4. Create a relevant hashtag for your audience to share with their friends and family to establish brand identity
  5. Introduce a reward system – this incentive offers rewards to customers after each visit to eventually receive a free product/service will show an increase of returning and loyal customers. An example of this is Starbucks, offering their audience stars to collect to redeem a free drink.
  6. Engage with your audience regularly to build a strong relationship

Using Google Analytics; your small business can then measure what parts of their social media advertising is working and where they are generating traffic from. This could be an opportunity to be more specific in your advertising, and if it is generating interest from people not in the area, you could consider expanding your business globally if there’s a desire for your product/services elsewhere. Expanding your business will therefore increase revenue which you can then be implemented back into your social media campaigns, to continue to grow your brands reputation positively.

Empty Nest? Yes please!

Storm Barratt, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School

The world has turned upside down but for any University, it isn’t too soon to be thinking about a return to “normal” (in whatever guise that may be) and the young students who are (hopefully) excited to leave home, albeit temporarily, and join us for the new academic year come September. Many of our thoughts are not only about the academic guidance we shall be giving but also the extra-curricular support to help these young people transition from school children to University student.

But what about the Mums (and Dads and others) who are left behind feeling bereft at their child moving on without them?

The dreaded “Empty Nest” Syndrome.

This is a very real occurrence for many and whilst I would not want to make light of it, the following is a slightly irreverent piece I wrote when my boys moved out. Was I worried and anxious? Of course. Upset and tearful? For a while. Then, over time, sanity was restored, and a delicious feeling of freedom began to creep my way.

It was picking up yet another soggy towel from the bathroom floor that tipped me over the edge. That and looking forward to a biscuit with my cup of tea when, surprise! No biscuits. ‘That’s it!’ I shrieked to my husband, ‘It’s high time they moved out’. He raised one cynical eyebrow and replied: ‘You don’t mean that; look what happened last time’.

Three years ago, both of my children left home at the same time – one to work in America, the other to his first year at university. Suddenly after 22 years of nurturing, cherishing, catering for their every need and generally interfering, my life changed in an instant with a simple, ‘Bye Mom’ and a slam of the front door.

I remember how I felt. The first few weeks I was miserable; I couldn’t concentrate, thinking about all the bad things that would befall them in their new lives. They were obviously drawn into an underworld of sex, drugs and rock and roll. My imagination ran riot and I would lie awake at night in a hot sweat as I imagined the worst, a small voice in my head whispering over and over, ‘Come back boys, all is forgiven’.

A friend of mine was so distraught when her last child moved out, she felt compelled to invite foreign students from the local university to dinner on a regular basis, then to lunch as well and before her husband knew where he was, whole weekends. He eventually put his foot down when she invited two of her new-found “family” on holiday. An amusing tale but with serious undertones. Lynn simply could not cope with not being needed. Any mother knows that the first few weeks without their children, when they first leave home can be quite traumatic.

Empty Nest Syndrome is well documented with some women falling into a deep depression, no longer a full-time mum but not quite knowing who they are.

I’d heard of the empty nest syndrome. ‘Empty Nest?’ I’d scoffed. ‘What rubbish’. Personally, I couldn’t wait for the boys to leave. I would be able to reclaim some “me time”. I would be able to do all those things that had been put on hold while the children were growing up. I would be able to please myself about what time I went out and came home, instead of creeping in at midnight to find one of them sitting on the settee, tapping his watch and saying, ‘What time do you call this?’ (Erm, who is the parent here?)

Over the past 25 years, I had been the consummate mother, taking care of my boys’ every need. Taxi, cook, chambermaid, interfering mother, you name it, I was at their beck and call (mind you, also at the beck and call of the husband but that’s a whole other issue!), and I thoroughly enjoyed it most of the time. But three years ago, both of my children left home at the same time, albeit temporarily. One to work in America, the other to his first year at university.

I wasn’t prepared for the feelings of sadness when my boys moved out. The advice dished out by well-meaning friends was that I take up a new hobby to fill my time and give me something else to think about. Distraction therapy, I think it’s called. But I didn’t want to be distracted. I didn’t want to think about anything else. I wanted my boys back – I liked my children at home.

We would come back after a night out to a dark house and eerily quiet – when they lived at home, they would leave all of the lights on even if they went out. The neighbours nicknamed our house “The Lighthouse”. We didn’t trip over the sports bags or numerous pairs of shoes in the hallway. There were no dirty pots strewn around and the kitchen looked just how I had left it. All very peculiar.

Gradually, as the weeks passed, the feelings of sadness began to subside and I noticed that, actually, there were quite a few positives now that the boys weren’t there. Not least the dramatic reduction in our electricity, food and petrol bills. I’d stopped thinking for four people and could concentrate on me and my husband. Biscuits stayed in the tin; towels were not found on the bathroom floor. A sense of freedom had returned. Admittedly I had lost my way a bit, but the peace and quiet afforded me the time to sit and think about me and my needs. My husband and I could do what we wanted to do without restriction. For the first time in 25 years, I could put ME first without the guilt trip.

I was getting used to all of this, when, just like a boomerang, they came back. You would have thought my prayers had been answered, but these were not my babies anymore. These were young, independent adults, with their own opinions, ideas and ways of doing things. Admittedly, it was nice to have them around, but it was encroaching on my new way of life. I gradually found myself sliding back into the role of chief cook and bottle washer, laundry maid and housekeeper. And, do you know, I didn’t like it very much.

So, just as the pain of childbirth has long been erased from my memory, so have the feelings of sadness at being initially separated from my children. So here we are, all together again, one big happy family but boy, am I counting the days….. Selfish? Definitely. Guilty? Definitely not. Empty Nest? Bring it on…biscuit anyone?

How to have a bigger impact using Instagram and Facebook Live

Sohnia Butt, MSc Digital Marketing Management student

As of right now, there are a total of 2.9 billion social network users around the globe. Therefore, it is essential that businesses stay ahead of their competition by building up their social media presence to reach a wider audience. However, thanks to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, live content is the fastest growing segment of internet video traffic in the past 3 years.

Instagram live gives you a perfect platform that will help businesses to engage with their customers. When doing this, you are establishing a relationship and building customer loyalty through the process of connecting with your audience in a quick and easy manner. However, like any relationship goes, engaging and having the ability to build a strong relationship with your audience and customer base can take some time.

Answering questions and queries through live videos are not enough to build customers trust in you, as a brand, you must make customers feel wanted by asking them what THEY want FROM YOU, instead of assuming that through appearing on live videos every now and then will make them stay loyal to your company.

Businesses can engage customers through their Live streaming options through adding them to their live videos with the “Add a guest” feature, this way businesses can add their audience to their live videos for a chat and to answer questions directly that customers will ask them.

This will have a significant impact on the business sales because it will make customers feel comfortable, through them having the ability to ask questions directly to business employees and owners, without feeling like they are being invasive or annoying.

Businesses making use of live streaming will help to boost popularity through building a hype for events the business might be holding. The business might decide to hold an event for a new product/service launch, what better way to promote the launch? Through Live streaming, of course!

People who do not follow the company page on social media sites will also be aware of the event, due to people sharing it and live videos and stories appearing on the Instagram explore page. This is the perfect tool for businesses to make use of so that once people are aware of the company and the events it holds, they will make sure to follow them on their social media pages for future reference.

To make sure that consumers are aware that you are about to go live, one of the things to do is turn on the “Send Notifications” toggle in your video settings, this will send a notification to your followers that you have started a live video, so that wherever you go they will be aware that you have started your live!

As well as making sure your audience can see your live video, in order to well and truly grab the attention of the audience, make sure to add a catchy title on the video so that customers will be interested in seeing your video, which will increase the popularity of the business as a whole!

Instagram and Facebook live have worked wonders for companies that initially began by operating via social media, this works out extremely well for clothing companies such as Pretty Little Thing, who operate heavily on their social media sites! They do this by getting social media influencers to take over their live videos for the day to promote their new, seasonal clothing and deals that they have available at that time.

A recent study found that 80% of people would much rather watch live videos from brands than read a blog, and 82% would prefer to watch live videos than looking at posts on social media. This tells us that businesses need must make sure that promoting through live streaming on their social media sites is something that they do on a regular basis.

Live streaming should be done at prime times of the day to ensure that their followers will more than likely be available to tune in to their lives at that time, certain times of the day people are more active on their social media times are Wednesday through to Saturday at 10am till 8pm; other prime times to post with high engagement include Wednesday at 11am, Friday from 11am, 12pm and 2pm, and Saturday at 6pm to 8pm.

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 ) 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

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:

Can technology fix your supply chain?

Marzena Reszka, lecturer, Staffordshire Business School

Everyone is talking about technology and how it can suit nearly everything. Wherever there is a problem, there is the promise of a technological solution, using some combination of artificial intelligence or machine learning, big data, automation, and the Internet of Things.

There’s no doubt that technology is set to have a big impact on every part of supply-chain operations, from planning to logistics. By focusing so much attention on digital solutions, however, companies may inadvertently be ensuring their failure. That’s because the technology-first approach ignores an inconvenient truth: the intensely human nature of the supply chain.

Technological optimists paint a bold picture of supply chains that are so highly digitized that the function itself disappears. They envision a world in which forecasting, planning, and execution are fully automated and seamlessly integrated, where systems adapt to solve problems and respond to changes in supply or demand without human intervention. Can this be achieved?  In the future such supply chains might eventually become a reality, but today’s digital solutions must be integrated into today’s supply chains which can be a challenge.

Today’s supply chains are wrestling with the same problems they have faced for decades: poor visibility, uncertainty, mistrust among functions and stakeholders, biased behaviours, misaligned incentives, and slow decision making. Can technology fix that?

Problems like these won’t be solved by algorithms. Worse, left unaddressed, they could destroy much of the potential value of other digital solutions. The most sophisticated demand forecasting system is of little use if commercial teams and production planners ignore its outputs. And the value chain may be impacted.

Recognizing the critical role of people doesn’t invalidate the use of supply chain technology.

However, technology for sure may support supply chain operations. It can provide more data, and new insights from existing data. It can automate previously manual tasks, such as with electronic order-taking or robotic warehouse automation. And may help organisations address the human problems, by enabling greater trust, better communication, and enhanced collaboration across the organization. But we are far away from the dream.


Bechtsis, D.; Tsolakis, N.; Vlachos, W.; Iakovou, E. (2017) . Sustainable supply chain management in the digitalisation era: The impact of Automated Guided Vehicles. h

Holmström, J. (2019). The digitalization of operations and supply chain management: Theoretical and methodological implications. Journal of operations management.

LaBombard, M.; McArthur, S.;  Sankur, A.; Shah, K.; (2019). The Human side of digital supply chains.

Price, Ch. (2018). How can technology improve supply chain management?

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.

Google Analytics – not just for major corporations?

Charlotte Gooding, MSc Digital Marketing Management student

Google Analytics is known as the Internet’s leading website statistic monitoring program and is free to use from Google. Thomas Young states that Google provide Analytics free to use as once a digital marketer can see the data, it will then lead to them working on getting more traffic to their website through Google AdWords; then bring revenue in for Google.

Why use Google Analytics?

There are many different reasons why digital marketers should be using Google Analytics. Over the last four years many more bloggers have been looking into the positive effects that Google Analytics can have on a business, many of these overlap one another with the opinions on the positivity that it has. For instance, both Tanya Austin and Paul Koks mentions that Google Analytics is useful in order to be able to segment your customer base. This feature allows you to see if part or all your market is niche; with this you can then use it to come up with marketing that will target that segment within your market. This all in mind Nate Shivar backs up these thoughts by explaining Google Analytics tracks it’s data using a unique tracking code; collects information on a user’s activities on the site.

Market Leaders

Within Google analytics market leaders are not as common as other sectors of the Digital Marketing, Think with Google mentions how there is still 62% of executives are still relying more on experience and advice compared to looking at the data to make decisions. This all being said for those who are market leaders with Google Analytics there is several things that they need to know to be able to stay as market leaders. Thomas Young states that many business leaders do not regularly review their webs statistics, and this is a big mistake. By doing so it can then lead to poor decision making and an inability to notice market share losses or other major key business trends as they are occurring in real time.

Looking at who the market leaders within Google Analytics isn’t just the only thing that is involved to also involves looking at the market share for Analytics to understand Google Analytics. As it currently stands Datnyze research found Google Analytics has the highest market share of 39.74%, whereas Facebook Analytics has a 6.44% market share. This shows how Google Analytics can indicate the segmentation for customers.

Google Analytics Current Trends

As it stands there are several trends within Google Analytics that marketers need to know about. Himanshu mentions how the Google analytics trends tool has been around for a while yet not many people know what it is let alone how it works. For those who like me didn’t have a clue what the trend tool was at first is used to notice trends within your analytics. It moves in one direction, for example, if the trend is moving upwards it is known as ‘uptrend’ whereas if it is moving downwards it is known as a ‘downtrend’. Dr. Hannah Vogel looks at using averages to be able to identify trends within Google Analytics. This would then allow you to be able to look at the average time spent on your site for instance or the average number of visits in a week.

What about future trends?

Image result for google analytics and facebook"

There are many predictions on what the future holds for Google Analytics. Joe Christopher mentions that even though the market is constantly changing it is important to make sure that you are aware of the current google analytics and in particular where they are currently heading; to also still be aware that it is constantly changing and can go in any direction with little warning. Louis Columbus mentions that 66% of digital advertising spend will go to Google search, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram; as a result, this will be the way that people are finding business’ so Google Analytics will be a massive part of helping to see the trends of business searching. Furthermore, he mentions how in North America where using data isn’t very common there will be a 47% increase on third party data for advertises.

 Alok Soni, looks at trends which will shape the future of data analytics. They mention how it is predicted that one future trend is machine intelligence and that the theory behind this prediction comes from theory and development of computer systems is to be able to perform tasks which would normally require human intelligence. The idea is that the system can learn the structure of being able to stream data, make predictions and detect anomalies. This would then mean that humans are able to spend more time marketing the ideas that machine intelligence comes up with. In addition, Alok Soni also predicts augmented reality explaining that it will enable better performances of organisations with the help of available data. Also mentioning how the development and growth of Googles Analytics will help to further boost this idea of a future trend.  Overall, there are many different predictions of the future of Google Analytics, but with how rapidly the industry is changing it is unsure as to what direction Google Analytics will take.

Just a rant about engagement

Dr. Jenny Gale, Senior Lecturer in HRM, Staffordshire Business School

Globally, employee engagement has been documented as low, particularly so in the UK, and we can debate about why this is so.  However, frustratingly for practitioners (and those academics who are interested), there is a distinct lack of agreement about what engagement is and isn’t, partly because it is a multi-faceted concept, incorporating attitudes and behaviours that are not easily captured within simple definitions.  Consequently, engagement has been distilled into sub-categories to reflect physical, cognitive, and emotional dimensions, along with different levels of engagement such as ‘engaged’, ‘not-engaged’ and its opposite ‘disengagement’ (see Gallup 2006).  Then it might have a lot to do with employees’ personalities, or issues around what it is that they are supposed to be engaged with (such as work tasks and organisational goals) and/or who (managers, senior managers, colleagues, customers, etc.).  You can also find lots of free articles and blogs on how to improve engagement or, if you are feeling flushed, engage a consultancy firm on a lucrative contract.  You can also learn all about the ‘myths’ of engagement – you can take your pick about how many ‘myths’ there are (three, four, five, twelve, etc.) 

Despite all this noise about engagement, it is difficult to nail down. It is frustratingly nebulous because no-one can agree what it is, although we think we know it when we see it.  We might observe how someone goes about their job – putting in extra hours, ‘going the extra mile’, engaging in ‘discretionary behaviour’, demonstrating a high level of commitment, motivation, and high levels of performance, ‘living the brand’, ‘walking the walk’, etc.  All these are supposed to mean an employee is ‘engaged’.  On the other hand, they might just be working their socks off because they are afraid of losing their job or being over-looked for promotion.

All this has implications about whether we are ‘doing engagement right’ in terms of policy and practice.  Engagement surveys, for example, are supposed to provide employers with vital information about levels of engagement and the kind of things that either promote it or prevent it.  The key point about these surveys is to act on the information in order to avoid it becoming a ‘tick-box’ exercise, frustrating employees in the process.  ACAS once stated that engagement can potentially drive business success, providing it is genuinely sought and understood, rather than just about driving the intensification of work in disguise.

Finally, there is a view that engagement is an obsession that fails to produce lasting results because employee engagement isn’t really ‘a thing’ at all but another management fad, stimulated in part by the MacLeod Review, a government commissioned study in 2009.  Personally, I’m not convinced engagement is ‘a thing’, at least not in a way that really matters.  There are positive examples of what engagement has been argued to achieve, of course.  Maplin is an interesting one – once held up as a shining example of the link between engagement and business success.  Too bad it has since disappeared from the High Street!  Was employee engagement ever really the problem? Or the answer?

I confess that the more I read about employee engagement, the more confused I get.  What I am less confused about, though, is ‘good employee relations’ and the good old- fashioned principles that underpin it – trust, fairness, integrity, transparency, equality, equity, etc.  While these principles are arguably part of the engagement discourse, the pre-occupation with ‘engagement’ as a term and what it is and isn’t distracts from what really is important.  Instead of trying to increase employee engagement, what about simplifying things and putting trust and fairness centre stage?  Trust and fairness incorporate many aspects of human decency, respect and integrity and it would be nice to see new life breathed into these words in the workplace.  Engagement?  That is much less of ‘a thing’ in my book.

Funnelling In or Funnelling Out… Is The Marketing Funnel Effective?

Charlotte Cunningham, MSc Digital Marketing Management student

One of the key areas to running a successful business is to ensure you understand the customer’s buying journey. The traditional marketing funnel has gone which has now been replaced by AIDA.

The fundamentals of the old and new marketing funnels are the same, however, the order and the tactics are completed in different ways. The old funnel was used to raise awareness around the new customer funnel and how to adapt to it. 

There are many tools that can be used to establish the customer journey, however, AIDA is today’s modern digital marketing funnel. 

AIDA is a well-known marketing model. It can be applied to everyday life of a business and is said to make a marketing communication plan affective. 

What does AIDA stand for? 

Awareness: creating brand awareness and association with a product or service. 

Interest: creating interest around a service or product that benefits it by increasing the interest that encourages the customer to find out more about it.

Desire: by creating an emotional connection between the brand, product or service can move the customer to from liking it to wanting it.

Action: This moves the potential customer to interact with the brand, or even make the purchase. 

HubSpot is a firm believer that AIDA is a proven framework, if AIDA is used within your content marketing, it will constantly engage, persuade and converts the watchers into buyers. 

Are businesses using the Customer Funnel to their advantage?

The marketing that is being used by Graze creates an emotional connection with their viewers, as they use the AIDA framework. They have a call to action on their website when potential customers want to find out more information, this can encourage them to purchase and complete the action stage. 

Aida has transformed digital marketing and digital marketing has transformed AIDA. However, Ralph Haberichsays that AIDA is too general, he says that it is outdated, there are apparently newer and better frameworks out there, such as RES and the 5 A’sRES is apparently the new marketing funnel… do you agree?

Are people ready for change?

Change happens all the time, making a change in the marketing strategy should not be seen as bad. Making a change in your approach to marketing, can be the new model RES. 

RES stands for Relevance, Engagement and Success. 

The relevance part is apparently better than the A in AIDA, as the customer is already intrigued by the product or service, the relevance will also give an organisation a better chance of knowing what to do to get the customers involved. 

The Engagement is key to create a powerful engagement the potential customers but having powerful engagement can set you above the competition. Engagement is meant to give more insights and power than the I and D in AIDA. 

Success, the success differentiates itself from AIDA as it doesn’t just stop at the customer purchasing the product, but also upselling and ad on selling makes it a success, which then increases profitability with these extra additional products.

What are the 5 A’s?

The 5A’s Framework stands for Aware, Appeal, Ask, Act and Advocate.

Aware: Consumers are passively aware of brands, their advertising and how it affects the influencers, friends and family.

Appeal: When consumers have seen the brands message/advert, they can create a connection to it, from just remembering what has been shown. If a brand is more memorable than another then consumers will forget previous brands. The consumers surroundings and peers have high influences the appeal of the brand. Which does relate to AIDA. 

Ask: This is the section where consumers want to find out more about the brand, whether it’s from friends and family or the media. Consumers connect with each other and build relationships which can either strengthen or weaken the brand appeal.

Act: Not only does this cover the purchasing stage, but also how the product or service is used and what happens after the purchase i.e. leave feedback, happy with your product? Try and sell similar products.

Advocate: This stage shows the loyalty that can become from making a purchase. Whether it’s a consumer repurchasing their product and referring them to a friend.

The pros and the cons of the different marketing funnel need to be determined by the organisation or marketer, to see what work best. The different marketing funnels will have benefits to every organisation, it’s whether the marketer decides to stick with what they know or adapt to a new marketing funnel. The choice is yours….