Is there a panacea for low productivity ?

By Ema Talam   on twitter as @ematalam

Productivity differences between different producers exist and persist, even among those operating within the same industries (Syverson, 2011; Van Reenen, 2011). Achieving higher productivity is of an utmost importance for firms as it leads to better firm performance and leads to increased profits. These increased profits can be used for future investment and wage rises.  The panacea for low productivity is often sought, however, the factors determining productivity are numerous, differing in their scope, level of influence and complexity.

One of the factors determining productivity is innovation. While some studies establish that innovation in general is positively linked with productivity (Movahedi et al., 2017), some limit this link to product innovation (Cassiman and Golovko, 2011). Porter (1990) argues that firms often have no choice but to innovate, as they face competitive pressures coming from their buyers or competitors.

The productivity of a firm may be determined by talents and practices of its managers. Bloom and Van Reenen (2010) have shown that firms that employ better management have higher labour productivity. Management practices differ widely both among different firms and different countries. They are influenced by numerous factors, some of them being: product market competition, labour market regulations, relationship between ownership and management of a firm, education of managers and workers, etc. (Bloom and Van Reenen, 2010).

Quality of inputs is another factor that determines productivity. Rather than clinging on basic resources (or lack of those), it can be argued that productivity is mainly determined by superiority of labour and capital inputs (Porter, 1990; Syverson, 2011). Education, training and experience can all affect quality of labour inputs. Quality differences of capital inputs can influence productivity (Syverson, 2011). The lack of basic resources can push firms to innovate and improve (Porter, 1990). It has been shown that differences in intangible capital and IT can also affect productivity (Syverson, 2011).

Another significant factor that can influence productivity are different decisions regarding the organisation and structure of a firm. Different process improvements through learning-by-doing can also influence productivity (Syverson, 2011).

Productivity spillovers and competition are important external determinants of productivity of a firm. Productivity spillovers occur mainly within the same or similar industries. Competition can hugely affect productivity and firms can face competitive pressures from both other domestic and foreign firms (Syverson, 2011).

The theoretically established ‘learning-by-exporting’ hypothesis states that exporting can improve productivity of a firm. On the one hand, a firm participating in an export market is exposed to a larger competition. On the other hand, by participating in an export market, a firm can gain new knowledge from its buyers and competitors (Wagner, 2007). Some empirical research has confirmed this hypothesis (Damijan et al., 2010).

As discussed above, productivity of a firm is influenced by a numerous factors. Some of the above-mentioned factors can be influenced to a greater extent than the others and some of those factors require shorter periods to be adjusted than the others. However, given that there is variety of factors, their complexity and the level of their potential interactions, the question still remains: is there really a panacea for low productivity?

References:

  1. Bloom, N. and Van Reenen, J. (2010) ‘Why do management practices differ across firms and countries’, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(1), pp. 203-224. Available at: https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25703489 (Accessed: 24th June 2018)
  2. Cassiman, B. and Golovko, E. (2011) ‘Innovation and internationalization through exports’, Journal of International Business Studies, 42(1), pp. 56-75. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25790105 (Accessed: 28th March 2018)
  3. Damijan, J.P., Kostevc, C., & Polanec, S. (2010) ‘From innovation to exporting or vice versa?’, The World Economy, 33(3), pp. 374-398. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 24th March 2018)
  4. Movahedi, M., Shahbazi, K., & Gaussens, O. (2017) ‘Innovation and willingness to export: Is there an effect of conscious self-selection?’, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 11(25), pp. 1-22. Available at: http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/journalarticles/2017-25 (Accessed: 1st May 2018)
  5. Porter, M. (1990) ‘The competitive advantage of nations’, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/1990/03/the-competitive-advantage-of-nations (Accessed: 4th June 2018)
  6. Syverson, C. (2011) ‘What determines productivity?’, Journal of Economic Literature, 49(2), pp. 326-365. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/23071619 (Accessed: 30th April 2018)
  7. Van Reenen, J. (2011) ‘Does competition raise productivity through improving management quality’, International Journal of Industrial Organisation, 29(3), pp. 306-316. Available at: https://ac-els-cdn-com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/S0167718711000208/1-s2.0-S0167718711000208-main.pdf?_tid=48b828f4-40fc-4fad-a130-5cec9cbc83ab&acdnat=1530139607_684e48c04c59ac476baa4ece54f7c606 (Accessed: 22nd June 2018)
  8. Wagner, J. (2007) ‘Exports and productivity: A survey of the evidence from firm-level data’, The World Economy, 30(1), pp. 60-82. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 16th April 2018)

 

 

Work and well-being for the over 50s – Silver workers event 5th July

We have a free event on 5th July at Staffordshire University as part of the Silver Workers project to support over 50s looking to get back into work or start their own enterprise. There is still time to join the project.

A programme and registration can be found on this link

Speaker bios

Debbie Assinder – West Midlands Enterprise Champion

Debbie is a SFEDI/ILM Gold Accredited Business Adviser.  She has delivered business startup advice for 20 years +across the region becoming the Enterprise Champion for the West Midlands in 2015.

Debbie Assinder

Debbie Assinder

Highlights in her career include working on Birmingham City Council’s £4.2 million Enterprise Catalyst Programme, delivering on the PRIME (Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise) startup support programme for the 50+, working as an Associate for Birmingham Chamber of Commerce on their national Start and Grow programme and delivering on behalf of Barclay’s Bank their “Get Ready for Business” and “Let’s Start a Business”.

Currently contracted by Innovation Birmingham on their Serendip Digital Incubation programme. Also working with Enterprise Nation, extending early-stage support to the growing number of new owner/operated businesses across the UK. Delivering workshops and events as well as providing a much-needed campaigning voice for the startup business community.

Austin Knott – Walk the Moorlands

Austin Knott; after 32 years in local government and building on his experience as a local walk leader and hillwalking representative for the British Mountaineering Council, Austin has set up ‘Walk the Moorlands’ to share his love of the hills and moors in the south west Peak District and Staffordshire Moorlands.

Participant in the Silver Worker project and who is starting his own business Walk the Moorlands.

Participant in the Silver Worker project and who is starting his own business Walk the Moorlands.

Lesley Foulkes

Lesley Foulkes studied at Staffordshire University as a mature student.  Following successfully completing her post graduate diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling she worked as a Specialist Mentor at the university until December 2017 and is an accredited member of the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists.

Lesley Foulkes is a participant in the Silver Workers project and is in the process of setting up her own business Counselling without Walls

Lesley Foulkes is a participant in the Silver Workers project and is in the process of setting up her own business Counselling without Walls

Rebecca Loo and Fiona Uschmann  – Catch the Dream

Rebecca Loo works as an NHS Occupational Therapist with children with disabilities in North Staffs. She is also a health activist, running local and national Orthotics Campaigns (www.orthoticscampaign.org.uk) which press for improvements in the provision of braces and specialist footwear for people with disabilities.

Rebecca Loo of Catch the Dream

Rebecca Loo of Catch the Dream

The daughter of a local business man and having seen the effects of the 1980’s and 1990’s recessions, she vowed never to enter business herself. That was until she heard of how Ebola had shattered the lives of villagers in Lungi Village in West Africa. In May 2017 she and Fiona Uschmann incorporated “Catch the Dream Community Interest Company” (www.catch-the-dream.co.uk). They have been on a steep learning curve ever since as they work with the villagers to help them regain their livelihoods and dignity.

Fiona Uschmann is a PA and HR Manager at a local secondary school in Stoke on Trent. She has been involved in the yearly immersion programmes to Sierra Leone over the past 11 years with groups of sixth formers.

Fiona Uschmann of Catch the Dream

Fiona Uschmann of Catch the Dream

When immersion was unable to take place because of the catastrophic effects of Ebola in West Africa, she decided that she wanted to do more. In May 2017, Fiona and Rebecca Loo started a Community Interest Company called Catch the Dream.  Catch the Dream CIC has been working in partnership with a rural community in Bo, Sierra Leone to help them recover from the loss of their agricultural livelihood by kickstarting their farms again after they were devastated from the Ebola outbreak.

Sandra Butterworth – Business Innovation Centre

Sandra Butterworth is Director of Innovation at the Business Innovation Centre in Staffordshire which was set up in 1995 to encourage and promote Innovation in the region.

Sandra Butterworth

Sandra Butterworth will be taking about support and funding for start up businesses

During her 20 years at the BIC, she has been the Champion for Innovation encouraging everyone connected with the BIC to embrace Innovation which she believes is the way forward for local businesses as statistics show that Innovative businesses outperform their competitors.

Sandra is a SFEDI qualified Business Advisor, Member of the Institute of Business Counselling and Institute of Leadership & Management and helps companies to identify, research, develop and market their innovations. Sandra organises and delivers the BICs Self Development workshops and events on Innovation.

Tony Bickley – Staffordshire University

Tony Is a Chartered Accountant who has been a Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire University since 2016.  He has an MBA and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Tony Bickley

Tony Bickley

Prior to working at the University he previously held several managerial roles in the Financial Services industry following his early career in the Accounting profession.

His areas of teaching speciality are Financial Accounting, Taxation and Financial Services.He is a Silver worked himself – has a wife, four children, 3 grandchildren and 3 dogs!

Patricia Roberts 

Patricia has been working for North Staffordshire based Aspire Housing since 2016.  She has played a prevalent role in the development of a new Community Living Service and challenging the way people think, act and talk about Dementia. Patricia’s career spans some fifteen years in both the private and third sector which makes her well placed to meet challenges presented by current welfare reforms and an ageing population.

Patricia Roberts - Older Persons Strategy lead for Aspire Housing

Patricia Roberts – Older Persons Strategy lead for Aspire Housing

Caring by nature she is passionate about collaborating with partner organisations to ensure vulnerable customers are acknowledged and listened to. Volunteering for the Alzheimers Society as a Dementia Champion, she has helped over 500 people become dementia friends and is currently developing a network of champions within we are aspire.

Born and bred in Cambridge Patricia has a keen interest in local faith groups and encouraging people to fulfil their full potential. Patricia lives with her husband in Hill Ridware, and takes great delight in exploring the great outdoors especially if it raises money for the Alzheimer Society.

Hazel Squire

Hazel Squire is a senior lecturer at Staffordshire Business School. She is the award leader for undergraduate business courses and delivers on the `Silver worker` business start up training.

Hazel Squire

Hazel Squire

Having worked in the retail sector Hazel set up and ran her own business before returning to university as a mature student. She is currently undertaking a PHD looking to identify the barriers faced by older people thinking of  setting up their own business.

Contact details: h.squire@staffs.ac.uk Tel: 01782294985 Twitter @hazelsquire

Prof Jon Fairburn – Staffordshire University

Jon Fairburn is Professor of Sustainable Development at Staffordshire University. He teaches on the MSc Digital Marketing Management award and established the Business School twitter account @BusinessStaffs which has twice won best Business School account from Edurank.

Prof Jon Fairburn

Prof Jon Fairburn

He has previously worked on the SEE GREEN project (with senior citizens) as well as delivering on the Silver Workers project.

Sign up to the event for free on this link 

Follow the project on this twitter account @silver_workers

 

EU Strategic Partnership project

8 Trends To Keep Your Eyes On In 2018

1. Instagram Stories Drive Upcoming Instagram Trends

Instagram Stories is a big deal and they’re not going away. Daily viewers of Instagram Stories surpassed daily SnapChat viewers just one year after launch, and the growth isn’t stopping.

Instagram Stories was likely the biggest single change in the Instagram UX, and its marketing implications are huge.

A huge deal with Instagram Stories is this: accounts with over 10,000 followers can now add a link within the feature. Considering the fact that the only other place you can put a link on Instagram is just the one buried on your profile page, this is a huge deal, as it multiplies buying or inquiry opportunities by orders of magnitude.

Instagram Stories in particular will be relevant from a marketing perspective because, compared to other transitory video platforms, Instagram metrics are eminently trackable.

A final note on Instagram Stories: Their foundation is social media engagement gold. Video drastically outperforms all other forms of content on every test.

2. Influencer Marketing Makes Major Contributions to Social Media Engagement

Influencer marketing is big business — a billion dollar industry by some counts. There is an exhaustive list of micro-celebrities who earn six figure incomes. And this isn’t a fluke. Influencer marketing is uniquely keyed to exploit certain facts about a growing number of buyers.
As Millennials advance their careers, and Generation Z starts theirs, an enormous population’s purchasing power is increasing swiftly. These two groups — who, combined, literally comprise most of the world’s population — are uniquely influenced by this marketing method.

3. Generation Z to Decide Social Media Trends

We’ve mentioned Generation Z in both of the previous topics for good reason.

RetailDive had this to say about Generation Z and their associated social media trends:

“Gen Z is two- to three times more likely to be influenced by social media than by sales or discounts — the only generation to value social media over price when it comes to making purchase decisions…”

Furthermore, 81% report watching at least one hour of online video per day, or more, according to a study by Fluent, covered by AdWeek. Combine these facts and realize that droves of Generation Z will graduate college and/or start careers next year, and you start to see the powder keg.

4. Messaging Platforms Make Companies Accessible

 

What do you know about WeChat? They’re a wee little Chinese messaging company . . . errr, one that’s looking to cross 1 billion users this quarter. WeChat and WhatsApp are absolutely ubiquitous across either ocean, reaching across many different functions to dominate social media, direct messaging, and even purchasing and commerce.

Every year more and more buyers are Millennials and Gen Z, and fewer and fewer are older. In case you’re not aware of these people’s overwhelming preferences when it comes to talking to a company, we’ll illustrate in their native language:

top-social-media-trends-20185. Live Streaming Explodes

Live streaming isn’t about live streaming. At least not in the way we’re going to be talking about it. You’re going to see a lot more of it in 2018, and the people who do it well will be fully with the times and accelerating. Its prevalence will increase because it works.

But there’s something more at work here.

It’s actually about technology. We get better phones every year. Does that mean that we’re running the same apps better? Sometimes. But once the technological baseline of the average user has clearly moved up a notch, it becomes about making more robust apps that do more and fully take advantage of that new technology.

The smartphones of today are better than what we used to have by orders of magnitude. Furthermore, our data speeds are better, and are poised to make yet another insane leap in the next few years when 5G becomes the standard.

Live streaming is a medium or implementation of social technology that’s uniquely positioned to take advantage of hardware improvements for the next several years. The resolution of an image the size of a phone screen can only get so good before you have to zoom in to see a difference.

But better video processing across the board means all devices involved can handle more streaming at a better quality across more channels at the same time. This is such a huge change that it’s possibly unclear that anyone is even capable of fully understanding the ramifications.

6. Twitter is Going to Change

And they themselves might not even know how just yet.

Twitter has been slowly circling the drain, in some respects, for a long time now. 2017 pulled no punches with the social network, either. Twitter needs to make some big changes to stay relevant, as its growth is the slowest of all the major social media platforms.

7. Online Hangouts Become the Norm

Online hangouts go hand-in-hand with the live streaming trend, and with Generation Z. Consider Houseparty — an app for multiple friends to essentially FaceTime with each other in a group setting.

Houseparty made quite a wave in 2017 with rapid growth, and hit its stride well enough to inspire copycats, including perhaps an effort on the way coming from (no surprise here) Facebook.

The online hangouts trend is also going to intersect with VR. Sure, everyone promised everything this year with VR and AR, and all that ultimately came of it was two weeks of Pokemon GO.

But this year actually has the potential to be different. Many promising programs have another year of beta testing still left under their belts, but the technologies are improving in exciting ways. Once again, Facebook is at the epicentre, with Facebook Spaces.

8. Social Platforms See More Hardcore Moderation

The last year or so has forced the hand of several tech and social media titans to intervene and play a more active role in content moderation. Those manoeuvres, in retrospect, felt more like damage control than any sort of final solution.

We’re likely going to see companies revisit this in a more significant or longer-lasting way, and definitely more proactive than reactive.

As leveraging social media outlets for marketing first took flight, some were dubious of their staying power. The years since have changed sceptic’s into believers, and what’s on the forefront will clearly and easily amplify the channels’ relevance even further.

2018 is here… but were you prepared?

2018 social media trends predict that time on social media platforms will increase. This means you will need to improve your online presence in the year to come.

 

By Richard Holland – MSc Digital Marketing Student

 

Contact –

Linkedin- Richard Holland

Instagram – Ricardo J

Brand –

Instagram – Ricco London

Twitter – Ricco London

Facebook – Ricco London

How Long Does It Take To Rank Top 10 On Google?

Anyone who’s ever tried to outsource their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts knows that when you ask an SEO expert how long this will take, the answer is always ‘it depends’.

And they are right.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking… GIF Source

It depends on thousands of factors and there is no exact formula or ‘one size fits all’ approach. However, some factors that we do know play a key role:

  • Domain Authority;
  • Keyword Competition;
  • Content Quality.

And also it seems AGE.

So I hear you ask…

Does Page Age Make A Difference To Google Rank Position?

Yes. Ahrefs took 2 million random keywords on Google and pulled data from the top 10 ranking pages and found that Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is dominated by “old” pages:

  • 95% of pages in the Top 10 positions are over 12 months old;
  • The average Top 10 ranking page is 2+ years old;
  • The average age for a Number 1 ranking is almost 3 years old.

Waiting for your content to rank like… GIF Source

So, what strategies can you employ to speed that process up?

Competition Analysis

It sounds obvious, but many people still don’t do it – analyse what your successful competitors are doing!

Ask questions like:

  • What are they doing?
  • How are they doing it?
  • Can you copy/mimic or even improve on their efforts?

Use a strategy that works, and if you can, improve it.

Use a strategy that works; make sure that you constantly review it to ensure you are always using the most effective strategy to make your website rank higher.

To help you along the way, you may need a few tools:

  • BuzzSumo can tell you what content on your competitor’s websites are getting shared the most (shares are good to increase social signals).
  • Moz’s Open Site Explorer allows you to see everything from domain & page authority to inbound links and root domains;
  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider crawls websites’ links, images, Clinical Classifications Software (CSS), script and apps to evaluate onsite SEO.

Which leads us to…

On-Page Optimisation

So, after you’ve done your competitor analysis, the first thing you should do is optimise your website for on-page elements.

You should include things like:

  • Relevant content to the subject;
  • Keyword optimization;
  • HTML Tags;
  • Images:
  • Inbound & Outbound links.

The website plugin by Yoast is a great tool to help you get this right. It gives you tips and suggestions on how to improve your on-page SEO; for example:

Yoast SEO Plugin

Next…

Generate Backlinks

When you’ve got your on-page elements correct, you are essentially telling Google ‘this is what we do’; however, in order to rank well, you also need independent online sources to ‘recommend you’; this is easily achieved by generating backlinks to your content/website.

However, any old backlink won’t do. You must get backlinks from high domain ranking websites. Quality is better than quantity.

So how do links pass Domain Authority?

A great link building strategy is to create an infographic on your subject (Venngage is a great tool for this) and send to other audiences who might be interested and willing to share it with their audience. Once they share it, voila, you have a free backlink.

Next on the agenda…

Google Snippets

Google snippets are designed to answer your search questions at the top of a Google page. You will recognise them as looking something like this:

Google Snippet

Known as “position zero”, you can gain the top spot on Google, even if your linked content isn’t at the top of the rankings itself.

The way to achieve a ‘Rich Snippet’ is by creating content which answers a question, such as ‘how to make a pancake?’.

In order to achieve this top position, your content subtitle should be the question that needs asking and the next paragraph should answer that question precisely.

Bear in mind that Google reads your content like a robot which means you need to organise your content logically; if you do, you might even get your own snippet. If you don’t, forget about ranking in position zero.

And finally, something which goes without saying…

Don’t Forget Social Media For SEO

Some people will tell you that social media has nothing to do with SEO.

They are wrong… GIF Source

As we know, Google takes into account thousands of pieces of information in order to rank your website. When someone searches for a topic within your subject area, search engines do consider social media in rankings.

In particular, they look at:

  • How active your social media accounts are;
  • How up to date they are;
  • How many shares your website gets.

It has also been proven that a strong presence on social media has a positive correlation with better website rankings.

So there 😛 GIF Source

And don’t forget, social media offers 2.7 billion social media users. You’d be crazy not to utilise it as a sales tool.

So What Now?

SEO is sometimes over complicated. It’s all a matter of knowing what strategy to employ, putting in the hours and being patient.

As we know, 95% of websites/content can take up to 12 months to rank well in Google, however, if you get it all right, you may just find yourself ranking in a day:

How Long Does It Take To Rank In Google

Share this post on Facebook

By James Rowland, Business Development Director at Neathouse Partners Ltd

Facebook, Engagement Baiting, And What Not To Do…

Asking for ‘likes’, ‘tag a friend’ or ‘share this post’ is now being marked down by Facebook. A prime example below…

Yes, we’ve all done it…

“Tag someone who might be interested”

We all do it because it works (or did work).

That post back in October ’17 on Weston Cricket Clubs Facebook Page reached over 2000 users, whilst updates without a ‘nudge’ are lucky to reach 200. This was achieved by simply asking followers to engage with the post.

However…

Last month (18th December 2017) Facebook announced a new crackdown on what it calls Engagement Baiting.

What Is Engagement Baiting And Why Doesn’t Facebook Like It?

Engagement Baiting is the process of ‘tricking’ users into engaging with a post. The practice is designed to make a post or page rank higher in Facebook user newsfeeds by achieving more engagement.

Facebook has named 5 forms of Engagement Baiting it is taking action on:

  1. Vote Bait – Using a different reaction to represent a vote on a post;
  2. React Baiting – Asking a Facebook user to express how they feel about a post;
  3. Share Baiting – Asking you to share a post or page with a friend;
  4. Tag Baiting – Asking you to tag your friends in a post;
  5. Comment Baiting – Asking users to respond with a specific phrase, word, or number to a post.
Engagement Baiting Facebook

Image Source: FACEBOOK

Why Is This Important?

Simply put, brands, influencers and companies use this technique to get more organic engagement with a post, which can help them:

  • Generate visibility;
  • Give exposure to new audiences;
  • Ensure your content is being seen;
  • Grow their audience;
  • Potentially help them make more sales.

Facebook now considers Engagement Baiting to be spam.

What Have Facebook Said?

Facebook will start demoting content which they feel are ‘spammy posts’ that actively solicit users to interact with a post in a specific way.

The purpose is to allow for more meaningful posts, pages and conversations on Facebook and improve its user experience.

If you engage in this type of activity, you can expect your page and posts to be demoted.

Oh no… GIF Source

Facebook has given page admins guidance on Facebook Newsfeeds which they encourage all to read.

Posts, where people ask for help, advice or recommendations, will not be considered as Engagement Baiting and as such, will not be impacted by the update. These include missing person reports, charity work or asking for tips on writing a blog.

How Will Facebook Do It?

According to SEJ, Facebook will collect hundreds of thousands of examples of Engagement Baiting posts and pages and train an algorithm to detect the different versions. This will happen automatically.

So…

Click here to share this post on your Facebook newsfeed.

By James Rowland, Business Development Director at Neathouse Partners Ltd 

How Influencer Marketing Could Benefit Your Business

Influencer marketing focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the market. Rather than marketing directly to this large group, you instead hire or pay these influencers to inspire and get the word out for you.

According to McKinsey, Influencer Marketing generates double the sales of paid advertising, as well as three times the amount of “word of mouth” messages. Furthermore, it results in recommendations – where people are up to fifty times more likely to purchase.

Influencer marketing could benefit your business in a number of ways, and you should consider using it because:

  • It’s more authentic than an advert.
  • It’s more cost effective than many other marketing channels.
  • It provides shareable content, which could amplify results exponentially.
  • You can effectively target a new audience.
  • It’s a way to create real-time engagement.
  • It’s an easy way to build trust with your customers and future customers.

Two cases come to mind where Influencer marketing benefited the business and the influencer, such as Youtube star PewDiePie teaming up with the makers of horror film ‘As Above, So Below’ – creating a number of videos in which he completed challenges and tasks set in the catacombs in which the film was set. This resonated with his then 27 Million subscribers, and received nearly double the views that the trailer for the film did.

The other, according to Neoreach, is American retail giant Walmart teaming up with former Vine star Meghan McCarthy. Meghan posted on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube, putting her stamp of approval on the promotion that she was promoting. Her posts gathered hundreds of follow up posts and tweets, an impact that no television ad campaign could make.

The Big Influencers for 2018

According to Forbes, some of the top influencers of 2017 are going to be even bigger in 2018. 

If the budget is there, then these are the kind of people that you want influencing customers to buy into your product or brand.

These include gaming maestro Markiplier, Keynote speaker and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, cooking whiz Rosanna Pansino, six-year-old Ryan ToysReview and powerful lady Lilly Singh.

Whilst all of these people have the majority of their following on YouTube, they are also influencers on the likes of Instagram and Facebook and could cost a hefty sum.

Some of these people may be out of your price range, but if you can find a local influencer to promote your product, then that may be worthwhile to your business.

.

Regan Foy (Twitter / LinkedIn)

Staffordshire University Students’ Union

MSc Digital Marketing Management Student (Full Time)

Google AdWords Basics: What Beginners Should Know

When starting out with Google AdWords, it can be very confusing. There are many aspects to consider and it is easy to waste a lot of money very quickly.

Google AdWords has much more to offer than the basics but it is very complicated to do well.

Nevertheless, having reviewed various accounts in my time, there are some basics beginners miss and MUST know about.

Keywords

Having a keyword strategy in place is imperative. Beginners go wrong by picking 100’s or even 1000’s of keywords and bidding on all of them.

Google Keyword Planner

This will bleed your budget before knowing what keywords convert and which do not. You will very likely end up with no budget left and no return on investment (ROI).

What they must do is hone in on the ones which matter.

Take a step back and think about your target audience and ask yourself:

  • What do they want?
  • What will they specifically search for?

At the start of any Google AdWords campaign, it is better to be narrow with your keywords than too broad.

Over time, you can broaden your campaign by using a more detailed keyword strategy, such as the Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAG’s) strategy.

It’s also important to check your negative keywords daily, or if you do not have the time, at least once a week as a minimum.

Conversions

A conversion is a process of showing an outcome from a click on your website.

This could be to gain a potential leads contact details, download an e-book or making a sale.

This easiest way to set this up on your website it by having a specific ‘Thank You’ page which can only be accessed when someone completes the outcome and link your conversion to that page. There are other ways, but this is the simplest. There is lots of free advice online to help you do this.

Google Conversions

Once this has been completed, you can then analyse what keywords are the best for you (and to know your campaign is working), and what keywords do not work so you can stop budget spend on what doesn’t work – and maybe funnel more budget into the keywords that do (just my logical suggestion).

Once you’ve set up conversions, you need to know your cost per conversion breakpoint.

Without knowing this, you will not know your maximum bid you can budget for to make a
‘return on ad spend’ (ROAS).

Here are 5 steps to working out your cost per conversion breakpoint.

This is vitally important as if pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are too expensive you may need to rethink your marketing strategy. Dropbox is a good example. They had an aggressive AdWords PPC campaign, but it was quickly stopped when they had a $300 customer acquisition cost. Instead, they introduced a free referral program.

Ad Copy

Oli Gardner from Unbounce suggests that 98 percent of ads are a waste of money. What you do not want when you’re first setting up your AdWords campaign is bad ad copy.

Good ad copy can boost your click through rate (CTR) and thus positively affect your quality score (QS) which will result in a cheaper cost per click and increase your potential ROI.

In order to have good ad copy, follow these 5 steps:

  • Use Statistics – Statistics in your ad copy are a great way of grabbing attention and differentiating ads from your competitors.
  • Remove Pricing – analysis of top performing ads shows just 40 percent of top-performing branded ads and 37 percent of non-branded ads included pricing.
  • Use Promotions – It’s no secret, using promotions and discounts in ads are older than time itself, and guess what, they work!
  • Punctuation! – Use exclamation marks. SEJ found a significant increase in CTR when testing ad copy with an exclamation mark, and without one.
  • Appeal to Emotion – Ads that appeal to people’s emotion can result in positive results with their CTR. You can even use a headline analyser to test your headline out.

Google AdWords Ad Copy Template

Post Click Strategy

So you’ve found the best keywords, you’ve got great ad copy with a high CTR and you’ve set up conversions, but you’re not actually getting any. This is where your post click strategy comes into play.

You need to make sure you have a landing page specifically targeting the Keyword the visitor has come to the website from. If they want to buy frozen vegetable, the landing page should be about buying frozen vegetables.

The best way to design your landing page is by firstly, creating a page within the parameters of best practice for Conversation Rate Optimisation (CRO) techniques, and then A/B testing the pages with various controlled variables.

Unbounce is a great tool for creating and then split testing pages.

Basics Covered, But What Next?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking once you’ve mastered the basics, that’s all there is to Google AdWords.

There are numerous additional elements you will need to research and add to your account as you learn, these include:

  • Ad Extensions;
  • Google Display Network;
  • Advanced Settings.

As with anything in Digital Marketing, the more you learn, the more pitfalls you’ll avoid which will result in greater success for you and your business.

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By James Rowland, Business Development Director   at Neathouse Partners Ltd 

E-mail marketing or Messenger marketing?

What Email Marketers are saying

When it comes to email marketing software, marketers are spoilt for choice. But how do they feel about the emails they send?

It turns out that relevance is a huge concern for them. DMA reports that 42% of marketers say only some of the emails they send are relevant, and a whopping 10% say their emails aren’t relevant at all. That’s an issue, with consumers trashing irrelevant email.

Another issue people wonder about is the ROI of email marketing. In other words, is it really worth it? Various comparison’s of email marketing vs social media shows that email outperforms social by miles. And Chief Marketer says the ROI of email marketing is 28.5% better than for direct mail.

So what does Messenger do better?

Well, the big problem with email marketing is that you’re talking at your users and potential customers, not with them.

It’s kind of like being on the receiving end of a sales pitch, one where you have no say until the salesman is finished leaving you with only one response, yes or no.

Messenger though, creates a conversation.

It’s the only channel that solicits real time feedback from your users, the only channel where they have a say and shape the conversation which builds interest and engagement.

Check out the below example from 1800-flowers.

What Does the Future Hold?

Email is a mature channel, one which has been extensively developed and includes various advanced features to help you better market to your customers.

Messenger on the other hand is the new kid on the block.

It’s showing great promise and is getting far higher engagement in the areas where they’re going head to head, but it’s not yet at the level of sophistication email has developed.

Messenger is quickly gaining ground on email in terms of features and is already outpacing the platform in the areas where there’s overlap.

So what should a smart store owner like you do?

Well, what you shouldn’t do is abandon email marketing in favour of Messenger. Right now Messenger simply doesn’t have the advanced functionality and tracking of email.

However, if you already haven’t you should be looking at implementing Messenger on your site ASAP.

Right now, Messenger is the perfect complement to your email marketing. And if the last year is any indication, in the near future Messenger will continue to outperform email in other key marketing and communication areas for ecommerce as the platform progresses.

Right now, if I had to advise some specific campaigns your store needs to be running I’d recommend focusing on:

Messenger isn’t just a nice thing to have on your store or a new fad that will die out. The success rate of stores across the globe and the growing user base points to a new channel that might one day overtake email as the chief ROI channel.

In conclusion:

Email marketing and social media are like parallel universes that communicate with each other.

We suggest using email marketing when you’re looking more for reach, traffic and direct conversions. Social media, on the other hand, is a great tool that can help you engage your audience and assist you with making more sales.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t use both. Just be sure to allocate your resources the right way. Thank you for reading this blog and please leave your comments below.

 

By Richard Holland – MSc Digital Marketing Student

 

Contact –

Linkedin- Richard Holland

Instagram – Ricardo J

Brand –

Instagram – Ricco London

Twitter – Ricco London

Facebook – Ricco London

If You’re Marketing to Millennials, Get on Instagram

There were over 600 million Instagrammers in 2017, and 400 million of those users were active every day according to Softpedia.

Those numbers alone should be reason enough to get your business on the social media platform – but if you’re marketing to Millennials, otherwise referred to as Generation Y, or in simple terms anyone born between the early 1980s and late 1990s – then you should already be on there.

In March of 2017, over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, found directions or contacted an Instagram account or business based on an Instagram ad says Wordstream.

Not only this, but according to the Instagram Blog over 50% of users on the app follow a business and 60% say they learn about a product or service through the app.

Why not make one of those businesses yours? We’ve produced the definitive guide to getting your business set up on Instagram below.

Getting Started

The first thing you’ve got to do is establish your presence on the platform with three main tasks, adding a profile picture, writing a bio and connecting your website. For an example of doing this the correct way, take a look at fashion retailer JD’s Instagram Feed.

Your profile picture should be something memorable and representative of your business – usually your logo.

Over time, people remember your profile picture when scanning through their Instagram news feed – especially if your logo is eye catching.

Your bio gives you under 200 characters to tell the world why you’re worth following and what your service or product is. Enhancing your bio by encouraging users to share content relevant to your business or brand using a hashtag can always be worthwhile.

It’s also important that your followers follow the path to purchase or learn as much as possible – and your website is generally the avenue where this takes place.

Ensuring your website URL on Instagram directs to a mobile friendly site is incredibly important.

How can I Market Effectively?

 Once your profile has been created, you’ve got to identify what kind of content your target audience will be interested in.

Brand storytelling, or Brand Centered Content whether through photos of products or photos of the results of products effectively showcases what the business or brand has to offer.

Skate and footwear brand Vans do this quite well.

Reactive Storytelling uses timely events or unique insights to generate immediate feedback from their audience – and these tend to be based upon pop culture or memes.

This usually includes an interesting story that is on consumer’s minds, combined with a brand relevant marketing message.

With Behind the Scenes content, people are looking for an inside look at how things are built or done inside your business and brand.

Brands are now looking at how they can be more authentic as it is what consumers are looking for in the modern market.

Overclockers UK are a wonderful, British example of this.

Inspirational or Motivational posts are used to spark emotions in your customers or target audience – and it is also the most effective way to drive engagement with your brand.

The key is to recognise what will resonate with your audience.

From this point onward, you should have a basic idea of how to use Instagram as a powerful marketing tool for your Millennial target audience.

——————–

Regan Foy (Twitter / LinkedIn)

Staffordshire University Students’ Union

MSc Digital Marketing Managament Student (Full Time)

Esports. Is it a game changer for UK education?

Staffordshire University Business School has become the first British University to launch an esports degree. The course focuses on the business and culture of esports from developing teams, communities and a fan base to hosting esports events.

Staffordshire University has invested heavily in new facilities as part of a £40m transformation of its Stoke-on-Trent campus and academics feel the University is well placed to plug into rapidly growing sectors like esports which is the practice of playing video games competitively over the internet or via networked computers in venues and stadiums.

Already Staffordshire University has responded to the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment’s (Ukie) white paper on esports by introducing a module on esports in their Games Degree.

Back in January, Dr Fletcher, Head of the Games and Visual Effects at Staffordshire University said:

“The module which is available to students on our Games Studies course is a fascinating branch of cultural studies. It looks at the national, and international market for esports, and the cultural aspects that drive it as well as the darker side of cheating and doping by esports players. Games designers are growing up and that brings with it new trends in gaming which comes with its own set of ethical dilemmas.”

Other countries around the world have recognised esports as part of the curriculum for some years.  In South Korea, where the first esports association was set up 17 years ago, they have been accepting esports players onto their sports programmes for four years. At the Asia Pacific University in Malaysia, students can complete certificates in League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In Norway,  the Garnes Vidaregaande high school pupils can opt for esports and can study for up to five hours per week, they focus not just on game play but also combine physical exercise in the mix.

One thing all these esports educators have in common is an agreement that esports provides a vast amount of transferable skills to the participants.

Top skills for esports:

  1. Teamworking
  2. Resilience
  3. Stamina
  4. Problem Solving
  5. Communication
  6. Endurance
  7. Decision Making
  8. Leadership
  9. Critical thinking
  10. Analytical

The students on Staffordshire University Business School’s BA (Hons) esports will also have classes in event management, digital marketing, the legal side of esports and streaming techniques. This will make sure that when they leave university they’ll have all the right skills to prepare them for a great career. With huge growth predicted in this area there are lots of job opportunities.  Many recruitment agencies, like Odgers Berndston have set up separate divisions to deal with esports careers and there are even some new sites that have sprung up like ‘esports Careers’ who are currently listing almost 500 vacancies.  The British esports Association lists over 12 career paths on its website, here are a few:

  1. Shoutcaster/host
  2. Coach/analyst
  3. Journalist/content creator
  4. PR/Marketing executive
  5. Community/social media manager
  6. Broadcast/production crew
  7. Event manager

To find out more about esports at Staffordshire University Business School visit the website staffs.ac.uk.

Rachel Gowers MBA
Associate Dean
Staffordshire University Business School