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 William B. Rose 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

Find out what over 1,000 employers want from graduates

On Wednesday 21 Feb the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) revealed the outcome of their research with employers about what makes a 21st Century leader, and it makes great reading.

The report highlights five abilities employers want in new managers:

  • Taking responsibility (60%)
  • People management skills (55%)
  • Honest & ethical (55%)
  • Problem solving & critical analysis (52%)
  • Collaboration & team-working (48%)

62% OF THE MANAGERS SURVEYED EXPECT NEW GRADUATE RECRUITS TO HAVE PROFESSIONAL MANAGEMENT SKILLS (CMI 2018)

This is great news for Staffordshire Business School that is launching all new courses for 2018. The focus is moving away from knowledge towards skills; skills that are learnt from industry experts, developed in the classroom and practiced through active learning. By the time you are ‘let-loose’ on work placements in your second year, you can feel confident in your abilities to be an effective manager.

The new modules can be found in all of our courses:
BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance
BA (Hons) Business Management
BA (Hons) Event Management
BA (Hons) Marketing Management
BA (Hons) Tourism and Hospitality

Look out for the new modules that you’ll be studying on all courses:

Professional Toolkit
You will learn how to create your own personal brand and develop the skills you need for successful study and prepare you for the jobs of the future. From giving you the digital skills you need to be the next generation of manager to developing your social media presence this module has everything you need to be an effective professional that everyone would want on their team.

Business Creation and Innovation
Entrepreneurship and innovation are the life blood of any business, whether a start-up or a well-established organisation. This module combines the practical requirements and theoretical constructs to inspire enterprising, entrepreneurial and innovative thinking, equipping you with the tools to develop and initiate a new business.

To find out more about our new courses visit us for an open day or if you’ve already applied (wise choice) come to our next offer holder day – you’ll be getting an invite soon.

Keep an eye out for the follow up article coming soon on the Business Blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube.

Rachel Gowers MBA
Associate Dean

 

 

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)

Why Email Marketing Should Be a Focus for Your Business

When consumers thought the internet was shiny and new, email was the top dog in connecting with friends. Nowadays, email is used for much more – it’s used to share content from companies, and allow the consumers to connect with brands, be it through purchasing products or simply feeling part of the brand’s story.

There are issues with email of course, and for years it has been used to scam unwise users for their hard earned money and fill inboxes with unsolicited spam.

In this day and age, people beg the question of is it still worthwhile for business owners and marketers to connect with consumers via email?

The answer is yes, and there are an abundance of reasons why:

Reaching Mobile Customers

Email marketing shows it’s value for business owners in it’s ease-of-access in connecting with and reaching mobile customers without the investment in new technology. A study by Forrester Research in 2014 showed that 42% of email opens from retailers happen on smartphones – a number which is likely to have improved since then.

It’s also a better way to connect with mobile users than something like SMS for example, as it works on mobile devices other than phones, and there is far more space for content. According to Litmus, around 51% of email opens now happen on mobile, so it’s always important to ensure your content is mobile friendly so you can connect with mobile-users better.

It’s Better Than Social Media for Customer Acquisition

Whilst social media is an important part of any business’s marketing, and it is a great way of interacting with your audience, it’s not a sound way of converting these people into customers or members.

Social Media is important as a first step towards customer acquisition, but email marketing is the way forward in terms of conversion. A study by Custora in 2013 showed that customer acquisition via email had quadrupled over the four years from 2009, and reinforced that it was a growing trend in e-commerce.

Cost Effective

Email marketing is great for allowing business owners to reach a large amount of consumers, or potential customers for next to nothing in costs. This makes it a high choice for smaller businesses instead of channels like TV or Radio.

As well as this, with the correct maintenance of an email list, the return on investment increased through the close relationship that is established with the recipients. Emails generally get a high response, be that opens, clicks or more – so your company or brand is receiving better responses at a lower cost and at a quicker rate.

Easy A/B Testing

 A/B testing is the idea of sending one variation of your campaign to one set of your subscribers, or email list, and a different variation to another set.

The ultimate goal of this is to work out which variation of the campaign generates the best results.

This can vary in complexity and can include different subject lines to see which has more opens, whilst more complex testing could include completely different results. This is available through email clients such as Campaign Monitor and MailChimp.

Application & Examples

To start in the world of email marketing, you’re going to need to do some research. Firstly, you’re going to want to pick the email client that’s going to let you apply your ideas in the manner you want. Then you’re going to need to find contacts to send the email to – by lead generation through your website. Finally – you’ll need to produce content and send this out to the contacts, sometimes segmenting specific content to specific recipients.

An example of email marketing at work comes from InternetRetailing, who reported that leading online chemist ChemistDirect had a 30% increase in revenue in 2013 from email campaigns after changing to an email client.

 

So, there you have it. There are many, many more reasons for businesses to get involved in email marketing that haven’t been mentioned, such as the ability to personalise.

According to Pure360, it’s time you should be taking email seriously.

 

——–

Regan Foy (Twitter / LinkedIn)

Staffordshire University Students’ Union

MSc Digital Marketing Managament Student (Full Time)

New survey launched to help SMEs with reporting

A new survey has been launched by the Business School. The aim is to inform the development of training materials and tools to help SME’s deals with their sustainable accounting and reporting practices.

If you are a SME please fill in the surveyhttps://report-asapproject.eu/questionnaire

To find out more details of the project visit the project website

https://report-asapproject.eu/

or facebook group https://www.facebook.com/reportasapproject/

Logo

 

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Random Acts of Kindness

There is another important date in February, 3 days after Valentines Day, one you may not be familiar with. On the 17th February it is National Random Acts of Kindness Day.

The definition of a random act of kindness, or RAoK as it is often abbreviated to, is a selfless act performed by kind people to either help or cheer up a random stranger, for no reason other than to make people happier.

You know those supermarket vouchers you get through the post, the ones for random products, 20p off this or 10p off that. The mouthwash you will never use, flavoured water you do not like, the spread that is not your regular one. I used to just throw those vouchers in the bin, but over the last three months I have kept them. Then as I wander around doing my usual family shopping, I put the unwanted voucher onto the top of the corresponding product. There it sits waiting for the stranger, shopping for the product they really want and finding a money off voucher right next to it. I hope this cheers them up, maybe even inspires them to create their own random acts of kindness.

At home, on the wall, we have a yellow circle of card, about the circumference of a cup. Whenever my wife, daughter or myself recognise an act of kindness one of us has done, a description of the act is written on a rectangular yellow strip and my daughter then sticks it onto the edge of the yellow circle. When 12 strips have been added to the circle we have a completed sunshine. Next as a family we decide on an activity to do. Once it was “Let’s go to space Dad” which started a trip to Leicester’s Space Centre, “I want to see the Christmas decorations at B&Q”, “Let’s bake cookies” were others. It has not only allowed for fun activities for the family, it has made us recognise the wonderful kind acts that we do for each other, that were all too easy to take for granted, not recognise and not say thank you for. The more we find we recognise them, the more we want to do.

In an age of austerity, we can often forget that kindness is free. Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Imagine doing something for no other reason than to make another person happy. A search of RAoK reveals lists of ideas and I thought I would just highlight a few. Maybe you will do just one on the 17th? Maybe one on a different day, just to make a someone happy.

• Donate colouring books and crayons to the waiting room at the hospital, doctors etc.
• Write a letter to someone (teacher, parent, neighbour, etc.) who has made a difference in your life and thank them.
• Offer to watch someone’s children so they can take a break
• Tell a random parent you see that they are doing a good job
• Let someone go ahead of you at the supermarket
• Smile!
• Make goodies for your neighbours
• Let your partner sleep in, or even take them breakfast in bed
• Leave random sticky notes with fun or kind quotes on the bathroom mirror at your place of work
• Pick up some litter
• Go to a retirement home and visit anyone who looks lonely
• Leave nice comments on random blogs
• Compliment someone randomly (whether you know them or not)
• Hold the door for someone
• Draw a picture and hand it to a passer by
• Donate canned food items to the local food bank
• Drop change around a playground for children to find
• Volunteer somewhere; an animal shelter, homeless shelter, food bank

You can be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.

I would love to hear your ideas. What did you do? Did someone act kindly to you and how did it make you feel? Which ideas do you love?

Karl McCormack, Lecturer in the Staffordshire Business School

Undergraduate courses

Postgraduate courses

How to Set ‘SMART’ Digital Marketing Objectives

Setting an objective is listed as the first step to a powerful digital campaign by the Digital Marketing Institute. It sounds simple, you know what your marketing campaign goals are right? In reality, the process can challenging, and without proper consideration, businesses often end up with a campaign that lacks direction and doesn’t link together   HiveDigitalStrategy go as far as claiming that goal-setting is one of the most difficult tasks digital marketers must complete. Despite this difficulty, the benefits are significant and justify the effort require to define clear objectives that are the foundation of a successful campaign. I have listed some of these benefits below:-

 

 

Given the importance of objectives, it should become clear that to effectively analyse your strategy, your objectives should be effective, or ‘SMART’. by creating objectives using the framework, you are keeping up with many of the best businesses in the world, as they all are driven by focussed objectives. MindTools defines the individual letters of the ‘SMART’ acronym as; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Below is a breakdown of the five letters involved.

At the forefront of business knowledge:

The ‘SMART’ framework is widely accepted to have been introduced in 1981, by George T. Duran. However, it is still at the very forefront of business knowledge, with the only development coming recently in the form of ‘SMARTER’ goals (The E and R stand for evaluated and revisited). The last two letters of this acronym are letters that usually come at the end of the campaign and so they are not actually necessary when first setting the objectives.

Now lets examine each letter of ‘SMART’ and how it can be used to create an objective.

Specific

To make your objective specific, you need to avoid ambiguous terms and ensure that there is an outcome that you desire from your digital marketing strategy. Your objective should answer the following question: What do I want to achieve?

Example: I want to increase traffic to my website.

By giving a specific outcome, you are able to centre your strategy around achieving your goal.

Measurable

To make your objective measurable you must be able to answer the following two questions:

  • How many/how much?
  • How will I know I have achieved my objective?

Example: I want to increase traffic to my website by 20%.

By giving a tangible number, you can determine when your goal is reached and track it along the way.

Achievable

Making your goal achievable means identifying the overarching method you will use to achieve your goal. Can you answer the following questions?

  • Is it possible to achieve my goal?
  • How will I achieve my goal?

Example: I want to increase traffic to my website by 20% using Search engine Optimisation (SEO).

By giving the method of SEO, you are ensuring that you have a path to follow, and can plan a strategy based around this.

Realistic

Determining whether your goal is realistic often involves a combination of research and estimation. You should answer the following questions.

  • What resources am I able to allocate to this plan?
  • Are the resources available enough to achieve this plan?

Example: I want to increase traffic to my website by 20% using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), with an allocated budget of £2,500.

The number of resources you will need to allocate is highly individual and depends on a lot of variables such as your level of competition, market saturation, and your financial situation.

Time-bound

It isn’t enough to say you want a certain outcome. Give yourself a deadline. if your objective is to increase visits to your blogging site by 1000, then set a time-frame. Within a month, within a year?

Example: I want to increase traffic to my website by 20% using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) within 6 months of campaign implementation, with an allocated budget of £2,500.

Using your SMART Objectives:

If your objective fits in with all five of criteria, then you have a ‘SMART’ objective and are ready to plan and implement a clear, defined digital marketing strategy, something that over half of businesses are failing to do. Get Ahead of them!

A REAL WORLD EXAMPLE:

TOMS, in the spirit of social entrepreneurship, launched a campaign that successfully implemented SMART objectives. ‘One day without shoes’ is a campaign that was launched by the company, with them encouraging the public to go barefoot for a day, and a donation of shoes being made by the organisation for each person that participates. Heres how their campaign followed the ‘SMART’ framework.

  • Specific – Persuade people to go barefoot for a day.
  • Measurable – Receive proof via Instagram of people participating.
  • Achievable – Post persuasive content (Stories) on social media.
  • Realistic – Ensuring they have the resources to manufacture and deliver the donated shoes.
  • Time-bound – Host the ‘One day without shoes’ on one day in May (May 10th in 2017) annually.

TOMS ‘One Day Without Shoes’ Campaign – Source: http://www.toms.co.uk/one-day-without-shoes

SMART objectives will have a positive effect on any digital marketing campaign. Why not have a go at creating your own examples and posting them below?

Thanks for reading!

Learn how to make your ‘SMART’ objectives ‘SMARTER’.

 


by Rory Tarplee

LinkedIn

MSc Digital Marketing Student (Full-time)

A New Year Tribute to Hard Workers

Dr. Jenny Gale
Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management and Organizational Behaviour

Balancing work and family life can be hard.  In the run up to Christmas this is more pronounced. However, there is also the general concern that the workplace is becoming an increasingly pressurised environment as organisations struggle to remain competitive in uncertain economic and political conditions, including the uncertainties of Brexit.  The beginning of the New Year offers an opportunity to reflect on the cost of the increasing intensification of work, in other words having too much to do, in too little time, and sometimes with fewer staff and other resources.

Hard work is nothing new of course, and jobs today are cleaner and safer, while technological advances and the digital age have removed some of the arduous aspects of work.  However, employers also demand higher levels of commitment and loyalty from employees, even to the extent that they identify emotionally with business needs, embodying the organisational brand.  This too contributes to work intensification as it requires employees to give more of themselves, often going ‘the extra mile’.  Coupled with the pressure on organisations to continually ‘do more with less’, it is feasible to expect rising workloads and work pressure.  Left unchecked, these can contribute to human resource management issues such as sickness absence and/or ‘presenteeism’.  Presenteeism is the term used for when employees present for work, despite not being well enough, or when the workplace culture suggests that non-attendance, even when ill, may have negative implications for one’s career or job security.  Under such regimes, employees may contribute to their own work intensification as they seek to demonstrate commitment while also worrying about burdening colleagues with additional work.  However, ‘doing more with less’, while reflecting the harsh economic realities confronting private and public sector organisations, is not only bad for employees, it is not good for business or for service delivery.There is only so much that employees can do.  We are not machines, neither are we simply ‘human resources’. We are people and people can ‘break’ with adverse implications for health and the ability to meet expectations not only of managers and colleagues, but customers too.  As a customer, I have often felt the urgency and speed of being served by employees under pressure – telephone enquiries ending prematurely when they seemed anxious to move on to the next call; leaving queues in banks, department stores, and coffee shops (because I ran out of time more often than patience). Fleeting conversations with fellow customers have included utterances of ‘not enough staff’ and ‘they should open another till’ along with a degree of sympathy for employees trying to do too much at once.  Of course, under-staffing can be a consequence of recruitment and retention problems (the NHS being a clear example), rather than decisions designed specifically to reduce labour costs.

However, those employees who take the trouble to ‘go the extra mile’, though already busy, do so at a cost to themselves.  They need to intensify their own effort and this increases pressure on the rest of their working day.  It can mean extending their working hours and involve giving up precious time with their families or other important aspects of themselves that are nothing to do with work. Some employers pay high rewards for this but many do not.  To champion the hard work of those employees who are doing their best to help their customers, patients, and clients, I extend my thanks to them.  For employers, while there are no easy answers to the imperative to control costs, they should reflect on the consequences of work intensification both for their employees and their business.

To view our postgraduate courses such as Human Resource Management click here

Happy New Two-Year! Best kept secret? Degrees that save you time and money…

Now, the thing about two-year degrees is that they are arguably the best kept secret of all time, excluding of course that exquisite and neatly wrapped Christmas gift you received from your loved one. What’s more, like Christmas, two-year degrees have been around for some time – well, not quite 2000+ years but certainly on and off since the Second World War when they were made available to armed forces personnel to assist with their transition to civilian life. So why is it that two-year degrees continue to fall under the radar of prospective students of higher education? Well, the real issue stems from the fact that few universities have risen to the challenge of providing alternative flexible pathways, such as two-year degrees, preferring the status quo of their inflexible semesterised academic calendar which for years has been the traditional means by which students have engaged in higher education.

In the good old days, before tuition fees, or even today if you are lucky enough to have sufficient financial means, the traditional semesterised academic calendar offers the luxury of three summer months of hedonism. At this point, many of you will have the words of Kylie Minogue ringing in your ears – for those who don’t, here they are…‘I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky….’ OK, so it seems like me, there are others out there who think that studying over the summer months (bar a couple of weeks of well-earned rest) is a good idea, yet there are few universities willing to offer them. The issue is that for a university to deliver two-year degrees, and other accelerated courses for that matter, requires a period of institutional transition and change management to change the out-dated and entrenched semesterised academic calendar, academic culture and supporting infrastructure. Effectively, the resistance to such change by many well-known established universities has meant that two-year degrees are offered by only a handful of forward thinking and progressive universities.

Staffordshire University is proud to have pioneered two-year degrees back in 2006 and to have continued investing in their provision ever since to accommodate the needs of students looking for something other than a traditional three-year degree, whatever their reasons. As a member of Staffordshire University’s academic team responsible for the delivery of our two-year BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance degree I have witnessed students from many different walks of life who have each graduated with excellent results. For example, there have been mature students that enrol on the degree with great trepidation but then relish the experience of studying and redirecting their career. Then there are the more traditionally aged students including those who are motivated to complete their degree quickly and to progress to their chosen professional accountancy qualification – believe me, the thought of becoming a professionally qualified accountant by the age of twenty-four can unlock significant amounts of drive and motivation! Employers also recognise that two-year degree students are always motivated and ambitious too. But there is a common thread that runs through all the conversations I’ve had with two-year students about why they chose a two-year degree and that is, at the end of the day studying a two-year degree saves them an immense amount of money – according to Jo Johnson, the ex-universities minister (aka brother of Boris), approximately £25,000.

Staffordshire University is of course an established leader and expert in two-year degrees and degree apprenticeships, with student satisfaction and employability being our key drivers. So when I read the criticisms contained within the Government’s 2016 White Paper that many universities still provide courses that are inflexible, based on the traditional three-year undergraduate model, with insufficient innovation and provision of two-year degrees and degree apprenticeships, I was confident that my university was in fact one of the few universities, very much at the forefront of delivering exactly the type of alternative ways of engaging in higher education that today’s society needs. I am also immensely proud of my Two-Year BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance team who achieved 100% student satisfaction in the National Student Survey of 2017 and also the university as a whole for being ranked No. 1 for employability in the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey of 2017. Reflecting on these successes, I wonder what 2018 will bring – will the best kept secret now be unwrapped? For further details of Staffordshire University’s Two-Year Accelerated Degrees please visit:- www.staffs.ac.uk/accelerated-degrees

Wishing You a Very Happy New Two-Year!

Alison Maguire MBA (Ed), ACMA, CGMA, Cert.Ed., SFHEA.
Head of Department – Accounting, Finance and Economics

School of Business, Leadership and Economics
Staffordshire University Business School
B336 Brindley Building
Leek Road
Stoke on Trent
ST4 2DF
United Kingdom
Tel: 01782 294155
www.staffs.ac.uk