Following the successful government-funded Small Business Leadership Programme, in conjunction with the Small Business Charter, Staffordshire Business School has enhanced the digital marketing courses to respond to identified business needs.
Issues emerged from the Small Business Leadership Programme
The programme allowed us to work with businesses nationally to understand their key challenges across business operations and provide guidance on how to survive and thrive in a continuously transforming environment. Naturally, businesses have their unique needs, however there were overarching themes identified which impact success. Whilst there have been developments in accessibility of training, digital marketing continues to be highlighted as a significant area with skills gaps. Particularly with the rise in e-commerce as a necessary approach for selling products and services due to the pandemic(Statista, 2020).
The Changing Consumer
It is no secret that in 2020 we saw accelerated changes in the way in which consumers engage with businesses. With 56.3% of the world’s population now on social media (We Are Social, 2021), changing customer expectations is not something that we can ignore. Operationally, we have learned that there is not the required time on a day to day basis to address those vast changes. The Small Business Leadership Programme enabled us to work practically with those businesses to ensure that understanding their audience is not something that is simply discussed in theory, but can be executed. This concept, coupled with working with businesses first hand, is embedded within course curriculum to ensure that the relevant skills are developed prior to entering the professional environment.
Attracting New Business
It is clear from the challenges caused by COVID-19, that if customers are not acquired and retained, business survival is put under great pressure (Hubspot, 2020). But how exactly do we use the right channels to attract new business? Through social listening, strategising against objectives and harmonising with business values, our connected business were able to ‘see the wood from the trees’ when striving for growth. As a digital society, we are inundated with options for promotion. This in fact has been a key barrier for our businesses, who found that perhaps too may options caused confusion of where they should be engaging.
Practical Ways to Plan and Rebuild for the Future
Overall, a general consensus across the five cohorts on the Small Business Leadership Programme was that planning for the future was most challenging, particularly with the reality of the changing environment often being faster than what they could plan for. We supported those businesses to think proactively, utilising guidance from our Entrepreneurs in Residence and to only use reactive approaches when relevant changes emerged for their business. We identify here that in order to support these business challenges, a flexible learning framework is key to any individual developing themselves within digital marketing.
Responding to the identified skills gaps, specifically with SME’s nationally, Staffordshire Business School provides a wide range of Digital Marketing courses focusing on industry expected knowledge, alongside fundamental skills needed to succeed in a professional environment. See our list of available courses below.
Angela Lawrence, Chartered Marketer, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Associate Dean in Staffordshire Business School
I’ve always been a lover of clever marketing campaigns and frequently pondered on what makes a campaign so successful. Having identified some really smart campaigns over the years, I decided that four things matter and I developed my own model. There are already a couple of well-known marketing models with four-letter acronyms, to support marketing communications planning – Chris Fill’s DRIP model and Elmo Lewis’ classic, long-established AIDA model. I’d like to propose a third, MIMI. Here’s how it goes:
The first M stands for MEMORABLE. If you remember a marketing campaign then you probably talk to your friends and family about it. Word of mouth is like a bush fire – it spreads! Getting people to talk about your marketing campaign is a sure way to drive engagement and acquisition.
One of the most memorable campaigns of my lifetime was probably the 1971 Coca Cola advert which was absolute genius in its time and one of my first early memories of colour TV. “It’s the Real Thing”, the famous Coca Cola tagline will forever ring out to the tune of “I’d like to teach the world to sing” for me – most definitely memorable!
The I is for IMPACTFUL. If a campaign doesn’t make an impact, doesn’t drive a call to action, doesn’t change anything, then its probably a wasted investment. We invest in marketing campaigns because we want something to happen, whether that be purchase of a product or service, driving awareness or encouragement to sign up for further communications.
171 million banners with negative impact
5.5 million unique women
50% of the women who visited the Dove Ad Makeover site to create a message
The campaign extended beyond promoting a vision for beauty equality, by increasing sales of Dove from $2.5 to $4 billion in the campaigns’ first ten years. Dove soap bars became Unilever’s best-selling product company wide. That’s what I call impact!
The second M of my model stands for MEASUREABLE. Marketing costs money and every good finance officer will demand to know what the ROI will be before agreeing to your budget request. In todays world of digital marketing this is so much easier, with metrics such as Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost per Impression (CPI), Click Through Rate (CTR), conversion rate, number of visitors, post engagement, interactions, page views and many, many more. The hashtag has become a strong indicator of success – #MeToo, #BeKind, #LikeaGirl, #BlackLivesMatter and #NeverAgain resonate with me and illustrate the power of the online environment.
A truly measurable campaign that I think was just brilliant in its time was the EPICA award-winning Mini Getaway campaign in 2010. iPhones had only been around for 3 years, so a campaign developed around an app, to engage and encourage involvement was truly genius. I would hazard a guess that not many readers of this blog have ever seen this campaign, watch the video at the link above and I think you’ll agree that it’s Memorable, Impactful and Measurable without a doubt.
Finally, there is another I, this time for IDENTIFIABLE. It’s imperative that receivers of any campaign messaging need to be able to identify the product or brand. Some brands are identifiable purely by their colour – did you know that RAC orange is a unique colour? What colour are the McDonald arches? If I mention Cadburys, what colour would you associate with the brand?
Other brands are identifiable by a tune
containing the tag line or even the brand name – think of Go Compare and you
will no doubt sing it. The monotone, single note tune for We Buy Any Car still
ring in my head, and as I’ve already said, Coca Cola is the Real Thing in the
song from the 70’s ad. Other brands are identifiable by a character, such as
the Compare the Market meercats, the Michelin Man, the Jolly Green Giant
providing your sweetcorn, the Pillsbury Doughboy and my personal favourite,
Memorable, Impactful, Measurable and Identifiable – I challenge you to apply my MIMI model to your favourite marketing campaign. In fact, why not come and study a marketing qualification with us at Staffordshire Business School, to learn for yourself how to develop and deliver marketing campaigns that truly hit the mark.
Storm Barratt, Course Director, Staffordshire Business School
never a day goes by, when we aren’t reminded that “today” is National,
International or even Global “something” awareness day or week or month. From
the ever-popular Christmas Jumper day to my own particular favourite – National
Squirrel Appreciation Day (!), from National Allotment week to Fairtrade
fortnight to National Bed month.
these campaigns are designed to raise awareness and/or funds for some serious
and not so serious issues. So, why as a business, would you want to know this?
Firstly, all businesses
have basic ethical and legal responsibilities; however, the most successful
businesses establish a strong foundation of corporate citizenship, showing
a commitment to ethical behaviour by creating a balance between the needs of
shareholders and the needs of the community and environment in the surrounding
area. These practices help bring in consumers and establish brand and company
considered normal for businesses to balance the other stakeholders’ needs with
those of the shareholders during the decision-making process. Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) goes even further, making the general public a stakeholder
and shows that the business wishes to actively improve things for everyone.
business making a profit is still key and, of course, the needs of employees,
customers and suppliers must be satisfied if the business is to survive.
However, Corporate Social Responsibility has become far more important over the
last few decades with consumers worrying about how the products they buy were
made and how companies that they buy from are run. On many company websites
there will be narratives of how they look after the environment and all the CSR
initiatives of which they are a part.
Corporate social responsibility comes in many
forms. Even the smallest company impacts social change by making a simple
donation to a local food bank. Some of the most common examples of CSR include:
Reducing carbon footprints
Improving labour policies
Participating in Fairtrade
Volunteering in the community
Corporate policies that benefit the environment
Socially and environmentally conscious investments
growing popularity of National Awareness Days can tap into these initiatives helping
a company both internally and externally.
One internal perspective is if your employees can see that the business is taking a caring approach, by raising funds for charity for instance, involving the staff may mean that they become more motivated to engage with each other working towards a common goal. In fact, whilst “Wear a Christmas Jumper to Work” day seems an opportunity to raise a smile amongst colleagues as we approach the long dark winter months, the serious aspect is that the jumper wearers are raising money for a great cause.
perspective is using “Awareness
Days” to help a business promote their product or service (all the better if
this can also highlight the CSR approach taken by the company). The issues can make an ideal
marketing tool for a business, providing inspiration for marketing content.
context to an awareness day, a business can plan their content by linking a day
to their product or service, so for example an artisan baker could showcase
their expertise and knowledge during Real Bread Week, or a nutritionist could
use National Allotment Week to encourage healthy and organic eating whilst
promoting their own healthy eating programme.
It’s not just
about direct promotion though. Awareness days can provide a great opportunity
for a business to engage in conversation with future consumers via social media
using hashtags associated with the cause, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This
will allow people to find and contact you, consequently building your audience.
From engaging with employees to good PR to corporate social responsibility, supporting a national awareness day is a great way to show which values are important to you and your business. It can differentiate you from your competitors and allow you to build partnerships with charities and organisations that share your beliefs. With the potential to build trust as well as give a little back, it’s a win-win situation for all.
Become a responsible leader of global business.
Do you want to be at the forefront of modern enterprise? Our BA (Hons) Business Management and Sustainability course challenges the traditional interpretations of enterprise and will open your mind to a broad range of contemporary themes in business.
Our emphasis on ethical business and sustainability will position you to create long-lasting value for your organisation and you will learn the practical skills needed to become a responsible business leader.
The pandemic has illustrated how important a good website, good ecomerce offer and good social media are to business. Those that already had these established have been able to keep taking orders and in many cases to pivot their business.
To get our Masters students ready for the industry we have two modules:
‘The Management of a Digital Marketing Project’ – this module will prepare a tri-partite agreement between the student, the academic staff and the organisation as to the focus of the project, existing benchmark measures, what is to be achieved and how to make the project sustainable (so that it can continue after the student leaves). This is carried out between January to March/April
The Work Based Digital Marketing Project – a credit work experience (450 hours) to deliver the project with the organisation concerned. (April to August)
The project can be in any type of organisation e.g. private sector, public sector, charity or a university. It is essential for the work project activity to take place at the premises – many of the projects have been remotely delivered due to COVID.
We have built in flexibility to the work-placement so it could be that you would like a portfolio of tasks to be completed rather than just one main project. Examples could be – creation of a digital marketing strategy, audit and re-launch of social media, budget and investment plan for marketing, devising and implementing a training plan for existing staff.
I recently completed my bachelors degree in Tourism Management, in which I obtained a First Class honours. I am now studying a masters degree in Digital Marketing.
I am extremely enthusiastic about travelling and understanding different cultures around the world. I decided to take an internship during my gap year where I worked in a prestige country club in South Florida for 7 months and later I worked in a country club in Connecticut for the remaining 5 months. After I completed my degree my manager in Connecticut asked me to go back to work for them for another year in 2019. During my time in America I worked in the front of house as a bartender and server, I worked events, worked on the reception and worked in the office helping to plan events and create content for the clubs website. Aside from working in America, I also have voluntary experience working for the Stone Food and Drink Festival 2018, as well as becoming a student representative for my course.
During my time at university I worked with a number of different softwares including SPSS, Excel, PowerPoint and I also obtained a Microsoft Office Specialist for Word in 2019. I also have experience working with small social media advertising campaigns to build a brand image.
Overall I am strong team player, I have good work ethics and
I’m a fast learner that can work independently as well as in a team if needed.
Ideally, I would like a placement within events or tourism, but I’m very
flexible and I am open to offers.
I have recently graduated with a 2:1 in BA (Hons.) Event Management. Previous to that I completed a National Vocational Qualification level 3 in Hospitality supervisor and leadership at Cardiff.
I am currently working as a team member at Staffordshire University Student Union bar. For my volunteer work, I had experience working with Channel 4 and at the Stone Food and Drink Festival.
Before this, I helped out at events that were hosted by the college which includes the chef forum and local MP conference, and at a hospitality competition. The skills that I have are customer service, good at solving problems, have a positive attutude to everything I do, good communication both written and oral, time-management, reliable, and confident talking to new people. I also have computer skills that include Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and confident in using social media. Additionally, I am opened minded and can adapt to new environments as well as willing to learn new things.
In 2018 I graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Computer Science at Keele University. Whilst undertaking my degree, I worked as an IT Intern for a houseware distribution company. After graduation, I started working as a Junior Graphic Designer for Dee Set, a company that focuses on driving growth, market share and ROI to a large range of clients, such as ASDA, Tesco and Wilkinsons. I then quickly progressed into a more senior Graphic Designer role within a Digital Marketing company, BWAR Ltd. I opened my own Digital Marketing business ‘Yello Dog’ in December 2019. To assist me with running my business and further my knowledge and experience of Digital Marketing, I decided to apply for a MSc Digital Marketing Management Degree at Staffordshire University.
My work experience and qualifications have provided me with an extensive and broad skillset. My Computer Science degree has enabled me to understand the technicalities associated with building websites, computer software and assist with many digital trends of today. My role as a Graphic Designer has provided me with an understanding of brand identity, digital marketing and social media. Owning my own business has given me the opportunity to obtain and work with my own clients, identify ways of marketing my own business and manage my own projects and deadlines.
I have graduated with 1st class BSc (Hons) Computer Science and 1st class MBA (Post-grad) degree in HRM and marketing specializations. Due to my keen interest and evolving technologies in Digital marketing and its immediate growth in a new dimension, I am pursuing my 2nd Master in digital marketing management with Staffordshire University.
I have gained eight years of corporate experience internationally with leading IT companies from leading markets such as Asia (India), Middle East (Dubai) and Europe (UK ) with wide range of expertise in the field of business technologies management, solutions automation (such as ERP/CRM/ED-Tech/E-learning solutions), SAAS model implementation, digital marketing management & content creation, performance analysis, brand management, SEO and corporate website management including email & online marketing, PR & CSR activities promotion and media management etc.
I am currently looking for a project with a reputed organisation that challenges me with my expertise & skills to excel in my career and helps me to gain further experience in digital marketing & management. Moreover, being multilinguistic I am always a great team player and I want to help organizations to grow in the new dimensions of digital marketing and experience its potential. Ideally, I would like a placement within IT sector, but would not mind if it’s an exceptional offer from other fields. Contact information – Sruthy AB | LinkedIn /Email Sruthyab@gmail.com
I have graduated with a BA (Hons) in Tourism Management at Staffordshire University with Upper Second (2:1) and I am now studying an MSc in Digital Marketing Management.
Bi-lingual – fluent in both Polish and English.
Recently, I have experience working as a Planning Distributor at TK Maxx
Newcastle-under-Lyme. In this role I am working closely with the planning and distribution team. This
role is office based within a very busy, fast-paced environment.
This has taught me a lot of transferable skills such as computing skills,
implementation new team strategies, efficiently manage the office duties,
dealing with administration, customers and suppliers.
My ideal placement if possible would be within the events, tourism or
hospitality industry. However, I am willing to try anything new that may
broaden my knowledge and skills.
have recently graduated with a BA (Hons) in Business
Management. Having grown up in a small family business which sold food and
beverages, I have been able to gain insider knowledge of how to run a business
successfully. When studying Business Management at university I successfully
created a business from scratch working within a small team.
I have previously worked as a Healthcare Assistant and much recently as a Call Handler at an urgent care centre. By working in these positions, I have learned to become a more compassionate person, as I show more kindness and empathy towards other people in my daily life.
I have a passion for Digital Marketing that is why I am pursuing a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Management. The master’s course has taught me how digital marketing strategies can be applied to a business and given me extensive knowledge on different marketing tools. For the last year I have been running a blog on Instagram and WordPress. This experience has made me efficient in creating content that connects with diverse audiences and have gained solid understanding of different media platforms.
a highly creative individual on the other hand I am extremely analytical, what separates
me from a lot of people is my enormous desire to learn. I am looking for a
placement in an organisation that will help me gain further experience and
knowledge in Digital Marketing.
If you would like to
contact me, email me at : firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a BA (Hons) English Literature (2-year fast track) where for my placement I worked with my own small Etsy Business and focused on the importance of Social Media in the online marketplace. Creating my Etsy shop enabled me to learn about SEO as well as the use of their marketing services as well as those which are provided by different social media platforms.
My interest in the sector is within social media as I feel like I understand it well and have been a user for more than a decade. I have used my knowledge of Social Media to run a Twitter account for a small business a family member was starting and help with brand building. This was great experience for me as I was able to learn what went well and what could be improved on. I currently am applying the skills I am learning in my Digital Marketing Management MSc to my own Etsy shop which has seen great improvement. I am experienced in using analytics as well as identifying different demographics, I also have the ability to create Marketing Communications Plans and Global Digital Marketing strategies.
I am a quick learner and am always enthused to learn more in order to further my career. I am looking for a placement which can enable me to enhance my skills and can challenge me. Email me email@example.com
I currently have a BA Experimental Film Production (First class). My experience ranges from volunteer to paid work, as well for my own interest. My main skills lie in social media and videography, which I have an extensive knowledge of. I have a range of experience creating content whether it is for business or different groups. Primarily this is promotional materials, such as logos, business cards, and videos such as trailers or adverts.
I have a keen interest in Digital Marketing, specifically around content curation and social media management. I am currently undertaking an MSc in Digital Marketing Management. Before starting my course, I have worked with Staffordshire University to introduce prospective students to camera equipment and walkthrough the film courses at the university. In addition, I have worked with Stoke Council to go into schools to deliver presentations around anti-smoking, and then work with groups of students to produce these anti-smoking messages into short films. I also currently hold an FLT licence which I gained whilst working at B&Q .
At present I am looking for a project or work placement that helps
me further my experience in digital marketing, in order to develop my skills
and pursue a career in the future within the industry.
I have recently completed my BSc (Hons) Sound Design in which I obtained a 2:1, this focussed on sound for visual media. I strengthened my skills in digital media, including sound for film, TV and games using tools such as Logic Pro X (Certified Pro), Pro tools ultimate and Adobe Audition and Premiere. I comprehensively studied music production and technology including use of industry standard hardware. Within this time I also improved my skills using Adobe Photoshop and completed my certification as an associate in visual design. I also obtained experience within Microsoft Office, namely Word, PowerPoint and Excel. I also have a lot of experience with virtual meeting rooms such as Microsoft teams.
Within my pursuit of an MSc in Digital Marketing Management
I have gained skills and knowledge of content marketing, marketing strategy and
planning, SEO, email marketing and social media marketing. I would love to
further my experience in all of these aspects of digital marketing specifically
SEM gaining hands on experience with PPC and other digital marketing tools.
I have recently been successful acquiring a digital
marketing role within a B2B company in which I can further my knowledge and
experience in social media, content curation/creation, SEO, website management,
visual design and analytics. Within this role I am gaining experience with
tools such as Zoho, WordPress and Google analytics.
My experience mostly consists of customer facing roles, this
includes seasons abroad with PGL Travel in Spain and France, Customer team
member at Coop (ongoing) as well Student Ambassador for Staffordshire
University advocating the university on open days as well as with the Unibuddy
chat service (ongoing).
The MSc in Digital Marketing Management was developed to deliver the technical, strategic and organisation skills for this industry. As such the course includes a substantial project with an external client and this work is credited as part of the award. Carrying out a project at the height of the pandemic was even more challenging than usual with everything needing to be done remotely and ongoing changes to adapt to the new situation – so Congratulations to the students below for these excellent projects.
Eerik Beeton carried out a project for The Waterfront Gallery, in Milford Haven, West Wales. This has involved developing the ecommerce offer on the website, creating social media channels Facebook, Instagram and helping to recruit volunteers for the gallery.
There are two parts to the Survive and Thrive project – a series of webinars and 1 to 1 business support. This project aims to support businesses in Staffordshire and the surrounding regions.
The webinars are designed to be interactive and resources to download during the webinars will be made available, as well as examples and the opportunity for chat and questions. If you are unable to attend the webinar then you can watch a recording.
Several of the webinars link to each other and we would encourage you to sign up for all of the webinars.
Practical Hints and Tips for Small and Micro-businesses occurred on Staffordshire Day (May 1st) – Recording here
How to critically assess your business operation and ask really good questions in light of Covid 19 – 2pm May 21st Recording here
How to Create Clear Messaging & Develop Customer Relationships Online – 2pm May 28th Recording here
Strengthening your business and its future prospects: adapting your operations and supply chain management 2pm June 4th Recording here
Are you in the right place? How to connect to the right audience & analyse your performance 2pm June 11th Recording here
E-commerce 1: A fun, no techno-babble guide to having a go with electronic commerce! 2pm 18th June Awaiting editing
E-commerce 2: A detailed navigation of the e-commerce strategy template introduced in the E-Commerce 1 webinar 2pm June 25th Recording here
How to manage your staff and their wellbeing out of the lockdown and beyond 2pm July 2nd Recording here
Introduction to advanced operations for key social media platforms 2pm July 7th Recording here
How to develop & integrate email marketing into your business 2pm July 9th Recording here
Managing change, risk and longevity – what does the future hold? 2pm July 16th
Paul Dobson, Senior LEcturer,Staffordshire Business School
It’s been a challenging, confusing and worrying time for
most industries during this current Coronavirus Crisis. But the hospitality
sector in particular stands to be one of the hardest hit as it struggles to
contemplate how it can continue to trade successfully keeping social distancing
in mind, coupled with a rapidly shrinking economy. As part of Staffordshire Business School’s
support to organisations I’ve been supporting the local and international hospitality
sector and as the French businesses are ahead of us in coming out of lockdown
I’ve noted some points to help prepare UK organisations.
After 2 months enduring some of the strictest lockdown
controls in Europe, France is slowly opening up its economy and society. And
the vast, hugely varied accommodation sector, which historically welcomes
visitors across the world, is undergoing a rapid and radical revolution to
ensure it can continue to attract customers in these unprecedented times.
The newly forced need to keep distance and natural sense of
personal safety has fallen well into the hands of some of the self-catering
sector. Private homes and villas, especially those that can offer generous
outside space as well as little or no contact with others, have seen a huge
demand since the 11th of May when the French Prime Minister
officially declared that travel up to 100km was now permitted. The public, who
have been largely “imprisoned” with massively limited scope to be outside their
own homes since the middle of March inevitably have an overwhelming desire for
a change of scenery. However, this is not a universal permission and policy,
and restricted zones still exist across France, and indeed many local
governments, even in the less-infected “green regions” are enforcing the
continuation of heavy trading restrictions and forced closures of accommodation
providers. But where these rules do not apply, the flood gates have opened and
demand, all from customers within the 100km radius, has been significant. Also
worthy of note is that the average length of stay has seen a dramatic increase
for this time of year.
That’s not to say that this is return to normal times for these accommodation owners. French hospitality organisations have had a massive increase in questions about sanitation, personal responsibility and uniform industry standards on cleanliness and contact that the UK accommodation businesses will need to be prepared for when lockdown restrictions are relaxed. As of today, these restrictions haven’t been totally clarified in France, and only “best practice” guides from local tourism authorities exist online. Some of the leading booking platforms and websites for this sub sector are advising “safety gaps” between customers of, for example, 24 hours to allow any surfaces to become less likely to cross contaminate in the future. What is apparent from discussions with French hospitality businesses is that there is an increased desire for customers to have “direct online contact” with the service rather than through online booking platforms. This could be a welcome shift in attitude as this not only allows peace of mind for the customer, but also less commissions for the business owner to pay to the booking platforms which have come under much public criticism and scrutiny of late because of their high charges. One of the French businesses I’ve talked to has had an 800% increase in Facebook messages, their analytics has shown an increase in both mobile and desktop visitors to their website and the number of emails has increased by over 200% compared to last year.
The B&B (Chambres d’hote) and Hotel sector have reported
an uphill challenge. With a mix of different guests under their roofs, all with
potentially varying attitudes to respecting the new government guidelines, this
poses a significant threat to their short- and medium-term existence. However, those
that can offer genuine space, especially outside, have a clear advantage over
those that cannot. Going from one restrictive box to another isn’t likely to be
a great draw for the new discerning needs of the Covid-19 era traveller. Forced confinement has brought about a new
desire to be out and about in nature, and burn off all those excessive calories
consumed since March.
But with the high season fast approaching during which these
businesses would traditionally run at maximum occupancy, the reality is that
these organisations will be forced to not only give “buffers” in between guests
checking out and the next ones checking in, but also run at a lower occupancy
to ensure that interaction between different customers is minimized. Therefore
“Making Hay whilst the sun shines” will this year inevitably bring about a
lower yield, and reduce the vital cashflow which sustains many of these
businesses during the quieter months.
An example of changes implemented is the hotelier Tim Bell and Ingrid Boyer in the Auvergne region of Central France. Tim has developed their website to include a link to their Covid-19 guidance on their home page (see https://chabanettes.com/). This is updated on a regular basis and outlines their commitment to client’s safety. He implements rapid alterations to its usual offerings and has created the foundations for business continuity and customer confidence. He has also set up a Facebook forum for like minded accommodation owners in Europe seeking support and advice. Tim collates industry data, statistics and best practice ideas from all over the accommodation sector and share his opinions and advice with the group.
The sector in which he operates is having to rethink more
radically about its traditional services to ensure competitivity and customer
confidence. This ranges from the provision of catering which is leaning
initially more towards a “Room Service” culture to a complete overhaul of the
check-in/check-out customer touch points, looking to technology and globally
recognised physical safety barriers to reduce risk of viral spread. For an
industry which relies heavily on close, personal contact for their reputation
and overall experience, keeping a balance between customer satisfaction and
safety is proving challenging, but not impossible. Clients now expect a more
sterile and distanced world, with supermarkets leading the way in some innovation
and rethinking of the customer journey that the hotels are learning from, such
as one-way corridors.
Until the world is safely vaccinated against the virus, the accommodation industry will have to adapt quickly and radically to guidelines, legislation and customer fears. History has told us that businesses that do this will have the best chance of survival, and those that don’t not only fear a downturn in business, but also a very visible online reputation for ignoring what is now the number one priority for the 2020 traveller – Safety.
Chatbots are the cost-effective way for a business to stay engaged with their customer 24/7, this blog will discuss why businesses should be including them in their next marketing implementation.
On a very simple level, a bot is just a bit of software that can carry out pre-determined actions on its own without being actively controlled. This is discussed in further detail by Neil Patel who describes it as a “wind up toy”, you build it to carry out what you want it to, you wind it up, and then you let it perform the action it was designed for.
The Customer comes first
The first advantage that a business will notice when introducing chatbots to their marketing is the speed in which the bots reply to customer support messages. This is extremely important as its very common for customers to get very frustrated when made to wait for a human over the phone on through a chat. There is no way to accommodate enough human customer support workers for every customer with a query which results in long wait times. TheModernFirm did a study on customers who have had to call in order to reach customer support, these numbers were found:
of customers hang up out of frustration when they can’t reach a real person.
of customers think that it takes too long to reach a human being.
of callers who reach an automated/recorded phone line will hang up.”
will result in lower customer loyalty and eventually a loss of profits.
Implementation of a chatbot would eradicate these problems, A chatbots response is immediate and a customer can have their query solved in a matter of seconds. Customers are also more likely to reach out for support if they see a ‘Live Chat’ button.
Businesses today put a lot of emphasis on knowing everything about their customer, this is normally done through primary research. Information such as what a customer is buying is available as a company can just look at sales statistics, however, products that a customer is choosing not to buy is harder to work out as there are far more variables involved. The best way to gain this information is straight from the customers their selves, this is made possible by the mighty chatbot. Email doesn’t result in as accurate information due to the back and forth nature, a live chat allows the customer to reply naturally which leads to more accurate information.
LearningHub stats show that Chatbots will power 85% of customer service by 2020 and by 2022, chatbots will help businesses save over $8 billion per annum. If these stats stay true, which information is leaning towards, companies who HAVEN’T introduced chatbots into their marketing strategy will be left behind. Customers will simply stop doing business with company’s that require extra steps to get what they want. Together with the cost efficiency of the chatbot, It makes less and less sense to continue to pay a human to do an AI’s job. Speaking of humans, its very common for somebody working customer support to make a ‘human’ error, this could be something as simple as interpreting the meaning of a question slightly wrong which can lead to frustration or a loss of sales from the customer.
They’re taking our jobs!
While the AI in a chatbot can usually accommodate for most requests from a customer, it’s very easy for a chatbot to get stuck if a customer’s query is slightly different to its base algorithms that its been taught. Also, as a chatbot learns from the responses it receives from a customer, it can sometimes make the wrong decision internally due not being able to actually choose which decision it wants to make, it is just following the code. An example of this is a Microsoft chatbot used on Twitter being taught racist and misogynistic responses by customers in less than 24 hours, to avoid this, the chatbot must be optimised properly.
There is an endless supply of advantages when it comes to assessing chatbots, they can save your company money and time, improve your customer relations and customer loyalty and ultimately create a better brand image. Although, an influx of AI and bots makes the whole customer service process very impersonal and cold as suggested by Neil Patel. Neil also suggests that chatbots should most definitely be used in their marketing strategies but the businesses should also be careful as to not “water down” their marketing.
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:
Create a marketing strategy plan and a set of smart objectives
Research your audience, current trends and market place
Post engaging content to social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, such as competitions, stories, images, videos and polls
Create a relevant hashtag for your audience to share with their friends and family to establish brand identity
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.
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.
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
Dominate More Search Clicks
Google has changed over recent years with the aim to deliver better search results for the reader, examples include providing the answers through featured Snippets which appear above the organic results. For example, I’ve search “how to walk in snow”
For your website to take advantage of this, you need to provide clear answers to commonly asked questions in your website area of interest. These featured Snippets are evaluated and boosted to the top depending on their quality, with the results that 54.68% of clicks from Google come from featured Snippets. There are various ways to create featured snippet at the top of the page but the key ways include :-
Create something better than the current Answer
Card / Provide updated information, and Google will prioritise this ‘Freshness’
Take the most frequent People Also Asked questions,
listed in the Google search, and create content to match*
Focus on the most frequently asked types of
questions: “How”, “Is” and “Why”
2. Keywords no longer work
Trying to pack key words into landing pages is no longer effective. Google is using more natural language and wants to independently rank websites and use them as quality data sources. Your website needs to be written as a natural language rather than trying to pack key words at the top, and consider the long key words that readers may use to find your website. In addition, you need to consider your website as an overall themed area rather than a mixture of items or topics, for example if you’re selling car parts do not include information blogs on other areas such as toys, or if you do include other areas setup robot.txt and sitemap.xml so that Google does not to index them and get confused.
3. Mobile User Experience (UX) affects your ranking and Sales.
On some of the websites that we use for student demonstrations of Customer Experience, (CX) User Experience (UX) and Google Analytics (for example https://aubergedechabanettes.com/ ) we can see up to 80% of the hits to the websites are from smart-mobiles in some weeks. A website that is not mobile compatible will lose customers especially as mobile access is a growing trend. How people find information using their mobile devices is also getting more advanced, so your website must be easy to read, grab people’s attention and then can answer their questions or keep them entertained. If you own a business based at a property such as a Hotel, Restaurant, Bar and Beauty Salon, local SEO is vitally important. Studies show that 4 in 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines using their mobile devices. Google now allows customers, at a click of a button, to navigate to you, call you or even book directly.
4. Websites Optimize for Voice Search such and Alexa and
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.
Paul Dobson is a Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School in Digital and Strategic Marketing. He is actively involved in supporting local and EU charities and businesses especially hospitality businesses such as hotels and restaurants. Further details can be seen at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmddobson/