An insider view of technology’s effect on business -Digital & You Event
Last Tuesday saw a range of companies from all over Mid Sussex join together at a local exhibition to discover ways in which going digital can re-energise their business and productivity.
'Digital and You’ was an exciting event provided by the Open 4 Business initiative of Mid Sussex District Council and sponsored by the University of Sussex. It aimed to empower companies in the region, from start-ups to corporates, in keys areas of digital technology and “arm them with a powerful toolkit of effective ideas.” This piece will summarise the key speakers from the event, the four main digital game changers in business and three key strategies to use digital means in marketing.
Finance in the Cloud
Tom Bowen from Hilton Sharp & Clark accounting was the first to demonstrate their innovative method of practice in the form of ‘Cloud Accounting’. Similar to iCloud, this works simply as a different way of storing data online.
It is great in the workplace as two people can both work on the same accounts at the same time with data being shared automatically. So no unnecessary saving and re-uploading! Further benefits include direct bank feeds, remote updates and the ability to automatically scan invoices, bills and out of pocket expenses. Whilst this does come with a monthly subscription fee I think the cost of this is outweighed by the improved cash flow. You have the added security of knowing all your information is kept in a central base. This reminds me of Google Docs but with numbers!
Carol from Cross Roads Care believes “Cloud is the future, it streamlines time and we will all have to take it on soon!”
Make your business stand out organically through an effective SEO Campaign
Visitors were then briefed by Nathan Davidson from Digital Davidson on how to prepare for an SEO campaign in a way that can put your small business on a par with global conglomerates like Amazon. For those of you who aren’t sure what SEO’s are, it is a collective term used to promote content on the organic listings for SERPS. Search engines use an algorithm to determine which content is promoted at the top of results and look back at the content and performance of your page. So how can you compete with the almighty Amazon? First of all you need to understand your market place, what is it that makes your product stand out? Once you have figured this out you then need to demonstrate this on a solid foundation - i.e. a well-built website that is easy to use and update. For most of you this will require external skills and connections, and you need to be willing to commit theses resources to build your ranking.
In summary “defining and understanding your marketplace is key!”
Data shapes Decision Making
Nathan’s presentation was followed on nicely with the next by Rhys Jackson from Rocketmill who taught us that “data is at the centre of everything”. By looking at your Google Analytics you can become one of the “highly driven organisations 3 times more likely to report significant improvement in decision making”. You can use SMART objectives to make consistent changes that provide you with “the motivation and ability to come up with the tactics to achieve that goal”. In life people believe in you more if you support it with a figure. But also this figure represents what the market wants and what they are responding to, so make sure data drives your actions.
The key point stated from Rhys was “Spend time and resources on collecting digital analytics without using them is like winning the lottery and never cashing in your ticket.”
Professional Apps are the future for Work
Following on from how crucial analysing data is, Steve Hannon from Cloud Technology Solutions found that 53% of workers are now using personal devices and apps in the workplace. What does this mean for us? People want to “work the way they live”, they want to be able to access their work content where ever they are. Steve believes that apps allow you to work on a project together wherever you are. Thus we will see a rise in Google Apps being used at the workplace. It is wise for you to adopt this and add shared data to this, possibly in the form of google docs. This means, being on a train, traveling to a networking event or recovering from a cold in bed will no longer be excuses not to complete work tasks!
“Tools have changed, work cycle hasn’t”. – Steve Hannon, Cloud Solutions.
So that’s the basics covered. How do we actually market this product to potential customers? Open 4 Business provided 3 different speakers, each with effective strategic digital marketing tools. See our summary below.
Targeted Social Media Platforms
Kerry Watkins from Social Brighton brought it to our attention that by 2020 21% of the average marketing budget will be allocated to social media. This is interesting knowledge as social media plays a prominent role in marketing. It allows organisations to develop a consistent brand voice that reflects their values in one of the largest and most easily accessible marketplaces. Social media enables traffic provisions towards the website, products or services.
Our key lesson from Kerry on social media is you cannot just post any content, it needs critical analysis to suit your target audience. Organisations must consider their online reach and why particular posts were effective. Then apply this knowledge to future campaigns. And for some this could be through many paths or for others using only one or two social media platforms. What is important is what works for the particular business. Kerry says ask yourself what customers are responding to and act on that. I believe she is saying “Don’t spread yourself too thin, find your most effective social media platform and invest your valued time in working on them. Facebook works for some, Google + for others.”
The key point to take is “to start with an authentic brand voice and then tailor all your marketing content to suit specific social media platforms.”
Content marketing is the way forward
Jon Norris, also from Rocketmill, took to the stage to discuss content marketing. If you’re wondering what content marketing actually is, you’re not the only one! It is about creating content that actually engages the audience who are likely to be your market. It involves a great deal of analysis and creativity. Jon demonstrated that the key factor in successful content marketing is “engaging people when they are in the early stages of purchase”. Once you’ve done that you can then get to know the individual, see what they are thinking, how they react to different elements of your company and then tailor your content in different ways for different audiences. Jon believes organic google searches have limited success. If you tailor your content and find the social media that your audience mainly use you will be much more effective in reaching customers. So for some this may be posting pictures to Instagram, whilst for other this may be how to tutorials to YouTube. I say find your market and act on it.
Key takeaway from Jon -“You can tell the same stories to everybody but it’s how you tell the story that is important. That is how you target your audience and drive people to your website.” So consider your social media path, pick them and then let your audience know what you are about!
Mass email marketing is dead
Komal Helyer from Pure 360 taught visitors about the importance of real personalisation and that “emails that appeal to everyone actually appeal to no-one”. Komal repeats that “data is king”. You need to understand your data to be able to send relevant emails, this means understand your customers past actions and purchases and then apply this directly to your digital marketing through authentic emails that are attention grabbing and display urgency. “Think red”.
When it comes to design, go beyond the expected. Use a modular design with a twist. Add something that makes you stand out. This could be as simple as displaying your stock levels. What’s important is getting a customer hooked as this leads to repeat business. She provided a good example of Trip Advisor and their reward system for writing reviews. With the traditional thankful comment to the reward points earned through emails, it encourages engagement and leads to more reviews, genius I say! Komal believes this method is used as personalisation needs to go beyond simple first name, you need to create value for your customers and only this can be done by considering what they want and offering it to them through your emails.
The key take away is once you know your market. Speak to them directly through your emails. Make your customers feel valued and they will become loyal. “Batch emails are dead”.
I hope this has helped you consider some key ways digital platforms are now influencing corporations and how you can best apply this to your career or on an individual basis. See here for further information and notes from the event : http://o4b.org.uk/2016/10/24/7-things-youre-differently-o4b16/
General thoughts of the day- Comment from guests
Action studio “Very Intense. Know who your targeting, keep it relevant”.
Bennett Christmas Insurance Brokers “We are likely to apply SEO to the workplace and likely to apply email marketing and digital marketing is the future!
Gemini Print “Today was really good for confirming the knowledge I already had, because it was coming from experts in the field.” and “We must always update websites and use links on the website to encourage active click through’s. This will generate posts on google.”
Tara Haden & Leah Green
BMEc Project Co-ordinators