Productivity is a key challenge within the UK. Only last year UK productivity widened to the worst since records began. UK workers produce significantly less per hour than the G7 average. Based on the results of the recent EU referendum, the productivity gap should be more of a concern to businesses than ever before. To compete on a global scale, now more than ever, businesses need to assess their own levels of productivity and seek to improve every aspect of their business. Digital technologies, automation and smart systems can significantly help businesses of all spaces, sizes and industries to enormously improve productivity. Essentially, achieve significantly more with less.
Below are our top 5 tips to boost the productivity of your business with digital technologies.
Boost the Productivity of your Social Media
Most businesses employ a junior member of staff to manage their social media channels for their businesses, or even teams of people or even external social media agencies to manage their social media. In this day and age, this is an extremely costly and inefficient way of managing your social media channels. Technology could automate many aspects of your social media activities while remaining relevant for your audience and continually increasing your engagement levels over time.
Firstly, start to automate a significant amount of your social media activities using a suite of technology solutions. We help organisations automate their social media activities so that it takes no longer than 60 seconds per day to manage. Stop wasting time manually posting content to social media and instead boost your productivity through automation technology.
Boost the Productivity of your Website
Most businesses are still using out of date technology for their website which is inefficient, inflexible and insecure. This ultimately results in your activities surrounding your website being more focused around firefighting opposed to building and growing the strength of your digital presence.
Firstly, start to get the right technology in place as a solid foundation for growth. These days, there are a small few recommended options for your website technologies to provide a solid foundation for growth. If your website is either a static system you build over 2 years ago and haven’t touched or it is more of a pain than a pleasure to work with, then you need to get the right technology foundations in place for your business to begin to boost productivity within your organisation.
Boost the Productivity of your Sales & Marketing
Are you still employing teams of sales people, travelling around the country to sell your products and services to potential customers? This is an extremely inefficient and expensive way to do things. In the internet age, potential customers get extremely turned off by pushy sales people. Instead, potential customers want to work with industry leading organisations who are using digital technologies throughout their organisation.
Firstly, start to change the way your sales and marketing processes work. Still printing glossy brochures which end up as a foot stool under someone’s desk? Then start to engage with your potential customers through your website with content they are interested in reading. It is this type of content that is highly valuable throughout the sales process and can add a unique twist when marketing your businesses to stand out from the crowd. Using digital platforms throughout your sales & marketing processes will significantly help to boost the productivity within your business.
Boost the Productivity of your Office Activities
What are you doing on a day to day basis that is taking you time to do? Manually inputting data from one system to another, or dare I say, from paper? Automate it. Struggling to find information between multiple systems? Bring them all together under a single unified system with technology. Still using paper based forms within your businesses? Digitise them.
Firstly, start to take some time and critically think about what you are doing throughout the day. If you are doing a task more than once, then ask an expert about how you could automate this task. You will save yourself enormous amounts of time on a daily basis, freeing you up to do even more productive activities.
Boost the Productivity of your Legacy Systems
Many businesses are still shackled to legacy systems throughout their organisation. Whether this is technology focused or systems/processes focused based on ‘how things are done around here’. The reality is that you need to bring all of your legacy systems up to date using the right underlying technologies. If you don’t you risk not simply getting left behind, but becoming obsolete as a business.
Technology startups around the world are popping up on a daily basis which are replacing entire industries. Xero has made traditional accountancy practices obsolete. TendoJobs.com is revolutionising the recruitment world by putting the power back in the hands of employers and job hunters. Along with the usual suspects including Uber, Airbnb, etc. The point being, that once your systems are up to date, it is now time to start truly innovating within your businesses to boost productivity enormously.
Boosting productivity within your organisation is an extremely efficient way to utilise the resources within your organisation in the best possible way. It is only through effective use of digital technologies that your businesses will be able to compete over the next few years, so the sooner you start the better. If you are unsure where to begin, get in touch and one of our digital experts will happily guide you through the process and show you how your organisation can begin to truly transform and embrace digital technologies.
My primary role at Contrado Digital is talking to businesses about their ambitions, goals, plans and naturally the many problems they face within their businesses. While we can help out with most problems businesses face when it comes to digital, growth, online marketing and technology, one of the problems that we kept hearing was around recruitment. Not just for digital roles, but for many industries and organisations of all sizes struggling to recruit their ideal candidate.
Employers struggling to find the right skills for the job, not getting enough applicants applying for their jobs and in many cases, companies having to turn down work as they don’t have the right skills to fulfil the work. Even after paying thousands of pounds in job advertisements and recruitment related fees. This clearly isn’t a good situation for anyone involved. So we thought we could do something about that.
Introducing Tendo Jobs. The revolutionary recruitment platform is designed to link employers directly with job hunters in a fully transparent, seamless and highly efficient way. The risk free platform allows you to promote your job to active job hunters for free. Never worry about the traditional high cost of recruitment ever again.
Register now as an employer to promote your job vacancies to job hunters looking to find their next role. The platform has been designed to allow you as an employer to be fully in control of your recruitment process. With our sophisticated ApplicantRank algorithm working in the background, the perfect applicants are automatically prioritised for you so you don’t have to go sifting through hundreds of CVs.
If all of this wasn’t enough, while we are in the early stages of launching, everthing is completely free to use for early adopters! So if you are recruiting currently or know of a company that is recruiting, share this information.
Welcome to 2016. After reviewing the physical post received for the first week back in the office, I can only sit here with my head in my hands pondering why businesses are still failing to grasp how fast the world is really moving around them and adapt accordingly. We’ve our usual tips and advice blog post on their way for what you need to be focusing on in 2016 for your digital strategy, but in the meantime I feel the need to express my opinion on the state of what can only be described as utter junk that had been posted out to me and the company. Please, just stop.
As you can see above, this is just a small selection of the garbage that was received, promotional pens labelled as “The Mythic Stylus Pen”, OK, I’m sure I know what one of these is, it’s not a unicorn walking down the street of Manchester blowing rainbows from its backside for f. sake. Sale catalogues, promotional material, wall planners, seriously who uses wall planners in 2016? Come on folk, please stop this. All of this junk received went straight into the bin. Stop wasting your money on junk and start to market your business effectively through digital channels. We live in a digital world, it’s time to bring your business into the 21st century.
Onwards and upwards. No more Same Stuff Different Day garbage. Think differently, revolutionise your business with digital channels and opportunities for your business to flourish in 2016. The same activities from the last 10 years quite frankly aren’t going to cut it in 2016.
A while ago we talked about what the new top level domains mean for businesses. Since writing that blog post over 12 months ago, a lot has happened. Since the initial announcement of new top level domains coming to the market, we thought it would be worth looking at what has actually changed and what you can actually do with the new domains.
New Generic Top Level Domains
Back in February 2014, there was a total of 362 top level domains that had been registered. Today, there are 988, a figure that is almost triple. Again, have a good browse through the top level domains that have been registered over the past year to get a feel for how things are changing.
An interesting point to note that while we have seen an almost tripling of top level domains that have been registered, we’ve yet to see any significant rollout of these domain names from businesses and brands online. The .google top level domain has been registered, yet we are all still using google.com or google.co.uk when searching. Likewise, .barclays has been registered but we are also still using barclays.com or barclays.co.uk. So why is this?
What this has ultimately led to is a situation whereby it appears that brands aren’t willing to experiment with the new top level domains just yet. So we thought we would experiment a little to see what kind of things we could do. It would be extremely unlikely for us to switch over to our new top level domain for the main website, since people are still very unsure about the new top level domains and still associate websites with the traditional .com and .co.uk. Hence why this is a nice little experiment to see how people can interact with websites and brands in a more user friendly and effective way with a little thought and planning.
That’s right, we’ve just purchased a trendy domain that fits well with our brand, http://contrado.digital. Yes this is the full domain. The .digital top level domain became available quite recently, so we thought it would be worth securing this to protect the brand. Going beyond this, we’ve set up some additional functionality that allows you to interact with us a little easier.
To search the Contrado Digital website, you could use search functionality that is built into WordPress, www.contradodigital.com/?s=searchQuery, although you may not know that exists. We’ve kept the search functionality hidden on purpose for the time being to avoid cluttering the main navigation as we found that it wasn’t being used a great deal by the majority of website visitors. But what if you still want to search the website without having to remember what the specific search URL is?
That’s why we created search.contrado.digital. Simple type this into your web browser, followed by your search query and you will automatically be shown a search results specifically for your query. For example, here are a few you can try;
So there’s a nice easy way to find exactly what you need on the Contrado Digital website.
To email us at Contrado Digital, again, simply type the following into your web browser, email.contrado.digital and you will be presented with a simple way to drop us an email without any effort at all. Go on, give it a go;
Yes, you could just go to the homepage, scroll down to the bottom and click on the link there. But why waste your time looking for an email address when you could just setup a nice piece of functionality that automates this whole process for you.
Social Media Channels
How about if you want to go straight to our social media channels to find out the latest trends happening in the digital world? Sure, you could again go to the website, hunt for the social media icons or go to the social media website and search for us there. But why waste your time doing that when you could just go straight to the relevant channel with ease;
While the new top level domains are certainly still in their infancy, is there any way that you could be using these to help your audience connect with your brand easier? I’m sure there are many different and unique pieces of functionality that can enhance the user experience of your website by using this technology. What ways can you think of that would help by using a similar setup?
Still being under 30 myself along with running a digital agency, I have quite a different perspective than the traditional decision makers in charge of the strategic direction of town centres. Looking at the ever declining high streets and town centres, I believe this is due to local authorities missing a trick or two when it comes to future planning with far too much focus on ‘the good old days’. We shouldn’t be trying to re-create what we once had in the town centres, instead we should be embracing the changing world we live in and create town centres worth visiting. The concept of a town centres has to change significantly to cater for the needs of the modern person.
Traditionally, town centres were the place where everyone visited on a regular basis to buy things. Whether this is visiting your green grocers, butchers, fish mongers, bakers or shopping for clothes, video games and other general things. Nowadays, we have seen these traditional shops disappear in general (we’ll ignore the ‘artisan’ movement for the moment…), with them being replaced by budget bakeries, charity shops, pound shops and other rather non-exciting businesses. People still shop in these types of shops if they are heading into the town centre anyway, but let’s be serious, no-one at all is going to go out of their way to visit one of these boring shops. With much more fun places either at home online or exciting venues to visit, why would you ever head into a town centre?
The term town centre can be misconstrued, so just to clarify, I’m talking about the town centres for…towns…not cities. Cities have a very different feel about them and cities are already thriving places in general. General town centres are very uninspiring with nothing to excite and inspire people to visit the centre. Town centres have lost their mojo.
It’s time for town centres to get their mojo back. Let’s look at the realities of retail and the changing expectations of customers. Traditional retail on the high street in town centres is never going to revive the town centres. People can purchase goods and services online for cheaper and with a wider range, so why would you ever go into the town centre to purchase goods? Going back a generation or two, it was seen as a tropical holiday to visit Blackpool in the summer. How times have changed. People of my generation think nothing about travelling a few hours for work and play with many people I know personally having migrated from various countries to work in bustling cities. The world has significantly changed. Yet town centres haven’t. They are still focused on getting people back into the town centre to shop. This is never going to happen. Looking at the many towns within Lancashire as an example, what do they offer that Manchester city centre cannot offer in greater forms? Generally speaking, nothing.
So what should town centres be focusing on then? Entertainment and lifestyle. People are looking for different, exciting and new things to do on a daily basis – so let’s give it to them. Forget traditional shopping and think about fun things that people can do. Events, festivals, special markets, food, drink, parades, celebrations and more. Let’s give people a reason to want to visit the town centres.
Lifestyle and entertainment is the only way to bring our town centres back to life and this naturally includes bridging the gap between online and offline – the way the real world works, a good blend of the two. Currently we live in a world whereby online and offline are treated as two separate things, particularly at a local level, this needs to change so that fun things are communicated in an effective way. This is what people are looking for, so let’s look about giving it to them. Artisan shops aren’t the whole solution. Independent shops, restaurants and bars are needed but they will only thrive in a bustling town centre, they aren’t going to create the buzz to drive people back in on their own.
You need to look no further than the regular events that happen throughout various town centres to see how these can work effectively at bringing people together, an awful lot of people attend these types of events throughout the country. 10k runs, Tough Mudder, Chinese New Year, bonfire night, Pride parades, carnivals, beer festivals, chocolate festivals, Christmas markets and more. Why can’t all town centres make a commitment to running an event at least monthly to give people a reason to visit, something fun, entertaining and inspiring. There is no reason why this cannot happen.
The one of the current solutions to bringing people back into town centre often comes about in the form of Business Improvement Districts which are tasked with boosting business and creating jobs. Printing a few flyers and handing them out to people who are already using the town centre is not a solution. Neither is a flashy website with information about the projects, which often aren’t going far enough and simply list businesses in the form of a directory on the website. Boring – I can find this basic information on Google. This is not enough to give people a reason to go out of their way and visit the town centres. When you compare these activities to the amount of people that congregate when fun events are put together as outlined earlier, this is how to bring people back into the town centres – give them a reason to visit, not just locally but other neighbouring towns too.
Promotion is key here though. Simply putting on an event is not enough. And by event, I mean something that is actually good. Not putting up a temporary ice rink at Christmas when there is a permanent Ice Rink less than 5 miles away, nor creating a fake beach in a town centres – I can get a flight to Spain for £40, when parking in the town centre is over £5 for the day. Yes…these are real examples of projects designed to bring people back into town centres…Difficult choice to make, fake beach in a town centre or Spain…
While on the topic of car parking though, this is an important one because this is actively putting people off visiting town centres, all for the quick gain for local authorities to use as an additional revenue stream. Remove the barriers to entry and more people will visit town centres. Online deliveries cost less than paid parking in town centres. Again, why would people visit a town centre to buy products they can purchase cheaper and more efficiently online?
Looking at promotion though, this is essential to communicate fun things with local people, both in the town and in neighbouring towns. Placing an article in the local newspaper, which no-one is reading, is not going to cut it. Digital advertising and communication are essential to making events a success. How many times have you personally found out about an event, after it has happened, even though it was in your own local town? This happens far too often. Promotion using digital channels is one of the most effective ways of communicating with local people.
Town centres must change or they will die. Personally I can honestly say that I have had no need to visit a local town centre for well over 5 years. I have passed through or visited multiple town centres less than a handful of times in recent years as I can get everything I need online or in major cities which have more to offer. When I have visited more local places, this is because of lifestyle and entertainment reasons – events, festivals, special occasions in the year, parades, food, drink and more. None of this is the traditional shopping related activities.
Have a think on this personally and look to see for yourself how your own habits have changed over recent years. For most reading this, either you are also in a similar position or you are during the transition period working towards this. Most people don’t visit the town centre for shopping activities on a regular basis anymore.
Then what do we do beyond special monthly events? How about we look to make towns more exciting and a fun place to be for people;
With so many opportunities to turn towns into vibrant places that people want to visit, there are no excuses to see failing high streets and town centres. It’s time we started to look at what the modern consumer is looking for and start to cater for this digitally enabled and socially active market. It’s time for town centres to get their mojo back.
Digital is changing faster than ever, yet so many businesses fail to keep ahead of the essential changes required to meet customer demands. 2015 is the year where businesses who take digital seriously are going to thrive and leave their competitors well behind. It’s time to embrace digital and integrate digital technologies throughout your entire business, process and people. Here we are going to look at the priorities for your businesses to utilise digital to grow throughout 2015.
One of the common challenges for businesses is selecting the right platform for their website. A platform that allows members of the team to easily create, edit and delete pages, images and content throughout the website. A platform that puts you, your staff and your business in control of the direction of your own website. A platform that is capable of scaling as your business grows.
To keep things simple, you really need to be working towards one of the two leading platforms either WordPress or Magento. For most businesses within the SME bracket, one of these two platforms is really the only thing you need to scale your business. There are an awful lot of website platforms available to develop your website on, many of which have a lot of problems with them and are simply not good enough.
This is quite a big topic and is a little outside of the scope of this blog post, so we will cover this a little later down the line in a future blog post. For now, if you have any questions regarding the suitability of the platform you are using, then get in touch and we will be happy to give an honest opinion of the technology you are using and it’s suitability to cope with the growth plans for your business.
The important point around the platform and technology in use on your website is that it needs to be suitable for your business and puts the power in your hands with a Content Management System (CMS). Which brings us nicely onto the next point about ownership.
As a business, you need to own your digital assets including your hosting solution and website. What this means is that you need to have access to your own assets and be able to change things as you require. Far too often businesses come to us and tell us the same story (we listen politely every time we hear the story! J), about how another website developer/company owns their website, their hosting and domain name, wants to charge a considerable amount of money for making basic changes on the website, which you should be able to do yourself, the relationship has broken down and they are refusing to release control of your own website to you.
Please, stop and think before purchasing a new website. You need to own everything that is going into it. A web development company exists to assist your business to grow, not to own a significant part of your digital assets and hold you to ransom for them.
Ownership comes in many forms from copyrighted images including stock photographs, your web hosting solution, your domain name, your emails, your website technology, your website content, your login details for all of the above along with external services that are being used on your website, social media channels and tracking solutions and many more. For everything that is implemented for your business digitally, you need to own everything to keep your business safe and secure.
Would you like to give me £100,000? No? Why? How about if you gave me £100,000 and I gave you £120,000 back? How about now? Yes? What’s the difference? The difference is tracking. Tracking your digital investments and the return you are generating from your digital marketing channels. That’s the difference.
Most businesses simply aren’t tracking their digital marketing activities accurately which ultimately leads to bad investments and distrust in digital marketing activities. Businesses will quite happily spend hundreds of pounds on a printed advertisement in newspapers and magazines, thousands of pounds sponsoring a single event and even over £100,000 per year on radio advertising without any ability to accurately track direct results from those campaigns (yes, these are real figures and stories we have discussed with businesses!). Why? Because they are easy. It is easy to spend money on ‘Advertising’ without understanding what this is generating in return. What would happen if you didn’t do those things? What would happen if you reduced your spend in these areas by half? What would happen if you doubled your spend in these areas? Tracking is key to understanding profitability with marketing campaigns.
Traditional advertising, generally speaking, has an extremely low response rate and an even lower success rate. Compare this with digital advertising where you can track exactly what your results are;
Investment –> Hard to track from here
Investment –> # of Website Visitors –> # of Conversions –> Revenue –> Profit –> ROI
Which brings us back to the question of how much money would you give me if you received more money back in return? It all comes down to tracking and data analysis. Being able to track results accurately from SEO, PPC and email marketing allows you to make smarter data driven business decisions. Invest in marketing activities wisely and most important track results accurately across all channels. Google Analytics is capable of tracking your every need.
Have a think about the last time you purchased something in your own life, a car, a holiday, a TV, a laptop, a tablet, whatever. Did you ever just complete one single action during the purchasing journey you took? The answer is no. People are complex, people go through complex purchasing paths depending on their specific needs, level of trust, previous purchases and experiences. It is therefore no surprise that your customers also take a rather complex path when purchasing products and services from you. That’s why it is important to integrate your marketing channels to optimise every channel and touch point that your customers experience on their path to purchase.
Think about your offline presence, digital presence including SEO, PPC, email, referral, direct, social and specific campaigns. When a customer experiences your brand on one of the marketing channels above, how do they feel? Are your marketing and communication messages the same across all channels? Are you even using all of the available marketing channels for your business? A positive or negative experience across a single touch point can result in a lost sale for your business.
The key message is to make sure you are active on all digital marketing channels available to you and ensure your customers have a positive experience. Join the dots across all digital marketing channels to enhance your customer’s lives through content, fun and interaction. This leads nicely onto the overall user experience of your brand online.
When your customers interact with your brand online what is the experience they have on your website, from mobile devices, on social media, when they search for you on Google, when they see a PPC advert, when you send an email newsletter? Every experience is either a positive or negative one, there is no middle ground.
Taking your website first, how easy is your website to use in general and more specifically on mobile and tablet devices? Responsive design has been talked about for a couple of years now, yet still many websites simply aren’t user friendly and are difficult to use from a mobile. You need not look any further than the endless statistics that are being continually released about the proliferation of mobile devices throughout our everyday lives and interactions with brands online. If your website does not work effectively on a mobile device then you may as well deny people accessing your website from mobile devices as this sends the same message. Any new website that is developed in 2015 needs to be responsive as a minimum, just as it did in 2014. It needs work effectively on mobile devices and tablets.
What is the experience when people receive your weekly or monthly email marketing newsletters? Is this a typical sales focused shouting emails asking your customers to buy with yet another special offer, coupon code or last minute flash sale? Boring. Yes these type of emails clearly do work and should be part of an effective email marketing strategy, but they should not be the main focus. Aim to educate your customers, entertain them and show the personality of your brand. Look to engage with your customers and grow your email list.
What is the experience when people interact with your brand on social media? Are you busy talking about nonsense, retweeting everyone else’s tweets with no idea why and spending hours a day being busy without understanding what you are getting back? Stop, just stop. It’s time to start taking social media seriously, what are you looking to gain from social media? How is social media integrating with your overall digital marketing strategy? Who are you looking to engage on social media? Turn your social media activities into a positive experience for your customers online. Social PPC is essential to reach your customers on social media channels in 2015. Businesses have been testing this over the past couple of years to grow their audience and can be a very successful way to increase the reach of your messages.
In 2014 more data security breaches were announced than ever before. The graphic below highlights how intense the large scale data security breaches have been in recent years;
Many businesses aren’t taking data security seriously, especially within the SME group of businesses. People running websites based on popular content management systems often take the approach of ‘build it once and leave it’. This isn’t good enough. Instead you should be continually updating your website, updating plugins and patching security holes. All of which can reduce the possibility of your website being hacked.
Many times in the last year I have personally received an email from a senior person within a professional large business which has been sent after they have been hacked into, i.e. it wasn’t them who actually sent the email as it contained a virus. While this is never 100% inevitable, there are many things that you can do as a business to protect yourself online. Often with old email technologies, if someone hacked into your web server, they may also find it easier to access your email system.
The government recently announced the Cyber Essentials scheme to help businesses take data and security seriously within their business. Have a good read over what this means for you and your business. In addition to this, Google recently announced that they are considering marking all non-HTTPS websites as ‘non-secure’ which really highlights where websites are heading in the future. Security is key with your business, you digital assets including your website and your customers’ data. Keep things safe and secure by taking the steps needed.
A Bit Further Down the Line
Where would a 2015 blog post be without looking at some of the other items on the horizon but aren’t quite going to become mainstream in the next year. There is a lot of technology in the fringe that is growing in popularity which is really exciting for end users and certain businesses, although it is not quite at the stage for most businesses to take seriously. But let’s take a look at it anyway!
Recently Nest announced that Google Now was now integrated into the device, bringing a HAL 9000 experience to the home. Such fun. This was an inevitable next step for Nest which is clearly one of the significant reasons why Google paid such a hefty sum for Nest in the first place. As Nest increases in popularity, Google is going to become further engrained in our daily lives without us having to visit a specific device to search, instead we can just say “Ok Google, what was the football score this afternoon”.
Uber, the taxi booking app, has taken the world by storm. Expect to see a lot more digital disruption in all industries in 2015 and beyond. For your business to stay ahead this year it is vital to innovate throughout every aspect of your business, products and services. Digital disruption is coming to every industry – be prepared.
Facebook search engine? Maybe. Well Facebook did recently announce that they are no longer going to be using Bing for their search provider. Does this mean that they are going to start competing with Google in the search space? Who knows? It will be interesting to see how this develops this year.
Internet of Things is a recent hot topic in digital which is still very much in its infancy. In the very near future, every electronic device will be connected to the internet, from sensors to devices and everything in between. When this happens, it is going to be a very exciting time as the online and offline worlds are connected more than ever. The data and insights that can be gained through such huge data could optimise the physical world we live in to make services and systems more efficient.
Bridging the gap between the online and offline worlds is going to become seamless for customers. Customers don’t particularly care whether they are dealing with your business online or offline, they simply want to deal with your business. Services such as our WiFi Marketing & Analytics system is ideal for leisure based venues to connect the online and offline dots together. Capturing customer data is the most valuable currency online in 2015.
Digital is going to be moving at a faster rate than ever in 2015. Your business needs to be prepared and take advantage of these changes or risk getting left behind. Only the strong will survive. Would you like to discuss how we can support your business goals throughout 2015? Then get in touch for an informal conversation about how we can help or take a look through the many services we can provide to increase revenue for your business.