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High Performance Team Training Day

This week, we took time to take a step back from it all and focus on 'we' not 'I' with the whole team attending a High Performance Training Day with Creating Value with People at Milton Keynes College.

The aim of the day was to help us perform better as a team and focused on Patrick Lencioni's theories of an ideal team. This meant contnuing to focus on delivering measurable results, taking accountability through prior commitment, accepting healthy conflict and building trust within each other, and our extended team.

Whilst this meant we were out of the office, at Interdirect we're committed to continually looking at ways to improve our customer service, keep at the forefront of our field and, in particular, investing in our team with regular training days.

We certainly learnt a lot, and as I think you can see, had a load of fun...when else do you have to get two balls from one Pringle pot to another with just string?!

 

 

All of Your Eggs are now in One Basket


These days, there are so many factors in your online strategy, and you can’t afford to be ignoring them. Online marketing has grown exponentially, from plonking a “gets the job done” site online to needing a website with a beautifully designed interface, a reliable and smart host, harmonisation with Google algorithms, running several social media profiles, maintaining a blog with regular fresh content, paid advertising, e-marketing, and offering an excellent user experience throughout. And breathe.

The divide between the numerous factors of a successful online marketing strategy is getting smaller and smaller. No one can be sure of the boundaries and borders between them and the focus has shifted from individual specialties, to how teams work together to guarantee that the user experience is seamless: one campaign should flow into others. Online marketing has gone holistic and if your teams aren’t talking to each other, it’s time they got their social on.

Just look at social: one year ago Matt Cutts told the SEO world that social was not an indicator for search algorithms. Now, one thing the algorithm does take into consideration is the popularity of content based on no-follow links from social channels. That’s a pretty grey area. Then you’ve got PRs getting clued up on keywords and density, or making sure their press releases are supported by website content. Whether you’re represented by multiple firms, or a full service agency, these teams are increasingly connected, and some would say interdependent.

It only follows, that these sometimes very different species should be working together. This is not always easy since the working methods of each can differ enormously, from working all night in a cable filled closet to fluttering around a virtual networking event. Here’s what I’ve learned from working in multi-skilled environments:

1.    Marketing is about creativity, finding ways to do things differently, so surrounding yourself with people who think in another way to you is a huge asset. When you think of a download, they come up with a widget. That’s to my benefit in terms of broadening my ideas and skills, and it’s to the client’s benefit in terms of the best solutions.


2.    You’re constantly considering the other elements of online marketing strategies, since they’re sitting right next to you. I cannot emphasise how valuable it is that when I’m looking at backlinks, I’m simultaneously thinking about PR opportunities, and comparing design styles. I can give my colleagues leads and ideas from my daily work that they would potentially not find alone.


3.    We’re a team, and when you’re confused, running late or need a second opinion, the person who can help get things back on track is a few steps away. There’s no hiding behind emails or “in a meeting” excuses. We get stuff done because we’re a physical unit.


4.    You might think you’re after one, or a few, target markets, but they’re all made up of individuals. More than one person writing content appeals to more than one type of reader – that’s just common sense. From PR to social media and PPC, there’s always more than one tone behind our copy.


5.    As Google, Facebook and countless others make it increasingly harder to know the winning combination of ingredients in online marketing, an omnichannel approach is the only way to move forward. In an agency, we may all have different skills, but our ultimate goals are the same: a quality user experience, a strategy that drives profit, and happy clients.

 

If you ask us, the growth and development of the industry is, in fact, best summed up by coming to our office. Just as not every agency can boast a short commute to the city as well as green fields and sheep on its doorstep (not kidding), not many agencies can boast the variety of skills we have. You need every tool in the shed to have a shot at online market share, and honey, we think we’re Homebase. 

Interdirect Shortlisted in National Marketing Awards

Interdirect is delighted to announce that it has been shortlisted as a finalist, in partnership with Whittlebury Hall conference, training centre, hotel and spa, in the CIM Marketing Excellence Awards 2015.

The Whittlebury Hall web site re-launch, designed and developed by Milton Keynes’ leading full service agency, has been shortlisted in the ‘digital transformation’ category.

The shortlisting recognises the advanced accessibility and functionality of the Whittlebury Hall website, which is built using the agency’s advanced content management system (CMS), SiteMachine.

Since the refreshed Whittlebury Hall website went live in 2013 there has been an 83% increase in total visits to the website, a 61% increase in online voucher sales and, on average, 85% of the destination’s bookings are now made online.

Furthermore, following a recent customer satisfaction survey, 89% of users said they would recommend the website to a friend, with 82% agreeing that they would be likely to use the site again.

The awards recognise the positive values that effective marketing has on an organisation, and celebrates the demonstrable results generated through successful marketing campaigns.

This fantastic achievement comes after Interdirect and Whittlebury Hall were named as winners in the UK Customer Experience Award for Best Customer Experience in the Hospitality, Leisure and Entertainment sector in 2014.

“We’re really excited to be shortlisted in partnership with Whittlebury Hall for these prestigious industry awards”, said Nicholas Mann, owner and managing director of Interdirect.

“We have worked with Whittlebury Hall for a number of years on various projects to improve the client’s overall customer experience, and recognition in national awards such as the CIM Marketing Excellence Awards is testament to the success of our digital developments.”

Michael Stott, Director at Whittlebury Hall said: “We are delighted to have been announced as finalists in this year’s CIM Marketing Excellence Awards, and we look forward to attending this prestigious marketing industry event and celebrating our successes at the awards ceremony in London on the 27th April 2015.

How To Put the "Quality" in "Quality Content"

These days, we hear the word “quality” everywhere, from copy to context. Basically what it boils down to is that your business should be awesome everywhere, but quality means different things in different places – the online world is no exception!


Here are 5 steps to make sure you don’t leave the quality part out of your online marketing strategy.


1.    Know which consumer problem you’re trying to solve, and know why you solve it better.
Whether it’s a question, a product need, or a way of wasting 15 minutes on the bus, know what the purpose of your content is – and keep reminding yourself as you write.

What kind of user do you want to attract? Are you looking to amuse or inform? What do you add that no one else can? The sheer amount of content out there these days means that only the eye-catching stuff that responds to user needs and offers something extra will be noticed. Not asking much, right?

2.    Make sure people can find your content
Content might be king, but only if people can find it, enjoy it, and use it: an SEO strategy is vital if you want to be found, and rank on Google or any other search engine. From content length to site navigation and backlink juice, the place you post your content to must be optimised for the latest algorithm updates, be that your website, blog, or social media accounts.

With so many changes on the horizon (mobile search, direct answers, entity search and more), it’s worth understanding how an un-optimised site can ruin the reach of even the best content.

3.    Suitability for social sharing
Although social signals are not necessarily a cast-iron indicator of content quality to Google, we cannot ignore the power of social media to promote popular content and increase your reach: it was recently discovered that 71% of all internet users are on Facebook.

Make sure your content is suitable for sharing on social channels. If you’re posting your content whole or as a link, the appearance and description of the post should encourage likes, shares and retweets by being high res and attention grabbing. There’s tons of info out there on how to create the perfect post in terms of image dimensions and copy length. Make sure your website or blog has share buttons and social plugins, so your readers can share content seamlessly.

4.    Mobile
If there’s one thing we all need to be taking very seriously in 2015, it’s mobile users. Your online marketing needs to take mobile browsers into account across the board, for your social strategy, website, blog and SEO. With mobile searches (tablets and smartphones) constituting around a third of all search queries, you can’t afford to ignore the difference in user experience between devices. Making sure your content appeals to on-the-go users is just as important as having a mobile or responsive site.

5.    Infographics, video, and the visually appealing
Just as mobile is growing, so is visual content. Whilst infographics and memes shouldn’t make up the majority of your content, a healthy balance between articles, images and videos will work wonders. Just make sure whatever you produce is high resolution, and eye-catching!

6.    Bonus tip: don’t panic if you’re not viral overnight!
Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t worry if you don’t see huge improvements in the early stages. Communities take consistency in quality to grow, so keep going! Retweet by retweet you’ll gain followers who rate your content and your brand for more than just one post.

Use analytical software at your disposal to see what your community likes or ignores, and which content works best, including Google Analytics, Webmaster, Sprout Social and a host of other tools.


We hope our top tips have been useful!

ID Recruits Jess Wagstaffe

Interdirect is delighted to welcome Jess Wagstaffe to the team as a full-service account executive.

Jess joins us having recently graduated in creative advertising from Leeds College of Art and previously studying graphic design previously at Milton Keynes College.

Jess will support the client services team across all of the agency’s divisions; PR, digital and marketing.

Here’s a little more about Jess, including her claim to fame…!

Born and bred: I was born in Derbyshire and spent most of my childhood there, then moved to Cranfield in Bedfordshire so I’m really local to ID!

Favourite food: Pizza. Pizza forever *insert heart-eyed emoji*

Pub-Friday beverage of choice: Gin & tonic! (Ice and a slice please!)

Name one thing on your bucket list: I’d love to see the Northern Lights.

First impressions of ID: Buzzing. There’s so many different things going on at any one time, with all departments working together to achieve the same goals for clients.

The thing I love the most about my job is: No two days are the same! I get to do something different every day – one day I might be live tweeting at an event, and the next day I could editing videos for clients.

When I’m not at ID, you’ll find me: Either at the gym, or lounging around at home watching Netflix.

Something you might not know about me: Huge cringe - I once sang on Blue Peter!

Contact Jess on jessica.wagstaffe@interdirect.co.uk.

Social Media Facts & Figures

We don’t know about you, but we love a good serving of stats to sink our teeth into. So when we stumbled across a figure-laden blog from marketing-guru Jeff Bullas, our stat-levels skyrocketed!

We all know by now that social media has well and truly cemented its place in the marketing mix. In the days of yore that was 2014, it was predicted that the top trends to watch out for in 2015 were; the dominance of mobile and chat-based social networks, the continued rise of video, paid content, and the emergence of social commerce to name just a few.

But what is the true state of social media now we’ve reached the end of the first quarter? We dive head first into Jeff Bullas’ stats to shed a little light…

  • 1.7 billion people worldwide have active social media accounts
  • There are 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts globally (a huge proportion of the above!)
  • 71% of all internet users are on Facebook
  • Direct uploads of user videos to Facebook now exceed YouTube
  • 88% of Twitter users are on mobile
  • 500 million tweets are sent per day (that’s one tweet for every person living in the EU!)
  • Instagram has reached 300 million users (that’s just 63 less Google+ and 47 less than LinkedIn)
  • 88% of Pinterest users have purchased a product they pinned
  • There are over 39 million students and recent university graduates on LinkedIn
  • WhatsApp has reached 600 million users
  • Facebook now boasts 500 million users for the chat element of the social network, Facebook Messenger, alone
  • Snapchat has been valued at close to £1.3billion as it reaches 100 million monthly users
  • Social networks will earn approximately £5.5billion from advertising in 2015

So there you have it. If you could summarise social media so far in 2015 in just one word, for us it’s got to be mobile.

Networks that are mobile centric such as Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp are quickly catching up to the ‘heavy-weights’ of social networking, and we reckon their user numbers will start to exceed ‘traditional’ social networks faster than you can say “Google+”.