How the apprenticeship programme supports our web development

How the apprenticeship programme supports our web development

At Brand Ambition, we believe in the power of nurturing talent to drive innovation and excellence. It is built into the core of our culture, we love learning new skills and diversifying our approach to become better, and more knowledgeable marketeers. 

Our recent strategic expansions in web development have not only enhanced our service offerings but also propelled us towards an ambitious revenue goal. A key player in this growth story is Sophie Wright, whose journey from a designer to developer has made her a pivotal team member and showcases the effectiveness of government led apprenticeship orgrammes as source for upskilling and training staff members.

What Do The Coders Guild, ASDA, and The Government Have in Common?

These three entities play pivotal roles as strategic partners in Brand Ambition’s impressive revenue growth. The Government provides the framework through its Apprenticeship Scheme, enabling businesses to hire and train new talent in vital skills for the digital age. For more information on how the Apprenticeship Scheme works, you can visit the UK Government’s Apprenticeship page.

The Coders Guild, a key player in this framework, recruited and is currently training Sophie Wright, a standout apprentice who has made significant contributions to our projects. Discover more about The Coders Guild and their training programs at The Coders Guild website.

Meanwhile, ASDA, utilising the Apprenticeship Levy, funds Sophie’s training. The Apprenticeship Levy is a UK tax on employers which is used to fund apprenticeship training. For further details about the Apprenticeship Levy and how it is transforming the workforce, see the overview provided by the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education.

This investment not only supports her professional development but also enhances our operational capabilities, leading to tangible growth in our revenue. Together, these partnerships exemplify a successful collaboration between public initiatives and private enterprise, demonstrating a shared commitment to fostering talent and driving economic growth.

7 Things You Need Reminding About SMEs and Apprenticeships

 

  1. Extensive Funding: SMEs can access funding that covers 95% of apprenticeship training and assessment costs. The Levy pot can cover the other 5%, so the training is 100% funded.
  2. Extra Incentives: Additional £1,000 incentives are available for hiring young apprentices.
  3. Diverse Training Options: Access to funded training in over 600 job roles allows for significant business diversification.
  4. Increased Productivity: 78% of employers report that apprenticeships boost productivity.
  5. Flexible Training Schedules: The funding system for SMEs offers flexibility in training choices and schedules.
  6. High Retention Rates: Apprentices often stay with their employers, reducing hiring costs.
  7. Untapped Funding: Over £500 million in funding was unclaimed last year, offering significant growth opportunities for SMEs

A Closer Look at Our Web Design Department’s Unique Approach

At Brand Ambition, we’re not just about creating websites; we’re about crafting powerful digital tools that propel your business forward. Our “SEO First™ Web Design” service embodies this philosophy perfectly, ensuring that every website we build is not only visually stunning but also optimised from the outset to enhance your online presence.

Our process begins with a rigorous analysis of your current sales tactics and branding efforts. This foundational work helps us align our web design precisely with your business objectives, transforming your website into a robust lead generation engine. We dive deep into keyword research, competitor analysis, and content strategy from the very beginning, ensuring that when your site launches, it hits the ground running with impactful SEO.

What sets Brand Ambition apart is our commitment to delivering a comprehensive suite of services wrapped into every project. From initial design to content population and ongoing SEO support, we ensure every aspect of your website is meticulously crafted to not just meet but exceed your expectations. Our websites are more than just digital spaces; they are vital, dynamic parts of your sales team, designed to be as functional as they are beautiful.

Our all-inclusive approach means you’re not left to fend for yourself post-launch. We understand that your website is a living entity in the digital ecosystem, requiring ongoing nurturing to thrive. Therefore, we offer continuous support and consultancy, ensuring your site remains relevant and effective regardless of the ever-changing nature of the digital landscape.

So, if you’re ready to elevate your online presence and drive tangible business results, let’s get started. Brand Ambition is here to transform your digital strategy from ordinary to extraordinary. Contact us today and discover the difference a truly integrated web design approach can make.

Maximising Apprentice Impact in Web Development

At Brand Ambition, Sophie’s transition from a seasoned designer to a burgeoning web developer exemplifies how strategically leveraged apprenticeships can significantly enhance our service delivery. Sophie, while new to development, brought a rich background in design which smoothed her shift into web development, supported by a well-structured apprenticeship programme.

Here’s how Sophie is integrated into our projects:

  1. Strategic Development Partner: We partner with a strategic development expert who works closely with Sophie, guiding her through the complexities of web development. This partnership ensures that our websites are not only aesthetically pleasing but also technically sound.
  2. Internal SEO and Content Teams: While Sophie focuses on the technical and design aspects of website building, our internal SEO team handles content writing and SEO migration. This collaboration ensures that each website is optimised for search engines right from the start, making them ready to rank higher and perform better.
  3. Branding Support: Our internal branding team supports Sophie by providing branding and imagery that align with our clients’ visions. This synergy between design and branding ensures that each project resonates with the targeted audience and reflects the client’s identity perfectly.
  4. Continuous Learning and Support: Sophie’s development is bolstered by continuous learning opportunities and support from her mentors and peers within the company. This environment not only accelerates her growth as a web developer but also enhances her ability to contribute effectively to our projects.

Sophie’s role at Brand Ambition is a prime example of how apprentices can drive real value in a business setting, particularly when their training is aligned with strategic business goals and supported by experienced professionals. Her journey from design to development underscores our commitment to nurturing talent and adapting our workforce to meet evolving business needs effectively.

Looking for Web Dev Support?

If you would like to check out our full range of web support and services, then just click the link below.

The Micro-Goal Method

The Micro-Goal Method

How Small Wins Propel Marketing Success

Spring…there’s a surprise, it’s the perfect moment to reflect on our progress and celebrate achievements. This time of year is often a point of reflection with new budgets being set for the next year or a review of strategies placed in Q1. 

So how are you doing? Are you on track to hit your goals in 2024.

For us, the first quarter has already slipped by, and if it’s any indication, we’re on a trajectory to a year filled with triumphs and growth.

At our agency, we’ve embraced a philosophy that’s proven to be a game-changer: the power of micro-goals.

 This approach isn’t just about breaking down your grand vision into smaller, more manageable tasks. It’s a testament to how these bite-sized objectives can fuel remarkable outcomes, particularly in the fast-paced world of digital marketing.

The Science Behind Micro-Goals

The concept of micro-goals is deeply rooted in behavioural psychology. It draws from the principle that our brains are wired to seek and celebrate achievements, no matter the scale.

 When we set and accomplish micro-goals, we experience a surge of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. This not only boosts our morale but also enhances our motivation, propelling us to tackle subsequent goals with increased zeal and focus.

In the realm of marketing, where every click, view, and engagement counts, leveraging micro-goals allows us to chart a course through the tumultuous waters of digital strategies with precision and adaptability.

Case in Point: E-commerce Success Story

Our recent experience with an e-commerce client illustrates the efficacy of the micro-goal method beautifully. During our initial Explore and Audit phase, we identified the product page content as the key area for improvement across the site. 

Ultimately, there just wasn’t enough of the right type of content on each product page. A basic description and a few key bullet points. There was nothing to set them apart from any other competitor.

We then devised a content strategy segmented into weekly micro-goals, ensuring each task was actionable and aligned with our broader objectives. Over two months, this meticulous approach enabled us to craft and deploy over 60 pages of optimised content, setting the stage for an additional 100 pages.

Our process is methodical yet dynamic, adapting to the insights we glean at each step:

  • SEO Research: We dissect search trends and user behaviour to pinpoint opportunities.
  • Competitor Analysis with AI Support: Leveraging technology, we uncover gaps and advantages in our client’s market presence.
  • Content Team Writing: Our creatives translate insights into compelling, value-driven content.
  • SEO Team Uploading: Optimisation isn’t just about keywords; it’s about ensuring content resonates and ranks.

By the third month, our client witnessed a phenomenal 101% increase in top 10 SERP rankings—a clear testament to the effectiveness of focused, incremental efforts.

Why Micro-Goals Work in Marketing

Clarity and Focus – Micro-goals transform vague aspirations into clear, actionable steps, enabling teams to maintain focus and direction.

Agility – In the ever-evolving digital landscape, the ability to pivot quickly is invaluable. Micro-goals facilitate rapid adjustments based on real-time data and feedback.

Accountability – When objectives are delineated so precisely, it’s easier to track progress and hold each team member accountable for their contributions.

Momentum – Each small win builds confidence and momentum, driving teams forward with renewed energy and determination.

As we continue to navigate the year, we’re excited to apply the micro-goal methodology across our diverse portfolio of clients, each time refining and enhancing our approach to yield even greater successes.

Celebrating Every Victory

We encourage you to embrace the micro-goal approach, whether in marketing or any aspect of business and life. Celebrate every milestone, no matter how minor it may seem, for it’s the sum of these victories that culminates in grand achievements.

We’d love to hear about your experiences with micro-goals and how they’ve impacted your professional journey. Share your stories and let’s inspire each other to reach new heights.

Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—or, in our case, a micro-goal.

The Power of Storytelling in Content Marketing

The Power of Storytelling in Content Marketing

In today’s digital marketing world, it’s all about genuine connections, not just straightforward selling. Audiences want brands that offer more than just products or services; they want stories that hit a nerve, stories they can relate to. And this is where storytelling comes into its own.

Storytelling is far more than a savvy marketing trick – it’s a key piece of the puzzle for building authentic relationships. By intertwining your brand’s ethos, mission, and vision within an engaging narrative, you’re doing more than displaying what you have to offer.

Storytelling increases the value of products by up to 2,706%. You’re inviting your audience on a shared journey, helping your message to cut through the digital chatter.

In essence, storytelling puts a face to your brand’s name, turning it from a faceless entity into a familiar figure. It’s the difference between simply promoting your brand and creating shared, unforgettable experiences that can help cement long-lasting relationships with your audience.

Mastering the Art of the Story

At Brand Ambition, our storytelling approach starts at the very core of our brand values.

We extract the essence and weave it into an engaging story, serving as the guiding light for our marketing initiatives. This is not just a solitary narrative, but rather an overarching theme that breathes life and uniqueness into our entire brand communication.

Harmonising Emotion with Business Goals

Marrying the emotional aspect with business targets in storytelling can feel like a delicate balancing act. But we at Brand Ambition are adept at creating narratives that find that sweet spot.

Our stories, while being emotionally engaging, subtly steer the narrative towards the benefits our brand offers.

Consider Dove’s groundbreaking “Real Beauty” campaign.

In a bid to redefine beauty norms, the company started featuring everyday women in their advertisements instead of professional models. Dove released a series of emotionally-charged short films, each celebrating the diversity of women’s natural beauty and challenging traditional standards. These films prompted a global conversation about the concept of beauty.

At its core, the campaign had an emotionally resonant message: Every woman is beautiful in her own unique way. Dove cleverly crafted this narrative, highlighting their commitment to creating products for ‘real’ women and not just for those who meet conventional beauty standards.

In essence, the “Real Beauty” campaign is a perfect example of the fine balancing act we at Brand Ambition strive to achieve in our storytelling.

While our narratives are crafted to engage our audience on an emotional level, we subtly steer the message towards the value and benefits our brand provides, striking a balance between emotion and business objectives.

Ensuring Consistency

We weave our story into every piece of content we create, be it a blog post, social media update, or advertising campaign.

This narrative consistency helps underscore our brand’s values, resonates with our target audience, and differentiates our brand from competitors. We find that this pushes our message broader and deeper with our target audiences. As consumers, we see this every day, with big brand campaigns. At Brand Ambition, we aim to achieve the same results, on much smaller budgets with much tighter niches.

An example would be our competitive analysis process, which offers crucial insights into maintaining this narrative consistency across various content formats.

Unifying Multiple Narratives

Coordinating various teams managing different channels can pose a significant challenge for maintaining a unified brand narrative.

Our approach? We develop an overarching theme based on our brand story. This theme then gets rolled out across all channels, from social media to email marketing, ensuring our audience receives a consistent and unified brand message.

A Sustainable Innovation example.

Suppose we had launched a campaign around “Sustainable Innovation”.

This theme, derived from our brand narrative, serves as a compass guiding all teams. Be it a tweet, an email newsletter, or a blog post, each content piece would revolve around “Sustainable Innovation”.

This strategic roll-out ensures our audience experiences a unified message across all platforms, maintaining brand consistency even amid multiple channels. This approach is how we at Brand Ambition keep our brand narrative coherent and impactful.

1. Social Media

Our campaign would kick off with a series of thought-provoking posts on various social media platforms.

This would consist of short videos highlighting our clients’ sustainability efforts, infographics detailing our sustainable initiatives, and quotes from our leadership team expressing our commitment to innovation in sustainability.

2. Blog Posts

We’d craft articles providing a deeper insight into our clients’ sustainable practices and their role in driving innovation.

These could feature case studies on successful sustainable projects, interviews with the team members leading these initiatives, and thought leadership pieces discussing the future of sustainability in their industry. This focuses on E-E-A-T Practices for SEO. For more on how we use E-E-A-T in our SEO approach check out this post.

3. Email Marketing

Our email newsletters would be specifically tailored to underline different aspects of our “Sustainable Innovation” campaign.

This could include sharing exclusive content such as in-depth articles, early access to our sustainable initiatives, or personal invitations to attend events discussing our innovative practices.

4. PPC Campaigns & Banner Advertising

We would develop targeted pay-per-click (PPC) & Display / Remarketing campaigns with carefully crafted ads, highlighting our commitment to sustainable innovation.

These ads would be strategically placed on search engines, social media and websites frequented by our target audience, guiding them to our dedicated “Sustainable Innovation” landing page.

Utilising banner ads and other forms of digital advertising, we would visually communicate our “Sustainable Innovation” narrative. Using compelling imagery and succinct, powerful text, we’d capture the audience’s attention and guide them towards our website for more information.

5. Press Releases

We’d reach out to a broader audience via press releases detailing our “Sustainable Innovation” campaign.

These releases would underscore our commitment to sustainability, demonstrate how we’re pushing the boundaries in our industry, and present our vision for a sustainable future.

6. Website

We would create a dedicated section on our clients’ website to house comprehensive information about our “Sustainable Innovation” efforts.

Visitors could find detailed descriptions of our sustainable projects, testimonials from clients who value our commitment to sustainability, and an overview of our journey in innovation.

One narrative, multiple channels.

This multi-channel approach ensures we present a consistent narrative around a campaign, in this example the idea of “Sustainable Innovation”, effectively engaging our clients’ audience across various touchpoints, whilst reinforcing their position as a market leader committed to sustainable practices.

Leveraging Technology

At Brand Ambition, we harness the power of technology to streamline our storytelling process and create compelling narratives.

Actually, we use a lot of technology, but we use a lot of human experience too.

We use AI-driven content generators and analysis platforms that aid in maintaining narrative consistency and enable us to craft narratives that resonate with our target audience while standing out in the crowded digital space.

Our technology stack follows one of our core principles; Efficient Through Innovation.

This simply means, that as technology evolves, we adopt it as quickly as possible to make ourselves more efficient, ensuring that our clients get more for their money.

Another principle of ours is to focus on Planet Saving Digital Disruption, meaning where possible we identify sustainable practices in our technology approach.

The Power of Storytelling: By the Numbers

Still not convinced about the power of storytelling?

Here are 10 statistics that demonstrate the immense potential of narratives in content marketing:

  1. Storytelling increases the value of products by up to 2,706% (Significant Objects)
  2. Brand messages relayed as stories can be up to 12 times more memorable than mere facts (Chip and Dan Heath, Stanford)
  3. 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story (Marketing Insider)
  4. Consumers’ emotional response to an ad has a far greater influence on their reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content (Harvard Business Review)
  5. Storytelling can boost conversion rates by up to 30% (Aberdeen)
  6. 55% of people are more likely to buy the product in the future if they love a brand’s story (Headstream)
  7. 64% of B2B marketers agree that storytelling can significantly help attract a larger audience (Marketing Insider)
  8. Brands that have a consistent narrative in their content marketing could increase the memorability of their content by 118%. (Prezi)
  9. Companies that use storytelling in their marketing have reported a 20% increase in revenue (Forbes)
  10. 78% of CMOs believe content is the future of marketing and storytelling plays a massive role in content marketing (Demand Metric)

At Brand Ambition, storytelling is not merely a marketing technique—it’s a powerful tool to forge deeper connections with our audience and reinforce our brand identity.

Your brand has a story too. Isn’t it time to share it?

Self Employment – Is it Caaake?

Self Employment – Is it Caaake?

Is self-employment a piece of cake? Or does it have hidden layers?

Feels a bit weird comparing self employment to a Netflix TV show, but stay with us.

When you compare it to the hit Netflix show “Is it Cake?” where participants create cakes mimicking everyday objects, the metaphor begins to make sense.

Self-employment, much like the crafty cakes in the show, might look like an ordinary job (or object) from the outside. But once you cut into it, you reveal layers of uniqueness that distinguish it from traditional employment.

Why Self-Employment Mirrors an Ordinary Job

Just like the astonishingly realistic cakes on “Is it Cake?”, self-employment can often mimic the image of a traditional, salaried job.

It features clients, deadlines, and routine tasks. Yet, beneath this familiar facade, the reality of self-employment is as different from a regular job as a cake is from a handbag.

The Office for National Statistics reports that self-employment experienced a 15-year low as a direct result of Covid. In December 2019, self employment experienced a peak of 15.3% of the total UK employment workforce being self employed.

This was just over 5 million people.

Fast forward to March 2022, and although in recent months the figures are on the rise, we are at the same levels as we were 15 years ago for the number of people self-employed at only 12.3% of the working public classed as “Self-Employed”

Credit:ons.gov.uk

Cutting into the Cake: The Reality of Self-Employment

What do we find when we cut into the ‘cake’ of self-employment?

Inside are layers of autonomy and creativity that a traditional 9-5 job often lacks. The freedom to choose clients, set your own schedule, and direct your business is a sweet bite that many are chasing.

In fact, according to IPSE, Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, 80% of freelancers recorded a somewhat positive impact to their mental health.

The key reasons people go freelance are for the flexibility (88%) and control over work (88%) it offers

The Challenges: Every Cake Has Its Crumbs

Much like any cake, self-employment also has its tougher, crumbly parts. It comes with unique challenges – financial instability, irregular work hours, and a potential sense of isolation.

Funnily enough, studies on the index of happiness for the self-employed are fairly hard to come by but a comparison report of employed vs self-employed during covid published by the national library of Medicine, focusing on EU countries found a few interesting stats:

  • There was a significantly lower level of life satisfaction among self-employed people (6.10 on a scale of 1 to 10) than among employed people (6.45 on a scale of 1 to 10) during the pandemic.
  • There was no significant difference in life satisfaction between self-employed people who had employees compared to those who did not (6.15 versus 6.08 on a scale of 1 to 10).
  • 32% of self-employed people reported poor household finances during the pandemic, compared to 20% of employed people.
  • 64% of self-employed people reported a deteriorating financial situation during the pandemic, compared to 35% of employed people.
  • 50% of self-employed people reported worries about work during the pandemic, compared to 27% of employed people.
  • 22% of self-employed people reported job insecurity during the pandemic, compared to 13% of employed people.
  • Around half of self-employed people reported having a financially fragile situation during the pandemic.
  • 46% of self-employed people reported difficulties in making ends meet during the pandemic.

So we can assume in times of crisis, such as Covid or even the cost of living crisis, that those that are self-employed are more likely to get stressed over finances.

Cake? Not Cake?

Ultimately, being self-employed has provided me with the freedom to spend with my family, set my own hours and I’ve loved seeing the company we work so hard on continue to grow year after year, but from my personal experience, it isn’t all sweetness.

Cake Not Cake
1. Independence and Control: Self-employed individuals have the freedom to make their own decisions and control their work. 1. Financial Instability: Income may fluctuate month to month, making financial planning more challenging.
2. Flexibility: The ability to set your own hours and work from anywhere can lead to better work-life balance. 2. Irregular Work Hours: Depending on the workload, self-employed individuals might end up working long and irregular hours.
3. Direct Financial Rewards: The potential for financial gain can be much higher, as you directly reap the benefits of your efforts. 3. Lack of Benefits: Self-employed individuals don’t receive benefits like health insurance, paid leave, or retirement contributions from an employer.
4. Personal Satisfaction: Creating and running a successful business can provide a sense of personal achievement and job satisfaction. 4. Isolation: Working alone can sometimes lead to a feeling of isolation.
5. Creativity and Innovation: Self-employment can offer more opportunities to innovate and pursue creative ideas. 5. Administrative Burden: Self-employed individuals are responsible for all aspects of the business, including taxes, accounting, and administration.

Is it Caaake?

So, is self-employment a piece of cake?

Much like the illusionary cakes on the Netflix show, it might appear as a regular job but reveal a very different reality when you delve into it.

It’s a complex recipe of autonomy, creativity, challenges, and risks. As more people turn to self-employment, understanding this mixture can help them navigate this path successfully, savouring the sweet rewards while also handling the occasional bitter bites.

Side note…

This post was inspired/stolen from a conversationI had on Threads app…with @tomjepsoncreative and if you don’t know what the ThreadsApp is, then I’m not sure this was the right blog for you.

 

For the record, he gave us permission to steal it here.

The SME Guide to SEO Strategy in 2023

The SME Guide to SEO Strategy in 2023

2023 is painting a fresh canvas for SEO, the hues and textures evolving with each new development in technology and algorithmic subtleties. The steady pulse of Google’s algorithmic alterations has long been our metronome, allowing us to harmonise our strategies, adjust our approaches, and assay the weight of ranking factors.

Challenger brands, strapped for cash, are obligated to conduct a diligent reconnoitre, judiciously allocating effort and budget to areas offering optimal returns.

As we breach the frontiers of 2023, where should we pivot our focus? What transformations has the landscape undergone with the advent of consumer-accessible AI tech, exemplified by ChatGPT (a nod here was inescapable) and the explosion of AI assissted marketing tools.

Delve into the ‘Matrix of SEO Importance’ for 2023. No, this isn’t a nostalgia trip to the halcyon days of the ’90s or a dive into intertwined conspiracy theories linking The Matrix and The Terminator.

Instead, it’s an inventory of critical SEO components and the attention they warrant in your strategy.

The Matrix of SEO Importance in 2023

SEO Element Importance Time Investment
 E.E.A.T. (Experience. Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) High Medium
 Authority Building and Influencer Engagement High Low to Medium
 Quality Content Creation High High
 Pillar Page Development Medium High
 Digital PR and Link Building Medium High
 On-Page Optimisation (Headings, Meta Information, etc) Low to Medium Low to Medium
 Technical SEO (Page Speed, Mobile-Friendliness etc) Low to Medium Low to Medium
 Local SEO (Google My Business, Reviews etc) Low to Medium Low to Medium
 Rich Media Creation Low High

Massive Caveat – We are assuming here that fundamentally the technical side of your website has been reviewed, is in a good place with regular checks and updates. We are also making the assumption that your rankings are generally on the up, not in decline.

What is E-E-A-T and why is this important in an SME Search Engine Optimisation strategy in 2023?

E-E-A-T. or Double-E-A-T  (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) is a concept that was first introduced by Google in its Quality Raters’ Guidelines (now search rater guidelines. All 176 pages are here for any insomniacs). It refers to the level of experience. expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of a website and its content. Google harnesses E.E.A.T. as a yardstick to assess a website’s quality and its potential to clinch a higher SERP ranking.

In December 2022, whilst we were all enjoying Christmas parties Google snuck in an extra E: experience. This is “experience” in reference to “…demonstrating first-hand life experience on the topic…”. So for example, this might a video or images with hands-on product experience, so the sourcing and linking of a dedicated expert on a topic or discussion point. For smaller marketing budgets this represents an opportunity to be creative with your content and the blog posts, reviews and rich media that you place on your website.

To help improve the E.E.A.T. of your website you should:

  1. Create high-quality, informative content that is well-written and accurate. This will demonstrate expertise and trustworthiness to potential customers.
  2. Ensure that your website is well-designed and easy to navigate. This will improve the overall user experience and make it easier for users to find the information they need.
  3. Include a clear author byline and a list of authors on your website, if applicable. This will help establish authoritativeness and credibility.
  4. Include links to credible sources to support your claims. This will help demonstrate expertise and trustworthiness.
  5. Have a clear “About” page that provides information about your business and the people behind it. This will help establish trustworthiness and provide users with a better understanding of your company and its values.

Also, be mindful of the fresh ‘E’ for experience when generating content. This means demonstrating that your content is brewed with a degree of experience, such as actual use of a product or having visited a location. For instance, if you’re a small business retailing products, consider weaving in real customer reviews, video testimonials, or case studies showcasing the experience with your products.

For further reading and a decent guide on this subject check out this guide

Embracing the Power of AI

With the rise of AI technologies like ChatGPT and Google Bard, SEO is changing.

Tools like Google’s RankBrain use machine learning to understand search queries, providing a more nuanced and human approach to search. This shift is not just about optimising for bots anymore.

Instead, it’s about creating content that truly resonates with your audience. Context is king, and the reign of keyword-stuffing is over.

In this era of AI, the focus has shifted towards crafting engaging, relevant, and user-centric content. The key here is to view AI as a tool, not a replacement for human creativity.

It can help draft copy, design graphics, and even create videos. But at the end of the day, human creativity and strategic thinking are irreplaceable. The goal is to leverage AI, allowing us to spend more time on creative, strategic endeavours and less time on laborious tasks.

Link Building Strategies: The Art of Connection

Link building has always been an integral part of SEO, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. But what does change, however, are the best practices that ensure effective link-building. Gone are the days of mass link exchanges and buying links.

In 2023, it’s all about quality, relevance, and authenticity.

Building a strong backlink profile requires nurturing relationships with authoritative websites within your niche. Consider guest posting or partnering for webinars and virtual events. And remember, always make sure the content you’re offering provides genuine value.

It’s also worth noting that internal linking is a key aspect of link building. It enhances the user experience, guiding visitors through your site and spotlighting your best content.

It’s also crucial to remember that link-building is not a quick fix; it’s a long-term strategy. According to Ahrefs, it can take up to 10 weeks to see an effect from a single backlink. Patience, persistence, and ongoing commitment are key.

Talk to us about how we use Traditional and Digital PR campaigns to drive relevant links. 

Local SEO: Thriving on your own back doorstep

If you’re an SME serving a local clientele, then local SEO should be high on your priority list. Focusing on local SEO can help you compete with larger brands by targeting the community you serve.

Firstly, ensure your business is listed accurately and consistently in online directories, especially on Google My Business (GMB). Include high-quality photos, positive customer reviews, and make sure to regularly update your information.

According to BrightLocal, 5 billion searches are performed on Google every day, and 46% of those are seeking local information.

Consider incorporating local keywords into your SEO strategy, too. Keywords related to your location (such as the name of the town or city) can help to attract local customers. Similarly, creating locally-focused content can improve your visibility in local search results.

Technical SEO: The Engine Behind Your Success

Technical SEO might not be the most glamorous part of your SEO strategy, but it’s the backbone that holds everything else together. Without it, all the keyword research, content creation, and link building in the world won’t help your site rank.

In 2023, site speed, mobile optimisation, and secure browsing (HTTPS) remain vital aspects of technical SEO.

A recent Google study found that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if a page takes longer than three seconds to load. Therefore, improving your site’s load time is essential.

Additionally, with Core Web Vitals now a part of Google’s algorithm, aspects like Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) are more crucial than ever.

Use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check your website’s performance and find areas for improvement.

Remember, technical SEO isn’t a one-off task, but an ongoing process. Regular audits can help you identify and fix issues before they start to affect your site’s performance or rankings.

Perfection Paralysis and the Power of the ‘Publish’ Button

Perfection Paralysis and the Power of the ‘Publish’ Button

In the dynamic, always-on world of search engine optimisation (SEO), one under-acknowledged villain lurks in the shadows, sabotaging your business’s digital growth strategy: the reluctance to hit the ‘Publish’ button.

First off, let’s just get it out in the open:

Perfection is a myth.

There, we said it. Especially in the digital marketing sphere, where trends and algorithms evolve faster than you can say “algorithm update,” perfection becomes the enemy of progress. The longer you take to perfect your blog post, the more you lose out on potential SEO advantages.

According to a 2022 article by HubSpot, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 3.5 times more traffic than companies that published zero to four monthly posts. That’s 3 to 4 blog posts per week. Now, imagine the compounded effect of delaying each of these posts in pursuit of unattainable perfection. The opportunity cost is staggering and the delay on improving rankings results in continual SEO stagnation.

In reality, the frequency of the posting is not an exact science. The number of blog posts that you produce per month, shouldn’t directly be dictated by something as simple as taking into account the mass data. Instead, you need to perform analysis on your sector, the phrases you are hoping to rank for, what your top competitors are doing and your location, but competitor and content marketing analysis like our Explore. audit, which takes into account all of these factors can provide you with a clear roadmap on the magic number to aim for, for your business.

Quality vs Quantity

Understandably, quality also matters. But here’s the beauty of digital content: it’s not etched in stone. You can edit, refine, and improve upon it even after publishing. In fact, an iterative approach to content creation can prove beneficial for your SEO performance. In fact, 42% of marketers and business owners make refreshing old content a key part of their 2023 strategy. The survey completed by SEMrush asked 1,700 industry professionals “what factors lead to success in content marketing” and these were the key factors:

  • 47% research their audience
  • 46% perform search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • 45% are publishing more content and publishing more frequently
  • 44% said improving the quality and value of their content has led to success
  • 42% said updating existing content has boosted their content marketing value
  • 41% said analyzing their competitors influenced the success of their strategy
  • 40% said creating more visual, and video content improved their content marketing

In the same survey. 55% said that creating more content and posting more frequently, was more important than the quality. Although 53% highlighted focusing on improving quality was also top of the agenda.

But the question remains, How does increasing the number of blog posts you publish support keyword ranking growth, even if they aren’t perfect?

Well, let’s venture into the exciting world of search engine bots.

AI Generated: Three Search Engine Bots Having a Meeting

AI-Generated: Three Search Engine Bots Having a Meeting

These tireless crawlers from Google (other search engines are available) constantly scour the web, indexing new and updated content. When you publish your content—perfect or not—these bots get to work, indexing your pages and improving your visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs). Every time you hit ‘publish’—perfection notwithstanding—these bots spring into action. They index your pages, giving your visibility a leg-up on search engine result pages (SERPs).

Each new post you create is like uncharted territory for these bots, teeming with new keywords and unique descriptions of your products or services. It could be an exciting new service or an in-depth exploration of a strategic model you employ—whatever it is, it likely possesses a broader scope of expertise than what already exists on your site. For your website and your customers, this new article is a golden opportunity to expand your online presence and bolster your industry authority.

Now, let’s say you follow up with some post-publishing edits. Search engines see these updates, re-crawl, and re-index your page, thereby improving its relevance and freshness quotient. Fresh content, depending on the type is likely to fall under Google’s Freshness Algorithm is a strong ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, which means publishing first and editing later can actually support ranking growth and help combat ranking stagnation or steady declines.

In a study by Ahrefs, only 9.37% of web pages actually get organic search traffic.

The study shows that by increasing the number of posts you publish, increases your success of indexation and capturing rankings. Another study SEMRush showed that 27% of high-performing content was a month or less old. This is a stark contrast to similar studies done in 2017, where it was found articles took nearly a year to see top 10 rankings. With the development of better algorithms, article age vs performance has dropped significantly, which is even more evidence to adopt the “publish-then-edit” approach against the “Perfect-then-Publish” approach.

SEMRush Article Age Study 2023

SEMRush Article Age Study 2023

Concluding remarks

In conclusion, shake off that perfection paralysis! Your content, like a fine wine, can get better with time. Embrace the publish-then-edit approach and witness a significant boost in your SEO performance. So, dust off those draft posts, give them a once-over, and then…hit that publish button!

Five stats to kick you into gear

  1. Companies that prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to achieve a positive ROI on their efforts. (Source: HubSpot State of Inbound)
  2. Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles. So, don’t worry if your content is lengthy, just hit publish. (Source: Backlinko)
  3. Bloggers who update old posts are 2.8x more likely to report strong results. The more you publish, the more you can update and drive traffic. (Source: OrbitMedia)
  4. 56% of marketers spend £780 to £7,800 ($1,000 to $10,000) a month on Content Marketing, with 69% planning to increase in 2023. (Source: SEMRush)
  5. Marketers who use blogs get 67% more leads than those who don’t. Publishing frequently can be the key to unlocking more business. (Source: HubSpot)
E-E-A-T for Success: How UK SMEs Can Demonstrate Expertise to Google’s Algorithm and Boost Rankings 🥇

E-E-A-T for Success: How UK SMEs Can Demonstrate Expertise to Google’s Algorithm and Boost Rankings 🥇

As an SME owner, I know the importance of maximising your online presence, but at the same time appreciate there is a limited budget and minimal time to actually execute it. Proving expertise in Google’s algorithms can significantly enhance your search rankings and visibility. In this blog post, we will expand on the five practical and cost-effective strategies with real-life examples to help you prove your expertise to search algorithms.

TL;DR

  1. High-Quality Content: Create well-researched, insightful content that demonstrates your knowledge in your field. Consider leveraging AI tools to support content creation, but always add personal insight to maintain a human touch.
  2. Authoritative Sources: Collaborate with local industry experts or other SME owners to add credibility to your content. Show your authors’ expertise through an outlined editorial process.
  3. Schema Markup: Use schema markup to help search engines better understand and categorize your content. This hidden markup can provide critical context to search engine crawlers.
  4. Natural Link Building: Focus on creating valuable, share-worthy content that attracts natural backlinks from reputable sources. Promote your content effectively to improve your website’s authority and search engine rankings.
  5. Social Proof: Leverage reviews, testimonials, case studies, and other evidence of your work to build trust with potential customers and search engines. Display any awards, press features, client logos, and certifications to boost your reputation.

What is E-E-A-T?

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This acronym is used within the context of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

  • Experience: This refers to the user’s experience interacting with the webpage. It can be influenced by various factors such as page design, usability, and the relevance of the content to the user’s search intent.

  • Expertise: This pertains to the level of knowledge or skill in a particular field that the creator of the webpage content has. A higher level of expertise is generally associated with a higher quality of content, especially for topics that require professional knowledge such as medical or financial information.

  • Authoritativeness: This is the credibility or reliability of the website publishing the content. It is determined by factors like the website’s reputation, the credentials of the content creator, and the quality and reliability of the content itself.

  • Trustworthiness: This refers to how trustworthy the website is, based on the accuracy and transparency of its content, the security of the website, and the website’s adherence to ethical web practices.

Google uses these factors to evaluate the overall quality of a webpage and determine how high it should rank.

High-Quality Content

Creating well-researched, in-depth content is essential in proving your expertise to Google’s algorithms. For instance, if you run a small bakery, you could write a blog post on “The Science of Baking Perfect Sourdough Bread.” This topic demonstrates your knowledge in the field, and by citing reputable sources and providing valuable insights, you’ll create a high-quality piece that appeals to both your audience and search engines.

It would be impossible to write this without pointing out the ability to use AI to support this content creation. We are still in the testing stage for how impactful AI-driven content is on search rankings, but from all the tests we’ve done so far, not only does it get indexed, but in some cases, on niche topics, it ranks well. Like any tool, the key is to not rely solely on the generation but to add insight, link to further insight and ultimately retain the tone of voice that makes you…human. This guide from Forge and Smith draws the line in the sand quite well.

Authoritative Sources

Collaborating with local industry experts or other SME owners can lend credibility to your content. For example, if you own a digital marketing agency, you could collaborate with a local web design firm on a blog post discussing the importance of responsive web design. By exchanging guest posts, sharing insights, or conducting interviews, both parties benefit from increased exposure and authority.

This is usually the part where we introduce a Guest Author…no…guess not.

One of the other tactics we’ve been using recently to demonstrate authority on specialist topics is to introduce an outlined editorial process. The authors of your posts, their expertise and the content they produce is equally as important as sharing outside expertise. By providing an editorial process, that outlines the authors of the content on your website, it can help support their expertise and where they’ve been published previously. The web team at Healthline.com have implemented this with fantastic success.

Schema Markup

Implementing schema markup can help search engines better understand and categorize your content. Let’s say you run a small plumbing business, and you have a blog post on “How to Fix a Leaky Faucet in 5 Easy Steps.” By using the “HowTo” schema markup, you’ll provide search engines with more context about your content, making it easier for them to identify your expertise in plumbing.

Schema is worth a completely separate post, especially with the advancements in AI, Googles Bard and the new approach to providing AI-generated search results. Schema has been providing an important role in generating quick answers from Google search results since 2011, so despite having evolved, the hidden mark-up of content is continuing to become an important part of any webmaster (an outdated name for someone who actually adds content to the website regularly) process. This hidden markup of content provides essential context to search engine crawlers, helping them to better understand, categorize, and rank web content.

Here are some key examples of schema used in 2023:

  1. WebPage Schema: This schema provides vital information about individual pages on a website. It includes properties such as the name, URL, description, and language of the page. It can also help search engines understand the relationships between pages with the “isPartOf” property and show details such as the publication date, author, and featured image of the content​.
  2. Organization Schema: This schema helps search engines understand critical details about a company or other types of organizations. It can improve the way your business is presented in search results. Tags you can add include the name, URL, logo, description, contact point, founding date, founders, and more​.
  3. Breadcrumb Schema: This schema provides information about the organization and structure of the website, which can result in your breadcrumb trail displaying in search results. This is typically a much more user-friendly way of showing your page’s destination than displaying a long URL structure​.
  4. Review Schema: If you sell products or services via your website and use customer reviews and star ratings, then the Review Schema is crucial. Adding the Review Schema makes it possible to display reviews and ratings with your entry in Google’s Search results and listings on Google Maps​.

Reference: https://seochatter.com/schema-markup-examples-for-seo/

Natural Link Building

Ultimately you should be looking to create content that others find valuable and share-worthy, you can attract natural backlinks from reputable sources.

For example, if you run an eco-friendly clothing brand, you might write a comprehensive guide on “The Benefits of Sustainable Fashion for the Environment and Your Wardrobe.” By sharing this guide on social media and engaging with like-minded individuals or businesses, you can build connections and potentially earn valuable backlinks.

Continuing with this example, once you’ve published the guide on you can take a few additional steps to promote it and increase its visibility:

  1. Guest Blogging: You can reach out to fashion bloggers, sustainable living blogs, or environmental websites to offer guest posts. In your guest post, you can subtly reference your comprehensive guide and link back to it.
  2. Influencer Outreach: Connect with influencers in the sustainable fashion industry and ask if they’d be interested in sharing your guide with their followers. This can dramatically increase your reach and the potential for natural backlinks.
  3. Social Media Promotion: Share your guide across all your social media platforms. Encourage your followers to share the guide with their network, further increasing the chances of earning natural backlinks.
  4. Email Newsletters: If you have an email subscriber list, send out a newsletter highlighting your new guide. Encourage your subscribers to share it on their own websites or with anyone else they think might be interested.
  5. Forums and Community Boards: Participate in relevant forums and community boards, like Reddit or Quora. If there are questions or discussions about sustainable fashion, provide useful answers and a link to your guide if it’s relevant and allowed by the platform’s rules.

Remember, natural link-building is about creating high-quality, relevant content and effectively promoting it. It may take time, but the high-quality backlinks you earn will be well worth the effort, improving your website’s authority and search engine rankings.

Social Proof

Leveraging reviews, testimonials, and case studies can demonstrate your expertise and accomplishments. For instance, if you own a small accounting firm, you could create a case study detailing how you helped a local business save money on taxes. By encouraging satisfied clients to leave reviews on platforms like Google My Business, Trustpilot, and social media, you can build trust with potential customers and search engines alike.

Social Proof is an influential factor that can significantly enhance your credibility and trustworthiness. By displaying evidence of your work and the positive experiences of your clients, you can effectively sway potential customers’ decisions in your favour.

Here are a few additional strategies you can use to leverage social proof for your accounting firm:

  1. Client Testimonials: Ask your satisfied clients if they would be willing to provide a testimonial about their experience with your firm. You can then feature these testimonials prominently on your website. Consider creating a dedicated “Testimonials” page where potential clients can see all the positive feedback you’ve received.
  2. Case Studies: Continue creating detailed case studies like the one you mentioned. These can be incredibly effective in showcasing your expertise and the tangible results you’ve achieved for clients. Make sure to include real numbers and data to highlight your impact.
  3. Awards and Recognitions: If your firm has received any awards or recognitions, be sure to highlight them on your website. This not only demonstrates your competence but also your recognition in the industry.
  4. Press Features: If your firm has been featured in any articles or news stories, be sure to mention this and provide links if possible. This kind of publicity can significantly enhance your firm’s reputation.
  5. Client Logos: If you’ve worked with any well-known clients, consider asking for permission to display their logos on your website. This can lend additional credibility to your firm.
  6. Certifications and Affiliations: Display any relevant certifications or professional affiliations prominently on your website. This can help reassure potential clients that you are a legitimate and reputable firm.

By leveraging these forms of social proof, you can effectively build trust with potential clients, leading to higher conversion rates. In addition, positive reviews and testimonials can improve your search engine ranking, especially on local searches.

Conclusion

In conclusion, maximizing your online presence as an SME owner doesn’t have to be a financial burden. By focusing on creating high-quality content, collaborating with authoritative sources, implementing schema markup, encouraging natural link building, and leveraging social proof, you can prove your expertise to Google’s algorithms without breaking the bank. These strategies are not only cost-effective but also help to build trust and credibility with your target audience.

For high-quality content, consider collaborating with AI tools to save time without sacrificing the human touch. To establish authority, collaborate with other industry experts, introduce an outlined editorial process, and make your author’s expertise known. Implementing schema markup will provide search engines with more context about your content, helping them to understand and categorize your information better.

Remember, natural link-building should be about providing value to others. Create share-worthy content, and promote it effectively to earn high-quality backlinks. Lastly, use social proof to your advantage by showcasing reviews, testimonials, case studies, and other forms of evidence to boost your credibility and trustworthiness.

Mastering Google’s algorithms may seem daunting, but with the right strategies and a bit of patience, you can significantly enhance your search rankings and visibility. No matter what industry you’re in, understanding and implementing these tactics can be a game-changer for your online presence. Stay consistent, stay informed, and watch your online presence grow.

For help with this, delivered by experts then consider Spark*, the content marketing solution from Brand Ambition.

 

The Importance of Cultural Branding in 2023

The Importance of Cultural Branding in 2023

Consider the global environment we live in today. Customers are better informed than ever before. Employee expectations and career choices reach far beyond just their wage. Social consciousness is not only mainstream but due to the impact of social media, it is demanded and continually peer-judged. Skilled workers are in high demand, with companies across nearly every sector struggling to fill roles, driving up wage costs.

Ultimately, growing a company in 2022 relies upon more than just a healthy profit margin. In fact, a recent Linkedin study showed that 63% of workers put Work-life balance at the top of their priorities when looking for a new role. In the UK, 45% consider company culture a top priority. So for SME brands looking to break through the competition and the noise is Cultural Branding the silver bullet branding strategy for success?

What is Cultural Branding?

In the most basic terms, cultural branding is the process of creating a brand that reflects your internal culture and ideals. Externally, this means representing yourself and your company in a way that aligns with your values, beliefs and goals. Authentically.

The authentic part of this is probably the most important aspect of cultural branding. It means acting the way you want others to see you inside the organisation and outside of it. The good thing is that you don’t have to be huge to achieve it. You can be an SME, a non-profit or a consultant and still have cultural strategy at the core of everything you do.

The authentic part of this is probably the most important aspect of cultural branding.

It means acting the way you want others to see you inside the organisation and outside of it. The good thing is that you don’t have to be huge to achieve it.

You can be an SME, a non-profit or a consultant and still have a cultural strategy at the core of everything you do.

What are the benefits of having culture at the heart of your organisation?

Aside from gaining a focus away from being focused solely on the monetary. Putting a cultural strategy at the heart of your brand marketing strategy opens up new opportunities across different generations.

Forbes reported that :

“A recent Harvard business review showed that in general, Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964) tend to value loyalty and money over career specifics. Gen X (Born between 1965 to 1980) values ownership and autonomy. Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) value innovation, collaboration, freedom, experiences and creativity. Gen Z (Born between 1997 to 2012) values progressive equality, conscious consumerism, activism and pragmaticism.”

 

Generations Diagram

So if the current and advancing Gen Z buying consideration, puts their social conscience at the heart of the thought process, then for a company to grow, adapt and thrive having benefits within your organisation or brand that goes far beyond a simple transaction is going to be an important piece of the puzzle. Cultural branding allows you to create a loyal following. A loyal following in 2022, generates an unlimited number more opportunities than the simple word-of-mouth transaction in the Gen Z and Millennial era.

As a result, some of the benefits of putting culture at the heart of your branding are:

 

  • A stronger brand identity that is more memorable and easier to recall. Creating a sense of community.
  • More effective marketing campaigns, as you can target specific groups of people based on their cultural characteristics. Rather than just age and gender.
  • Improved employee retention rates as employees feel valued for who they are and not just what they do.
  • Increased sales as you can better understand your customers and tailor your offerings to match customer needs.
  • Greater profits, as you can charge higher prices, without losing customers.
  • Stronger relationships with suppliers, partners and customers as you all build trust through shared values.
  • A consistent and recognisable image, that isn’t hidden behind a corporate veil.

The importance of taking a stance and understanding the impact.

There are many different representations of what defines “culture”. The impact of your marketing team taking a stance on a topic that aligns with your cultural strategy is that you tend to alienate another group by default.

A Linkedin study on engagement opinions around posts that discussed “flexibility” is an example of this. In the study, the positive and negative engagements of a company mentioning flexibility were analysed and split into generational categories.

As we can see for Gen Z, flexibility is seen as an overwhelmingly positive aspect, but to a Baby boomer, the topic could alienate people.

Generations Diagram

The same can be seen across economic and social issues shared on Social Media channels.

Ultimately, If you’re going to take a public stance on a divisive topic, such as politics, the environment or social justice issues, then you need to decide if you’re doing that as you, or as your company.

If you’re doing it yourself, then you’ll have to accept that there will be backlash from some of your followers. But if you’re doing it as your company, then you can use that as a way to connect with other companies and organisations that share your views. Culture is something that is constantly evolving.

As new generations enter the workforce, the workplace changes too.

Examples of Successful Cultural Branding Strategy

Without going over the same iconic brands such as Apple, Nike, Under Armour, Coca-Cola and Gym Shark, let’s consider some of the successful brands in a local SME setting, achieving broader reach as a direct result of their focus on creating a cultural movement.

Get Baked

The Leeds-based bakery, with over 80k followers on Instagram, turned a PR nightmare into a cult brand opportunity after a customer sent a complaint to trading standards about the “illegal” US sprinkles they were using on products in the UK store. The company turned the whole thing into a positive, by being open about their passion and refusing to compromise on the quality of the product. The public banded together creating #sprinklegate where the company managed to turn the ordeal into a whole new sideline, working over the next few months to manufacture their own version of the sprinkles they wanted and would pass UK regulations.

Their foul-mouthed, and abusive customer posts on social media, is an example of how powerful and liberating a culture-focused approach can be.

Where most other business-to-consumer companies are slaves to their customer reviews, the Get Baked team earn more customers by berating the ones they don’t like.

Generations Diagram

What underlines this approach is a high-quality product, a unique approach and a clear understanding of the target market. The owner, Rich Myers, demonstrates a clear passion for his produce, with an envious self-confidence and attitude that resonates with his followers in and out of the store. 

The combination is clearly a recipe for success (lazy and hideous pun intended).

Tred.earth

Another Leeds success story, Tred is an eco-friendly fintech start-up that has launched a debit card that allows you to keep track of your carbon emissions through the transactions you make, with the option of offsetting any carbon emissions at the end of the month.

The company, having raised £1million through Crowdcube has a strong focus on engaging with its target market on the issues that resonate with the company’s core focus.

With a globally growing concern and a clear recognition for data-led action on climate change, the company is the perfect example of right place, right timing, perfect strategy.

Breaking something so complex, into a tangible and actionable service isn’t easy, we reached out to Tred to comment on their success. Eleanor Metcalf – Brand, Marketing & CX Lead at Tred had this to say about the culture at the organisation

 

Generations Diagram

“At Tred we believe team culture is an essential part of our success: we established our team values early on and they’re the first thing new starters are taken through in their onboarding when they join.

As a small team, it’s essential that we all behave in a way that not only produces our best work, but that also aligns with our sustainability-focused mission and produces the best outcome for our customers and, ultimately, for the planet. For example, one of our values is about building ‘a positive movement’.

Part of that is about fostering a positive team culture where we lift each other up and focus on finding solutions, not calling out problems. But it’s also about offering a positive outlook to consumers who might feel weary and defeated by the prospect of climate change – inviting them to join us in a collective effort to make a positive difference.”

Lucy & Yak

Lucy & Yak have built up a loyal and dedicated following based on their focus on an uncompromising environmentally focused clothing range, this creates an emotional connection alongside their approach to branding. With over 500k followers on Instagram and 50k on TikTok, the brand engages with its core customer base far beyond its original warehouse in Barnsley, Yorkshire.

Their focus on initiatives that create “positive changes” has been a strong central theme that continues to help the brand grow and gain loyal brand advocates that will support and promote them in everything they do.

This level of inspirational promotion can only be achieved through authentic branding and a commitment to a strong moral compass, this has led to the brand collaborating with celebrities and further strengthening its position in the market.

The brand has a strong social media presence and actively engages with its fans on multiple platforms, this level of interactivity helps the brand to create a personal connection with its audience and in turn, build trust. This is essential in today’s market where consumers are looking for brands that align themselves with causes that are important to them.

Examples of damaged cultural branding – Brewdog

Brewdog is a Scottish craft brewery that has been in the headlines a few times for all the wrong reasons.

The company’s CEO, James Watt, has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by staff members. The company has also been accused of creating a “culture of fear”, with allegations of over-work, exploitation and bullying.

In addition to these scandals, Brewdog has also faced backlash for stealing marketing ideas from Job Interviews and agency pitches. Been accused of being transphobicsexist, and upsetting animal activists.

At its core, Brewdog promotes ideals that focus on climate change, and better working conditions and part of the B corp movement. The issue with a brand that is continually overshadowed by the behaviours of its founders, is that it distracts from the Good the company is trying to achieve, which splits opinions and loses followers.

For us, it’s a great example of how important it is to create a cultural brand that aligns with your own ideals.

 

***UPDATE***

Almost as soon as we wrote about Brew Dog Faux Pas, they score yet another own goal with their fake #MarketingforGood style PR stunts. The public backlash against the company has been overwhelming over their latest stunt. Just check out the headlines.

I mean they really take “Any PR is Good PR” as a mantra…

Five steps to start introducing a cultural branding strategy into your SME.

1. Define it.

What makes you passionate? Why do you work? Why did you start the company, or why do you work for it? Where do you find your joy? How do you want to be remembered? What legacy are you leaving behind?

Asking questions about what defines you and the culture of your organisation is an important first step. At Brand Ambition, we started with the idea of legacy. We decided that what we ultimately wanted our company to do was leave a positive legacy behind. Then we started to explore that out and make decisions about what that meant. We decided that the most important aspects of that meant firstly, supporting our clients to reach their ambitions and secondly, mentoring our employees into the best versions of themselves, regardless of how long they work with us.

Download our Cultural Branding Strategy Board

To help you put together your own defined Cultural Branding strategy, we’re giving away our Cultural Branding Strategy Board. Simply click on the image to download the PDF, or get in touch and we’ll email it to you.

The work on our Cultural Branding Strategy gave us focus, to create services such as Spark*, the SEO-first content and social media delivery service, that supports “digital skills for good” development in apprentices and graduates by ensuring their first interactions with client-facing marketing happen on campaigns that focus on leaving the world behind a better place.

Generations Diagram

2. Hire candidates based on culture first.

Skills in a lot of industries can be taught. But in a lot of industries, such as manufacturing and engineering trained skills are in short supply. So how do you overcome finding the right person, vs finding anyone that can just do the job?

The ongoing skills shortage makes it even more important to hire the right people. One of the business owners, Alex Beardsley of ABL Business I’ve had the pleasure of networking with always talked about how they were looking during the interview process to see if they were “ABL”. They turned their company name “ABL” into a verb, to describe the people they wanted. The people that fit in with their corporate culture. The rules set around this were purposefully created to be inclusive but focused on finding the right people that shared their ideals commercially.

Our clients are entrepreneurs, marketing managers of SMEs, busy business owners and booming start-ups. We know that our clients need a marketing company that can just get stuff done, and that stuff might be anything in full digital marketing spectrum; Branding, Design, Advertising, Email, Website Development, SEO, PR, Social Media, Content Writing, Video Editing etc. So we hire multi-skilled and talented marketing professionals that have a proven commercial track record. Our PR and Content manager Megan, owned and was a successful doughnut slinger and cult coffee shop owner before coming to work with us. Our first apprentice Amara came to us with a desire to learn marketing after obtaining a 1st Class honours degree in Law.

3. Reinforce your culture from the inside out.

Staff benefits. Staff away days. Staff nights out. Is your culture built around casual benefits, or tied to your core values? I was lucky enough to attend sessions with Culco. a culture-first peer networking group in Leeds. The focus of the discussions were sharing how culture could be made an everyday part of the companies sat round the table. The key was to start by defining what the culture was, then building it into the everyday.

Look at how the tone of voice is carried across internal and external communications. Are your brand values visible throughout the workspace? Do corporate events and team engagement encourage those core values? Do the staff benefit?

During the process of our own cultural brand strategy, we defined nine core values:

  • Family First.
  • Efficient Through Innovation.
  • People Before Profit.
  • Local Experts, Wordly Experience.
  • Planet Saving Digital Disruption.
  • Brutally Honest, Consistently Constructive.
  • Excite, Surprise, Delight.
  • Ignite the Fuse.
  • Explode Expectations.
Generations Diagram

Each one of these sits at the core of our actions. In the spirit of being brutally honest, this is of course marketing b**s**t. But, these core values also help guide our decisions on policies. We believe in putting Family first, so we developed a flexible working policy that works around people’s families. We look at ways that we can grow the business profitably but focused on the people we employee first. We work under an agile methodology, that continually looks at improving the way we do things. We talk openly to clients and internally about the quality of our work, and then we find constructive ways to improve it. We always find ways to go beyond our client’s expectations.

4. Celebrate it.

We all know that Linkedin is a cesspool of self-gratifying and celebratory posts. But, in this climate of noise, driven by social media, self-promotion is an important aspect of cultural branding.

The point of creating a cultural brand is to ultimately generate a loyal and growing customer base, that does your marketing for you. To do this, you need to build loyal followers by using considered communication that is led culture first.

So once defined, you can explore the meaning behind your values. You can get closer to your target market through shared experiences of the things you care about. Whether, that is the love of a local football team, a shared hatred of certain food groups or the celebration of businesses and people like you. Celebrating your culture across social media, your website, advertising, PR and wherever else your target market consumes their news, drives engagement and purpose.

Engagement creates a considered and structured loyal following. A loyal following creates self-appointed brand ambassadors. Brand Ambassadors spread your core messages far and wide, creating more engagement and followers.

5. Involve others, and continually refine it. Consistently.

Culture is a constant evolution, like a lot of things in business, it can’t be implemented and forgotten about.

To truly generate a culture-first attitude, you need to let it evolve with those that experience it every day. Your employees and customers need should have a voice, allowing the brand to continually evolve with respect to the views originally set out.

This might look like a monthly meeting to discuss existing and new ways to reinforce the cultural strategy. It might be regular staff surveys, that allow for anonymous feedback. It could be empowering employees to engage with one another on their hobbies and interests, a staff day focused around helping the environment or supporting a charity that aligns with your brand.

If you’re not sure where to get started with Culture, I attended Culco workshops in Yorkshire, that provided a clear insight into how other businesses approach to culture, how they engage with their staff and customers on their values and how we can work together as business leaders to implement a Culture first approach.

Here is our endorsement of the course…

Don’t forget to download your Free Cultural Branding Strategy Board.

In case you missed it,

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How to use SEMRush Keyword Intent to Bid Against Competitor Traffic and Steal Conversions

How to use SEMRush Keyword Intent to Bid Against Competitor Traffic and Steal Conversions

Having utilised the full extent of the SEMRush platform over the last six years, we’re always excited to see the latest updates and utilise them to our (clients) advantage. The latest round of updates came with “Keyword Intent” within the Organic Research Section. 

As an integrated digital brand ad marketing agency, we looked at how we could integrate keyword intent into our own campaigns. We are testing it in a few ways, but one of our favourite “quick solutions” was learning how to steal conversions and leads away from Organic traffic. 

Here’s how we’re doing it. 

  1. Step 1 – Use the “Keyword Gap” tool to find where your competitors are ranking better than you. 
  2. Step 2 – View “Untapped” keywords and filter keywords using intents “Commercial” & “Transactional”
  3. Step 3 – Sort by lowest CPC and Keyword Difficulty and pull together the phrases you will use in a campaign.
  4. Step 4 – Bid against non-branded competitor terms, with low CPC’s whilst you create content to build up your rankings in these categories.
  5. Step 5 – Monitor conversions and use the data to target better landing pages with an SEO focus.
  6. Step 6 – Reduce reliance on Paid as rankings grow on converting keywords, rinse and repeat. 

Step 1. Competitor Keyword Gap Analysis

We used the term “Refurbished iPhone” for this comparison. We then picked a number of domains from different positions in the rankings that we wanted to compare against. 

We chose:

  • Theioutlet.com
  • Reboxed.co
  • Raylo.com
  • Tech-tiger.co.uk
  • Qwikfone.com

*If any of you guys want a link, all you have to do is let us do an audit and hire us, we have some brilliant experience within the mobile phone market…#justsaying

As you can see from the chart, there are a number of similar terms the domains share, but the majority are dominated by one competitor. 

Now we need to set-up the report we want to use. 

Step 2. Filter keywords by the intents and position

In SEMRush, we are using the Keyword Gap tool. 

Then we need to do two things

  • Change the Positions for “All in the Top 10”
  • Select the Intent Filter and tick Commercial and Transactional, then apply.

This gives us two types of keyword Intent, which represent customers that are close to the buying stages of the sales cycle.

Commercial

Commercial keywords indicate that the searcher is looking to investigate a brand or service in our case, its users that know the phone they want and are investigating their options around the model and refurbished versions. So in terms of our customer journey, this is a fantastic entry point and introduction of our brand. 

Examples of Commercial Phrases from “Refurbished Phone” Research

 

Keyword Search Volume CPC
iphone xr second hand 2,900 0.54
raylo reviews 2,900 1.77
rent a phone 1,600 1.45
best iphone battery life 590 0.62
iphone 11 pro max second hand 590 0.53
is raylo legit 480 2.17
sim free phone contract 480 0.88
ipad pro 2020 vs 2021 390 0.9
iphone 11 pro max used 390 0.53

 

Transactional

Transactional keywords indicate that the searcher is looking to make a purchase of goods or services. These terms should result in more conversions than any other type of traffic. So from a Paid perspective exact match versions can support strong campaign growth for low cost per conversions.

Examples of Transactional Phrases from “Refurbished Phone” Research

 

Keyword Search Volume CPC
iphone 11 unlocked 1300 0.91
iphone 8 unlocked 1000 0.97
iphone 11 pro max pay monthly 320 1.21
iphone xs 128gb 320 0.5
cheapest place to buy iphone 170 0.66

 

Step 3. Find the cheap and easy wins

What makes this method so powerful against other forms of keyword research?

The research uses the strongest organic profiles  in any niche, alongside the SEMRush data, to identify phrases or exact match bidding terms that you might not have stumbled upon using the Google Keyword Ad Planner, or by simply performing research through the SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool. 

Not only that, but you are focused on terms that will drive sales. By utilising “phrase match” or “exact match” against these terms you can filter out a lot of campaign budget waste against broad match or even phrase match on more generic terms. 

Let’s compare some of the terms we found against some of the likely generic phrases that might be used to generate them. 

Generic Terms on Broad Match

 

Keyword Exact Match Search Volume Keyword Difficulty CPC Broad Match Variations Collective Search Volume
iphone 12 673,000 81 £0.88 6,500 2,700,000
iphone xr 301,000 79 £0.55 39,900 1,200,000
iphone 12 pro 201,000 63 £0.59 287 1,100,000
iphone 11 pro max 135,000 48 £0.62 5,000 338,000
samsung s21 ultra 74,000 62 £1.27 37 162,000

 

In this table we have:

  • The “Keyword” or Broad Match Phrase
  • Exact Match Search Volume – The monthly search volume for the Exact Match of the “keyword”
  • Keyword Difficulty – The keyword difficulty out of 100.
  • CPC – The average cost per click for the exact match phrase
  • Broad Match Variations – The number of phrases that could appear if this was set to Broad Match.
  • Collective Search Volume – The collective monthly search volume for all broad match phrases.

This would ultimately leave the bidding to the Google Adwords algorithm. If you have large reserves and a big budget then leaving keywords open and allowing the algorithm to find the best bidding strategy for your budget is an option. On tighter or controlled budgets this can destroy the campaign budget quickly.

Compare this against our new targeted phrases

iPhone 11

 

Keyword Search Volume Keyword Difficulty CPC Keyword Intents
iphone 11 unlocked 1,300 44 0.91 transactional
iphone 11 pro max second hand 590 33 0.53 commercial
iphone 11 pro max used 390 37 0.53 commercial
second hand iphone 11 pro max 390 33 0.58 commercial
iphone 11 pro max monthly payment 320 39 0.7 commercial
iphone 11 pro max pay monthly 320 42 1.21 transactional
second hand iphone 11 pro 320 29 0.55 commercial
used iphone 11 pro 320 30 0.66 commercial
used iphone 11 pro max 320 39 0.75 commercial
 

 

In this example, we ultimately end up with terms we can set to exact match and build bespoke adverts around. The competition levels are lower, the CPC’s are more achievable and we are more likely to generate conversions, whilst a lower budget will allow us to dominate the Ad Space. 

Step 4. Building & bidding

Build a list fitting to your budget of terms like this to bid on for the most possible ranking gains for the lowest possible cost. Of course you want to avoid any branded terms since people searching for “coca cola” don’t really want to find pepsi.

In this case, no, Pepsi is not ok!

Alongside this you want to create content to build your rankings for these keywords. You can use Pillar pages to direct more authority and encourage ranking diversity through to key service pages. 

Utilising the data from your paid accounts, you can see what converts and what drives the most leads.

When you have this as an understanding, you can create content on your site that reflects the conversions. The great thing about this is that if you’re smart about it you can create Pillar / Landing pages that encourage better conversion rates for your PPC, whilst also supporting your organic rankings. 

Step 5. Monitor & adapt

After making these changes you need to constantly monitor your analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t. If certain keywords aren’t working then stop spending on them and reroute those funds into the keywords that are working.

Find the pages on your website that are keeping people there for the longest amount of time and direct as much traffic there as possible. Check your goals / objectives, if you’re seeing high bounce rates, this may be an indication the conversion path isn’t resonating with the target phrases. 

Create more content around the topics that are generating you the most traffic. Even when you are on top of rankings it can’t hurt to secure your place even further so that it’s even harder for someone else to dethrone you.

Step 6. Reduce paid advertising reliance as organic traffic grows 

Across our campaigns, one of the most asked questions is at what point can we start reducing paid budgets in favour of organic? 

The answer is never as simple as switching off paid in favour of organic, but over time we work with clients to reduce their reliance on paid advertising, or at the very least reposition the budget into new target areas as the SEO builds. 

In reality, we find that around 80% of our clients continue to grow spend across both channels as they see a strategy that produces consistent growth and results. You can see more about our successful search strategies in our case studies.

SEO is an ongoing process so in reality you’ll be constantly looking to replicate these steps.

If you’re still unsure about anything here and need some advice on SEO for your website, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] and we’d be happy to have a no obligation chat and see if we can help you out. Even if it’s just a bit of free advice!