6 top tips to stand out at Christmas

6 top tips to stand out at Christmas

Wondering how to raise brand awareness this Christmas that will endure through 2021? Here are six ways to stand out from the crowd!

For consumers, the Christmas countdown has just begun. But as a marketer, creative or business, it’ll have been on your radar for some time. It’s the perfect time to connect with your audience and make them feel extra special. And if you’re successful, you’ll be sure to create a lasting impact.

However, ensuring you reach the right audience is key – and you’ll likely need a multi-channel approach to increase reach and impact. While competition is high at this time of year, there’s still huge potential to connect with your audience, whether you’re B2C or B2B. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year (even in the less-than-wonderful year that has been 2020)!

Here are Monitor’s top tips for standing out this Christmas:

1. Create engaging, memorable and shareable content

It can be difficult to remain relevant and ‘cut through the clutter’ at Christmas, so it’s essential to be creative in your approach and think differently when it comes to writing content and designing assets. 2020 has been a difficult year for many, so enriching the experiences you provide for your audience has never been more important.

Christmas cracker

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2. Add some festive cheer to your pages

Get decorating! Use Christmas as an excuse to refresh your marketing collateral – especially your websites. Adding some festive cheer to homepage banners and creating seasonal blog posts are simple ways to ensure higher engagement and memorability.

Website decoration

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3. Maximise pay-per-click (PPC) marketing

With Christmas just around the corner, maximise your PPC campaigns via some of the biggest trading days of the year – including Cyber Monday, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, where buyer intent is extremely high. This is a great time to run with paid social and Google Ads activity, but you must be strategic!

Christmas cost-per-click (CPC) prices tend to soar. So instead of targeting new audiences, focus on retargeting activities in the run-up to the big day. This will balance your costs while maximising your sales and increasing your ROI.

However, the ad auction will be cheaper than usual around Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, so targeting new audiences shouldn’t be completely forgotten.


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4. Reinforce brand values

Christmas gives you a chance to show empathy and generosity. Charity has a huge role to play at Christmas and, if you can, why not support those in need? Each year Monitor chooses a charity to donate the money we would have spent on printing and sending Christmas cards.

Charitable giving

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5. Send a digital Christmas card

Christmas e-cards are becoming increasingly popular due to their time, cost and environmental savings. They’re also great for personalising messages and communicating effectively with audiences. E-cards are extremely flexible and can be designed to reflect your brand image and core messages. They can also maximise further call-to-actions such as social media links.

digital Christmas e-card

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6. Send your customers personalised gifts and seasonal greetings

Thoughtful and personalised gifts can demonstrate how much you value ongoing business. This can be as simple as offering loyal customers exclusive discounts and content. For example, a restaurant could share some of their favourite Christmas recipes. If you’re a smaller business with a small budget, don’t worry. A simple Christmas e-greeting can go a long way.

Christmas gift

Need some last-minute expert advice for your Christmas communications?

Get in touch to see how we can help you get the most from your seasonal campaign.

Better in Pairs – Our 2 New Account Executives

Welcoming two new Account Executives

Amongst recent promotions, it’s clear that Monitor’s staff are on the upward track and we have expanded our ever-improving team with a pair of new Account Executives.

Emma Dunn has taken on a role as Account Executive, supported by her first-class BA Hons in Marketing Management and experience as a marketing executive, independently managing events and planning and executing campaigns. Her eye for detail, organisational skills, and impressive experience make her a brilliant marketer and a valuable member of the team.

Emma said: “I’m thrilled to be working alongside Rachel and the Monitor team on some really exciting projects. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve for our clients together!”

While Rachel Poultney has become our Digital Account Executive, supported by a BA Hons in Literature and Creative Writing and experience in digital marketing roles. Her creative background and experience in PPC, SEO, social media and comprehensive digital campaigns combine into a fresh, unique perspective within the team.

Rachel said: “I really look forward to getting further stuck into our digital accounts. Plus, working together with Emma and combining our skills on various projects has been brilliant.”

Moray Newberry, Monitor Creative Managing Director, said: “Emma and Rachel are very bright, energetic and enthusiastic and have complementary skills and experience.”

Emma and Rachel will lend their invaluable support to the team and our clients in all our upcoming projects in design, digital, and motion.

5 measurable impacts your business can make with digital publications

5 Measurable Impacts Your Business Can Make With Digital Publications

For more than a decade, we’ve used digital publications to help businesses grow and thrive. Today, in a Covid-19 work-from-home environment, their advantages are even more compelling. Here are just five ways they can help your business achieve its ambitions.

1. Cost savings

When you make digital publications a central part of your marketing mix, you immediately enjoy significant savings. There are no print costs to consider. Mailing costs are slashed by 90%. And reprints are never a concern.

“I love the flexibility they give you,” says our creative director Cheryl McMillan. “If something’s out of date, it’s so quick and easy to update text or information without having to worry about reprint and distribution costs all over again.”

Cost Savings

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2. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) savings

Research in 2019 found that six in 10 consumers “expect companies to make a stand on climate and environmental issues”. CSR even impacts recruitment: more than half of employees say they won’t work for a company that “doesn’t have strong social and environmental commitments”.

Investing in digital publications saves paper and ink used in the production process. It also lowers fuel consumption, because delivery is via email rather than traditional postage. “The environmental benefits are really considerable,” says Cheryl.

CSR Savings

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3. Advertising revenue

When you can provide precise data about the performance of third-party adverts, it becomes much easier to sell advertising space at higher rates. If your company produces a printed magazine that runs adverts, or is thinking of introducing adverts, digital publications provide an extra level of proof.

One of the digital publications we’ve worked on produced tens of thousands of pounds in advertising revenue in every issue.

Advertising Revenue

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4. Audience understanding

Digital publications allow you to build a much fuller picture of your audience.

They reveal location, device, average reading time and much more. Heatmaps show where your readers zoom in and engage with your content and the performance of every link is tracked.

No equivalent depth of understanding exists for printed material, which is why digital publications are so effective for generating new business.

Audience Understanding

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5. New leads and sales

The insights you get from the analytics dashboard can fuel informed conversations and follow-ups from your sales team.

Even if your BDMs are currently working from home, they can dive into the data to understand what your audience is reacting to – and what it is ignoring.

This gives them a great head-start and helps your business to make the most of the opportunities it has.

Leads and Sales

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Interested to find out more? Read our full guide to digital publications.

Need some expert advice?

Get in touch to see how we can help you.

Stars of Monitor have reached new heights

Stars of Monitor have reached new heights

Stars of Monitor have reached new heights

Two of Monitor Creative’s most outstanding talents will begin August in new roles that reflect their skills, energy and growing seniority.

Marcus Barretto is promoted to Senior Digital Designer. Laura Dobson, who only joined Monitor in May 2019, rises to Senior Account Manager.

Moray Newberry, Monitor Creative Managing Director, said:

“These promotions are both incredibly well deserved. Marcus and Laura are key members of the Monitor team and we’re thrilled to have them here.

“This growth in their responsibilities recognises their exceptional talents. They both consistently demonstrate industry-leading expertise in their day-to-day efforts. And their commitment to providing our clients with the best possible solutions – on brief, on time and on budget – is unquestionable. Our congratulations go to them both.”

Marcus and Laura will be at the centre of Monitor’s coordination and delivery of a raft of upcoming design, digital and motion projects.

For further information please contact:
0161 743 0980

Branding – Make Your Mark!

Branding – Make Your Mark!

B is for Branding

A brand is about the way people think, feel and respond when they hear your company name.

Your brand is your mark on the world but it is more than just the logo. It’s one of your company’s most valuable assets.

It needs to be thought out and consistent across all your marketing touch points and this can be the difference between good and great.

You’ve created a ground-breaking brand name and an eye-catching logo, but a strong brand manifests itself in a lot more ways than this.

Colour: Many successful brands can be recognised by colour alone – take Coca-Cola for example, most people could pin-point the exact shade of ‘Coca-Cola red’. Colours have the power to evoke certain emotions and feelings in people so shouldn’t be overlooked in the branding process.

Imagery: Ever been put off by offensive, dull or irrelevant images? Deciding on an image ‘style’ for your brand to use is just as important as choosing a font or colour.

Tone of Voice: Think of your brand like a person, it needs to have its own recognisable, consistent tone of voice. Whether it’s friendly, down-to-earth, ambitious or quirky, the key is picking one and sticking to it.

Considering a rebrand?

Be Honest & Critical: Is your brand holding you back without you even realising it? Now is the time to scrutinize your brand and really evaluate whether it’s as strong as it could be.

Competitor Evaluation: Uncovering what your competitors are and aren’t doing will allow you to gain a better understanding of where you fit into the market.

Goals & Objectives: Your longer-term strategy should be the driver behind your brand. Looking to expand into new markets? Consider how your brand will fit into these markets, or if you’re looking to build customer loyalty, think about the tone of voice your brand will need to portray.

Personality: What does your business stand for? What are its core values? Questions like these will help uncover the personality of your brand and determine how you want to be perceived by your audience.

Customer Expectations: Many consumers rely on their favourite brands to fulfil and exceed their expectations and needs, but how often do you stop and listen to what your customers have to say?

Enforce Rules: Once you’ve established a strong brand, the key to keeping it that way is by enforcing your brand rules at every opportunity. Think of them as instructions, they’ll allow you to protect your brand both internally and externally.

Branding FAQs

How much does branding cost?

Not as much as having a ‘bad’ or ‘outdated’ brand will cost your company in lost sales and reputation! All branding projects are bespoke to your requirements so please get in touch for a no obligation quote.

What do I need to get started?

Invite one of our team to meet you for a Discovery Meeting during which you can tell us where you are now and where you want to be.

What is the process?

Following the Discovery Meeting, we’ll write a brief, from there we’ll share creative concepts including reviewing your direct competitors and other brands your target audience may shop.
Gradually we will evolve your new brand together always involving your team along the way, bringing your new brand to life.

Don’t just take our word for it…

The team at Monitor clearly understood the brief and worked hard to develop something that was in keeping with our ethos and values while adding a touch of ‘magic’ to create a beautiful end result. We were delighted with the resulting concepts and finished collateral.

Brand Marketing Manager

Today’s Group

We felt that Monitor understood us and what we do from day one. We wanted to communicate to people what kind of business ICB is and we think Monitor has done us proud.

Managing Director


Need some expert branding advice? Get in touch to see how we can help you get the most from your branding.

Email marketing tips: how to build campaigns that convert in 2020

Email marketing tips: how to build campaigns that convert in 2020

Almost 300 billion emails are sent every day, so standing out in a crowded inbox is crucial.

The perfect email campaign will catch the recipient’s attention, keep them engaged and give them a clear reason to convert.

Here are our top tips for creating emails that look great, convert high and improve your marketing results in 2020.

1. Email Campaign Basics

Email Campaign Basics

Don’t take past successes as a guarantee of future success. Continuously review, test and analyse your email campaigns to ensure your open and engagement rates remain high.

Subject Lines

Test several elements of your subject lines. Length, personalisation, emojis and writing style can all have an impact. Almost half* of emails are opened on mobile devices, so consider how your subject line appears on smaller screens (most mobile email clients only display the first 30 characters).

Sender Name

The ‘from’ name on an email campaign can have a big impact on open rates. Test brand, team and personal names to see what delivers the best results.

If you’re providing a more personal service, your recipients might react better to an individual’s name rather than a company name.

Pre-Header Text

As mobile usage has increased, this has become a crucial part of any campaign. Use preheader text to give readers additional information, alongside the subject line, that encourages them to open your message.

Build on your subject line with more detailed information that previews your email – but remember, keep it short and attention grabbing.

2. Email Campaign Design

Email Campaign Design

K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple, Stupid

The K.I.S.S design principle has been around for a long time, but it remains true today. Email campaigns need to be simple, allowing recipients to digest information quickly (on average, you only have five seconds to get their attention!).

Before starting any email campaign, establish your objectives and what you’re trying to achieve. Use clear headings and simple copy to make the key messages obvious and ensure any key content is ‘above the fold’ (visible on the user’s screen when the page first loads).

Substance Over Style

Email campaigns don’t have to be a work of art. In general, they have two jobs to do – increasing opens and clicks. Complex and busy emails will lead to recipients turning off, so make your call-to-action obvious and build the content and design around your main objective.

Check the following:

• Have you made it as easy as possible to click or convert?

• Have you provided obvious calls to action?

• Have you ensured the campaign works with images turned off?

• Have you included ALT text on all images?

• Have you removed text from inside images?

Test different call-to-action language, too. Go beyond simply ‘click here’ and ‘read more’ by including positive actions or messages with actionable text. These CTAs are much more effective.

3. Data and Personalisation

Data and Personalisation

The Importance of Data

Your email campaign won’t deliver results if it’s going to the wrong people, so maintain a clean, well-managed database. Regularly remove old email addresses, hard bounces and unsubscribes, and always monitor any replies.

Automate parts of your data management by using freely-available online tools to connect your CRM and email marketing systems.

Advanced Personalisation

While first name personalisation works well on subject lines, consider all the data you hold in your CRM. Use this to create personalised messages based on previous purchasing information, or try segmenting contacts based on their interests.

Using dynamic content in your campaigns allows you to create different variations of the same email – making your email marketing more efficient. For example, you might want to show a different header image to different groups of recipients, or communicate different features and benefits to different audiences.

Are you ready to start improving your email marketing?

Interested in communicating in the best way for your business? Speak to us today to see how we can improve your email marketing results.

*Source: HubSpot

Keeping your show on the road

Keeping your show on the road

As sales teams are prevented from face-to-face meetings, we must all somehow find a way to keep things moving while the face-to-face meetings are taking a breather!

Over the years we’ve developed countless digital presentations and this short video highlights some of the available opportunities to present digitally:

If your existing presentations need updating for conference calls or screen share, we’d love to help you make them as engaging as possible.

5 Ways to Increase Website Search Traffic

5 Ways to Increase Website Search Traffic

If you have just launched a new, beautifully designed website and need to generate search traffic or you’re looking to increase website search traffic to an existing website, here are 5 tips to get you started.

1. Target Keywords

Any website should have a defined list of target keyword terms and phrases. These should be words or phrases that customers use when searching for your products or services.

Once a set of target keywords has been defined, you’re ready to optimise your website for these terms so your website stands the best chance of appearing in search results when potential customers search for your products or services.

Top Tips:

If you’re not already using it, add your website to Google Search Console. This free tool provides a wealth of information and will show you what keywords your website currently ranks for.

Always put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Think about what words or phrases they would typically use to describe your product or service (remember they may not be aware of your company, brand or technical jargon).


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2. Meta Tags

Meta tags are pieces of information which tell search engines and users about the subject matter of each page on your website. Every page on your website should always contain:

Title Tag: Used to specify the title of the page and clearly describe the content of the page. All page titles should be optimised for target keyword term(s) and be no longer than 60 characters in length.

Meta Description: This should be a summary of the page content in no more than 160 characters. As this will be shown to users in search results, treat this as an advert for your page, catch the reader’s attention and sell your page to improve click-through rates!

Top Tip:

Keep your page titles consistent across your website and ensure your target keywords are at the start e.g. {Main Keyword} – {Secondary Keyword} | {Brand or Company Name}

Meta Tags

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Search engines and humans like to read well-structured, easy to read content, so make sure every page on your website is correctly structured using headings and subheadings.

Use heading tags (H1, H2, H3) to indicate headers and ensure content always follows website copywriting best practice (chunking, alignment, proximity).

Top Tips:

Your H1 heading should always describe the content of the page using your target keyword term(s).

Always use plenty of headings in your content, this allows users to easily ‘scan’ the information to find what they are looking for.


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4. User Friendly Mobile Design

Unlike humans, search engines can’t see images displayed on a web page, so information should be provided about each image to explain the subject matter.

ALT Tags: A written description to explain what the image represents. This helps search engines to understand the subject matter of images, it is also useful for users who are visually impaired or have images turned off.

Filenames: Using a description of the image in the filename of the image itself is also a great way of optimising images on a website. Using keyword terms in the filenames of images will help search engines understand the subject matter of images e.g. image_description.jpg as opposed to DSC12345.jpg.

Top Tip:

Always upload images to your website at the correct size and ensure they are compressed using ‘lossless’ compression to reduce their file size.


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5. XML Site Map

An XML sitemap acts as a ‘map’ of your website allowing search engines to easily find all of the pages published on your website. Having an XML sitemap is important because search engines rank individual web pages, not just websites, so making sure all of the pages on a website are easy to crawl is a must.

Top Tip:

Once you have created your XML site map remember to submit it on Google Search Console.

XML Site Map

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If you’re looking to improve your websites performance we’ve created a handy website checklist to get you started.

Need some expert advice?

Get in touch to see how we can help you get the most from your website.

Five tips to bring your Annual Report to life!

Five tips to bring your Annual Report to life!

Using a few different techniques and strong visual aids, bring your Annual Report to life!

Is it time to go digital?

Is it time to go digital?

Publishing a digital version of your Annual Report offers your readers the chance to navigate the document quickly and interact with key content. It also allows a traditionally static document to become more engaging using animations and embedded content such as videos.

Illustration could fit the purpose

Illustration could fit the purpose

Illustrations provide the opportunity to avoid stock or corporate photography through bespoke graphics. If you need an image to communicate a complex or niche topic illustration allows you to visualise this easily and can also align your brand.

Alongside imagery of real events, teams or the office, illustration can help to strengthen the brand’s personality.

A picture says a thousand words

A picture says a thousand words

The use of infographics helps give key numbers and stats more meaning. Sure, 1 billion sounds like a lot, but if it’s grains of sand, it’s not that much! Make sure your reader can process the importance of the data you present.

Combining graphs, numbers and images could breathe life into your Annual Report!

Think about the user journey

Think about the user journey

A person reading your Annual Report probably has a purpose or objective for doing so, they are hunting for key pieces of information. Providing a clear navigation or contents with clearly labelled titles can really help your readers find what they are looking for.

Stats. Case Studies. Action!

Stats. Camera. Action!

Struggling to showcase the CEO’s annual review in all its glory? Using video footage or recorded interviews is great for helping make content easier to digest and more engaging for the reader.

Use animated stats, video quotes and statements to capture your audience’s attention.

Just imagine the potential your Annual Report has now!

Monitor is an independent creative agency who help our clients communicate with impact in ways that are best for their business. Take a look at some of our recent work or get in touch!

*Please note that your company’s abbreviated reports, or full reports that legally have to be declared on Companies House are not open to unique styling, branding or personalisation (unfortunately!)

Get in touch to find out how our experience and ideas can transform your brand.

We are experts in design, digital and motion, speak to one of the team today to get started.