Website navigation: the best investment you can make?

Understanding user journeys and website navigation is key to maximising your website’s financial return.

Website navigation and user experience are two of the most important aspects of your website’s performance. But for many organisations, the focus falls elsewhere – with significantly negative results.

Why is website navigation so important?

Good website navigation will reduce your bounce rate, increase visitor numbers, enhance your search visibility on platforms like Google, and drive up inbound enquiries and conversions.

On the flip side, getting it wrong can hinder your chances of progress in all those areas. Here are two of the most frequent mistakes we see:

  • Doing something different. We all use the internet every day and we’re subconsciously trained in what we expect from the websites we visit. If your site doesn’t meet those expectations, it will likely immediately confuse your users. So don’t get fancy: make sure your navigation bar is at the top of your website, and that menu items are clear and unambiguous.

  • Using design that is too busy. Don’t overwhelm your visitors with cluttered, disorganised page layouts or too many choices. Consider someone who is arriving on your site for the first time. Focus on your key message and most popular services and make sure the visitor can quickly understand your main offerings within seconds of landing on your homepage.

User experience is constantly evolving

At Monitor, we’ve recently updated our own website navigation. We wanted to make it easier for our visitors to find our service pages.

By making those website updates, we helped users quickly find an answer to their biggest question: “What do you do?” It’s a question your website visitors are probably asking, too.

Think of your website like a shop window. The biggest brands invest in dressing their high street windows in the most appealing way possible.

Why? Because shoppers will walk past a poor, confusing or frustrating display. But a great display that’s eye-catching and easy to understand will attract people into the store. Your website is the same.

By taking time to constantly review, evolve and update your site to best serve your users, you’re investing in your business’s future performance.

What better investment could you make?

Book a free, no obligation 30-minute discovery meeting

Get an initial user experience review by booking a free 30-minute discovery meeting with our team in Manchester to find out more. It’s completely informal, with absolutely no obligation on your part.

Happy World Social Media Day!

As we celebrate a powerful world of online connections,
it’s clear social media is now an essential part of B2B marketing and relationship building.

June 30th

In 2020, digital kept the world turning. As every aspect of our lives was upended by the Covid-19 pandemic, it was digital activity that ensured any semblance of normality for businesses facing circumstances they’d never seen before.

So if there were any lingering doubts about the value of social media and digital marketing activity, last year was the year they were finally put to the sword.

Social media’s key role in modern-day business

Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen social media dominate online activity. It’s been a crucial link to the outside world for isolated professionals removed from their offices and forced to work from home. But it has also moved well beyond simply providing a daily ‘water cooler’ moment.

It has become an essential part of any effective marketing mix, supporting and amplifying the role of a company’s website to build connections and collaborations at dizzying speeds.

Social media makes every business global

In 2020, we saw social media literally keep businesses alive by spreading the word about crucial GoFundMe campaigns.

We know from working with our own clients how globalised social media has made business activity. Spreading the word has never been easier. Businesses are now reaching audiences and markets that would simply have been out of the question just 10 years ago.

Even platforms like TikTok, which were not traditionally associated with business activity, are becoming part of the B2B conversation. And it’s not hard to see why. At every turn, social media has facilitated relationships, partnerships and even acquisitions.

Look at LinkedIn alone. It’s importance is now unquestionable in any organisation aiming to grow its customers, sales and profits in 2021 and beyond.

As we celebrate World Social Media Day 2021, make sure your social media strategy is robust, engaging and aligned with your business objectives. And if it isn’t… call us!

Book a free, no obligation 30-minute discovery meeting

What could an effective, well-planned and commercially sensitive social media strategy do for your organisation? Book a free 30-minute discovery meeting (virtual or face-to-face) with our team in Manchester to find out more. It’s completely informal, with absolutely no obligation on your part.

Email marketing for member comms: a 12 point checklist

Turbocharge engagement and understanding with excellent design and proven email best practices.

Email marketing remains one of the most powerful forms of communication available to any membership or comms department. It is a direct line of communication between you and each individual member you serve. A well designed email can quickly help you:

  • Convey important news in a timely manner
  • Stimulate engagement on key campaigns
  • Encourage membership participation on important issues
  • Explain key services and benefits with clarity and ease
  • Drive conversions to new revenue streams

Essential email marketing design principles

This checklist is designed to help you boost your open rates, click-throughs and overall membership engagement in all your email marketing campaigns. Follow all 12 steps and you’ll have a significantly higher chance of success!

The visuals

1. Spend time creating an email template that is completely aligned with your brand. Incorporate your precise brand colours and fonts, as well as your logo and links to your website and social accounts. The aim is to deliver a seamless user experience that does not in any way jar with the rest of your comms.

2. Keep user experience at the front of your mind. Include plenty of white space and make sure paragraphs are short, scannable and easily navigated with clear and effective sub-headings.

3. If you need to explain how to do something (perhaps showing how to use a part of your website), consider creating a GIF and embedding it in your email. Quick visual demonstrations are incredibly powerful.

4. With so many screen sizes now in use (smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops), responsive design is simply essential. Do not send any email that does not adjust to your reader’s viewing experience.

The copy

5. Include obvious and compelling calls-to-action (hint: if you find yourself writing ‘Click Here’, you’re doing it wrong!) and make it easy for your reader to click.

6. First name personalisation might seem relatively basic, but it is proven to work – so use it.

7. Keep your subject lines short and punchy. No more than 30 characters is a good guide, given how many people now read email on their phones.

8. Don’t forget the pre-header text. Apart from your subject line, this is your only chance to entice your audience to open your email. Use it.

The details

9. Make sure every image has a supporting ALT text.

10. Check your email works with images turned off. This is a simple but commonly overlooked test.

11. Unsubscribe buttons might be scary, but they are also a legal requirement. Do not try to hide them by making them unreadably small. Be honest and transparent about how a reader can unsubscribe. This builds trust among readers who stick around – and helps you clear your list of readers who simply don’t want to hear from you.

12. If your list is big enough, an A/B test can help you understand the power of different approaches in your subject line, design or anything else. Just remember: an A/B test only provides useful learnings if you only change one thing between Email A and Email B. If you change three things between your two emails, you will never know which of those three things is responsible for the difference in performances.

Book a free, no obligation, 30 minute discovery meeting

What could email marketing do for your organisation? Book a free 30-minute discovery meeting (virtual or face-to-face) with our team in Manchester to find out more. It’s completely informal, with absolutely no obligation on your part.

Book your discovery meeting today.

Content & SEO: the key to boosting organic traffic

When it comes to organic lead generation, don’t overlook the classics. SEO and content marketing continue to get great results.

Understanding the history of content marketing

Content marketing is nothing new. In fact, it’s been around for more than 100 years.

Think of the 400-page Michelin guidebooks published in 1900. They were a vast bank of content designed to promote the tyres that would be needed to visit each of the restaurants they recommended.

So while some might think of content marketing as a recent development, it isn’t. Even online content marketing is now at least 20 years old.

But why has it lasted so long? It’s simple. Because it works.

Is content marketing still growing?

In short, yes.

Today, 84% of companies have a defined content marketing strategy – a figure that’s up 7% in just one year. WordPress users publish 70 million new posts a month. And 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing.

Yet content marketing isn’t always a quick win. It takes thought, time and effort to execute well. Perhaps that’s why the number one strategic content management challenge identified by companies in 2020 was having enough staff skilled in content strategy.

However, when content marketing is done well it can have a lasting impact on your site’s organic lead generation.

Why does content marketing work?

Good content marketing helps to simultaneously drive traffic and build your company’s reputation.

If your post ranks strongly in organic SEO results, it is likely to be seen as trustworthy and reliable. Trust is much higher in organic results than it is in paid results, where consumers are aware brands can ‘buy’ a prominent listing without necessarily deserving it.

Well-optimised content is also great for driving extra traffic through pay-per-click (PPC) or social media activity.

It is one of the most effective organic lead generation techniques, allowing you to target high-intent customers who are well advanced on the customer journey.

Don’t fall for these old SEO myths

When it comes to SEO, you can find a thousand different voices offering a thousand different opinions. At Monitor, all our SEO and content marketing practices are driven by ongoing study of key factors such as the Google algorithm. Here are some myths we commonly hear – and know to be false.

Good content has to be long

Over recent years, the trend for long posts has grown stronger and stronger. Today, you’ll regularly see posts as long 2,000 or 3,000 words. Sometimes they even hit 10,000 words! But short content can be extremely valuable and recognised as such by Google. The key is to remember the true value for the audience. A hundred words packed with valuable information is better than 5,000 words of waffle.

Keyword stuffing is the only thing that works

Wrong! This technique might have worked in the late 90s or early 2000s. But today, Google’s algorithm is much, much smarter. Write for humans, not for robots. That is by far the best advice we can give when it comes to keyword placements.

Running PPC ads will buy you favouritism from Google

No, it won’t. No matter how much you pump into your ad spend, Google will not return the favour by artificially promoting your other content higher in its search results. You’ll have to earn every single visitor you get from organic traffic.

You should publish content every day

You should publish content when you have something intelligent, useful and worthwhile to say. Fewer pieces of content packed with value will generate a lot more traction than an endless stream of lightweight noise.

Book a free, no obligation 30-minute discovery meeting

Do you need help with your content marketing and SEO?

Book a free 30-minute discover-e meeting with our team in Manchester to talk through your options. It’s completely informal, with absolutely no obligation on your part.

Book your discovery meeting today.

V is for Value Proposition – Standing out in the crowd

Get your value proposition right and the results can be profound. Your place in the market is set and it becomes easier to generate interest, sales and brand loyalty. But what exactly is a value proposition? And how can you make yours strong and distinctive?

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition is the central part of a company’s marketing strategy. It is a short, concise statement that expresses the value of the company’s product or service.

Strong value propositions also highlight the product’s or service’s point of difference. This enables the company to stand out in a crowded market, generate more interest and secure more sales.

Once a value proposition (VP) is in place, the marketing strategy can be shaped to strategically deliver the key messages of the VP.

Why is a value proposition important?

Imagine your marketing strategy as a bicycle wheel. Each spoke is a different element of your activity. One could represent your website. Another could represent your email campaigns, another your SEO, another your paid ads, and so on.

Your value proposition is the central hub of the wheel. Without it, the spokes have nothing to attach themselves to. They do not have a single unified message from which they can all work to build the strength of your brand and your company’s bottom line.

Think of your value proposition as an elevator pitch. It succinctly summarises the value you offer your customers. If it is done well, it expresses that value in a memorable way that also differentiates you from your competitors.

Very rarely, value propositions are such a hit that they even become part of mainstream culture. Think of this value proposition for M&M’s: “The chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

What does a good value proposition look like?

It is important to understand that a good value proposition is not simply a marketing slogan. Just Do It, for example, is one of the most famous marketing slogans in the world. But it is not a value proposition.

Here’s a particularly strong value proposition from Uber:

How to write a value proposition

Writing a value proposition can be a deceptively difficult challenge. It requires a deep analysis of your product or service and what makes it different. And because of the Curse of Knowledge, this can be even harder for people to identify when they work with that product or service all day, every day.

Here’s the process in brief:

Competitor analysis

Without understanding where your competitors are positioning themselves, it is impossible to accurately spot the opportunities for differentiation.

Internal research

Survey your staff. Set up a brainstorming session. Ask for opinions during informal ‘water cooler’ chats. It doesn’t matter how you do it. The important thing is that you get a feel for what your staff think is the value you offer.

If you hear a consistent message coming through, this could go a long way to shaping your final value proposition. And if you hear lots of mixed messages, you’ll be alert to the fact that more work is necessary to give your brand the identity it needs.

Shape your thoughts

When you analyse them carefully, most value propositions follow a similar structure involving benefits, value and differentiation. With your research complete, it’s time to start work on your first draft.

Iterate

Don’t just settle on your first attempt. Refine each version until you have a) complete alignment and agreement across your organisation and b) a marketing department fired up by thoughts of what it could achieve with a new value proposition it believes in.

Here’s Monitor’s value proposition:

Book a free, no obligation 30-minute Discover(e) meeting

Ready to get started on shaping your new value proposition?

Book a free 30-minute discover-e meeting (virtual via Zoom or Teams) with our team in Manchester to talk through your options. It’s completely informal, with absolutely no obligation on your part.

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.

PPC

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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

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

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

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:
moray@monitorcreative.co.uk
0161 743 0980

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