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Why are domain names so important for your business?

Your domain name is an integral part of your positive business image because it forms part of your online identity. Consumers now link your online persona with who you are as a business. Your domain is something that connects your audience with who you are and quite literally helps them to find you on the internet.

Once upon a time, companies made their wads of cash away from the internet.  Even when the online world seeped into every corner of our life, websites weren’t an integral part of business until very recently. Right up to the early noughties, you could still get away with owning a legitimate business and not bothering with a website. Now, if you don’t have a website most of your audience will think you aren’t a proper company, and their already shaky trust will start to crumble.

Why? Because every one of your customers will carry out a background check on you, like a digital Sherlock Holmes. Consumers have been around the block and aren’t the naïve customers of old, so their first impression of you will always be wary until proven otherwise.

First things first

When you set up your company one of the first things you think about is your business name because it tells someone in one clever sound bite who you are and what you do. Your domain name is part of that brand story and increasingly influences not just your online consumers but buying behaviour outside of the internet.

Why? Because, like it or not, appearances matter and first impressions stay with your customers for a lifetime. Customers now judge you both online and offline, they will take time to look you up and scrutinise if you are the sort of company that fits their business objectives or even personal viewpoints.

One of the first things they’ll notice when they search for you is your domain name. They’ll then build their impression from your domain as they flick through your website, look at your business card or send you an email. Domain names to branding are a bit like the foundation bricks to a house, take one out or leave a gap and the whole structure could come down. And just like a house, if you start your branding on dodgy footing it will affect the quality and durability of your business.

Trust issues

A domain name also adds much-needed credibility to your business image because it shows you care about quality and being professional. It’s a tough world out there and customers are very quick to snub you if they think you’re lacking the basic hallmarks that make up a modern business – and in 2018 that includes your domain.

For established customers, it’s about keeping your image going or evolving your brand but for new customers, it’s about trust. An audience that doesn’t know you won’t trust you without a bit of solid reassurance. New customers walk into your brand image with a healthy amount of cynicism and it’s your job to unpick preconceptions and build up a positive image as they stumble across who you are and do a little digging.

Think about it this way – if you aren’t willing to invest time and money into your own domain name, why should your audience invest in you? And be in no doubt that customers who see half-hearted branding will assume you are putting the same effort into your products and services.

Brand on the wall

Your domain name is also an integral part of your business image and should feed into your core branding principles. A good domain name is like the first bite of your favourite dessert, unforgettable because it was the first taste of the entire experience. So when you get the first few seconds right with your audience, the positive impression your customers have will stay ingrained as they start buying from you or working with you.

Your audience is also being grabbed and manhandled by every single marketing campaign going. Your audience’s attention is saturated and fleeting, so you need to do everything in your capacity to make sure you stand out in the snowstorm.

When your domain name matches your company name it reinforces your brand and its presence in the market as a serious competitor. And if you buy the domain name early, it can stop competitors from taking the name or non-competitors using your name and diluting your brand image for your online audience.

Good tip – Your brand name won’t just affect your domain, it’ll also dictate your email address, logo and business cards. Make sure you aren’t the only person who understands your witty pun or can pronounce it on the phone.

Does what it says on the tin

And your domain name doesn’t actually need to be your business name, B&Q famously have www.diy.com.

But why choose a domain name that isn’t your business name? When you choose a domain name that matches what you do it can attract walk-in business who are searching for your services. It can also cement you as the leader in the field, especially if you were savvy enough to get the domain name before your competitors.

Some people have several domain names to simplify the brand message for their customers. For example,  you’re a company that sells different services and each service has a very different audience, creating a different domain name and landing pages will help keep your brand strong and stop your audiences from straying to competitors who specialise in your products.

The two-domain game is also a good idea if you have a successful business but also want to develop your own personal brand and secure yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Say for example you’re the best hairdresser this side of Manchester and you have quite a good following on your personal social media for your kooky cuts and colourful barber life. The next logical step is to actually create two domain names, one for your business and one for your personal brand. Both domain names should connect to each other and let your follwers or customers see both what you do and who you are.

People always want to know the face behind the brand and having a separate domain for individuals within businesses is quickly becoming the norm. And although having a domain name that explains what you do can add to your brand value, try not to pick a common word or phrase. The domain name will very likely be taken and you’ll have to shell out far too much just to get it from the person who bought it.

Ready Steady Cook

In the end, there are several business stages that are about preference more than necessity. There are some that are set in stone like setting up bank accounts, tax registration, insurance, compliant product development and trademarks. When you don’t take time to invest and mitigate, you could seriously harm your business by not taking core business stages seriously.

If you don’t invest in a domain your business won’t shut down overnight, but you will lose clients without even knowing it, negatively affecting your image along the way. It’s a branding tale as old as time – customers will always choose the company who visibly cares about how their business runs, and part of that story is investing time and money in your domain name.

Psst! Did you know that we aren’t just awesome website designers? We’re also a dab hand at brand development and digital marketing. If you need help rebranding or strengthening your business image, give us a ring and we’ll take you through our think, design, create process here at Bamboo.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Everyone loves a good digital freebie, right? But what is the cost of free when you are the product?

Are we questioning what ‘free’ actually means? We are so happy with our techy goodie bags that we are guilty of ignoring whether companies are offering free services out of the goodness of their hearts or whether they’re actually using us as the product.

The land of the free

We at Bamboo are web designers and digital creatives so we naturally have a boundless love for all things internet. But, what the internet was when it was first flung into our lives is very different from what it is now in the shiny world of 2018.

The people that created the internet had a lot of well-meaning ideals and created something mindbendingly revolutionary for our age. They built the internet because they wanted to create a free and plateaued information network that anyone in the world could access. They hoped one day that very open information forum would quite literally free people so that we could all gain access to education, improve our health, connect us as one planet and bring about the evolution of humankind. And the internet did just that, an earth-shattering achievement that should make anyone sit back in their seat.

At its best, the world wide web is a digital eutopia, but the internet also has a much more sinister side and like all perfect things us humans got involved and made it not so perfect.

Moneymaker

One way we brought the internet crashing back down to reality is by using the internet as a vehicle for business. As soon as capitalism crept into the seams, equal and free information was bound to wither. There are of course the internet warriors out there who invent systems or tools and release them to the public for free because they want to do good, but there a lot of people who pretend to do that very thing while making a shed load from their users – and that extends to apps, websites, search engines and online services.

To paraphrase the US free market columnist, Milton Friedman ‘There ain’t no such thing as free searching’ and that’s because most free digital products or services make their money by selling on your information and/or advertising to you. The likes of Google and Facebook sell our browsing behaviour onto third parties who then use that to target you more effectively through advertising. Facebook and the Silicon Valley gang then reuse your information to show you those very adverts, thanks to their clever little algorithms who pick up what you click on, write about or hover over.

When companies hoover up our browsing history or the very words we type to sell to someone else, we as people become the commodity. There are many of us that know but don’t care and are willing to take the risk so we can use kick-ass tools and services for free. The problem is though that companies aren’t being transparent so we don’t realise the true extent of how much these companies know about us and sell on to third parties. The very fact that we open our arms up to digital surveillance without questioning it should also ring huge privacy alarm bells for anyone blissfully scrolling through their apps.

Let’s Play

Even if we are sitting ducks and are seen more as dollar signs than users, we must surely be able to choose companies that don’t do that right? Correct, but the problem is that those companies are in the minority, and are losing the battle against some of the worst offenders out there who have eaten up the market.

To give you an example of some standard dastardly practices, we need to look no further than the search engine school bully, Google. The EU recently fined the tech giant £3.4 billion for strong-arming smartphone manufacturers to build Google’s search engine into their phones. How? They refused access to Google Play for any smartphone manufacturer that didn’t build in their search engine. They also took away consumer choice by denying smartphone manufacturers the freedom to choose competitor search systems that Google hadn’t approved.

Google did this because people don’t usually download competitor search engines, they’re more likely to use an already installed one, which meant that Google was able to eat up 80% of the mobile search engine market by forcing manufacturers to use them or be burned by them. It’s also not the only fine they’ve received, the EU slapped them with another £2.1 bn penalty after finding Google skewed the market in favour of their internet shopping service.

The search engine and other digital titans are willing to risk court cases over their illegal behaviour because the potential profit is always higher than the fines incurred. When Google has 80% of the smartphone market they are a literally the God of information and can sell their data loot to the highest bidder. So why wouldn’t they breach a few pesky EU regulations?

The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal is, of course, another colossal revelation into how our beloved apps and social platforms continuously flout our privacy rights as citizens while working in the moneymaking shadows.

And that is the real problem, companies thinking they could do business above the law and users assuming that companies conducted their affairs within the law. In the past, we inherently trusted Facebook, Google et al. much more than we trusted our own governments when we should’ve actually been very cautious of them. We trusted them because they were part of the golden internet generation when mega digital titans could rise up from bedrooms and college dorms, where tech masterminds were inventing tools to improve humankind. But those companies are now wealthier than countries, and that power can be consuming. So they began to act like countries or even Gods, and that is when we and our governments stepped in to protect our freedoms.

Braveheart

It’s a funny state of affairs when the internet, which was supposed to bring power to the individual, is used to strip freedom from users to such an extent that governments have to step in to protect those freedoms by controlling rampant misuse.

And in these pragmatic times, we all know that companies need to make money and can’t operate on lovely hippy ideals, but what we must fight for transparency and our rights to know what companies are doing with our information.

So even if we are the product we should still know exactly what that means and be able to choose how much companies use our data to make money. But we also need to fight for the internet and stop governments killing the very thing that makes the internet magical. A delicate digital tightrope between wanting the internet to be free and being protected from the people that abuse that freedom. We need to step up and proactively find out what’s happening to our data and use that knowledge to stop the tide when one side goes too far and we as users suffer.

One thing that’s clear is we as users are now firmly awake and won’t fall back into our old ignorant slumber. We now know that although we might be products we are also people with governments who won’t forget that the internet belongs to all of us.


Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Marketing affects most of your business and is much more multifaceted than just wacking out a few posters.  Marketing is basically the bones to your business strategy and includes your pricing, planning, market research, product distribution, advertising and promotion. Having a good think about what your marketing budget is and planning it out with your team is essential if you want to grow or stay competitive and relevant.

And when you think of marketing promotion, you have to think about the whole project from the creative brief to copywriting, photography and graphic design.

As a general rule of thumb, companies should spend around 5% of their earnings on marketing, but of course, that figure can go up and down depending on how you normally attract your customers and what you have planned.

Prettyfull

The most logical way to tackle marketing is to think of it as pre-sales. So many people think it floats about on a creative cloud firing off seriously expensive brochures now and again. Marketing is not fluffy or superfluous, it is there to set up your sales and run in partnership with the sales and finance team.

From the moment your business is active and running and whether you know it or not, all of your team is carrying out marketing activities. The finance department’s projection and pricing structures? Marketing. The sales team and their plans to start hard selling in Europe? Marketing. The factory manager who’s streamlining his processes and upscaling his workforce? Marketing.

The real problem is that if you don’t know that this is marketing, then you haven’t got a strategy. And when you don’t have a strategy the business model can be filled with potholes and unnecessary complications. Don’t worry though, it’s fixable.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to find a marketing strategy, budget for it and stick to it –

Step 1. – What marketing categories you need for your business

So you’ve put in a marketing brainstorming meeting with your team, now what? Your first step is to add structure to the creative process. Avoid meetings where ideas are chucked on the board but nothing gets done after.

How? Well, there are several finite marketing categories that should factor into your budgeting decisions and should be part of your agenda – that’s because each category will help you forecast correctly for your business and understand what you need for each project.

The following are categories that should always be in a marketing strategy and part of the overall business plan:

  • market research
  • product planning and development
  • financial projections
  • production and pricing objectives
  • distribution methods
  • advertising
  • promotions and public relations

Each category will be more or less important per business depending on what you do and what your objectives are, but all of them should be considered when you budget. The categories can also be used as a step-by-step process for specific business projects, for example if you are planning on branching out into international markets or want to launch a new product.

Step 2. – Think about marketing subcategories

The next step is to think about each campaign or project you’re doing and what you specifically need. Often with the more creative elements of marketing you’ll need many different skills, from copywriting to design.

Say for example you want to create a website. Do you have the content for the website already? Do you have appropriate photos, or a creative brief locked down? If you don’t have any of these things, that’s fine, but you need to allocate time and budget for them.

And often you’ll need to use external services to help you achieve your marketing goals, especially if your marketing team is small or you don’t have one. Make sure you factor how much websites cost or how much copywriters normally charge within your budget.

Step 3. – Take it on a test drive

When you’ve done all the hard graft, it’s time to fling your plan into action. Let the team use it as the base for everything they are working on and contact agencies with your marketing planning documents in mind.

Top tip: make sure your marketing plans evolve. Marketing budgets shouldn’t be stuck in the mud, they should be flexible because business and priorities take on lives of their own and change with the financial winds. That doesn’t mean that if you allocated 10k for market research or 7k to a website build that your team is allowed to spend 30k, it just means that any project needs to have the capacity to be adapted.

And if you are worried about overspending develop a culture of review.  One way of doing this is by having quarterly planning meetings, where the sales and finance team are included. You can then go over marketing activities, which ones worked, which didn’t and the move the budget around accordingly.

In the end, only you can know how much you need to spend on each marketing category. But by taking the time to understand what your objectives are and what each marketing activity involves, it can help you understand all the elements of your projects and stop you from raiding the last coins in the budgeting chest.

Psst! Did you know that we aren’t just exceptionally amazing website developers? We also offer copywriting, graphic design, photography and social media services as a complete digital marketing package. Interested? Contact us for a chat.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash, Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Let me firstly start off by saying that apps are fantastic when done correctly. They can be a really useful tool and can help to seriously grow a brand and engage with your audience.

Apps are integral to our modern lives and we use our handy smartphone apps to help us navigate through our ever busier and complicated lives. So when a company gets it bang on with their app, it can produce some truly fantastic results.

But this is where a lot of businesses fall down the rabbit hole because apps are so important for their audience they think that they automatically need to build one for themselves. This trigger-happy app mentality sees a lot of companies failing to think through their strategy before chucking tens of thousands into an app that is hardly used and not performing to its optimum.

You just need to scroll through Google Play or the App Store to see the trend as clear as day. Thousands of hardly downloaded apps sit pretty and wait to be used, like the wallflowers at the smartphone school dance waiting for a suiter to take a chance and download them.

Game of life

But even when your app finally gets downloaded, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the user is going to stay active. We live in fickle digital times where app loyalty is a hard thing to earn, and so as soon as the download takes place it’s pretty much a fight to the death to keep the user engaged and using the app on a regular basis.

Think about it this way – how many apps do you use in a month? Before you say loads, think about which ones you use and when. I would hazard a guess that you use more than one app every day but that they are often the same ones.

Take my own beloved app usage as a litmus test, I would say I use 5-8 apps on a monthly basis, which include:

Daily:

  • Google Maps
  • WhatsApp
  • Fb messenger
  • RBS online banking
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Slack

Occasional:

  • The Trainline
  • WeTransfer
  • Bitly
  • Eventbrite
  • Meetup
Just to put that into context, I sometimes use (i.e. once or twice a month) some of the biggest apps out there, because they are only useful to me on occasion. I don’t even have many niche, start-up apps on my phone, only well-known apps that serve a purpose.

People download an average of 1-3 apps per month and use an average 0.5 of those apps once downloaded. Why? Because the market is so competitive and there are already some fantastic apps out there. Customers are basically spoilt for choice and only engage with apps that make their lives better in an immediate and tangible way.

This might seem kind of gloomy, but when you build your own app you are basically hedging your bets on very low engagement stats from your audience which any bookie worth their salt would tell you is a high-risk investment.

If you’re going to invest in building an app then you better be sure that it’s going to be the best thing since sliced bread. And what I mean by that is great user experience and that your app is truly useful for the person who is going to download it.

Building an app is the equivalent of choosing to play a game of Russian roulette and thinking that you have a good chance of not dying. Sometimes it’s best to not take a gamble, especially when the risk is unnecessary and there are other options available to you.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-app, they are my favourite digital obsession. But they are also complex beasts and need have a great idea behind them that has undergone solid researching and strategic thinking – and that’s without any snazzy branding and slick back-end coding.

Question time

So if you’re starting to think that you need an app for my customers to use, the first thing you should actually be asking yourself is – do I really need it?

If your mobile-enabled website can perform the same function as your prospective app, you could be saving yourself a wad full of cash by ditching your app idea. For example, you want to create an app so that people can access personal or confidential information and you also want to put some interesting marketing tools or industry-related articles on their too. If you create a member’s portal on your website that is only accessible with a password, it can perform this very function at a fraction of the price and will be accessible on multiple devices, not just a smartphone.

And before you steam ahead and contact an agency, you need to tick three boxes for your app idea –

  1. It serves a specific purpose that your website can’t fulfil
  2. The app is useful for your intended audience
  3. It’s interactive (i.e. has tools, functions, games, videos etc.)

If your app doesn’t tick all 3 then throw your app idea in the digital bin and get cracking on improving your website usability.

Another great tip is to actually ask your audience. If you are going to be spending upwards of 20 thousand on an app, it’s well worth the time to ask your customers what they would like to see from the app you are building. Not only will it help you to build an app that is completely tailored around your potential users, it will also help you to raise awareness of your app before you’ve even built it.

Top of the Pops

There are only a handful of apps that actually hit the nail on the head by achieving great engagement and building a true membership base, the rest float around on Google Play and have the engagement levels of a digital graveyard. So before you invest, really think about if the app will do what is says on the tin and if your audience will care enough to use it.

And if after this article you are still 100% adamant that you should build an app for your business, then I would say throw caution to the wind and build that app. Who knows, it might make our lives easier and more hassle-free in the process.

 

Psst! Did you know that us Bamboo wizards can create pretty nifty mobile-enabled portal pages on your website? Before building that app, have a chat with us about what magic coding formulas with can sprinkle over your website.


Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

So you’ve set up shop and you are doing well for yourself, you’ve got a steady stream of loyal customers who refer you to anyone within hearing distance, for now you’re sitting pretty.

But you’re a business person and you know it isn’t good to rest on your laurels and rely on plan A without having a B and C thoroughly worked out. You know that the next inevitable step to keep the cash a-flowing is doing a bit of marketing and so it’s high time to get on the online branding train and start raising your ‘online presence’, which means creating or improving your company website.

Internally though you’re rolling your eyes, you’ve got this creeping suspicion that it might actually not be worth the investment, especially if you’re doing well without it, right?

Trust me

First things first, websites aren’t just a money-making machine (although all websites should perform this function to some extent). If you get most of your clients through referral then your website’s primary goal is to confirm what your referee is saying about you. Kind of like an online backup, a trust-o-meter.

People generally like to fact check and have third-party assurance, and one way they do that is to Google you. If for example your referee has told your potential customer that you have a shed load of experience designing bespoke metalwork for bars in the city centre. So they do a little search on you and find a gaggle of case studies on your site which talk about those very projects, which backs up the claim and makes you look like a specialised expert. Or say you’re a jack-of-all-trades and have press releases, case studies and testimonials showing exactly that, then the customer will find it and think Aha, just as I was told!

Your website is part of your customer service and using it to forge a positive customer experience acts as the first building block for a trusting business relationship. And that first brick happens before they even getting get in touch with you because your website is basically carrying out the first customer service step by just floating about on the internet.

Are you alright?

And in this digitally switched-on world most people will check you out online. And when they do, they’ll use it to form part of their opinion on your company by looking for your website, social channels and third-party review sites.  If you have no online trace, they will start thinking one of two things –

  1. There is something wrong with you
  2. You aren’t moving with the times

The particularly judgemental people among us, will probably think both. And if you are lucky enough to have clients that don’t care if you have a website or not, who just want to see honest work done properly, then fantastic. But times are a-changing, so the next bout of clients from the infamous millennial pool or generation Z will care.

Think of it this way – every person who looks you up and doesn’t find you is a missed opportunity. A website could’ve either helped the potential customer identify who you are in the market or decide whether they should spend money with you.

Back in 5 minutes

Having said that, no website is always better than having a bad website. My personal web design pet peeve is the ‘this website is under construction’ landing page – the equivalent of airing your dirty laundry in public, nobody needs to see it and it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you are working on your site but you want people to know that you care about your online presence, then use your social channels as a proxy. Especially Twitter and LinkedIn, which have great Google rankings and will help show your professional face in public. As long as people can find a trace of you and are able to discern your principles then you are absolutely fine and dandy.

While I’m on a roll, another cardinal website crime is sites that aren’t mobile friendly or bring you out in a sweat just trying to navigate through it. The whole point of a website is to show your best business self, and so the website needs to navigate like a dream, function well and look like you are ahead of the crowd. If your website isn’t doing that, bring it down for now and work on it, or better yet get the Bamboo boys to step in.

Dollar signs

Once you have your website up and running and it’s strutting its stuff on Google, it’s effectively acting as a free advertising beacon. It cost a lot of money to regularly advertise in trade magazines and industry journals, and so if you get your SEO bang on and write relevant content, you will help guide the flock right to your website and your brand with no extra money spent. Think of your website as full-page Ad spreads that have a potentially global and niche audience.

And if you’re willing to loosen those purse strings you can get cracking on some Google Ads campaigns which, when done right, can be cheaper than traditional advertising and reap better rewards or return on investment.

Not sure how? Ask us if you like, and we’ll help you give it a whirl.

Lead the way

Your website is also a chance for you to show who you are to the outside world and have some sort of control over what they see. This may sound slightly creepy, but if you are truthful then it doesn’t have to be dodgy.

For example, if you manufacture products that are hands down the best in the market, then tell your audience! Put up all the snazzy accreditations you’ve achieved and explain to them what makes your product the bees-knees. When you create sharp, crisp copy that lets you flaunt your best attributes it sets your company apart from the rest.

Or let’s say that you produce some pretty delicious cakes and sell them locally, you are doing well but you want to keep building awareness in the region. You actually really care about supporting local producers to make those cakes, so you buy your eggs and milk from the local farm shop and you purchase your flour from a fellow small and local business. Your first port of call is to tell your audience exactly that! because the type of customers that buy from you will care that you support local causes and will more likely become loyal and tell other people about you. It also strengthens your brand identity, so when people think of you they think of delicious cake and wholesome business practices.

Look into my eyes

If the eyes are the window the soul, then websites are the online doors to your business.

In the end, your website is part of your professional image and is important to get right for any size business. A good website can bring more business to your door, help elevate your brand, set you apart from the rest and provide a back up to what your established customers are already saying about you. And who wouldn’t want that?


Photo by Miguel Sousa on Unsplash

We recently posted a blog about GDPR, and how the new regulations are going to affect how you contact your most loyal customers and your potential leads. But GDPR is going to change a lot more than that, it’s going to change how people interact with marketing content, how they come across it and in turn engage with your brand.

Because we all can’t spam our contact list anymore we need to rethink how we interact with and interest our audiences in what we do. A great (and compliant) way to do that is to use your blog to its full extent. If you don’t have one, put it on your to-do list, because having a blog on your website can create some seriously good results for your business.

Have I got news for you

Blogs are a great way to drive traffic to your website because your news and posts have lots of useful words that fly into Google and get picked up by anyone typing queries that match your content.

Say for example you own a restaurant and your write a blog about the best cake recipes of the season, someone might be searching for a birthday cake with trendy flavours, come across your website, look at the menu, like it and book a table for their birthday bash.

Google also enjoys a good blog because it loves nothing better than good quality content, so the clever little Google algorithms will favour your website above others on search rankings because you are writing relevant information that Google knows people want to find. Your content is like a magic door for Google, you help their bots link their users to the information they are looking for.

It makes sense really because if Google is sending people to the wrong sites and those sites start to generate eye-popping bounce rates, Google users are more likely to use another search engine that guides them to the right information.

You are basically doing Google a huge favour when you write up a blog and post regularly, it knows your website is active and that you have enough keywords to interest the person looking for your exact topic, so it lifts you right up the search chain and attract website visitors who aren’t necessarily looking for your brand but would be interested in what you do. An online SEO tango and a match made in heaven.

But be careful, writing keywords just for Google is a big no-no, and Google is training its bots to spot blogs or websites that are just trying to drive traffic. It also doesn’t create the best relationship with your customers. The digitally savvy Joe Bloggs knows what you are up to and will make you seem conceited and only interested in bringing them to your site. It’s actually a mutual respect thing, if you show that you value what your customers care about they will in turn value what you do.

1 in a million

You also set the tone for your brand when you concentrate on your blog. It’s not a coincidence that the blog or news section often has high web traffic. People want to understand your backstory and what you are about and want to know if you have the same beliefs and values as them. The blog should always be part of your whole brand image and provide a holistic view of who you are, with the ultimate goal of encouraging engagement and loyalty from your audience.

Say you are an organic cheesemaker and want to attract the more alternative people your area, writing blogs about the environment, local collectives and social cooperatives will not only ensure your star cheddar flies off the shelves but also matches your brand voice to your audience, heightening awareness in the local area as you go.

It’s also important to not just make up an image to attract a certain type of person. People are very content savvy nowadays, they’ve been around the digital block and know a red herring blog when they see one. If you are a cooperate money making machine and need to attract millennials, writing about how much you hate plastic and love a good recycle will look like a cheap tactic to clean up your image just to attract the Facebook generation, and definitely won’t look like your writing and business values are sincere.

Most businesses also have a list of competitors as long as their arm. Having a refreshing and insightful blog will often distinguish your brand from the other 10 web designers, law firms or café owners in the area. It will also ensure that the people who see your website and then contact you, connect with who you are and will mean you are more likely to build a quality relationship.

The royal treatment

Quality really is the watchword as we move into the bright and shiny new GDPR world. The whole point of the regulations is to protect people from unsolicited and irrelevant content, as well as their undeniable right to know what is happening with their personal data.

The point of quality content is to generate not just a quality image but to also nurture important customers or people who are highly likely to become customers. Marketers are harping on about engagement and not growing because the nuggets of gold are actually within a much smaller circle than you think. Getting your core audience to interact with you is when you are much more likely to get brand loyalty and increase your sales.

So Instead of just throwing out a net out to see how much you can get, concentrate on the people that are already interested. Spending time understanding those people more will help to drive a stronger and more targeted marketing plan across your business and will ensure that you attract more of your core audience without jamming email campaigns down their throat.

Basically, instead of throwing out the net, create an oasis so the fish come to you.

And part of that content oasis is a regular blog, which is shared on social media and which tackles what the people in your industry are most interested in without directly selling anything.

Are you listening?

I go on about this a lot in my blogs, but using analytics really is key to understanding your audience. If you don’t have a look at what is happening behind the scenes you can’t know if your dastardly content plan is working.

I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I thought were lukewarm on the relevance scale but actually generated the most page hits, engagement and longest page duration times. These are kernels of information that you can use to improve and hone your content so that you hit that bullseye every time you write and keep on interesting your audience.

In the end, content marketing is a long road paved with potholes, and you won’t get results straight away. But is it the sort of slow burner that is worth the time invested. Knowing what your audience wants to read means you know that your brand is relevant, and you understand who you are to your customers, which is half the battle to winning over their hearts.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

We’ve got to a stage in our digital adventure where we’ve reached peak information overload. There isn’t a point in the day where we aren’t thrown a statistic, a graph, an infographic or given a slurry of trends to watch out for.

We are now so bombarded by facts, which often oppose each other, that we are even starting to genuinely believe that facts are relative.

Truth Sayers

One of the reasons for this shift in how we view truth or facts is there are so many well regarded and official polls that have colossally failed to predict voting patterns. And these predication fails have subsequently managed to be part of the mudslide that tipped the world in a completely different direction, Trump and Brexit being the most obvious.

When experts are giving us facts and the reality doesn’t match up, we naturally start to come the conclusion that fact and opinion is part of the same blurry painting, and that one person’s truth is another person’s fiction.

And this isn’t a fringe belief, it’s starting to become an ingrained and popular mindset which has many experts referring to the current era as ‘post-truth’. We are basically living in a time when a fact can be subjective, and that belief is completely linked to how we view, process and interact with data.

The many brushstrokes

When we think of data we think of figures and that those figures are collected, processed and then churned out to show us what is truly happening at any given time. That could either be how long people are on Facebook every day, how many people believe aliens exist or which type of ketchup people shop for in Tesco.

What is consistently happening though, is that people are using a certain bit of data collection and using that as the whole picture. They use one result to tell a version of the story, but not the whole picture.

When you strip out complexity you run the risk of siloing information which often doesn’t show what is actually happening or what people are truly thinking. Much like how priests used the Latin Bible to pick out their own truths in a time when the general population couldn’t read or understand Latin.

We are now digital awakened, so we think of data as gospel. But the data we are absorbing isn’t as much of an all-seeing truth as we like we think, not because the data is infallible but because we aren’t analysing it in the right way. We are relying far too heavily on the cherry picking of data to tell the whole reality of a situation.  And when we cherry pick and don’t look past the data to the human story behind the number we run the danger of misleading an audience or even ourselves in the process.

We are forgetting that behind the data are people, and people aren’t wired like computers, often aren’t that logical or feel inclined to follow a predicted trend graph. Putting the humanity back into how we analyse and process data will ensure that we are more aligned with real thought processes and complex human natures, so we can predict things more accurately.

A great example is writing down everything you eat and drink for a whole month and then collating that data and creating results and insights from it. Some of the results might not make sense or be quite shocking. Say for example your alcohol consumption is a lot higher than the national average for the month and that you actually fall into the category of a binge drinker. But then if you have another look past that one result and go back to the story behind that statistic, the actual truth might be that you like a glass of wine every other night in front of your Netflix binge of the moment.

Raw data doesn’t work or isn’t properly reflected in reality when we don’t analyse what is actually happening behind the scenes, especially when we don’t use context or take into account human nature.

Once upon a time

Many people also think analysing data helps us to be more efficient (which it does) but the reason we all love a good statistic is because it helps us to understand the world and our place in it. Data at its best is useful and relative information which helps us to improve as a person, understand the current status quo and how we relate to one another.

We have started to forget what data truly is. Data is always a means to explaining a story, and we as humans love to communicate and understand ourselves through our stories. When we take out the complexity of life and the many layers of human nature from our data, we lobotomise it and make it float apart from reality. The story behind the data is always what matters.

Humane brain

Data is like music – at its most basic it’s just strings of notes which sit flat and lifeless on a music sheet. But once a musician takes time to find the emotive story of each note and processes it into a melody, the musician breathes life into those numbers and it finally makes sense and relates something to us. The individual notes become part of the entire song.

Giorgia Lupi, Information Designer and Data Humanism advocate, says it best in her Ted Talk:

“To make data faithfully representative of our human nature and to make sure they won’t mislead us anymore we need to design ways to include empathy and imperfection. Use human qualities in the way we collect, view and analyse data. Instead of using data to become more efficient we should start using data to become more humane.”

She even suggests that to bring humanity back into our data the most logical step is to take technology totally out of the question. We should start collecting our own behavioural patterns and using beautifully designed visual graphics to show how we think, feel and behave. We then apply those findings to engineer how our technologies analyse data.

Because technology can’t track our thoughts or intricate moods (yet) it is up to us to put our human spirit into our graphs and figures so that our polls and our predictions finally represent ever-changing global stories, people and viewpoints.

One thing is for sure, once we learn how to combine the power of data and our own human natures, we will create a data culture tour de force. It’s something that the whole technology sector is trying to solve, to be able to combine the best parts of ourselves and our inventions to create emotive and efficient technology.


Photo by Luiz Felipe Souza on UnsplashPhoto by Pankaj Patel on Unsplash

It’s fair to say that there’s been quite a lot of scaremongering about the upcoming GDPR laws flying about the internet and running across offices. You’ve also probably received an Armageddon of email spams from every company under the sun asking you to agree to be spammed for many more years to come.

But before you fall to the ground and raise your hands to the sky and ask what to do, don’t worry all is not lost – and you most certainly don’t need to do a ‘Wetherspoons’ and delete your entire database just to protect yourself.

All shook up

Let’s rewind for a second and talk about why GDPR is coming around the bend and what has triggered the EU government to act.

There is currently a bit of a shakeup going on between businesses and governments, especially when business is done online. Before, the internet was thought of as a boundless and utopian information sharing tool. The very essence of the internet was to have plateaued and free information. But our technological advances have been moving so quickly that governments have been struggling to keep up and protect citizens properly. And so with all this freedom came a darker side to the internet, and one of those murkier realms has always been data collecting.

It’s common knowledge that companies have been collecting personal data records from us without adequate consent for years. We never really liked it but what could we really do about it?

Well, the EU government has now stepped in to push for more transparency and auditing trails from companies to protect the privacy rights of its citizens. And GDPR is the practical application of the EU government’s wish to create a stricter version of our data privacy laws, which will unify EU member state laws and give more power to the people.

The law will come into action on the 25th of May 2018 and will specifically protect EU citizens from organisations using their data irresponsibly and gives citizens more visibility about what information is shared, as well as where and how companies use their data.

Pretty good stuff right? So why is it sending jitters across the business world?

I think we all agree more data protection for citizens is a good thing, but the challenge now for many companies is to understand what GDPR actually is and how they can become 100% compliant. Any businesses found not following the regulations could be fined up the 4% of the company’s global annual turnover. Although this penalty will be reserved for serious breaches, it is understandably a huge risk to be taking if you don’t swat up enough about how to handle your data properly.

The Big Bad Wolf

There is also a shed load of misconceptions about GDPR laws and it’s sending a lot of companies into a bit of a kerfuffle. The regulations aren’t as scary as most will have you think, and they definitely aren’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

So, what can you do?

You can lawfully process personal data without consent if it is necessary for:

A contract with the individual: for example, to supply goods or services they’ve requested, or to fulfil your obligations under an employment contract.

Compliance with a legal obligation: if you are required by UK or EU law to process the data for a particular purpose, you can.

Vital interests: you can process personal data if it’s necessary to protect someone’s life.  This could be the life of the person in question or someone else.

A public task: if you need to process personal data to carry out your official functions or a task in the public interest or you have a legal basis for the processing data under UK law

Legitimate interests: if you are a private-sector organisation, you can process personal data without consent if you have a genuine and legitimate reason (including commercial benefit), unless this is outweighed by harm to the individual’s rights and interests.

Wash my sins away

Providing consent is being talked about a lot for good reason. Companies now need an audit trail or record of when contacts in your database give consent (or permission) to marketing, being contacted or having their information shared. If the reason you are contacting someone doesn’t fit in the above list or you don’t have any tangible proof of consent for your current contacts you need to go and get it.  And when I say tangible proof I mean that you need the date, time, source, IP address and consent statement.

How? Most companies are directly emailing their contacts to ask them to confirm they still want to be contacted and are using a ‘double opt-in’ process. It’s crucial that the consent is freely given, traceable and that they have a choice to not give it.

Another good tip is to give your database a good cleanse. This prep work will mean that you can delete any irrelevant contacts, eroded data or contacts that appear twice. Doing a data cleanse will save a lot of time in the long run because it will stop you or your team contacting an unnecessary amount of people.

It’s also good to keep in mind that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your contacts. Spending time analysing your contacts and sorting them into importance will help with prioritising your GDPR campaigns and help build stronger relationships with your core customers. It’ll also give you a planned strategy and stop you and your team running around like headless chickens.

Hallelujah

If you haven’t sorted out your contact consent by the 25th of May you could be subject to penalties, right? Yes, but don’t panic.

The 25th of May is a cut-off point, but if you haven’t sorted out all your contacts and you aren’t 100% compliant by then just ensure that you have proof that you are enacting the requirements and that you are finalising your data consent or ‘opt-in’ plan. Showing that your data processing is ongoing could stop any infringement fines from occurring. So get your finger off the ‘delete all’ button and start sifting through your database.

Another crucial basis of the GDPR law is that you can send contacts (who haven’t given tangible consent) information if it is in their ‘legitimate interest’. If you can prove the information you are sending could be useful or could interest the person you are contacting, then you are legally allowed to and will be compliant with GDPR. Or in other words, you can choose between double opt-in consent or legitimate interest – music to all marketeer’s ears.

But what does the wonderful vague term ‘legitimate interest’ mean? Can you send adverts about your dance classes to anyone in the vicinity who has two working limbs? No. What you can do though is contact people based on their industry and job title. So what you are emailing them has the potential to benefit their business, themselves or be of interest to them.

As clear as day

There are some things that we all don’t know or can’t predict because the law needs to be alive and kicking to see how the regulations will come into action and how that will affect businesses and individuals. Questions like how does the right to erasure affect archives, how high will the fines be and will suppliers need to raise their prices to account for the loss of lead generation? The fog can only start to lift after the 25th of May when the law becomes a practical day to day regulation that we all work with.

What we all do know though is that GDPR is going to completely change how we receive information and how customers view their own data. GDPR is giving back ownership of our information in a time when information has never been more valuable.

What businesses now need to do is buckle up and except that we aren’t in Kansas anymore, but that Oz might not be such a bad place to do business in. If we accept that we might have to lose a lot of contacts but that we actually gain insight into our most loyal customers, we can actually use the changing times as a way to nurture existing relationships and create valuable content. GPDR will hopefully create a much stronger two-way bond between your business and your contacts, who have opted in to still listen to you.

If you would like to find out more, you could do a lot worse than start with the ICO’s guide for small businesses.

We recently posted a blog about Google so we thought it was only right to also dedicate a blog to the undisputed e-commerce titan Amazon.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Amazon is just an online shopping platform, a quick and easy service that acts as a middleman between you and the products you need.

Amazon is actually a much bigger beast and is growing at a staggering rate. The e-commerce giant owns 9% of the global retail market, is a book publisher and seller, a hardware and software producer, owns a surprising number of the sites including Twitch, IMDb and GoodReads and has most recently purchased the huge American grocery chain WholeFoods. And let’s not forget its plan to become the king of voice recognition, with Alexa and Echo.

Amazon has grown 560% in value from 2012 to 2018. It’s combined net worth is $177.9 billion which would make it the 55th richest country in the world, sliding ahead of oil-rich Algeria and Qatar.  Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, is the richest man in history and would be the 61st richest country in the world. He is currently richer than the wealth of Morocco and Sudan.

The kiss of death

We all know that money means power, so if a company or a person becomes richer than a country, what does that mean in the grand scheme of things? And why is Amazon’s rapid growth worrying so many experts and politicians around the world? Isn’t it normal for global businesses to grow and acquire new assets?

Sure it is, but the way Amazon goes about expanding and growing could be akin to a Pinky and the Brain episode, but where Brain actually succeeds. And I’m not exaggerating. The Bespoke Investment Group has been tracking 54 retail index stocks that have had brushes with Amazon in the competitive market, the negative effects for those companies were so huge that the BI Group have named it the ‘Death by Amazon Index’ and will soon release an ‘Amazon Survivors Index’ for those that have managed to crawl out of the black hole.

A great example of Amazon’s pull on stock markets is their recent Wholefood acquisition, which saw grocery chain stocks plummet as soon as the news hit that Amazon was moving into the grocery sector. And it seems Amazon’s power is so great that it need only mention a potential partnership to affect the stock market. The e-commerce heavyweights recently mentioned a potential healthcare project with JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway which saw healthcare stocks start to move into a downward slide.

Why is the stock market so worried every time Amazon decides to move into a new sector?

When Amazon moves into a new sector, its intention is always to rule the waves of the sector it takes on. Amazon does this with two well-oiled strategies – the first is to be loved by their customers and the second is to use aggressive competitive takeovers to continue to rule their present markets and become kings of their future markets.

Track my progress

Amazon is also arguably one of the best customer behaviour trackers out there. Their analysts and algorithms do such a good job of tracking they can predict what we’ll want next. A bit like how the chain Target managed to predict when someone was pregnant just by what they bought. This obviously freaks people out and actually makes us realise the all-seeing power Amazon and the like have, so Amazon instead uses its omnipresence to subtly point us to a tailored e-commerce dreamland for all of our personal shopping wants and needs. Amazon knows that for customers to trust the brand it needs to show a friendly, cuddly face while sifting through our personal information.

They also use their hoovered-up data to see gaps in markets. So, if they see a large number of people searching for something but then not clicking through, they can see customers are trying to find something which Amazon currently doesn’t provide. Amazon then goes out and finds a partner to provide that service (which negatively affects other competitors) or creates a knock-off version themselves at a cheaper price, and effectively puts two fingers up at everyone else.

It also doesn’t have any problem competing with its own investments. Amazon infamously gave 5.6 million to start-up Nucleus for its Alexa powered conferencing tablet, only to release a very similar and cheaper Amazon device, the Echo Show.

Echo Chamber

Amazon, like most Tech Giants, is fighting it out to become the supreme leader of IoT, and specifically of voice recognition. To win, Amazon is assembling a tech army whose sole purpose is to see Amazon’s voice recognition software as the go-to brand in the entire world.

Don’t believe me? Here is a direct quote from Priya Abani, Amazon’s Director of AVS enablement.

“We basically envisage a world where Alexa is everywhere.”

A sentence that should strike fear into anyone that has seen enough doomsday films and doesn’t want Alexa to hear their every conversation (even if it forgets it). Or doesn’t want to see a company have pan-global access to a whole lot of personal data.

And when Priya Abani says everywhere she means everywhere. Amazon’s plan is to build Alexa software and hardware that can be built into anything and everything – from light bulbs and jewellery to cars and fridges. And this isn’t a lofty business strategy, Amazon is already working with partner brands to make that happen in the very near future.

Amazon basically wants to be the all-hearing ear in the ‘woke’ IoT world.

Jeepers Creepers

Have I scared you enough? No? Good, let’s move on to books.

Another business venture is their online publishing platform and their bookselling arm. Although great for self-publishing, smashing the old publishing barriers and gaining access to cheap literature, it actually serves as a commercially funnelled service for Amazon.

Amazon can pick and choose which books you see and which are recommended for you. Which means it can engineer which books become more successful. And not only can it do this on its publishing and e-commerce platform it also owns goodreads.com, which rates the books. A three-wheeled attack strategy that the Trojans would be proud of.

The end is near

Just joking.

But as Scott Galloway rightfully says in his insightfully hilarious video about tech companies and their mounting grip on the world – it is our role to put pressure on governments to hold tech companies to account so that they follow the same rules and laws that we and countries are governed by.

The internet and technology is truly a wonderful thing and has brought innovation after innovation to create a modern world full of possibilities. But like its inventors, us humans, it can have a darker side that we need to watch out for and not shut our eyes to.

There is a huge global shift ongoing at the moment to bring a bit of light and governance to some of the murkier realms of technology. What we need to do, as a global community, is strike the right balance between governance and the fantastic freedom and reach the internet and technology gives us. If one takes over the other one, that is when we must step in.


Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash, Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Everyone loves Google right? What’s not to like. A free online search engine that gives you instant access to any information you want. A digital library of Alexandria that you can keep with you in your pocket and access on the go.

Google entertains us, educates us and helps us navigate our way through life. The search engine is so integral to our modern world that we’ve made it into a verb. We even use it to end debates or arguments.

The Big Question

Who hasn’t heard ‘According to Google…’ and listened, wide-eyed, as the Almighty speaks and someone’s theory is either tossed out or given the golden seal of approval.

Have you ever heard someone say ‘well Google is wrong’? Did you laugh that person out of the room with a ‘Google..wrong? what an absolute nutter’ type response?

We have an unshakeable bond and trust with Google that goes far beyond its role as a useful information tool. Think about how many times you use Google in your day, how many times it’s helped you work something out or made your life simpler.

Google can help us with practically anything. Want to know how to get to your interview? Need to buy a sewing kit to upcycle your tea towel? Want a recipe to make bread? Need to ask something in Spanish? Just google it.

Our first port of call is to ‘google it’ because it always has the answer. It’s proven itself as an all-seeing, all-knowing information portal.  Even when someone tells us reliable information, we still google it, just in case they’re wrong. We trust Google above anything else.

A great example is following directions given by mere mortals. I’ll give you an example out of my own life – I went to an event last week and went to the wrong location. The very nice man who answered the door explained in detail how to get to the right venue. I listened to exactly none of it because I knew I could use Google. I thanked him, left and then got out my smartphone. I even got slightly annoyed that he wasted 3 minutes of my life explaining where to go when I was late and have Google Maps. I’m pretty sure his directions were exactly on point, but I had my blinkers on and wanted to listen to the only voice that counted.

I’m not alone in thinking this way. The fact that we tend to go straight to Google before we go to friends, family or even books is a colossal change to how we interact with and trust information. We are slowly but surely using one source of information to form our entire perception and knowledge of the world around us.

And it doesn’t stop there. We don’t just ask Google practical questions, we also ask it the most intimate, existential questions that pop into our heads, the questions we are too scared to ask the closest people in our lives.

What’s so bad about googling something you aren’t sure about?

In theory, absolutely nothing. But there are 2 important points to keep in mind –

  1. We aren’t cross-checking information from other sources
  2. We are swapping multiple sources of information for just one

The Gospel Truth

The fact is we aren’t second-guessing Google as much as we should. If Google started pointing us to badly researched articles, far too many of us would believe the information in the article because Google recommended it. Maybe some of us would search for a couple more articles, but those articles still come from Google. The number of people that actually look through real books and magazines or even use a tandem search engine is very low.

Our growing habit of not cross-checking facts via different mediums gives us tunnel vision information, especially when looking up history, culture, political beliefs and the daily news. So when Google modifies its algorithms and Google ranking criteria (which it does often to keep one step ahead of the ranking tricksters) it actually has a detrimental effect on our perception of truth and facts.

For example, if the algorithm starts favouring one website link over another, you are more likely to read it and take it on board as part of your opinion on a subject. Google algorithms quite literally change us and the world around us. Like an existential game of digital chess.

Blast from the past

And then there’s fake news and social media, how readily it’s shared and how much it can influence elections, political movements, and our own views of the world. Google sits in the middle of it all, helping us glide through the fake news clouds, bouncing from website to website.

Propaganda or fake news also isn’t a new thing. The powers that be and the institutions they belong to have been doing it for a very long time. What is different though is the way we gain access to and how much we are exposed to propaganda, and Google is intrinsically part of that shift.

In the past, we would tell our priest (or equivalent) our deepest darkest secrets and we would change our view of the world based on what they told us. They were our existential guides, who would help us navigate the world according to scriptures. Many people still do this, but lot’s of us have decided that we want to make our own way in life.

What we don’t realise is that Google has taken up that empty space. Algorithm led content acts as digital scripture and the pragmatic priests are the website creators sitting on Google’s ranking lists.

Our need to be guided by some sort of institution never went away. We are still highly influenceable and need more knowledgeable people to form our opinions – whether we are religious or not doesn’t change that fact. We still listen to our teachers, government, and experts because we want our views to be confirmed, we need people to help us fill knowledge gaps and tell us what information we should believe. Google is a bridge between all 3 types of authorities, throwing in a boundless library as an additional perk.

The Almighty

So the ultimate question is  – if Google content is digital scripture and website creators the priests who create the scriptures, what would Google then be?

……….I can already hear the torches being lit.

Why are website designers giving us simpler and more stress-free user experience?

If only life were more simple right?

In a world filled to the brim with information, communication and smartphone planners, how do we hit the stop button and take ourselves off warp speed? What even got us on the priority lane to burn out in the first place?

It’s a sweet paradox that the latest technologies are hungrily consumed because they promise to save us time and energy but are actually the main instigators of fatigue, stress and yes, having less time.

Our lives are so busy and littered with tech that we are now going full circle by wanting a mammoth sized time out from it all. Users are now logging off and bouncing away from websites much more easily and without a moment’s hesitation.

Build me a road to paradise

How does this affect website design?

A functional website is no longer enough to stand out from the crowd. A website now needs to be beautiful, seamless, and completely in tune with how users surf and interact with a site.

In the fast pace world of 2018, the main challenge coders and UX designers face is successfully ridding us of unnecessary time-wasting features and navigation. The most popular sites and the highest user retentions now come from the dream of dreams – quick and easy information that leads us on a beautiful trip directly from A to B.

Users no longer want to scan through a site to find the information they need, they don’t have time to find the needle in the haystack. They want the right information thrown at them, and preferably within 2-5 seconds.

The harsh reality is that browser back buttons give people an all too easy exit strategy to your other 15 competitors sitting pretty on Google.  People are more willing to opt out and try another website if you give them a crystal maze style website journey.

Over the rainbow

The most popular time-saving designs hit the right balance between simple but not oversimplified. Good designers create enough complexity to keep someone’s attention span but not too much to burn out their already highly charged brain sockets.

Linear design is one of the most popular website design styles because it follows a chronical or beginning-middle-end format. Instead of just having a drop-down menu at the top of the screen, linear websites have all the necessary links or nudges to other parts of the website throughout the homepage.  As you scroll down suggestions follow you along, reminding you that there are plenty more pots of gold within the website. Linear design is also continually adapted over time by analysing user experience and wrapping the website journey around the user.

Some other popular time-saving features include:

  • Minimalist inspired navigation – design that encourages the minimal number of steps needed, from when a user clicks to when they take the intended action. Proactive design, eye-catching and optimised buttons, nudge features and easy-access menus are all added to produce Hansel and Gretel style bread crumbs, so you get right to where you need to be and don’t get lost on your way.
  • Automated suggestions –  basically personalised suggestions which are based on a user’s former navigation history, and works best with member based websites. Coders and UX designers can using past user experience data, to predict what someone might like in the future and which will increase the likelihood of suggesting something that peaks the user’s interests and in turn, improves user satisfaction. 
  • Visually rich content – combining engaging content with pictures, videos, moving graphics and fluid design to help break up information and guide the eye to the intended information more quickly. The idea is to sprinkle bits of sparkle across a site by combining multiple visual mediums. Visually rich content works particularly well if you want a user to focus on a call to action or a part of the website which encourages interaction.

Knowing me, knowing you

In the end, websites need to mirror our own lives. A good website design has to be both technically awesome and in tune with the modern Zeitgeist. Building a successful website is about blending ground-breaking design, elegant imagery, swish code and listening to your audience.

Putting the spotlight firmly back on the user and having your ear to the ground is paramount for predicting any impending stampede towards change. In 2018, people need stress-free convenience, and savvy websites designers are building exactly such a world for us, brick by streamlined brick.


Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Where is your phone right now?

Mine is flashing next to my laptop as I write this, never too far away and always patiently waiting for me to over use it. I’m not the only one who feels like they’re on their smartphone too much, with 50% of teenagers admitting that they are probably addicted to their phones.

Shockingly, our handy digital helpers have only been around for 18 years, that is a shorter amount of time than most people have spent on this earth, yet they’ve managed to turn our lives inside out within a blink of a screen shot.

Like any 18-year-old, smartphones are fresh faced and doggedly shaking up our way of life. How much time we spend on them, the way they’ve changed our hobbies, what we view and read, how we search for information and communicate, and even our attention spans have been deeply affected by our clever devices. But the influence that smartphones could have, has the potential to become a lot deeper and weirder.

Through the looking glass

We type our thoughts, habits, conversations, relationships, passions, hatreds, careers, and hobbies into our screens. We use it as an extension of our own brains, to help store information, jog our memories and communicate.

You may think that we keep a lot from our phones, but it’s a lot less than you think. Smartphones aren’t just about apps or social media, they also monitor what you look for and how you use your phone when you are alone and left to your own devices. And all that information isn’t lost or static, it’s stored and, according to experts, gives each smartphone user a unique code or a digital personality.

It might also explain why we feel strange being away from our new best friends for too long or why we feel such a compulsion to use them as much as we do. We aren’t just addicted, we are also developing a symbiotic relationship with our phones.

Brainless

Symbiotic smartphones might sound like one of the new Black Mirror episodes, but it’s actually something that is already happening to us. We might not yet put 100% of everything we think and feel into our phones, but we are relying so heavily on them that they are becoming our surrogate brains or at the very least an external hard drive for our thoughts and lives.

Relying on our phones to do what our brains are actually good at, means we are systematically using our brains less. Our cerebral supercomputers are being side-lined for an external device and experts are warning it could have an irreversible effect on how our brains work.

The smartphone revolution is moving so quickly that it is becoming a slippery beast, and the scope of information at our fingertips is enough to overwhelm and affect even the most ardent memories and those who still know how to focus.

Beam me up

And things aren’t going to stop there. Smartphones are already IoT enabled with software such as Siri, and so if you choose to have voice activation on your phone, it effectively listens out for keywords so that it can instantly react to your instructions. What if in the near future the likes of Siri become an obligatory function that stores your every conversation to predict how it can help you with your daily life and long-term goals?

Even weirder, what if smartphones could start recognising and recording our body language, all in the quest to become the dream personal assistant. Face recognition software is already a well-established tool that is used for passports, law enforcement and less serious apps. It isn’t a huge stretch to assume that one-day technology could also start to recognise body language and blur the line between us and our phones so much that the line won’t even matter anymore.

Cycle of Life

Everyone likes a happy ending, so you’ll be glad to hear that it isn’t all doom and gloom.

We always do the same thing when inventions change our way of life. We tend to go full throttle into a movement, panic and then end up finding a balance between the old and the new, and eventually even strengthen our roots with the old ways. Think chains vs. independent businesses, the industrial revolution vs. environmentalism, fast food vs. clean living, capitalism vs. ethical consumerism.

Technology’s opposite, physical engagement, will come back to the forefront, because our current relationship with our phones is unsustainable and because we always go back to our innate needs.

We can already see the tide starting to turn. Huge watchwords such a tech fatigue, digital detox and tech free days are storming their way through the smartphone clouds. We might still have our heads firmly stuck in the digital sand, but we will never be able to alter our need for physical interaction in the real world. And this intrinsic need will create a future where will hopefully find a much-needed balance between pouring ourselves into our digital soul mates and actively searching for those healthy and brilliant moments when we live completely free from our digital devices.


Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Look out Mystic Meg! Bamboo Mcr’s got hold of a crystal ball, and we can see…

Smart Technology

First things first, everything is going to get a lot smarter. We aren’t just talking about Bamboo’s brilliant website building skills (ahem), but about the entire breed of technical devices out there on the market.

As predictions go, you might feel like it’s a pretty safe bet to assume technology is going to get a bit more quick witted. Technology has consistently become smarter since we started putting together techy stuff to make even better techy stuff. It’s the kind of horse you’d bet on to get a sure-fire win.

But, what we think will specifically make tech even smarter in 2018 is the internet of things (IoT). Now, the internet of things may sound like a loopy science project or a deep space mission, but what the internet of things means is connected objects that can exchange and collect information via the internet – think Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri or your fridge that suggests you might want to make an omelette with the egg and cheddar combo on your shelf.

We are obviously right at the start of the IoT movement, but experts are predicting that 2018 will be the year of IoT and where we’ll start to see real changes to our lives. IoT is going to create a completely connected world where all devices and products will form mass networks that communicate with each other and form integrated services and data troves. The internet of things will basically become the backbone for all our consumer goods.

The movement is so huge and set to tip over into our every waking moment that in 30 years or so, we’ll actually look back at the likes of Amazon Echo and have a little giggle about how quaint our IoT systems were, kind of like how we look at the 80s bricks that were apparently mobile phones or existential life before Google.

Two huge IoT examples set to change our lives are smart homes and smart cities. Most of us are already familiar with smart homes – thermostats, lighting and security systems that you can regulate with your phone, or fridges that predict food running out, and fire sensors that contact emergency services when triggered. Smart cities are also set to revolutionise our urban lives by freely exchanging live data as we go about our days. IoT cities have the potential to reduce traffic congestion, noise, crime, and pollution.

User Experience

User experience or UX design has been coming up on the rear for a very long time. User Experience has always been important, with 88% of users less likely to return to a website if they’ve had a bad experience. A UX designer’s principal role is to make your journey from A to B as smooth and pleasant as possible. As technology gets smarter and more connected, seamlessly smooth user experience across multiple channels, devices and systems will become even more important.

UX designers are also the real Mystic Megs of the digital world, because a huge part of their job is to predict how people will want to use a system and how that might change over time, which is a crucial asset in the quickly evolving technology sector.

So, what will this mean for our digital spaces in 2018? Time saving nudge features, voice-activated experiences, augmented reality, and modern passwords such as biometric activation, are all being excitedly whispered about along the UX grapevine.

Social Media

No we aren’t going to predict social media happening, that ship has long since sailed past the billionth duck face selfie. What we are going to predict for 2018 is that social media channels are going to become even more integrated and connected, just like user experience and smart technology.

Social channels are already merging their identities to eat up their competitors and keep their valued users. Instagram stories copied Snapchat, LinkedIn news looks very similar to the Twittersphere newsreel and Facebook is now a video tidal wave, akin to the original video titan, Youtube.

Social media will also continue to eat up traditional T.V viewing. Since the birth of Youtube, Netflix and On Demand streaming, the young’uns and the tech savvy have switched off their family tellies and flocked to their portable devices to stream from the internet wherever they want and to their hearts content. It’s very similar to the previous shift from CD to mp3, everything is getting more online, connected and instantly accessible.

TV channels and television producers have been tracking this colossal shift and have done what all savvy business people are now doing – they integrate the competition. Most television boxes now have the option to watch programmed television or go onto on-demand viewing, because it’s set to become the mainstream way of watching our most bingeworthy television programs.

The Future’s bright

So what’s in store for Bamboo in 2018?

Drum roll please!…… We are very excited to reveal our plans for a brand spanking new website, scheduled to be live and kicking early this year. Since our move to Manchester city centre, we felt like a new look was in order, it also gave us the chance to integrate lots of snazzy new user experience and design features as well as a Manchester bee inspired logo!

We are also going to continue to eat cake and live our very own coworking experiment in Ziferblat Edge street. Working in the northern quarter and being around friendly and creative people has definitely brought about some surprising opportunities. We’ve found new clients, friends and even branched out into photography and video creation.

All we can say is, roll on 2018 and let’s hope it builds on the brilliant year we had in 2017!


If you ever want a chat with us about our uncanny crystal ball skills or maybe even how we build great looking functional and modern websites, we are always available via phone, email or even for a cup of tea at Ziferblat Edge Street!

 

Why Google Rankings strategies matter

Your site is up and running, it’s looking sleek and shiny, ready for the whole world to see. You sit at your computer waiting for the thousands of visits and leads that are going to come knocking on your digital window.

So why have the weeks gone by and you’re yet to receive the tidal wave of requests you expected, and your views are struggling to hit the 100 per week mark?

First things first, you are not alone, many companies navigate through the choppy waters of website traffic and have no idea how to bring the boat into port in unchartered territory.

Google is effectively the gate keeper of high search rankings and organic traffic. Meeting Google ranking requirements is one of the most important things for high website traffic, and ultimately lead generation.

What then is the magic Google recipe to put you above all your competitors and become the cream of the Google ranking crop?

Tell me the truth

One of the most important and relatively easiest ways is with quality content. Writing engaging and relevant information on your website which is often refreshed (i.e. with a blog) is a sure-fire way to see your Google rankings rise.

People react most to genuine content that hits a Zeitgeist or speaks to their values. Which means that no amount of hyperlinking or SEO can replace interesting content that attracts your core audience. You can even attract long-tail traffic, which is basically attracting visitors that are interested in what you do but weren’t specifically looking for you.

A good example of this is if a restaurant, which has a website and blog, posts weekly trend setting recipes. A person might research a recipe that is on the blog and stumble across the post, like what they see, look at the whole website and decided to visit the restaurant.

SEO my heart out

Another way is through SEO, a term which is being bandied about a lot and is being propelled as the new way to write content. Away from the marketing jargon, SEO is just writing compelling content for your brand which contains words that people are likely to search for when they are looking for what you do.

It’s important though, to firstly write quality content and to secondly concentrate on SEO. The worst mistake a lot of websites do is to try and drive content by solely concentrating on searchable words, this often created conceited and jumbled up sentences which tends to lead to high traffic but also very high bounce rates.

SEO works when you can’t tell the searchable words are there. They should never be the gravitational pull in a sentence but should instead sit calmly behind the scenes in a genuine piece of writing.

Meta-morphosis

It’s also not just about the words you write for the whole world to see, it’s also important to get your back-end in order. All I mean by back-end, is the page settings in your editor suite, where you can view each of your pages and write meta-tags or searchable terms which help Google understand what your site does, raised your profile and directs the right traffic towards it.

It is also important to do this for pictures and videos. Google is basically a very complex algorithm and reacts to data (a colossal 20 petabytes per day). If Google processes a picture or video without a back-end description it is basically invisible to Google and won’t help your rankings.

Social Space

Social media also has a big part to play, because it can help drive more traffic to your website. Having various social media accounts for your company effectively shines a stronger beacon towards your website by picking up visitors from a wider angle.

You are quite literally providing more opportunities to be searched for on the internet, and Google likes knowing that traffic is coming to your website from multiple sources. A bit like the popular high school kid, who decides whether you’re worth their attention based on how many friends you have.

Picking which social media platform is right for you is also important. If you’re a design company, Pinterest and Instagram are probably the way to go, if you’re a street food company Instagram and Snapchat will probably get you genuine engagement, where a data analyst organisation will probably look to Twitter and LinkedIn as a more appropriate route.

The key strategy with social media is to get your branding streamlined and to constantly generate compelling content which will, if all things go to plan, drive increased traffic to your website and give you a healthy boost on Google.

Rising Star

In the end, raising your Google ranking can feel a bit like a shooting star, some days your rankings soar and some days you are left scratching your head and wondering what changed from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Don’t lose faith though, the best sign that your google ranking strategy is working is that the long-term pattern is one of growth and that you are enjoying writing your content. Sometimes that can be a reader’s individual feedback, an average increase in session duration or a few more contacts via your website or social media accounts than last month.

Whenever I write for myself or for companies I always stick to a genuine voice and write about what is genuinely interesting to the core audience, and then I back it up with metatags and SEO. Just like in real life, when you are faking it, people can tell, and tend to back away. The need for genuine conversation reaches all corners of our life, including the internet and our websites.


Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Why coders are today’s rock stars

Every decade we have a ‘cool’ job gang. And every decade there are a set of people that go from working behind the scenes to rocking our professional world overnight.

This decade is the age of the coders. Gone are the socially inept stereotypes and in its place, are hip tech-savvy individuals working for futuristic Google-esque companies and changing the world as they code.

Tech is now seen as cool and as a by-product the people that have kept it afloat are the rock stars of this shiny new world. Coding trendy new apps, inventing social media, birthing websites, working with governments, or developing ground breaking software has transformed the classically introverted coders to completely different social creatures and given them public relevance.

Coders were the belly of the digital beast, but have long since walked out of their computer filled backrooms and onto the media stage. Coders are now talking about their achievements and are rightly seen as an integral part of the future of digital.

Code of Fire

It comes as no surprise really. The internet is built by and dependent on coders, as is all software, most modern technology, and is used in music and modern art.

When what someone does becomes so crucially important across our entire lives they have much more room to fulfil their potential. In turn, this attracts more rising stars and helps make the industry even more ground-breaking.

Art and science is also becoming very blurred. The omnipresence of technology means that the new generation will have a much deeper interest and knowledge of basic tech and code and will use that to create, invent and innovate.

Even now, artists actively use creative software tools and web developers learn how to use the arts to create inspiring digital platforms. And because this generation’s coders are the first to pioneer the marriage between creativity and technology, they naturally become the Johnny Cash of code.

Here comes the sun

Coders were working underground for decades partly because it took society a long time to realise that coders aren’t strange people typing a string of incomprehensive letters and numbers.

Our access to technology has raised our awareness of code and its importance in our daily lives. This naturally peeked our interest in who makes our smartphone apps or how a website is built and makes us want to know much more about coders. We have that same thirst for celebs, and which makes them systematically cooler than the average joe.

Because technology is revolutionising our daily lives, it is also creating social and pioneering movements just like rock and roll did and still does. Being the first of a mass movement makes you ground breaking. Hackathons, big data and the internet of things are all trendy buzz words for a reason.

The idea of ‘geek’ is also finally being turned on its head. Scientists, tech inventors, mathematicians and coders are finally having their day in the sun because of the technological advancements they are creating and the digital movements they are pioneering.


Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

The modern human attention span often gets compared to that of a gold fish, or sometimes shown to be even worse. Whether it’s true or not, one thing web designers are all too aware of is that it’s a very tricky game to keep someone’s focus.

Our attention is being grabbed from literally all corners of our viewpoint. We are so bombarded by information, images and sound that our clever brains are forced to bring up the drawbridge and only allow a certain amount of information through to our conscious or subconscious mind.
Our brain literally creates a filtered reality of the best or most useful information that we come across in our daily hectic lives – like sifting through mud to find diamonds.

Relax, just do it

Think about it. If we actually listened to every single word of every conversation, read each advert, drank in every honk and screech of the city and saw every single pixel of colour and image – we would, at the very least, need a sleeping beauty style nap.

The brain has become so good at phasing out certain parts of reality that many people are now talking about the brain taking over too much and creating chronic ‘auto-pilot mode’. A good example is when you walk, drive or bike on a route and you don’t remember the process of actually doing it because you were too lost in your own rambling mind.

Apple of mine eye

So how are websites supposed to extract people out of their thoughts long enough to actually see and engage with their information?

Our eyes aren’t just windows to the soul, they are also one of the main ways we receive information and play a crucial role in how we perceive design. Our eyes actually have a very narrow focus, and although we think we are noticing everything around us, we are actually only really seeing what is right in front of us – which is also a nice metaphor for life in general.

Translate this into web design and a user won’t be able to see the whole website at once, but will take in various elements of a website, adding them together to make up the bigger picture or overall experience.

Most sites now have their main content in the middle of the page and let the user scroll down instead of looking freely around, because they know that people tend to look slap bang in the middle of a page and then read down, like a book. Any information in the peripheral corners of the page can be the equivalent of an attention holding graveyard.

Even though our peripheral vision is poor, it does help guide our focus, is very good at picking up motion and is one of the main reasons why videos create such great engagement wherever they are on your page, especially if they run freely.

The simple life

Another consequence of our frazzled lives is that we need things to be really simple. We don’t want to spend more than 2 minutes reading most articles, we don’t want a million flashing images or adverts bombarding us with irrelevant slogans.

A user doesn’t want to search for anything, it should be handed to them on a digital plate. If they can’t find how to contact you in less than 3 clicks, they treat it like a personal scorn and will generally go back to google and start their search again, stepping over your google ranking pop up.
This is why website designers now design with a shrinking attention span in mind and typically have a ticking time bomb to contend with when it comes to users bouncing away from the site.

Something that helps keep users on websites for longer is fluid UX design, or in other words, that the user journey is tailored towards how people naturally navigate around a site and that a simple but stylish design creates focused searching or quick retrieval of information.

Branding is obviously crucial and I’m a huge believer in memorable design, but substance will always supersede image and should never be put on the backburner. A great web design effectively puts the digital footprints in place to help the user get to the pot of gold at the end of a sleekly designed rainbow.


Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Getting through to your audience has never been more complicated.

We are living in an age of hyper-communication where each individual, on average, processes the equivalent of 174 newspapers and is exposed to an estimated 10,000 adverts every single day.

The hurrier I go the behinder I get

Cutting through the noise and grabbing fickle attention spans means that content must be engaging, digestible, genuine, and quick.

People essentially want to know the core point of any online content in under 2 minutes. 80% of people won’t read to the end of your page and most of your audience will only read 20% of any web content you post.

With these depressing statistics to hand, the only way to persuade audiences to read on is to galvanise your page titles and make sure that your first few points really pack a punch.

Made in his image

And let’s not forget the colossal importance of videos and images that give the reader a quick energy boost between grammatical constructions.

Infographics came on the scene to transform deep data into visual short hand. These visual ‘word bites’ are an extremely effective way of sharing a lot of information in an easily digestible and shareable format.

 

So why use infographics?

  1. Visuals boost engagement

    The human eye is naturally drawn to images, users pay more attention to graphics and are more likely to linger and retain more information because you have engaging visuals.

    ‘Engagement’ is banded about a lot on marketing sites, all that it really means is that there is a two-way interaction between the audience and the source. Infographics are the best of both worlds because they combine detailed information with images so that you get the necessary attention and engagement from your target audience.

    Crucially, they help move your content away from static results nestled in lengthy paragraphs and elevate data to build a visual information grid that captivates the reader.

  2. Infographics are more likely to go viral

    When a reader is engaged and believes that the information will also help others, they are more likely to share and generate a social media snowball effect.

    Visuals are a great way to highlight important information that your audience might not have time to read or even skim through in the body of your text.

    Without visuals, especially infographics, insightful and shareable information can often be over looked and can disappear into the pool of content swirling around the internet.

    Infographics help users immediately process and instantly relate to what you want to get across, which are the building blocks of social engagement and ultimately creating a viral post.

  3. Infographics are highly shareable

    Some people don’t actually need to go viral and just want to create enough awareness to start attracting new customers or increase their followers.

    Infographics are a great way to achieve sustained awareness and increase web traffic to your page or social accounts. They are a great tool to reach every corner of the internet and spread awareness far and wide.

    You can pin infographics to Pinterest, tweet one via your twitter account, share via private message or embed an infographic into your blog.

    A relevant and useful infographic will increase your site’s traffic because the people that share it will also link to the source and you will create organic traffic back to your site. You can also add HTML coding to your infographic so it becomes searchable and helps increase your google rankings.

    You can even let your infographic loose in the real world and print it for marketing campaigns, presentations, posters or leaflets. In fact, it’s a wonder an infographic isn’t taking over the world as we speak.


The Circle of Life

The reason infographics work is because they don’t just emit out information, they use engagement to push people to share which draws the audience back to you, your company or your online passion.

The circle works because, when you do it right, the traffic loop should never end. Your information is out there and every day someone is picking it up, and the more its shared the more it will attract users right back to the source.


Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

How social media and the digital world are inspiring social movements

The concept of society has always existed in some form and has been social at its heart, but what is different now is that we are simultaneously living in two different social worlds.

World Wide Web

The internet was at first very separate from the physical world and a means to finding and disseminating information. We then very quickly became active participants in evolving it to a collaborative interaction between individuals and their digital device.

Every personal interaction is now uploaded onto a connected worldwide network which transforms how the network is used and interacts with others, an ever-evolving framework of communication. A platform that grows and adapts with every emoji we send, every article we skim read or cat video we share on Facebook.

Our innate social nature is what has inspired us to create a digital world in the image of how we see society and ourselves. And so as soon as we invented the internet, social media was inevitable.

We have slowly but surely let the lines between the physical and the digital become very blurry, our digital selves are becoming more representive of who we actually are and what we stand for, we are using the internet to achieve our career ambitions and realise personal goals, we are even using it to find love. Our sense of self is now directly affected by both worlds.

The negative side of such a rapid change in how we interact and communicate is that we become too engrossed in what is happening on our smartphones and stop engaging in the physical present.  Zombie smartphone walkers, your friend who is on the phone while listening to you, rising anxiety levels and technology compulsive behaviour are just some examples of how we have not yet found the right balance.

Hear me roar

On the flip side, if we are investing so much of our time and ourselves into our devices and on our social accounts, then the power social media holds is unilaterally phenomenal.

We now live in a world where you can tweet a company about your negative experience and they either respond to you and remedy your problem or they lose customers and negatively affect their image. Anyone can now start a campaign at a click of a button which can catch the attention of the public, start a huge online movement and force the government to debate it and in some cases actually change the law.

We can shine a spotlight on an issue when we form digital collectives, the power of the people finally being heard through the internet.

Huge political and historic shifts can be tracked and directly linked to social patterns happening online before an event occurs. The landslide victory of French President Macron who has no previous experience in government, the shock rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K, and the defeat of the powerful far-right in Holland can all be linked to how social media use and article sharing through social media portals affected public opinion. Trump and Brexit are of course the colossal elephants in the room.

No truer word said

If social media has such sway on geo-political events, then propaganda has an even scarier hold on public opinion. The rise of fake news, or propaganda, is now considered a world-wide digital pandemic. From hackers planting fake information on news sites which create political unrest or change election outcomes to baseless viral articles inciting racial hatred, violence and community division.

Information is now quick, readily shared, and easily accessible and we are running the risk of believing manipulations of the truth on a massive and detrimental scale. The problem is now so acute that governments are setting up fake news taskforces before elections and referendums and social media giants such as Facebook are investing in fake news teams and algorithms to try and fight the propaganda tide.

The technological revolution is moving so fast and dragging us along for the ride that we can’t really understand the true ramifications of how it is affecting the world and where it will lead us. Perhaps like the eye of a storm, we need to be prepared to hit rougher terrain before we find a calmer and more responsible way of living with and using social media in the future. And, like most things in life, finding the balance will be key.


Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Are Millennials actually 21st century hippies?

Millennials are receiving a lot of, sometimes unwanted, attention in the media. The privileged, digital dream seekers that are shaking up the modern business age.

Millennials though are much more than social media inventors or hipster café owners. They are part of the new technological revolution and are helping to forge a new way of not just running businesses but how society thinks and views itself.

The historic change we are seeing in collective mentality is actually directly linked to how the hippies influenced the 1960s and still have huge relevance to this day.

Power to the flower

The 1960s hippies and the baby boomers in general, were living in a time of social disquiet and heightened war. Hippies were a generation born into a world they didn’t agree with and felt disconnected from, they were misunderstood by the previous generation and felt both voiceless and helpless in the face of injustice.

If we raise a mirror to our own time we see a very similar thing happening now but with a 21st century twist.

The hippy solution was to campaign for the humanitarian ideals of love, justice, and equality. Hippies passionately believed if enough people united on these three common beliefs the government would have to act and the world would change for good.

We all hopefully agree that love, justice, and equality can only do good in the world. But I am sure we also all agree that the hippy dream fell flat on its well-meaning face circa the 1980’s power suit wearing, capitalist mega-boom.

The hippy dream, was in the end just that, a dream; and it lay bubbling below the surface for decades.  Something happened though to slowly re-awaken us, and that something was the world wide web.

Equality Uploaded

The children of the internet and specifically social media were of course the Millennials. This generation grew up with idea that global networks and open, mass communication were not only a norm but a birth right.

Millennials subconsciously wired their brains around accessibility for all and formed their identity around global social connection. Millennials could talk to someone from any country and any background instantly from their dial-up home computer for the first time in human history.

What this openness and accessibility created was the idea that we are not just individuals, forced to be part of an economic dog-eat-dog chain, but that we are in fact a plateaued communication network, which can and does work outside of the current status quo.

This by nature had the hippy fingerprints of equality, love and justice built into the framework. The hippy ideals were effectively uploaded onto our digital world and its main ambassadors were and still are the children of the technological revolution, the millennials.

I am you and you are the internet

Millennials, as a generation, also share that same hippy hunger – to do something good and to make a difference in the world. This innate nature and a digital world at their fingertips, meant that Millennials unintentionally managed to do what the children of the revolution failed to do – they found a practical way to disseminate humanitarian ideals.

Instead of trying to create a shared, ethereal belief to shake up the government, they side-lined the powers-that-be and went straight for tools of the people.  What they helped to create is a living and social hub of connectivity which is so powerful it is now holding authorities, businesses, and social norms to account. It has turned society on its head without the majority of people even realising.

You can see proof of this everywhere. Here are 3 hippy concepts that have been adapted for the modern age, have become mainstream through technology and are widely propagated by millennials:

  1. Conscious Capitalism

Something that sets modern day apart from the 1960s is that we have come to the pragmatic conclusion that necessary evils can’t be avoided. Conscious capitalism was born out of a need to stop the rampant injustices of money over people but also being fully aware of the complexities of overthrowing such a deep-rooted system. Conscious capitalism tries to find a balance between the two, some examples include:

  • Fair Trade
  • Social Enterprise
  • Corporate Responsibility
  • Collectives and cooperatives
  • Ethical marketing
  1. Reinvention of Currency

The idea of currency is changing. The internet has given rise to the question “if we can exchange information freely, shouldn’t we be able to exchange everything else without using money?”

Huge movements have sprung up from this very idea, including bitcoin, streaming, free apps and online courses, skype and even WhatsApp. The very fact that we are trying to find a way of helping each other and running a business at the same time without necessarily paying each other is the modern version of a hippy colony.

  1. Social Media changing Political Landscapes

Social media has inadvertently created a worldwide platform for the common man to be heard. Inadvertently because the main goal of social media in its infancy was to solely connect people. It is now a digital megaphone to shout, debate, laugh about or cry into our opinions, hopes and wishes.

Because major social platforms are free and accessible to all, they subsequently have huge audiences, followings and create immense public awareness. This means that if a social issue creates a buzz or goes viral on the internet it now puts pressure on governments, who need to act because they are voted in by the people angrily typing on their twitter account.

Social media has created the seemingly impossible, it has given a voice to the individual and the government has to listen.

There are of course negatives to the story – fake news being one of the biggest issues of our time and arguably one of the main causes for Trump and Brexit as well as heightened violence and racism in many parts of the world.

However, the overriding point remains that we are now more in charge of our future than we have been before and we are actively using technology to finally push for what society should be – more just, more loving and more equal.


Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Breaking Ads – Google Adwords Heisenberg Effect

Setting up a Google Ads campaign is exciting for any business, generally it’s the first time they’ve advertised their website online and the whole prospect seems a little nervy as well as being exciting. Everyone likes to see how the ads are performing and who else they are competing with. But if you do not search and analyse your ads the correct way, you can, and will affect your ads and search results.

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle says:- You cannot measure observe something without changing that which you are measuring/observing.

As an example –  If you have an ad campaign setup for ‘Your Search Term’ and you google your search term to see where your adverts are but do not click your advert then you have inadvertently affected your ads relevancy for ‘Your Search Term’ in a negative way.

It doesn’t stop there either. I have heard many times people ask me “will my competition click my ads?” and “If I click my competitions adverts will it raise their bill and waste their budget?” – Both of these approaches will damage your own google ad campaign and improve your competitions ad campaign.

How? If you search Google for  ‘Your Search Term’ but click on your competitions adverts and not your own, you are inadvertently telling Google your competitions adverts are more relevant than your own. This will improve their ads relevance compared to yours which will make their adverts appear higher than your own, and also lower their cost per click.

Whilst clicking your competitions adverts Google track IP addresses, use cookies and probably track much more information such as MAC addresses and other geeky data that help them to analyse if your ads (and your competitions ads) have received any invalid activity.

What is Invalid Activity?

Invalid activity refers to clicks and impressions that Google suspect aren’t the result of genuine customer interest. Google don’t charge you for invalid activity on your ads and credit those ad click costs back to your account.

For Example – Invalid activity includes clicks and impressions performed by automated tools, as well as accidental clicks – for instance, if someone double clicks your ad.

If you want to track your ads and search results without receiving skewed results due to cookies and ip data then you need to use the Google tools that available in your ad account. The tools Google supply allow us to monitor and track your ads and Google positions the right way 🙂