Fiasco Design, an independent brand and digital studio based in Bristol, is delighted to announce several significant promotions across the agency as it marks its 14th year in business. Growing from a team of two to 15, the agency has delivered impactful work for major brands such as Microsoft, Just Eat, Miro, Vertical, and Good Energy.

At the heart of Fiasco Design‘s success is its people; a diverse team of 15 creative thinkers and doers, who are committed to making a positive impact on the businesses and people they partner with. “From day one, we had the belief that great ideas could come from anyone, anywhere. Our work is the result of a collective effort involving teams of passionate, determined individuals. Giving everyone a voice has been crucial to our growth,” says co-founder Ben Steers.

This belief in the potential of all team members has fuelled the agency’s growth and has been vital in allowing those who started as interns and juniors to advance into significant roles, thereby shaping the agency’s culture and output. “Our focus on cultivating an inclusive environment where contributions are valued at all levels has shaped our culture and meant our people stay with us,” adds Ben.

This commitment, along with growth across some key areas of the business, has led to a series of promotions within the agency:

Chris, who joined two years ago as Associate Creative Director from Bristol-based agency Mr B & Friends, has been promoted to Creative Director. Known for his leadership and balanced approach to strategy and creativity, Chris has become an invaluable member of the senior management team.

Julia, starting as a junior designer in 2018, has climbed the ranks to Senior Designer and now steps up as Design Director. Her integral role in so much of the studios output over this time, underscores her professional growth and undeniable talent.

Marj, who began as Studio Manager in 2017, has moved up to Project Manager and now to Senior Project Manager. Marj has been instrumental in developing the Accounts team and nurturing the agency’s culture, now leading the agency’s project work, content offering, and workflow.

To further support the agency’s growth and ensure its financial stability, co-founder Ben Steers will transition from Creative Director to Executive Creative Director, and Jason Smith will take on the role of Director of Finance.

“Despite the challenges of the past year, we are optimistic about the future and new opportunities. These promotions are not just well-deserved; they are pivotal in helping us achieve our future goals,” concludes Ben.

At a Bristol Creative Industries keynote event in March, we were joined by Drew Benvie, founder of global social media agency Battenhall. He shared insights from the company’s 11th annual social media trends reports. In this post, Dan Martin summarises Drew’s brilliant talk. 

When it comes to social media, Drew knows his stuff. At the age of seven, he taught himself how to code on an Amstrad CPC 464, and in 2006 he was the first to coin the term ‘social media’ on Wikipedia. Drew founded Battenhall in 2013 and now employs 120 people in the UK and overseas.

Opening his talk, he said:

“There are more places than ever to commit your time and your advertising money, so it’s important you know where to invest. You could stick to a few but the average person in the UK is active on six social networks. In India, it’s 10. If you’re trying to reach your target audience, you have to do more than ever before to really stand out.”

Safety and purpose on social media

Social media is ubiquitous. Eight out of 10 people who use social media do so actively. Brits spend 75% of our working day looking at a screen of some sort, with teens spending around 5.3 hours a day on social.

But over the last year, Drew said, various things have happened, such as “the implosion of Twitter” following Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform, “that has made me feel that safety on social media is an important thing”.

“Social media is now toxic to many, whether it’s the stuff that we see that should be taken down, or the actions from one user to another that are allowed unfettered on social media.”

A million posts are removed by Meta every day, Drew said, while TikTok employs 40,000 people to moderate content.

Amid all this, social media owners are appearing in front of regulators around the world, as governments look to bring in new legislation that regulates social media.

So what does this mean for brands? Drew’s advice is:

Social media and AI

AI (artificial intelligence) is one of the most unstoppable forces,” Drew said.

See below for what ChatGPT created when he asked it to show a vision of Bristol in the future!

AI in action from @drewb in @Bristol_CI keynote.

“ChatGPT, show me a vision of Bristol in the future.”@brunelsbridge still going strong! @battenhall #Bristol #Battenhalltrends pic.twitter.com/r6E000jO4X

— Dan Martin (@Dan_Martin) March 12, 2024

AI helps to speed up creativity”, and you should think of it as “your brainstorm buddy”, Drew advised.

You can already use AI features on social media platforms to create or improve content, but Drew said “there is an important balance between making something authentic because it is created by a human and harnessing the power of AI to speed things up when you need to”.

He continued:

“I’m an advocate of using AI to augment what you do, not replace it. Get it to do the stuff that you shouldn’t really spend time doing.”

Drew said consider AI as your “brainstorm buddy”. He recommended experimenting with AI tools, such as ChatGPT and Google Gemini, and see which work best for you. Remember that AI isn’t just for generating content, you can also use it for tasks like analysing data.

As an example of AI in action with creative content, Drew shared a campaign using AI that Battenhall delivered for a client.

The children of employees at General Electric were asked to draw what they thought their parents did for a job. Battenhall then used AI to create images based on the drawings that were used for social media posts.

On LinkedIn, the content delivered the top-performing post for the whole quarter, more than doubling the benchmark engagement rate for the quarter. In addition, the campaign contributed to a 12% increase in the number of new followers (month on month).

Drew warned that brands should also be aware of the ethical, regulatory and legal issues around AI such as who owns the content you produce using the technology.

Life after Twitter

The fallout from Elon Musk buying Twitter led to an exodus of users signing up for other social media platforms. Many people switched to Mastodon, the open source social network, and Meta launched Threads, an app linked to Instagram which became the fastest to reach 100 million followers.

“There are 35 social networks with over 100 million active users [see some of them on page 7 of the ‘Life after Twitter’ report] and endless niche communities. That is my biggest learning from what has happened to Twitter. Niche is now good. It’s ok to be small.”

The biggest beneficiary of “the carnage at Twitter”, Drew said, is LinkedIn. It reported a 41% increase in volume of content between 2021 and 2023.

Drew’s tips and insights for LinkedIn are:

But the most important tip for choosing where to engage on social media, is pay attention to your audience and where they hang out. There’s no one size fits all.

“Be really analytical. Figure out what your audience does, where they spend their time, what trends they follow.”

Entertainment and being unhinged on social media

“TikTok calls itself an entertainment platform, not a social network, and it’s a places other social media platform are trying to emulate.”

Drew said TikTok has shown to brands the power of being entertaining. “I think every brand in 2024 has the ability to be more entertaining.”

“Any brand can do anything on social media. People expect a brand to be a person, to have a voice. The unhinged, entertaining and educational stream of content coming through on platforms like TikTok is creating opportunities for even the most boring brands to be entertaining, informative and educational.”

Drew said the three ways brands can be entertaining are:

One example of an entertaining brand that is “completely unhinged” is Duolingo on TikTok. “My kids want to spend their pocket money on learning languages on Duolingo beause the owl is so engaging.”

For an example of good educational content, Drew recommended Channel 4 on Threads.

“What makes social media content work is engagement, sentiment uptick, and visibility for people that are hard to reach. Entertaining content achieves on all those fronts.

“Think about how you can tell stories and answer questions. People want to learn new things. Think about the niches users might want to know about that are linked to your brand. Even with something a bit more corporate, there’s a story to tell and an audience looking for answers. Consider various different channels to reach your target audience.

“To create content that’s right for you, think about your brand personality. Place yourself in your audience’s shoes, and don’t be afraid to either stay in your lane and do one thing well, or branch out and try lots of different things. Social media is all about experimenting. Post things. Delete them. Start a channel. Let it go. That’s all fine.”

The rise of creators

Drew said that the fatigue that many people have with influencers and the creation of content about something they are paid to say is good has helped bring about a creator culture:

“There are more people creating more things with more creativity on more platforms more often. Creators provide opportunities for any brand because your niche is out there somewhere.

“A creator’s goal is to produce high quality, authentic content. For that, they want to work with brands. If you find the right ones, they are usually cheaper to work with than influencers, you can do more meaningful projects with them, and they tend to be more authentic.

“A creator might have a smaller audience than an influencer but they often can do more with less. They also might not ask for money if there’s some other type of value exchange such as early access to a new product.”

Instagram and YouTube are the most popular platforms for creators, but delve into any channel and you’ll likely find a vibrant creator culture, Drew said.

Other networks to explore include spontaneous photo sharing app BeReal, communication platform Discord and livestreaming community Twitch. Private communities, such as Facebook and WhatsApp groups, are another format worth looking at.

To stay updated on future Bristol Creative Industries keynote events, sign up for our newsletter.

For Earth Day, the team at Something Familiar have taken a deep dive into sustainable website design. Looking at what it truly means, common pitfalls and how to start making more eco conscious moves – without losing sight of your brand identity.

How can digital designers make choices to minimise their environmental impact? In this blog, we explore what actions we can take to create websites that are both engaging and better for the planet.

What is sustainable or low carbon website design?

Sustainable website design is all the noise these days, and for good reason. Historically, web design practices have failed to consider the environmental consequences of maintaining a website. With an average of 1.76g of CO2 emitted per page view, the cumulative impact becomes significant. For instance, a site with 100k page views per month emits approximately 2,112kg of CO2 annually! A car travelling 8,000 miles emits roughly the same amount of CO2, which is mad.
*Source

So what exactly is Sustainable web design?

It refers to the practice of creating websites with minimal negative impact on the environment, both in terms of resource consumption and emissions. This approach considers the entire lifecycle of a website, from design through to development, hosting, maintenance and user interaction.

On top of environmental impact, sustainable design also involves two other important aspects:

  • Social Responsibility
    Practising user-friendly accessible design, paired with respectful, inclusive content ensures it’s suitable for a wide range of audiences.
  • Economic Sustainability
    Taking this considered approach during the design phases could also streamline the development process, and minimise the page processing power. Ensuring the site is lightweight, future proof and built to last.

As cliche as it sounds we need to make a change. But how do we meet our green goals – without compromising our brand impact and website design?

It’s all about Sustainable Design Considerations

In this article we are focussing on the first phase of a website lifecycle – the initial design decisions you can implement to minimise your site’s environmental impact. This phase seems to be an area where little discussion is currently focused, but it comes hand in hand with development, so decisions made here are crucial.

We’re here to put you onto a few tips and tricks so you can get practising sustainable web design in no time. You’d be surprised what can be achieved through strategic design decisions.

Here’s are some things to consider when approaching your new sustainable website design:

  • Over-application of ‘best’ practice.
    Yes you can remove video, and yes you can use system fonts… but should you? We don’t want to lose the soul of your brand as a result of this practice, so remain conscious about your objectives. Keep it chill.
  • Set your objectives
    Addressing what needs to be done to improve your impact at the end of a project can lead to non-optimal solutions – think first.
  • Do your research
    Design-focused resources for sustainable impact are few and far between, so when you come across design inspiration that’s also incredibly sustainable – save it and share it.
  • Carbon calculator hype
    Yes, these are helpful and insightful, but it’s important to not prioritise your score over experience or business objectives. Also at the time of writing, these calculators seem to only measure initial page-load, which is not always an accurate reflection of page size.

To summarise, and maybe over simplify this topic, having a low-impact website typically means stripping things back. So using smaller images, removing video, less content on a page, avoiding multiple fonts etc.

But how can you do this without diluting your brand? It’s a challenge that we have been facing so we created a methodology that aligns impact and expectations.

Determine how far you want to give your website a green glow-up.

At Something Familiar, we’ve adapted a tiered approach to sustainable web development – The Gold, Silver Bronze approach. By understanding your business positioning and communication priorities we can build a sustainable website, without impacting your brand presence.

We’ve sourced some excellent example websites to see where they fall on our scale. All of these websites demonstrate excellent design and brand impact, but offer varying levels of sustainable web design.

GOLD: Lean and Green

Those who have achieved sustainable website zen! Exemplary brand communication and aesthetic, whilst upholding impressively low page weight. Sacrifices are evident in the absence of motion and video, with minimal utilisation of photography, opting primarily for a typography or vector-based design approach. However, these sacrifices are executed with meticulous consideration and attention to detail.

Genesis

https://eatgenesis.com/
A 100% plant based alchemy restaurant concept.
Design notes:

  • The trippy illustrations are light on the load time. Fun and super memorable.
  • On desktop the cursor becomes a source of subtle light – encouraging interaction with the illustrations.
  • It’s simple – a responsive one pager. Due to the optimised content it responds very well to different screen breakpoints.
  • The dark colour scheme consumes less power on devices – see more on the benefits of dark mode here.
  • Carbon rating: A
  • First visit from Beacon – CO2: 0.026g / SIZE: 82.24 KB

 

Happy Base

https://happybase.monwest.nl/en
Offering up creative services and coaching.
Design notes:

  • Media placement is minimal, light and small. Used strategically where it counts for warmth, adding depth to content.
  • The annotations and scribbles feel like an effective on-brand wayfinding device, encouraging scroll exploration.
  • Confident use of strong heading typography, combined with shapes – instead of images.
  • Carbon rating: B (which goes to show you can still have a great score, without being just a one pager.)
  • First visit from Beacon CO2: 0.388g / SIZE: 1.03 MB

 

Doing Good: The Something Familiar Impact Report

https://impact-2023.somethingfamiliar.co.uk/
It wouldn’t be right if we plug our own B Corp impact report microsite now would it 😜
Design notes:

  • We made it our challenge to get to A+. 94% cleaner of all web pages globally on the website carbon calculator (a real challenge when you want to show off everything achieved in the last 12 months)
  • Our stickers go a long way to inject personality. Light little Lottie Files to compliment each chapter, SF style.
  • We used a low code page builder, Bricks Builder, built with clean bloat free code.
  • Our use of video was minimised by looping short autoplay clips rather than playing entire video content.
  • Carbon rating: A
  • First visit from Beacon – CO2: 0.131g / SIZE: 420.56 KB

SILVER: Sustainable standard

Could this be the ideal equilibrium? Introducing distinctive and captivating features that depart from typographic and flat styling, incorporating depth and distinctive Javascript interactions and animations. Meticulous attention is given to the utilisation of video and highly optimised images.

Flayks

https://flayks.com/
Portfolio site of designer/art director Félix Péault
Design notes:

  • The layout is incredible and highly engaging. This is partially due to super confident use of typography – it does a lot of the work in place of heavy media.
  • Video is used strategically, and only plays when within your viewport.
  • Carbon rating: B
  • First visit from Beacon – CO2: 0.131g / SIZE: 420.56 KB

Flying Papers

https://www.flyingpapers.com/
Beautifully branded cannabis products.
Design notes:

  • The jiggy illustrated characters are really cute and memorable – helps to feel immersed in their brand-world.
  • Lovely experience on mobile, a scalable approach that feels consistent to the big screens.
  • Clever use of variable fonts and viewport responsive design to keep the ratio of content to whitespace even.
  • Carbon rating: C
  • First visit from Beacon – CO2: 0.634g / SIZE: 1.69 MB

Pest Stop Boys

https://peststopboys.co.uk/
A contemporary pest control service.
Design notes:

  • Illustrations utilising that vibrant colour palette eliminate the need for any images on the site.
  • Simple, subtle interactions go a long way: the transitions, rollover links and on-scroll illustration movement is fun.
  • The cursor in the hero encourages exploration and puts the brand in centre focus, without using heavy media.
  • Carbon rating: C
    First visit from Beacon – CO2: 0.627g / SIZE: 1.97 MB

BRONZE: Luxury over low-carbon 

Basic in terms of sustainability, but bespoke in terms of design impact. These sites offer incredible experiences to their users and have won Awwwards for their work, but this comes at the sacrifice of page weight. Keep in mind though that these sites have different objectives and are aimed at a smaller audience.

Mita

https://www.joinmita.com/
A new app to share and invest in artists.
Design notes:

  • A slick, contemporary site to that’s bespoke down the small details, even the cookie consent looks legit.
  • It’s media rich, and has to be to sell the features and benefits of the platform.
  • It also prioritises aesthetic over accessibility – which is a reflection of the audience it’s targeting.
  • This won an Awwwards SOTM (site of the month,) which is a huge accolade.
  • Carbon rating: E
  • First visit from Beacon – CO2: 1.105g / SIZE: 3.48 MB

Opal Tadpole

https://opalcamera.com/opal-tadpole
Plush little cameras and webcams
Design notes:

  • Premium, elevated experience is priority over tip-top accessibility.
  • Silky smooth product renders are essential to show off the webcam specifications.
  • Plenty of immersive (but necessary) images and video to sell the product ramp up the page weight.
  • Carbon rating: F
  • First visit from Beacon – CO2: 6.539g / SIZE: 20.58 MB

Bearbrick Audio

https://bearbrick.audio/
Iconic collectibles from Medicom – now speaker-fied.
Design notes:

  • The dynamic apple-esque landing page serves up a really enjoyable experience to scroll through.
  • It’s media rich and interactive in order to convert – but also helps to sell the storytelling piece about Bearbrick ‘finding its voice’.
  • The on scroll animations and high quality assets are necessary to reflect the price point associated with collectable culture. Also helps to reinforce the value of the Medicom/Bearbrick brands.
  • Carbon rating: F (but a design: A)
  • First visit from Beacon – CO2: 7.307g / SIZE: 19.45 MB

So what action can you take?

Here’s some simple design-focused moves you can make now to start reaching green glowup. Ideally, these should all be actioned or considered at the beginning of a project.
  1. Variable fonts
    Reduce the amount of fonts being loaded on your site. A variable font ecompasses a slew of weights within one file, vs. the old days of loading 5-6 heavy separate files.
  2. Be strategic with media
    Beyond compressing/optimising your media, think about its value and positioning. Immersive images and video assets should be saved for key parts of communication.
  3. Make things move
    Elevate your website’s storytelling with scroll stopping motion. If you haven’t already, check out our Motion Manifesto, trust.
  4. To further this point, ramp up typography to really push how tone and messaging can be delivered without relying on heavy media.
  5. Main character: mobile
    Designing mobile first might not be your thing, but regardless of order – get your mobile design optimised. Cater to accessibility on small devices to make the experience just as beaut.
  6. Make accessibility breezy
    Get Stark (plugin) involved in your design process to eliminate any accessibility risks. It’s a lovely little plugin in Figma you can use to review typography, palettes and contrast. It’s all aligned with the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) too.
  7. Lastly, try to avoid accessibility overlays
    Here’s a great explainer why.

To wrap up…

With all this in mind, think about where your website to sit on the sustainable spectrum. Ultimately, the outcome is reaching a happy medium that meets objectives, delivers a killer experience and practises sustainability.

Or if you want us to do it – get in touch. ✌️

People don’t just buy products or services

People buy people… and people are made up of stories.

Studies have shown that 55% of people are more likely to buy a product if they love the story behind a brand.

But why do brand stories matter? What makes a brand story compelling and engaging?

What is a brand story?

As a business, or individual, your brand’s story should be a complete picture of who you are and why you do what you do – what is your mission and vision.

It encompasses the facts of your brand, but also the feelings created by your brand. It should be the foundation of every aspect of your content marketing. Without a brand narrative, your marketing will be typically vague and inconsistent.

Notice how we’ve not mentioned what you do here.

In his book and hugely popular TedTalk, Start With Why, Simon Sinek argues that most organisations communicate from the outside in.

They start with what it is they do, before going into the how. They rarely address the why. But the why is so important when it comes to telling stories and leveraging human appeal.

Sinek argues that inspired leaders and organisations communicate from the inside out, starting with the why, and then moving to how, before finally addressing what it is that they do.

“With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

This example, from Sinek, concisely shows this process in action. It is a reference to Apple and the way it starts with Why in its communications.

The theory emphasizes that people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

By starting with the “why,” organisations can differentiate themselves from their competitors, attract like-minded individuals who share their beliefs, and foster a loyal customer base or following.

This is where storytelling comes into play.

Why does brand storytelling matter?

Brand storytelling is an art form that can be traced back to as early as 1895.

This was when a farming magazine called ‘The Furrow,’ leveraged compelling brand stories as a way to connect with their target audience.

John Deere’s magazine is considered to be the first example of corporate storytelling. But since these early days, brands have continued to recognise the amazing power that stories have.

Fundementally people like stories, because they can create emotional connections with them. This connection then creates brand differentiation, humanisation, memorability and engagement.

These are incredibly important elements not only for building brand authenticity but for keeping a steady pipeline of engagement in a world where a lot of businesses are pushing a product or service.

Web or Funnel?

As more people are driven to make connections online, more brands and businesses use that online presence for reach and engagement.

This kind of activity would previously have been referred to as the marketing funnel. But that’s something of an outmoded term now.

The funnel is now more of a web.

The sheer volume of marketing communications coming the way of a consumer is staggering. From Google Search, to Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Blogs, News and more the consumer has never been bombarded with more information.

The term web is quite an apt one in this sense. Because the web of social and marketing comms is now so laden with competition, it easily becomes overly exhausting for the potential customer.

All it can take is one element of that web to break, for the whole thing to fall down.

A lot of brands have a story to tell. But the only way to create a story that will resonate with your customers is to understand the art of storytelling.

Storytelling: back to basics

Great stories are considered as such for several reasons. They take you on a journey. Great stories are relatable, they can inspire, engage, can even affect change. A good story is always:

Successful brand storytelling always has several key elements that create a compelling narrative.

An authentic story will help you articulate brand messaging, brand values and your brand’s mission.

Finding your voice

How can you leverage the power of storytelling for your brand? Let’s start with the basics

Define your brand

Before you can tell your story, you have to know your story.  Many organisations try to tell their brand story before they understand who they are and why their audience should care. It’s much easier to tell your brand’s story when you figure out:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you do
  3. Who you do it for
  4. Why you do it
  5. How you do it
  6. Why you’re unique

An essential part of any brand story starts, as you’d expect, at the beginning.

What is your brand’s purpose, why do you do what you do?  Why does your brand exist in the first place?

Identifying the answers to these questions will help you understand more about your brand. Once you establish your own brand’s identity, you can begin to tell your story.

Create consistent messaging

It’s important to have a clear and consistent message that emanates throughout your communication. But try to stay clear of sounding like you’re selling something…  show, don’t tell.

When you show who you are as a brand vs what you’re selling, you’re creating that emotional connection and brand differentiation. So, when it does come the time to drop a sales message,  you have that preexisting engagement and customer motivation.

Get to know your audience

You can really only achieve this if you know your audience.  To craft a compelling story that will speak to your customers, you need to properly understand them.

What motivates them, what inspires them, what moves them

Ask yourself who your customers are and why they should care about your brand. Define your buyer personas and think about the kinds of stories they want to hear.

Understanding your audience is imperative to not just your brand story, but your marketing strategy as a whole.

Shape the narrative

With your messaging shaped and your audience profiled, it’s time to define your narrative.

How do you want your audience to react? Do you want them to feel entertained? Informed? Educated?

Understanding these points will help you form your narrative and allow you to paint a picture of the kinds of stories and content that you should be producing.

Telling an authentic brand story goes beyond the ‘about us’ page on your website.

Instead, it’s interwoven into every aspect of communications

You’ll find that great brand stories are permeated through a brand’s social media posts, blogs, emails and website.

In today’s competitive and crowded marketplace, brand storytelling has become a powerful tool for companies to create meaningful connections with their customers, differentiate themselves, and establish a strong and memorable brand identity

Do you want to experience the value of great storytelling? Talk to the team at AMBITIOUS to discover how we can get more people talking about your brand [email protected] or call us on 0117 905 1177.

Algorithms are everywhere.

They decide what we see online, they dictate what search engines show us and the content we receive.

They’ve certainly changed the way the world does business and if you’ve spent any period of time online, you’re likely to have seen the term ‘beat the algorithm’ get thrown around. There is a notion, particularly in content terms, that beating the algorithm is what you need to do to get seen.

But how much of this sentiment is actually true?

Exactly what is ‘the algorithm’

It’s a somewhat ominous term. The notion of a central intelligence pushing Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok feeds. A machine that decides what Mob recipe you’ll see on Instagram this evening, what witty social media meme LinkedIn will feed you on your lunchtime scroll.

It’s not quite Skynet. But it is a set of rules and parameters to decide on the following:

1) What content to show to each individual user in their feed

2) How to rank and order that content in the feed

3) When to display that content to the user

Now ‘the algorithm’ looks at a lot of different factors and variables when making these decisions. It looks at users previous interactions, the types of content you’ve been engaging with, post time, engagement signals and the ‘perceived quality’ of the content itself.

So it’s doing quite a lot before it serves you your content.

The goal of the algorithm is to keep each user engaged and satisfied by showing them more of what they want to see… in theory.

But we all use social media and we all know that theory and practice are two very different things. This is why content creators cannot simply rely on techniques that “beat the algorithm” in any particular moment… it’s a mercurial, constantly shifting beast.

 

Lessons from a 25-year old Youtuber

Speaking of beasts…. Mr Beast aka Jimmy Donaldson. It might be a name that you’ve heard.

If you haven’t MrBeast is the world’s most successful YouTuber. Over 116,000,000 subscribers and a net worth of around £500million. It’s safe to say he is making the most out of content creation.

Some might say MrBeast is ‘beating the algorithm’ but is he really?

Search for MrBeast and what you’ll find alongside his insanely well-performing content, is adjacent content titled something along the lines of “We’ve stolen the secret to MrBeast content.”

The irony is, that these videos don’t have anywhere near the levels of reach and engagement that MrBeast does. Despite them claiming to have unlocked the cheat codes to the internet and here’s how you can be the next YouTube multi-millionaire.

If it worked, why isn’t everyone doing it?

To actually game the system and ‘beat the algorithm’ would require you to do nothing other than live in the trends section of every social channel, 24 hours a day, reacting and making content totally on the fly.

Now Jimmy Donaldson has the capacity and the resources to do this. But he’s also spent years honing his craft and getting himself into the position he is now. What Jimmy does, isn’t hacking or beating the algorithm, he makes content that he knows people are going to watch.

Jimmy didn’t ‘beat the algorithm’ Jimmy spent years studying virality and learning what content his audiences liked to consume. He put in the hard yards and now it’s paying off.

And that’s the real crux of the algorithm argument… you can’t cheat a content strategy.

Building consistency over time

Successful content is a skill that is built over years… it simply does not happen overnight.

Of course, you may find the odd piece outperforms or maybe even goes viral – which might happen once in a blue moon.  But to build any level of consistency will take time… and patience.

So rather than put your focus into ‘overcoming the algorithm’ focus instead on what your audiences want to see and hear. Play the algorithm and you might have a bigger audience, but is it the right audience?

Build it and they will come, right?

Focus on posting quality, relevant content!

By focusing on creating engaging content that is relevant and valuable to your audience, you will put yourself in the best possible position to build a loyal following.

By using data analytics and algorithmic information, you can make conscious decisions as to what formats and types of content are performing best at any given time. Leveraging data can help you create more effective content.

All roads lead back to making the kinds of content that your audiences want…

Be entertaining

People don’t want to watch boring content. It sounds harsh, but it’s true.

They’re too time-poor and bombarded with content from every possible angle. Your content might have the best call to action, but if it’s too dull or not engaging from the outset, the viewers are never going to make it to the stuff you really want them to see.

Engage

Don’t be a monolith, engage with your audience.

Don’t disable the comments and don’t leave clear questions and engagements unanswered.

Content strategy is much about creating a community than it is actually creating the content itself. Engaging with your audiences will heighten the likelihood of them remaining engaged with you moving forward.

This is probably one of the few areas where the notion of ‘gaming the algorithm’ is actually applicable. Replying to comments and creating engagements in the chat will actually boost your ratings in the algorithm. If it sees comments, it thinks ‘people like this, I’m going to show it to some more people.’

You might be able to ride the crest of a wave now and then. Jump on a trend, see a spike in engagement. You might, if you’re really lucky, go viral.

But these are temporary. They’re fleeting moments,

Ultimately there is no hack, there are no algorithmic cheats. There is no quick fix. You just have to put in the hard yards.

 

Navigating a new content strategy can be a daunting task and getting an experienced agency on board can help guide you to create a new content plan that will see success for your brand, so get in touch now

Mentor Digital is delighted to announce an expansion of our Digital Marketing services and the launch of a newly designed section of our website to showcase our new and improved offering across SEO, PPC and analytics.

Since adding ex-Google Strategist Dan Watt to our ranks as Digital Marketing Director last year, we have seen fantastic growth in both the amount and scope of digital marketing projects that we are working on for our clients.

Whilst delivering best-in-class, SEO optimised websites in Umbraco has been part of Mentor Digital’s offering for many years, our expanded offering sees us providing expertise across the entire digital marketing spectrum. Our services now include:

Paid media: including media planning and forecasting, campaign auditing and campaign build and management across paid search, paid social, video and display.

SEO: including website auditing, technical SEO, content strategy and production, inbound marketing and SEO migration consultancy.

Analytics: including Google Analytics 4 auditing and setup, Google Tag Manager auditing and tracking implementation and bespoke, real-time Looker Studio reporting dashboards.

We’re excited about what the year ahead will hold for our digital marketing team and our clients alike as we continue to expand our portfolio of work. If you would like a no obligation appraisal of the current SEO performance of your website, or an expert assessment of whether you could be spending your digital media budget more effectively, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Dan and his team.

 

If you are interested in human behaviour, especially online behaviour, you might enjoy the Digital Behaviour Podcast.  This is a podcast, produced here in Bristol, about human behaviour in the modern digital world.

In each episode, we [Dr Hanne Knight (Plymouth University) and Dr Tom Bowden-Green (Bristol Business School and BCI member)] discuss the latest academic research and chat to guests about how to understand human behaviour, and why this is important.  In the latest episode we chat to another BCI member, Ryan Webb, about conversion optimisation and his views on ethics.

Please let us know what you think, and subscribe if you enjoy it!  You’ll find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whichever podcast provider you listen to.  If you’d like to feature on the podcast, we’d also love to hear from you.

User experience (UX) comprises a vast array of principles and practices that help visitors navigate your website effectively, engage with your content, and progress to a desired outcome or transaction.

Businesses are becoming more and more savvy to the benefits of user-centric design and embracing the customer experience. But some are still overlooking certain elements of the user journey (thereby deprioritising the customer) – and to their detriment.

 

The perils of poor UX

If an overly complex checkout process can deter 27% of potential customers, consider how many are likely to drop off before they even reach a buying decision. So, while it may seem fussy to agonise over clicks or the wording of your calls to action (CTAs), these seemingly small moments along the user journey can make a huge difference.

So, now that we understand the scale of the problem, how can we go about creating a streamlined user experience based on best practice and customer-centric design principles?

First, let’s define some key terms:

Optimising website navigation

Website navigation is the backbone of your user journey. Without effective menus, buttons, and links, your site would have no direction. These elements should guide users to the information they need, and onto the next logical step.

Effective navigation can significantly enhance the usability and accessibility of a website.It also enhances customer satisfaction, improves engagement, and can lead to better conversion rates.

So how can you ensure your website navigation meets UX best practices? Here’s a simple framework (and mnemonic) you can use: SASS ME

Simplicity

An uncomplicated menu structure facilitates quick information retrieval and task completion.

Accessibility

Employ readable fonts, contrasting colours, and strategic placement to enhance visibility.

Signposting‍

Clear, easy-to-read labels and buttons (with calls to action (CTAs) like ‘Contact us’ or ‘Request a quote’) provide users with direction and an understanding of what to expect.

Sitemap

Website navigation isn’t solely about your users. A sitemap needs to be readily available so that search engine crawlers can navigate it effectively too. It can also be a great place to start when planning your information architecture.

Mobile optimisation

With over half of internet traffic coming from mobile devices, navigation should be touch-screen friendly for effortless tapping and responsive browsing across every device size.

Engagement

Your navigation menu isn’t the only way your users jump from page to page, so use your content blocks and CTAs wisely. A more engaging user journey encourages longer sessions, improves conversion rate, and makes navigation intuitive and enjoyable.

Understanding the user journey

Setting out the perfect user journey involves understanding and mapping out how users interact with your site from their first visit to the final action you want them to take. This could be making a purchase, requesting a quote, registering interest, or getting in touch.

The goal is to create a seamless, intuitive, and satisfying experience that guides users towards each of your desired outcomes.

Best practice for setting up an effective user journey:

By following just a few simple steps, you can create a watertight user journey that minimises bounce rate and maximises conversions.

1. Understand your audience and create personas

Start by understanding your target audience. Research their needs, preferences, pain points, and behaviours. Then, create user personas to represent different segments of your audience. This helps in tailoring the journey to different user needs.

2. Define user goals and business objectives

Identify what users want to achieve on your website (e.g. find information about your services, buy a product, read industry news) and align these goals with your business objectives (e.g., increase sales, generate leads).‍

3. Map the current user journey

Analyse the existing path users take on your website using tools like Google Analytics, heatmaps, and user feedback. Identify any pain points, bottlenecks, or areas where users drop off. You’ll also want to consider how users will enter your site (homepage, landing pages, blog articles) and optimise these entry points.

4. Tailor content and simplify conversion

Ensure your content addresses the needs, desires, and questions of your users at each stage of their journey. Crucially, minimise the number of steps needed to complete a conversion (e.g. making a purchase, signing up for your newsletter, or getting in touch) and ensure forms are simple and easy to fill out.

5. Optimise for different devices and channels

Ensure your website is responsive and provides a seamless experience on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Consider how different channels (social media, email, ads) impact the user journey and optimise accordingly.

6. Incorporate feedback loops

Use surveys, user testing, and analytics to gather feedback on the user experience. Regularly review this feedback to identify areas for improvement. And finally: test, test, test!  Constant testing and optimisation will ensure your site stays up to date, your users enjoy the best possible experience and you’re ahead of any issues or bugs that may arise.

By prioritising UX, businesses can ensure higher levels of customer satisfaction, but also engagement, trust and loyalty, leading to increased conversions and retention. So, investing in a meticulous, user-centric design approach is not just a best practice, it’s a strategic must.

If you would like a free consultation to discuss your website’s UX contact us at [email protected].

You’d be forgiven for thinking your web presence had a small, rather insignificant impact on the environment, but research shows this isn’t the case.

In fact, the average website produces 4.61 grams of CO2 for every page view. For websites that have an average of 10,000 page views per month, we’re talking approx. 553 kilograms of COeach year. For high-traffic websites and businesses with multiple domains, that figure represents just a fraction of the actual emissions you’re putting out.

That’s right. Your website has its own carbon footprint.

The internet consumes a lot of electricity: 240-340 TWh per year according to the IEA. In fact, if the internet was a country, it would be the world’s 4th largest polluter – ranking higher than the United Kingdom.

With businesses around the world committed to reducing their emissions and helping to fight climate change, it’s important we all take responsibility for our digital footprint, too.

By investing in more sustainable web design, we’ll also benefit from faster load times, a more enjoyable user experience, and a better chance of ranking higher in Google search results. Basically, everyone wins.

What is sustainable web design?‍

Sustainable web design is an approach to designing digital products and services that focuses on environmental impact first and foremost. It respects the principles of the Sustainable Web Manifesto, which calls for the internet to be clean, efficient, open, honest, regenerative, and resilient.

4 simple steps to website sustainability

To help you navigate the world of sustainable web design, we’ve put together a few top tips. For more comprehensive guidelines, download your FREE checklist.

  1. Embrace JEDI design

No, i’m not talking about harnessing the force. JEDI stands for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Remember, not everyone’s surfing the web with perfect vision, the latest tech and lightning-fast connections. Justin Reyna put it perfectly when he said: “Not creating accessible products is just rude”. So let’s make the digital world enjoyable for all, not just a privileged few.

By striving to meet the highest possible accessibility standards, you can enhance code quality, which in turn boosts energy efficiency and elevates your SEO rankings –it’s a no-brainer.

  1. Simplify user journeys

Did you know that 90.6% of web pages get zero traffic from Google? That’s why it’s best to prioritise page quality over quantity. Simplifying the user experience doesn’t only serve to help people find what they’re looking for. It’s also more energy-efficient, because it reduces the number of wasted clicks needed to navigate your website.

  1. Reduce page weight

Lightweight pages load faster and consume less energy. Saving your assets in optimal formats and sizes, using video content efficiently, and embracing dark mode can all help.

  1. Choose green hosting

Last, but not least, switch to a hosting provider powered by 100% renewable energy, e.g. Krystal. Unsure about your current hosting? The Green Web Foundation’s checker can help.

How do you calculate your website’s carbon impact?

Whilst it’s relatively straightforward to track the environmental impact for most major industries (e.g. miles per gallon for cars or energy per square meter for homes), it’s not as simple to measure the amount of COproduced while browsing the internet. Fortunately, the team at Sustainable Web Design have created a comprehensive methodology for estimating emissions.

If you have any questions about your website’s sustainability, you can request a free website audit here and we will send you a breakdown of different areas that you could improve. Or feel free to contact us at [email protected], for a no obligation chat.

Grow your own online presence ­– a comprehensive guide to digital marketing strategy

Business customers do the majority of their decision-making online. Gartner research shows that in 2019 27% of buying groups’ time was spent researching independently online.

This figure has now increased, with Hubspot’s research suggesting that “58% of consumers say they’ve discovered at least one new product by searching the internet in 2022, and 44% say they’ve done so in the past three months.”

But a buyer’s time is precious and it’s important you aren’t cold calling or interrupting their workday, you want to meet them at a time that is convenient for them.

Digital marketing meets prospects where they are, whether that’s via their browser, their favourite sites or on social media channels such as LinkedIn. It can put your product or services in front of the right people, at the right time.

“86% of marketers increased brand awareness using one or more digital marketing channel” – Hubspot

While it presents great opportunities, the digital landscape is unique and ever-changing. It’s constantly evolving and updating to offer new ways of reaching your target audience.

So, with that in mind, we’ve put this guide together to help you efficiently create, optimise and maintain your all-important digital marketing strategy in just a few easy steps.

Building a bespoke strategy

When it comes to digital marketing strategy, one size really doesn’t fit all. So, before you get started, it’s important to tailor your approach for your audience.

1.     Use existing data to enhance your digital strategy

Using an analytics platform, you can answer the crucial questions that will inform your marketing strategy and ensure you’re targeting the right people. With platforms like GA4 (previously Google Analytics) you can learn who your target audience is and how current website visitors are engaging with your content.

2.     Build your buyer personas

Using the information you’ve gathered from your analytics platform, you can enhance your strategy with detailed buyer personas. Getting to the heart of your audience and their needs is vital. You need to work out where they are most likely to spend their time and how they prefer to digest digital content. This will give you a benchmark on how to create yours.

3.     Evaluate your existing digital channels and assets

You will need to review your existing digital marketing channels. We recommend using the paid-earned-owned media framework.

This will ensure you can maximise value from existing assets and fill in the gaps where needed.

4.     Audit and identify gaps in your content

Review and rank all your existing content according to what has previously performed well. The idea here is to figure out what’s working and what isn’t, so you can set yourself up for success when planning new content. You’ll then need to identify the gaps and build out a new content plan.

“Worldwide ad spending in the digital market is projected to reach 679.80 billion USD in 2023″ – Statista

Curating an enviable digital marketing toolkit

Once all the planning is out of the way, it’s time to define your digital marketing toolkit. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a go-to selection to get the wheels of change in motion (and by change, we mean growth).

1.    A well-optimised, user-friendly website

The first thing you’ll want to get right is your website. How is it ranking in organic search results? What keywords are your competitors ranking for that you’re not? Is the user journey working well? Are your CTAs converting? Does your website meet accessibility standards and user experience (UX) best practices? These are all questions you’ll want to ask yourself before working to get more traffic to your site. 

2.    Blog posts

A great, well-written blog that solves a customer problem is a great way to attract new audiences with a genuine interest in your products and services. And because you’ve crafted your personas and drilled down into the pain points of your target audience, you’re fully prepped to write or commission highly targeted content that’s helpful for your reader.

3.     Social media advertising

Social media advertising can drive leads, boost revenue, increase brand awareness and more. It’s where your customers feel most at home, and where they prefer to spend their free time. This creates an opportunity to engage more authentically and have more meaningful interactions.

Did you know according to Hubspot research there are over 2.38 billion monthly active users on Facebook? And 500 million daily Instagram users?

Social media has an impressive reach and great effectiveness, it allows you to nurture leads in real time. With social ads, you can set your budget and easily adjust it within the platform you’re using.

4.     PPC via Google Ads

PPC (pay-per-click) advertising is a highly favoured part of the digital marketer’s toolkit. This is because it can have a big impact in the short-term and show clear results. But it’s worth noting that it’s most effective in combination with always-on brand activity and well-optimised organic content.‍

What is PPC advertising?

PPC (pay-per click) is a form of advertising that allows you to pay a fee each time a user clicks through to your website from another platform.

Typically, when we talk about PPC, we mean advertising on the search engine results page (SERP). PPC advertising is commonly seen on Google results, showing up like this:

View image in blog here.

“63% of people have clicked on a Google ad” – Statista. How can PPC boost your digital presence? PPC advertising increases the number of leads and customers you’re reaching, unlocking otherwise untapped potential.

Google Ads is one of the most recommended tools for lead generation. If your campaigns are set up properly with a clear user journey, it has the potential to send extremely targeted leads to your website, opt-in form or other online property.

Google Ads allows you to focus on the people who are searching for the exact services your business offers, it’s also flexible. You can easily customise campaigns to focus on specific demographics of online users. For example, you can target people by location, the type of device they’re using, and the Google-owned websites they’re accessing (e.g. Google search, Google Maps, YouTube).

You can even set your own budget for specific parts of a campaign. For example, you can set daily budgets, or limits on the amount you’re willing to spend on clicks for specific keywords.

“The average cost per click on google ads is £0.75-£1.50″ – Demandsage

But you won’t get far on spending alone.

To get a clearer picture of what will give you the best results, you must continually test, track and optimise your campaigns.

“The average conversion rate on Google Ads is 4.40%” – Consolidata

So, now you know how to prepare a digital marketing strategy. And all the key components that will help you grow your online presence.

But as every marketer knows, the proof is in the pudding. By which we mean, growth relies on constant trial and error, A/B testing, research, analytics, and a constant stream of top-quality content that brings all your goals to fruition.

And that’s a hell of a lot to implement – even for a whole team of marketers.

That’s why we’re offering a free, no obligations consultation on your digital marketing strategy and marketing automation potential.