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Preparing for the Summer Holidays

By Jennifer Esty  |  June 30, 2017

Despite the weather outside, summer is nearly here, and you may be looking forward to a break abroad, or even taking your chances here in the UK (with umbrellas and cagoules at the ready).  But who is looking after your digital marketing while you’re away?

If you have an agency helping you out, you might not be too worried. However, if you’re looking after it on your own, or with a small team – some of whom are also on holiday – there are a few things you can do to make sure all the hard work of the past few months isn’t compromised by a week or two away…

Using AdWords?

If you have Google AdWords campaigns running, download the Google AdWords app (not AdWords Express). This handy app gives you top-line campaign information including:

  • Stats
  • Bids and budgets
  • Real-time alerts and notifications
  • Call a Google expert
  • Act on suggestions to improve your campaigns

Schedule Your Content

Not all of your potential customers will be on holiday, so don’t let your content go stale while you are away. You can schedule content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

There are loads of tools you can use, including HootSuite, Sprout Social and TweetDeck.

Also, make sure you’re promoting an appropriate CTA—don’t offer a free trial sign up if there aren’t enough staff around to actually set up the free trials!

Using Facebook

With Facebook Pages Manager you can view and respond to comments and private messages from your phone (as well as see Page Insights), and Facebook Adverts Manager allows you to edit your ads and budgets, get notifications of when ads are finishing and keep an eye on your spending.

(I’ve yet to find a good app for managing LinkedIn advertising, please get in touch if you find one!)

Still Send Emails

Most email platforms will allow you to send emails scheduled for a specific time. Marketing automation platforms also allow you set up automatic email sends based on user behaviour. So you don’t need to stop your lead nurturing over the holiday period whilst you’re at that barbecue or lying on the beach…

Think About Your Website

As with email, most content management systems (CMS) have an option to schedule content. Nothing screams ‘I’ve gone on holiday and don’t care about you right now’ like outdated seasonal content on your site.

If your website CMS doesn’t have a schedule function, consider putting your best performing content on the homepage whilst you’re away, or at least don’t leave up information about an out-of-date event during your break.


Use the budgeting functionality on your paid media platforms to ensure you don’t overspend while you’re away. If your business is seasonal, have a quick look at last year’s performance; and if it’s not, a quick look at last month’s, to determine your maximum exposure.

The main platforms all have daily budgets as part of standard set up, but AdWords and Bing also offer decent monthly budgeting functionality for those longer holidays.


Google also offers a Google Analytics app which is reasonably good for basic monitoring and will allow you to at least get a high-level view of your activity, especially useful for answering ‘quick’ questions from your MD whilst you’re away.

Again, keep in mind seasonality and remember many sensible people like you will also be on holiday so volume (though hopefully not performance) may dip.

Finally… Check with Your Sales Team

Make sure there is a plan in place to deal with inbound leads. If you have a small sales team who are also on holiday, make sure someone will be monitoring the group email address and the phone won’t be going unanswered.

If unfortunate scheduling means there will be days when no one can manage calls from prospects, or customers for that matter, consider enlisting the help of a call handling agency to get you through the holiday season.

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Is your CRM system killing conversions?

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 17, 2017

My CRM system has nothing to do with online conversions I hear you say. And that should be true.

But have a look at your lead capture forms and take a good hard look at the mandatory (and non-mandatory fields) on them.

Are you asking for first and last name separately? Are you asking for separate address and postcode lines? Are you asking prospects for their company name or job title, their phone number when you have no intention of calling them or their email address when you have no intention of emailing them?

And then ask yourself—are you doing this because your CRM system ‘needs this information’? Or because someone told you the CRM  system can’t create a record without them? Or that the information needs to be formatted to make it compatible with your CRM system?

Then your CRM system is killing conversions—because form fields kill conversions. You add more fields you get fewer conversions. You make those fields mandatory you get even fewer conversions.

You don’t have to take my word for it, loads of conversion experts have looked into this issue. (Check out Hubspot’s blog post for starters.)

How do you rein in your CRM system?

A few practical steps to take:

  1. Verify that the claims about your CRM system are true, most systems in the market have different set ups for leads and customers—so the data you need for a lead can be much less rigorous than for a fully-fledged customer
  2. Speak to your sales team—what do they need as a bare minimum for a lead? Can they find out some of that information in other ways?
  3. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes—what does a customer get out of giving you the information? If I ask for a report to be sent to me, asking for email address is sensible. If I ask for a free catalogue, asking for my address is hardly a surprise. If I want to watch a video giving you my first name, last name, job title, industry sector, phone number and an email address is, well, you lost me at job title.
  4. Consider marketing automation—these systems help nurture leads through the process of getting to know your brand, of establishing trust and giving you relevant information at appropriate points in the funnel. A marketing automation system can hold lead data until it is sufficiently qualified to be passed over to Sales, and into the CRM system.
  5. Think mobile—long forms are worse on mobile, if you can’t give up those extra fields on desktop at least consider dropping them from the mobile version.

Optimise, Optimise, Optimise

And while we’re on the subject, here are a few more pro tips for form conversion optimisation:

  • Make the form friendly to browser-based tools like autofill in Google Chrome (note that separate first name/last name fields are less likely to work with autofill).
  • Facebook and LinkedIn both have ad products that allow forms to be pre-populated.
  • Some marketing automation systems, like Act-On, support progressive profiling.

Now go have a look at the fields on your lead generation forms. Remove one or two. Analyse conversion rates before and after. And let me know how you get on!

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Increase qualified sales leads by 600% with Digital Transformation?

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 3, 2016

Digital Transformation

Sound too good to be true? That is exactly what Oxford Innovation achieved as part of their strategic digital transformation work with Sharp Ahead.

Oh, and they also saw a 90% reduction in client acquisition costs and were 120% ahead of their sales targets for the launch of their Fareham Innovation Centre.

Don’t take our word for it

Come hear Oxford Innovation’s Marketing & Business Development Director, Jo Willet, share her experience of digital transformation at this year’s B2B Marketing Summit.

Jo will give a detailed case study of the digital strategy that started with a single centre launch and has since transformed the way OI market their centres around the UK.

Outlining the specific challenges and marketing strategies design to overcome them, Jo will discuss geo-targeted search marketing, Google My Business, paid search for both branded and generic keywords, mobile, retargeting and more.

To secure your place to see Jo, register today.

Can’t wait for June? Get in touch with us directly and find out how Sharp Ahead’s team of B2B digital marketing experts can help you.

About Oxford Innovation

OI manages a network of business and innovation centres across the UK, providing a supportive home for a community of growing businesses. Visit their website or Google them and check out their Google My Business listing.

About the B2B Marketing Summit

Held this year on June 22 in London, the B2B Marketing Summit is an extravaganza of the great and good in B2B and a chance to refresh the way you look at your marketing.

The event is designed for those marketers at the sharp end of B2B – those leading the charge within their organisation and always eager to keep ahead of the curve.

Find out more or register here.

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A little more information on Sharp Ahead

By Emma Grimshaw  |  March 23, 2015

By 2017, over half of B2B marketing spend will go on digital. But what should you spend it on? How about identifying and staying connected with new and existing prospects?

Growing Your Online Brand Presence

  • Maybe you’ve thought about updating your website or focusing on building fans on social media? We tell most of our clients not to bother!
  • Utilising a blend of organic and paid search tactics, measurable KPIs, marketing analytics and Customer Relationship Management (CRM), we’ll help you reach out and stay connected with those in the market for your specialist products or services. Sharp Ahead can increase brand interaction and provide insight into what your customers really want.
  • Once we understand the needs and behaviour of your customer, you will then be equipped with the insights you need to design and build a new website that will be an asset to your brand. We can advise the best approach to get results—and how to measure, analyse and understand them.

Generating Sales Leads

  • Did you know that most B2B buyers (80%+) now go online to find a supplier? But how can you make sure they find you and not your competitors?  And how can you make sure they take action and contact you?
  • Sharp Ahead are specialists in learning and, more importantly, understanding how customers buy from you, then optimising that journey for the web.
  • For quick results we often start with paid search tactics, including specially targeted landing pages, to deliver quality leads directly to your sales team. Our goal is to convert your customers from a Google search to a sales lead as effectively, and cheaply, as possible.
  • And with our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) expertise, we can optimise and grow sales using the customer and prospect connections you already have.

B2B Content Marketing

  • B2B marketers now dedicate nearly a third of their budget to content marketing, but the majority say they struggle with both creating effective and measuring performance.
  • B2B content marketing has gone way beyond the whitepaper. Online video, webinars, blogs and other inbound marketing methods are all delivering measurable and profitable results.
  • Sharp Ahead will develop a compelling content marketing strategy and resource your content creation where you need it, ensuring it complements your other marketing efforts and forms a meaningful part of your overall digital strategy.

Analysis & Research

  • 93% of B2B organisations are using content marketing in some form, but 33% feel that measuring and analysing results effectively is one of their greatest challenges.
  • Despite their concern, only 13% of businesses make it a priority to outsource the measurement and analysis of their efforts to a specialist.
  • At Sharp Ahead we know that research and analysis is the backbone of a healthy digital marketing strategy. We will help you understand how your customers interact with your brand and content online, and implement tools for measuring the performance of every aspect of your digital marketing strategy, so you can keep an eye on your ROI.

As a digital marketing agency specialising in lead generation and digitally-driven sales growth, we are well placed to offer advice and insights that will help you maximise your marketing budget. Contact Sharp Ahead today at [email protected] or telephone 01189 001920.