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 | Email  | Office hours: Monday- Friday 8:30am - 5:30pm 

Oxford Business Breakfast Information

Oxford Business Breakfast September 20

By Jennifer Esty  |  September 7, 2017

Sharp Ahead director, Dr John Woods, will be presenting What Success Looks Like in Digital Marketing on September 20 at 07:30 at the De Vere Oxford Thames Hotel.

John will present a case study demonstrating how to generate sales ready leads using digital marketing. The session will be full of practical advice to help you understand the best practices of digital marketing in order to drive growth in your own business.

What will you gain?

  • Learn why Google is your new home page, and why you MUST reflect this in your digital strategy
  • Understand why a new website won’t fix your digital problems
  • See a detailed end-to-end example of modern digital marketing done well

Where can you find out more?

For more information on the session, why not download this useful flyer?

Alternatively if you’d like to register now or need directions for travel, please visit the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce site.

Members and non-members alike are invited to intend!

What are the Oxford Business Breakfasts?

The Oxford Business Breakfasts are designed to give you insights and informed opinions on topics that can impact your business, as well as great opportunities for networking with other local organisations. These events will provide you with a closer look at ’bigger-picture’ subjects, as well as giving the SME sector regular skills and knowledge updates from a range of speakers, generously prepared to share their experience with us. The breakfasts will also be a focus for our regular local and sector campaign activity throughout 2017.

100 Events Leeds Business Week Banner

Join Us at Leeds Business Week October 10

By Jennifer Esty  | 

Leeds Business Week is a week long programme of over 100 events dedicated to the business and wider community across the city. Attracting delegates and contributors from across the Leeds City Region and beyond, Leeds Business Week promises to be a brilliant experience for everyone.

Driving Sales Growth with Digital Marketing

Sharp Ahead will show you how to improve your digital marketing and drive sales growth. You will also hear directly from YPO, the UK’s largest public sector buying organisation, about how they generated 200 new sales leads in 3 months on a limited budget.

To find out more about the event, or Leeds Business Week in general, visit the Leeds Business Week website.

Spaces are going fast, so please save your seat soon — register now!

Already registered?

Excellent, we can’t wait to meet you there.

For information on the venue, including parking and travel tips, please check out Aspire in Leeds.

Deck chairs by the sea

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.

Budgets

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.

Analytics

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.

CRM Neon Sign

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!

Fareham in Greyscale

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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