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Challenges and learnings from Google – Understanding the search and digital marketing industry

When it comes to digital and search marketing one of the main questions that often gets asked is what is the current state of the industry


As an agency we are always looking to improve our services and to fulfill client needs, we also know the importance of staying ahead of technological developments and spend vast amounts of time monitoring and tweaking performance in relation to Google updates.

Our dedication to the industry is highlighted by the fact that we recently sent two of our most senior staff to the Google Industry Leaders Summit. This conference formed the basis of our upcoming white paper and the key learnings from the day will be presented to help both you the reader, and our clients better understand the developments and challenges that businesses face and how we can implement our learnings to help you boost your search and digital marketing performance.

Here are our key findings…

Introduction – Trends shaping the industry

Trends are vital for businesses to monitor, they give companies the ability to boost sales, grow revenue and predict the future of their market. If you are in a position to get ahead of trends or are adaptive enough to be able to adhere to the latest developments in the industry then there is no reason why you can’t close the gap on your competitors or consolidate your position at the head of the market.

Among the current topics that are on trend, we found that:

  • Customer experience is king – we used to say that content was king, and whilst this is still true there has been a shift towards the presentation and quality of that content. Businesses need to think more about user experience (UX) and that their customers can find the information they need based on their searches. From a design point the thinking is that we look at the process of considering user first and work it back to the product or services.
  • Data and privacy regulations increasing – GDPR has been one of the most important topics over the last 18 months and customers are increasingly concerned with how their data is accessed and shared. In truth however this isn’t just about the customers… businesses and brands want and need to use data much more smartly. There is little to no point in marketing and advertising to the wrong audience. Managing your data and targeting the correct people gives you the best chance to improve conversions, sales and boosts revenue.
  • Machine learning taking over – unlike much of the tech sphere the UK is behind the curve for machine learning, but don’t fear we are catching up! Machine learning helps brands to automate their work and can ensure that the user gets the desired outcome. Research suggest we can expect automation to be 50-70% of all search and digital marketing work in the next 5-6 years. This is based on the current adoption rates of other industries. 
  • Brexit uncertainty – this is something we have to watch more closely, especially with the current state of the political spectrum. Brands will be affected should we leave or remain and there is reason to be cautious over whether deals can be done and whether or not knowledge is shared. A typical reaction to brexit market uncertainty is to cut anything not essential to maintain ROI and profit levels as sales drop but again this is something that we need to monitor. In Q1 2020 we will be in a better position to analyse the impact of brexit.

There are other factors that clients and the wider industry say they are being affected by:

Environmental – there are more and more pressures from the public with a growing interest to be green, the costs of doing so, regulatory alignment and the overall sustainability of the industry.

Technology – Machine learning and automation are again at the forefront of the consumers mind and we need to also consider voice search,  artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), all of which allow us to become more connected than ever. The Drum reports that experiences such as augmented reality (AR) can capture people’s attention for over 85 seconds, increase interaction rates by 20% and improve click-through rates to purchase by 33%.

Social – Convenience is very important to the customer and they expect businesses to have a clear message. For brands that means that they have to have a plan to ensure that their staff are continuing to sell business to the public. Likewise businesses have to sell culture to their staff. 

Economic – with a decline of high street sales, commercial rent prices rising and squeeze on disposable incomes businesses operating online have to take advantage of operating without bricks and mortar sites and drive sales from website traffic.

Strategic agility: What is it, why is it important and how to achieve it.

Strategic agility requires a culture where it is okay to fail. We know that there is an importance when it comes to testing and learning from the results of your tests. The problem is that businesses often don’t do this in a set pattern. The basic principle is that you test and develop in cycles to improve your offering continuously – the more agile you are means that cycles are shorter and results can be implemented faster.

How to align your proposition with your customers and team

For all businesses there are two tracks to think about, customer happiness and employee happiness. 

Customer happiness is based on; experience, performance, value add, problem solving, trust, relationship and the fee they are paying for a product or service.

Employee happiness looks at personal development, empowerment/autonomy, culture, perks of the job, security, purpose, recognition and salary.

Brands must therefore look at the following:

  • Their service offering 
  • Customer needs
  • Customer relationships
  • Building trust

Google insights – key findings

Below are some of the highlights from the Google conference and some of the stats relating to market size and why brands are choosing agencies:

  • There are currently around 7000 agencies doing PPC in UK
  • 150-170 of these are Premier Partners
  • 12-18 months average paid search contract length
  • On average clients stay 8 months longer when they have multiple services such as SEO or Content Marketing.
  • 15% of searches are new and unique each day.
  • Future of Google Ads will be more customisable driving a more personalised experience for each user.
  • Google have 2 by 2  internal meetings following every team meeting. In these the two individuals will write down one positive and one negative. Following this the manager feeds back, agrees, disagrees or helps overcome the negative.
  • Several clients see QBRs (quarterly business reviews) as key milestones.

Keep on top of the latest best practice, news and views by subscribing to our blog, check out our library of resources for more actionable information – or just contact us today to see what we could do for you.

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