5 Things We Learnt at marketingSHOWCASE Bristol 2022

marketingSHOWCASE, which hosts educational marketing events across the country, visited Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol in November, and Amy Cluett, one of our TA6 Account Managers, was there to welcome it. Featuring a series of fascinating seminars, the event covered a wide range of useful and timely topics, from optimising email marketing to the importance of a robust marketing strategy, to web design.

Here are our top five learnings from marketingSHOWCASE Bristol that we’d like to share with you.

  1. Do you remember your last email?

    The team at Force24 posed some questions which really stuck with us:

    Do you remember the last commercial/advertising email that you received?

    Amongst the seminar’s audience of around 60 people at marketingSHOWCASE, only one person raised their hand to this question. When asked whether they remembered any of the email’s content, they replied that they only remembered the discount that it was offering her.

    Following this, the speaker asked us, as marketeers, the following:

    Do you remember an email that you created for a campaign last month?

    Most of the room raised their hands.

    Do you remember an email that you created for a campaign last year?

    Again, most of the room raised their hands.

    The point of this exercise was multifaceted. First, we were asked to gently question our marketing practices, and whether the amount of time and brainpower that we’re spending on composing emails for campaigns is justifiable – especially given how little consumers remember them.

    Secondly, what should we be putting into our marketing emails? Given what people recall about promotional emails (the person in our seminar was not unique in this respect, we were informed, most consumers will only really remember the discount, offer, or incentive provided in commercial emails), is there a quicker, easier way that we can approach the composition of marketing emails to ensure that they are both simple to produce and memorable?

    Do not, however, be disheartened or put off email marketing. As the speaker said, email marketing isn’t dead, the way we ought to do it is just changing. In fact, one-sixth of emails achieve their goal – a decent result if we consider, for example, an ex-member database.

  2. The value of marketing in ‘hard times’

    Given the economic challenges facing the UK at the moment, difficult decisions are having to be made within businesses and local authorities. As outlined by Padua Communications and as we have seen increasingly of late amongst our clients, marketing budgets are often some of the first to be decreased. Marketing can sometimes be seen as an unnecessary or frivolous expense, whereas the opposite is actually true.

    As marketeers, we understand the immense value of marketing to businesses. It keeps your brand present and in customers’ minds, induces them to make a purchase, and can help to maintain customer relationships and manage retention – all of which help to drive and maintain revenue.

    Padua recommends that around 5% of a company’s sales revenue should be spent on marketing annually, and that it is essential the marketers advocate for their budget. Indeed, there are many ways in which marketing campaigns can be linked with other areas of the business – such as HR and recruitment – so budgets could potentially be split and/or shared.

    Further, the speaker advocated strongly for the creation and use of annual marketing plans, which we could not agree with more. We implement annual marketing plans for all of our long-term clients which enables us to have a clear plan for our budget, gives us and the client time to develop campaigns and marketing activity properly, and gives us a good blueprint for tracking and reporting on the success of campaigns both as we go and annually.

  3. Know your audience

    Knowing and understanding your audience is the crux of all marketing practices, so it is unsurprising that the topic was discussed length across different seminars at marketingSHOWCASE Bristol. In a seminar on website design from WebBox, the speaker named one of the biggest mistakes that people make when designing a website as not knowing one’s users. This point is twofold, since we must both know who they are, and know, i.e., understand, them. Indeed, the speaker noted that we must ask ourselves two key questions when approaching website design:

    • Who is the website designed for? 
    • What do we want them to do on the website?

    It is essential that we both know and put into practice the answers to these two questions if we are to create an engaging website that yields results and provides a great user experience. More on that later!

    Elsewhere, segmentation was given a whole new approach by Force24. They advocated the use of 3D audience segmentation, as opposed to the traditional 2D, whereby audiences are defined not only by their ‘sector’ (age, gender, interests, occupation, etc.), but by their engagement level with the marketing material (e.g., registered for an offer, clicked a button to claim the offer, etc.). The purpose of this detailed and rather complex way of approaching segmentation is to help move audiences along with tiny steps, saying different yet appropriate (according to their sector) messages to them along the way.

  4. Impress the 94%

    According to WebBox, 94% of a website’s first impressions relate to web design. The importance of nailing your website’s design and user experience is, therefore, momentous. Some of the biggest mistakes made in website design were named as:

    • Not setting up/maintaining a good mobile-friendly website. At TA6 we’re aware that around 80% of our digital adverts are accessed by mobile, with that number increasing all the time, plus WebBox reported that around 74% of users are more likely to return to a mobile-friendly site
    • Lack of design consistency. Websites look and feel much more pleasant to use when they have a unified style – that means icons, imagery, navigation, and content hierarchy
    • Use of irrelevant imagery. From our own work at TA6, we have also found the use of certain types of imagery off-putting to many audiences on leisure/fitness websites – for example, lots of stock images of extremely fit people tend to turn people off
    • Bad colour choices – try to avoid using colours that are too similar to each other, which will make everything blend together. Instead, utilise contrast to make your website pop.
  5. Forgotten accessibility

    Whilst we work hard alongside our clients to make our marketing materials as accessible as possible at TA6, we fully appreciate that there is always a lot more to learn in order to make our practices available to everyone. WebBox provided some fascinating accessibility insights at marketingSHOWCASE – for example, around 11million internet users in the UK have accessibility needs: a great statistic to show anyone who doubts the necessity of accessible functions in marketing material.

    The seminar also highlighted the lack of attention paid to deaf and hard of hearing web users. For many Deaf people, sign language is their first language, and many experience Lower English Proficiency. As digital sign language translators Signly point out, just because it’s written doesn’t mean that it’s understood. Companies like Signly provide sign language translation videos alongside web content in order to make websites Deaf-friendly. We were fascinated to learn about this service and the challenges facing Deaf people when it comes to their web experience and is something that we will be discussing with our clients moving forward.

We took a lot from marketingSHOWCASE Bristol, including several new techniques and approaches which we’re looking forward to using with our own clients. Ultimately, despite the variance of subject topics across the event, the same message was conveyed across all of them: get the basics right.

As marketeers we are constantly facing new, evolving technologies and platforms through which we can reach our audiences. However, this isn’t even worth acknowledging without a firm grasp of the basics – whether that be your marketing strategy, your website, or your defined audiences.

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