More 4’s ‘Devon and Cornwall’ shows how a narrator can make or break a narrative

With stunning scenery and fascinating stories, More 4’s series Devon and Cornwall should have been a winner. But every week the voiceover triggers rage and fury from viewers.

Last night’s episode was no exception. Why? Because every letter ‘h’ is dropped. Harbour becomes ‘arbour, hills ‘ills and home ‘ome.

Every week’s episode seems to send our collective blood pressure soaring.

In this case, the narrator is so distracting that some viewers are simply turning the telly off.

As filmmakers, we need to take note. After months of careful planning, researching, budgeting, scheduling, filming and editing, the voiceover alone can make or break a film.

Regional accents in other languages

We recently created a set of films for Caterpillar and recorded five different language voiceovers. The ads were released online in English, French, German, Italian and Dutch.

Caterpillar have brand guidelines in place for the kinds of voices that should represent them. For the UK version, narrator and actor Dean Andrews was the perfect fit. Listening to him read our script we knew he sounded genuine and warm.

But when it came to the other languages we weren’t so confident in finding voiceovers. We didn’t know enough about regional accents to say which voices sounded right or wrong.

We used the brand guidelines to choose the tone, texture and timbre of the voices. At the recording sessions, we worked with directors and voiceover artists who were fluent in each of the languages to make sure the accents and the emphasis were correct.

We had to trust that these teams would get it right for us and our client. We double-checked the results with Caterpillar’s Europe teams before we launched the ads in a digital marketing campaign.

We wanted to make sure the focus of our films was on the story we were telling – and not the storyteller.

Got a film project in mind?

We’d love to ‘ear from you! Contact us for a chat about your requirements.

A content calendar of key dates to help kick start your planning

It’s time to upload a blog. But the clock is ticking to come up with a concept, write the copy and upload something that is in line with current trends and your content strategy. The answer to solve this last-minute panic is to use a strategic content plan.

The benefits of a content calendar

Whether it’s for social media, web or print, content calendars help you plan, schedule and create a strategy behind your content. Like your to-do list, your content calendar will be a way of organising your content.

Not sure where to start? We have designed a handy diary to help you begin planning your content…

A content calendar listing key dates in 2019

Key dates and events

Our content calendar lists key dates to consider for your 2019 content. It would be a shame to miss the marketing opportunities that Easter offers or to miss World Animal Day if these are relevant to your audience and objectives.

Here are just a few of the events that we have featured in the content calendar:

  • World Environment Day: 5th June
  • Father’s Day: 16th June
  • World Smile Day (Say cheese!): 4th October
  • London Marathon: 28th April
  • World Food Day (Yum): 16th October
  • Black Friday: 29th November

Your content calendar

Creating and scheduling your content around key dates that are relevant to your industry creates resonance for your audience. Rather than broadcasting news, you’re joining in the conversations that your audience are already having.

Here are just a few details to consider adding to your content calendar:

  • Company or industry-related events
  • Deadlines for ad designs, sales you are holding or offers that you wish to promote
  • Holidays that may affect your target audiences’ purchasing habits.

Download our content calendar to begin organising and creating your content for 2019.

 

Can voice search drive ecommerce purchases and sales revenue?

Voice search and ecommerce seem to be unhappy bedfellows right now. But the potential for driving future revenue through this channel can’t be ignored.

The user experience in voice search isn’t yet optimal for making purchases. This means users don’t appear to have a high level of trust in the channel when it comes to spending money.

But it’s estimated that revenue generated through smart speakers alone will more than quadruple by 2022 to $17billion. This isn’t surprising given the exponential growth in unit sales across the globe.

Putting voice to the test

In a recent Forbes.com article, a publisher tested 5 voice assistants – Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana and Samsung’s Bixby. They tested queries related to ordering books in the New York Times bestseller list.

Queries started with ‘I want to read’, ‘I want to listen to’ and ‘I want to order’.  Just 43% of the queries were recognised. Forbes estimated this could mean around $17million in lost revenue.

The results from this study seem inconsistent with Google’s report that the assistant can accurately interpret 95% of queries. In this test, despite it yielding the best performance of all the digital assistants tested, Google Assistant still only managed to answer correctly in 72% of the tested commands.

Brands who are ready to chat

For ecommerce sales to grow, there’s still work to be done to improve the overall accuracy of user interactions. Voice assistants will need to deliver a consistent experience that meets human expectations (which, by the way, are as high as we would expect from other humans).

Virgin Trains, as you might expect, are early to the party. They were the first travel provider to create an Alexa skill that allows passengers with Amazon Pay to book advance tickets.

The reviews have been largely positive from passengers who find it easy to use and a helpful addition to their lives.

Similarly, both Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have empowered users to add items to their trolley through an Alexa skill. In this instance, the shopper can review their trolley on a screened device before the final purchase is made, so it’s not a start-to-finish purchase entirely through voice.

So, will voice search alone ever be a top source of ecommerce sales for a business?

The answer is yes, it probably will. But there are some points to consider.

1. Complex and significant purchases will still require a screen.

It’s unlikely that voice search will ever deliver complex or significant purchases. This includes the sale of products that typically have a long customer journey to purchase such as cars, houses and major holidays. The reason I say major holidays is that I can see short breaks or repeat bookings of previous destinations booked through a voice assistant in the near future. So, if you provide weekend breaks and target young professionals, getting an Action on Google or an Alexa Skill should be in your marketing strategy for 2019.

2. As the accuracy of query interpretation grows, so will trust.

As users see that their conversational expectations are being accurately met, trust in the communication medium will grow. One stat from TheInformation.com estimated that only 2% of Amazon Echo owners have made a purchase using it. Part of that reticence to say ‘buy’ is due to sharing private information through this channel, but also trust in the information that’s being returned.

3. The shelf will always be invisible through voice.

Users will have to rely on their listening skills to assess whether or not they are purchasing the right product. This is probably going to be less favourable when researching product options than visual, screened options. However, in the earlier example of purchasing a book, a shopper can ask for exactly the title they are looking for, probably having seen or read about it elsewhere. The role of the voice search is to locate the item and purchase it with minimal effort. For transactions of this nature, I predict that sales will grow exponentially over the next 12 months.

60 years of Barbie: what could your business learn from the world’s most famous doll?

Barbie is 60 years old. What’s her secret to a long and successful global career? We think Barbie’s marketing strategy has a big part to play. Here are some of her top tactics that every business could learn from.

Work with influencers

Barbie launched her first celebrity look-alike doll in 1967 with a plastic-fantastic version of Twiggy. Cue lots of press coverage showing the British model holding up her plastic model.

Since then there have been dolls in the form of well-known athletes, artists, scientists and others. The celebrities reinforce the image of a brand founded by and for successful, inspirational women.

Use PR opportunities to generate content and coverage

Barbie certainly knows how to steal the limelight. She has generated column inches for a range of PR activities:
• Andy Warhol painted her portrait in 1986
• She launched a fashion show on the catwalks of New York in 2009
• She made the front cover of Time magazine in 2016 with the launch of new body types.

Be strategic when it comes to social media

Instagram saw the launch of @barbiestyle in 2014. The photos feature ‘lifestyle’ shots of dolls and accessories. Each photo generates thousands of likes from among 1.9 million followers.

Barbie is smashing it on Instagram but it might not work for everyone. As we always tell our clients, you should be selective and strategic about which channels you use and how you use them. A social media account is a lot of work so you need to know that it’s worth it.

As the Barbie team posted on a recent picture: “Wanna know an Instagram secret? These photos take forever to set up!”

Create a community of advocates

Barbie fan club launched in 1961 with a newsletter, membership card and magazine subscription. Happy children fell in love with the dolls and spread the word to their friends. And thus the cult of Barbie spread across the playgrounds of the world.

Use special days as hooks for your key messages

We’re always encouraging our clients to generate content around relevant national and international days. This year Barbie has created a set of dolls for International Women’s Day (Friday 8 March).

This portrays them as a brand that is relevant and reinforces their key message of inspiring girls.

Wanna be a successful 60-year-old?

If you’d like some support to help grow your business or product, get in touch with our friendly team. We’d love to hear about your projects or products.

How to sell more with eCommerce

In a world where everyone is too busy, anything and everything eCommerce is still one of the largest growth sectors and everyone seems to be trying it.

Almost anyone can give it a go. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. You don’t even need to lay a finger on the goods themselves. It’s fast and easy. The question is how can you be better than everyone else? Fortunately, it’s actually fairly straightforward, as long as you have an open mindset that is!

5 tips for easy revenue growth

Hopefully, you’re using one of the mainstream eCommerce CMS that are available such as Shopify, WooCommerce (WordPress) or Magento. These platforms are some of the best in the industry and are continuously moving forward in line with industry trends helping you to grow and focus on your business. If you are, great, take a look at my quick tips below to find out how to improve your chances of increased revenue generation.

1) Assess the competition

Take a look at your competition. Is there anything they are doing better than you? Why not place an order with them and examine their customer experience? There could be special offers they only send to the customer on the delivery note. This will also give you the opportunity to see how they are packaging their products. Are they marketing on their packaging? Or perhaps they’ve included a discount code on your next order? This is a great customer retention technique and this is what you need to be thinking about if you want to get ahead of the competition or at the very least compete with them. Find out what they are doing and do it better!

One of the key drivers in eCommerce is revenue generation and because of this, it is also a very fast-moving industry, so, if you want to get ahead or even keep up with the competition you must also move quickly in all areas including administration, shipping, new products and of course new technologies and marketing techniques.

One of the most important areas you need to be speedy in is almost anything to do with the customer. If your customer wants to ask a question and you only have a telephone number or a contact form, that might be enough to put them off asking the question. If they know that your competitor has live chat on their website they will simply go and ask them instead. Then all your competition needs to do is send them a simple link to the product they were looking for and boom! You just lost a sale and, perhaps more importantly, all the word of mouth recommendations that might come from just that one customer.

2) Channel Networking

If you’re not selling on eBay or Amazon you are missing out! Find out if your CMS can connect directly to an Amazon or eBay account. With Shopify, you can easily install an app that will export all your products to the platform for you. Not only that but you will also be able to manage customer messages and any product modifications you’ll want to carry out for SEO to ensure your products show up well in searches.

Connect up your Social channels like Facebook and you’ve got a marketer’s dream. You’ll be able to tag your products in posts and ads, giving your customers an easy and direct way to go straight to the product they are interested in.

3) Email: eCommerce’ best friend?

Email is the cheapest and arguably one of the most effective marketing tools in the eCommerce toolbox. Don’t be perturbed by the GDPR hype. As long as you give the customer the option to opt-in to and give them a clear explanation of the usage of their email address and do not automatically add their email address to your list then you are pretty much good to go.

What about order confirmation emails or invoices?

Promotional emails are different from transactional emails. Transactional emails are those that are required to run an eCommerce business and include, but are not limited to:

  • Order confirmation
  • Purchase receipts or invoices
  • Account confirmation
  • Password recovery
  • Shipping notifications
  • Return or exchange confirmation
  • Service cancellations and product refunds

Transactional emails also require permission, however, they are essential to you running your business so the customer will have to either opt-in to your terms and conditions or simply not purchase from your company.

Help your emails help you!

Build your promotional email subscriber lists, segment and tell your customers where they can find the best deals for the product they are interested in on your site.

When you send your emails make sure you time them right. Let’s face it, emailing your customers to tell them you’ve got a “limited time offer for tonight only” at 10 am when most people are at work will give them plenty of time to forget your message and dismiss your email.

Instead, try sending when people are most likely to be in the mood for making a purchase, perhaps 7:38 pm is an effective time? Think about the barrage of the emails they’ve just received from other retailers and after everyone has had their dinner and are likely to be letting their guard down would be far more effective at grabbing some impulse orders.

Let’s hope your checkout process is easy, super-fast, seamless and takes advantage of all today’s payment technologies such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or even Shopify Pay.

4) Quick and smooth checkout

A super-efficient checkout flow will help reduce the volume of customers that abandon the checkout process at this crucial point in the customer purchase journey. The goal is to remove as many sticking points from the process as possible.  Forcing the user to create an account could put new users off at which point they might just go elsewhere. Give the user a choice to either create an account or checkout as a guest.

Eliminate anything that is not essential to continue with the customer’s sale, giving you a better chance of converting the user to a customer. Once you have the customers essential information, you could always go back to them with a post-purchase follow-up email asking for a review of the product.

This not only gives the opportunity to capture some valuable user-generated content but it also gives the opportunity for the customer (who, after receiving the product now trusts your company a little more than they did before they placed the order) to give you more information about them.

5) Customer Loyalty

Loyal customers are the best, they are the ones that will tell their friends about you and what you do. They are the ones that keep you going during the quiet periods. They are your bread and butter – look after them like gold dust and beware, they will leave you as soon as they find something better unless you give them a reason to stay.

Get to know them personally. Try calling a selection of them every month just to check in and see if you’re still cutting it for them. Use this as an opportunity to find where you can improve.

Don’t just leave it there. Ask them for feedback on the website too. Create a pop-up form and ask simple, quick open questions: “What do you think about the website”, “How could we make things better for you?” etc. Customer feedback is invaluable, and you can get it for next to nothing.

Website Pop-ups? Really?

The more pessimistic amongst us will be saying something along the lines of:

  • “Pop-ups are spammy”
  • “They’re annoying”
  • “Pop-ups are tacky”
  • “They are too aggressive”

Something along those lines? Well, you’re right on all those points, however, they are renowned for amazing conversion! Ultimately, every website and it’s users are different and you should ideally run experiments with an optimisation tool such as Optimizly or Google Optimise to really find out what works best for your customers.

Website optimisation tools are one of the best ways to truly find out what works on your website for your customers. Make sure you always have at least one experiment running. Sometimes it can take time to get a definitive answer to your experiment. The more traffic you have coming to your website, the faster you’ll get the results.

Don’t give your customers any reason to leave you, be quick at everything from shipping to answering their enquiries and never take them for granted.

Everything is Cute

Last year I was lucky enough to visit Japan. One of the standout things you notice when you are there is how cute everything is. Literally everything! From the Harajuku girls on Takeshita Street with their Lolita pigtails and dolly dresses to public transport and food. Even Buddhist deities sport cute knitted bobble hats. ‘Kawaii’ the Japanese culture of cuteness is a deeply ingrained part of everyday life.

Kawaii is believed to be a response to the rigid culture of post-World War II Japan. It began in the 70’s when schoolgirls started a youth movement expressing their individuality by developing a childlike style of writing. Advertisers soon caught on and from there it became a worldwide phenomenon. Hello Kitty and Pokémon are the most stand out examples of how huge this has become.

There may be sinister sexist undertones to this sweet innocence as traditionally, women are required to be demure and submissive. In my opinion, adult women dressed as children does nothing to progress gender equality.

But there is still a lot to love about this adorable and innocent way of expressing yourself. It provides a happy gentle and harmonious escape from Japan’s famously stressful work culture and relentless rule following.

From a creative point of view, it hits the inspirational jackpot Everywhere you look, you are charmed, amused, horrified and excited. Usually all at once. Kawaii focuses on a light-hearted and charming way of communicating. Sounds good to me. I’ll take that.

Merry Quizmas from AB!

Turkey, mulled wine, presents, the Queen’s speech, mid-afternoon naps, and of course, fun and games with the family.

Whether your tradition is charades, santa limbo or pin the tail on Rudolph, there’s no better way to get into the spirit of Christmas than with a festive quiz. So, without further ado… Merry Quizmas!

So how did you get on – are you a shining star or a Brussels sprout? Check out the answers below.

And don’t forget, click on one of the icons on the right to merrily share it with your friends and family – see if they can trump your score.

 

Ready for the answers…?

Merry Quizmas 01 - AB Creative Agency

Round 1: I saw mummy kissing Santa Claus

Merry Quizmas from AB - Creative Agency Exeter & London

Round 2: Deck the halls

Quizmas 2018 from AB - Digital Agency London & Exeter

Round 3: Away in a manger

AB Christmas Quiz 2018 - Answer 04

Round 4: Jingle bell rock

AB Quizmas 2018 - Answer 05

Round 5: Rudolph the red nose reindeer

See you next year!

Will voice assistants and chatbots join forces?

The combination of voice search, voice assistants and artificial intelligence is a potent one. We know that the popularity of voice search is growing and that brands need to prepare for it. We reckon that as the user experience in voice search continues to improve, it will change our consumer habits. Imagine, what if your voice assistant is intelligent enough to make appointments for you or buy your favourite groceries?

When we as marketers think of the actions we want consumers to undertake with our businesses, booking something or buying something is right up at the top of the list. When we seek to improve the ease with which customers can complete these tasks, we call it conversion optimisation.

What is conversion optimisation?

Just to take a step back, what we’re talking about is how effectively your website or app encourages users to undertake the actions you want them to. For instance, buying products, leaving their contact details or downloading content. Conversion optimisation is something we talk about when we are trying to improve upon the efficiency of a platform for the benefit of both the user and the business owner. User experience, content, design – they all play a role.

Why isn’t voice search mainstream?

Simple. The experience can be unfulfilling, frustrating and harder work than typing a query into a device. We talked more about this in our previous article about the future of voice search.

Voice search is an imperfect user experience at present. There are trust issues around data and purchasing. But voice assistants successfully carry out tasks such as setting alarms, finding directions and playing music on an increasingly frequent basis in our lives.

It’s all about ease and speed

We humans are an impatient and lazy bunch, but we’ve also been conditioned to expect accuracy and speed with every digital interaction. We don’t suffer slow-loading web pages or poor quality search results. We’ve learned to take the path of least resistance to the answer we seek.

Ease and speed - Page loading speeds - Voice Search - AB Creative Agency - London & Exeter

So, imagine when a Google Assistant can not only undertake a search and return relevant results extremely quickly, it can also help you achieve your end goal. Imagine asking the Google Assistant a question about a restaurant booking and then your voice assistant being able to engage with a chatbot to make your booking for you. Wouldn’t that be an amazing customer experience? Well, it’s real.

Will chatbots replace humans in online customer service?

For the most part, probably! As chatbots and the artificial intelligence that drives them becomes more sophisticated, they will be able to manage increasingly sophisticated queries. Chatbots use Natural Language Processing to interpret conversational queries and then respond with an answer. According to Gartner, by 2020 as much as 85% of customer service operations could be handled by a virtual assistant.

So, it’s not a stretch to imagine that if the rate of change in voice search persists, the growth in voice assistants conducting customer service tasks on behalf of customers could be a reality for the majority of us.

This could mean that we’re all solving our problems, answering our questions and getting where we want to go faster, more easily and with fewer steps in the customer journey than ever before. This is the ultimate nirvana for conversion optimisation.

How do I get started with a chatbot?

The simplest way to get started building a chatbot is not to think about the technology, but the conversation flow you want to facilitate. In its simplest form, what answers to common questions could a chatbot provide? A simple chatbot can be designed with set responses for specific questions.

In the past, you would have needed coding experience to bring this bot you’ve envisioned to life but that’s no longer the case. One of the tools we’re really enjoying playing around with at the moment that offers a no-coding way of creating a Facebook Messenger bot is Chatfuel.com.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how to make your own Facebook Messenger ChatBot – subscribe to the blog to get emails as we post more on this topic.

Check out the rest of the articles in the series, Voice Search: Future or Fad?

The Chase is on to make your brand go big!

How do you know you’ve really made it as a brand? Is it when a celebrity gets snapped with your product? Or when song lyrics feature your name? We recently helped a client revamp their brand, and their big moment came this week. Forget Hollywood – we’re talking about ITV’s The Chase.

The TV quiz show, presented by Bradley Walsh, features contestants battling brainboxes for cash. And this week’s contestants were asked: ParentPay is a payment system designed for what institutions?

ParentPay is an online payment service for schools and families. We helped the team to develop their brand and develop a new business strategy. The company has just won two awards, including entrepreneur of the year.

Deal or no deal?

We can’t promise to get your brand on the telly. That would be Pointless. But Play Your Cards Right and we can promise you a team of expert designers and brand Masterminds.

Get in touch if you’d like some help to turn your brilliant business into a Blockbuster.

How to prepare for voice search

Getting ahead of the curve 

The ability to undertake searches by voice will change user expectations about speed and ease of accessing relevant information, so how to prepare for voice search is a question that should be top of mind for every business owner. It’s never been more important to make sure as a business you understand your target audience, their behaviours, motivations and needs.

So, what can you and your business do to get ahead and provide your users with a great voice search experience?

  1. Use ‘conversational language’ keywords

On average, humans speak 150 words in the same time it would take them to type 40, so voice search queries become longer and more conversational in tone. It seems contrary to the premise that longer searches are less common, have less search volume than short searches with few keywords and therefore aren’t as valuable to target in an SEO strategy. But those long-tail searches are where much of the relevant volume can lie, so they are an important market if your digital strategy.

Keyword Length vs Volume - how to prepare voice search? - AB Agency London and Exeter

Top tip: when you’re next conducting keyword research, focus on the types of questions users might ask to find your business. Think about the conversational keywords used. Are they adjectives? Do they relate to a location and its variants?

Question keyword searches are up an estimated 61% year on year, so including short and concise answers in your content is key. Creating or enhancing your FAQ page is an effective way of doing this. Attempt to get into the minds of your customers and consider how they would talk about your business, and then apply that to your content.

But don’t go overboard and create a single page for every question you think will be asked. It’ll dilute your site and be of little benefit.

 

 

 

  1. Increase site load speed

Site speed is crucial. One study found the average load speed of a voice search result page is 4.6 seconds, which is 52% faster than an average webpage. Brilliant content or not, a slow website could hinder the chances of your content being featured in a user’s question. Although a little old (2016), these stats from Google illustrate this point perfectly.

Mobile page load speed - how to prepare for voice search? - AB Agency London and Exeter

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Focus on your location and local SEO

Mobile search users are increasingly searching for location-specific information relevant to their immediate situation – a restaurant near me, a shoe-repair shop near me etc. Google reports that “_____ near me now” searches have grown by 500% over the last two years, yet the postcode, city or region qualifier is being dropped. Users now assume that search engines know their location and provide relevant results using the near me appendix.

Growth in near me searches - how to prepare for voice search? - AB Agency London and Exeter

Top tip: Make sure local search is part of your strategy. Above all, get your Google My Business (GMB) listing in tip-top shape with opening hours, up to date contact details, latest images and posts. You can now add offers to your GMB profile, which may prove to be important in local voice search for the future.

 

 

 

 

  1. Strive for featured snippets

Did you know that 40.7% of voice search answers come from featured snippets? These snippets of content can be pulled from any website on the first page of results. Optimise your content with the tips provided above to increase your chances of being featured.

Featured snippet - how to prepare for voice search - AB Digital Agency London and Exeter

Top tip

  • Switch from your previous keyword list to the question-orientated searches that start with who, what, where, when, why and how
  • Be succinct in how you answer those questions. 45 – 97 words is the range to aim for
  • For the best chance of achieving a snippet, format your content as a paragraph.
  • Make sure you do some good traditional SEO – optimise the page, link to and from it, get external links pointing to it

 

These are the most popular keywords included in featured snippets according to this post on Moz.

Top 30 keywords in featured snippets - how to prepare for voice search? - AB Agency London and Exeter

The growing popularity of voice search offers brilliant opportunities for both users and businesses. As stated by Albert Creixell, the Partnerships Head at Amazon Alexa, ‘Utterances are the new hashtags’, identifying the growing importance of conversational language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what?

So, in the spirit of helping our customers understand how to prepare for voice search and stay ahead of the curve, we’re giving away two Google Home Minis to anyone who subscribes to AB emails. All you need to do to enter is subscribe below. The competition closes on 30th November 2018, full T&Cs here.