To kick off our brand new interview series, we sat down with two of Footprint Digital’s head honchos to discuss the rise and rise again of digital marketing in the pandemic moment.
For anyone that doesn’t know, who are Footprint Digital and what do you do (best)?
Footprint Digital is a digital marketing agency based in Essex and London. We offer data driven digital solutions for growth minded clients who want to level up what they are doing in this space. The key to what we do is demystifying digital and helping businesses find the right path for them. There are loads of different things a business can do in this space – it’s about finding what works for them and is absolutely not a cookie cutter approach.
COVID and the ensuing lockdowns tore up and re-wrote the book on many marketing practices, how did Footprint adapt and overcome these changes and challenges?
It was remarkably easy for us in so many ways because much of our advocacy for digital strategies, joining the dots between channels and business functions and teaching/training made this a perfect time to push what we have been focusing on pre-covid.
We supported a number of our existing clients where we could – especially those in travel and hospitality. For some we assisted in new digital awareness pushes or pivots in product/service and for others we’re now working closely with to ensure that re-openings and re-launches are as successful as possible.
On the one hand it makes no difference because we’re digital and this is our playing field. Covid’s made what we do even more relevant. However, we’ve had to adapt our strategies to help other organisations that have been hit harder, adapt.
Our focus has been how do we help our clients adapt and change to this new world. We had a client who our Technical SEO, Reuben, did some strategic keyword research for and found a gap in the market in December 2019. We worked with them on this opportunity in early 2020 and by March 2020 with the covid restrictions, this was the only avenue for their business.
Consumer habits have changed – we research and help our clients understand their customers better so the value for what we provide is even more important today, using data has empowered our clients.
Working remotely has been the biggest change for the team!
Digital marketing has gone from a brand-building exercise to a means for businesses to financially survive, how did Footprint help organisations (current and/or new) get into the digital fast lane?
- Free webinars
- Pivoting strategies/trying new things
- Working tactically, reporting on everything
- Using trends/analytics data to help understand shifting behavior
- We use our new book, education and training. We often hold Webinars with other agencies as well, working together with other amazing agencies to spread the word and educate as many people as possible.
- Digital is a holistic thing, it shouldn’t be siloed – it is important for lots of different things.
- We help clients to understand their customers better using data. With a lot of campaigns, the beauty of digital is that you can launch a test really rapidly – we have the agility of digital to test concepts in sprints and adapt them very quickly to get the best results for our clients.
What positives and/or negatives do you think have arisen from digital marketing becoming the main tool for businesses to sell?
Covid accelerated the move to digital for many businesses who were not yet convinced or fully committed, this was an opportunity AND ultimately forced a lot of change pretty quickly.
For those businesses who weren’t ready for a sudden move to digital there were a number of challenges and negatives though. Having the funds and skills/knowledge to make this move isn’t something every business has had and that will undoubtedly see some real issues.
Post-pandemic, the importance of digital isn’t going to drop back to 2019/20 levels, so even those businesses which will continue to have a strong face-to-face component to them, digital will still need to feature heavily.
It’s always a good time to invest in digital as it is an essential for businesses.
It’s finally woken up some people that have been uninterested/ in denial or scared of digital – they’ve taken the plunge because they have to. Opened up many businesses to the opportunity that digital provides.
Negative – sometimes people think that it’s a magic bullet – they don’t understand how it works so education has been the key thing. There are lots of magical things you can do but people don’t know where to start. You can waste a lot of time and make bad decisions. HOWEVER – Failure is fine as long as you learn something from it!
For any businesses out there who are struggling to find their footing with digital marketing, what would be your top 5 essentials in today’s online climate?
- Know your audience and what they need from you online
- Understand what “good” looks like already, what is the level of expectations of your customer and what do you need to do to stop people going elsewhere?
- Ensure you have Google Analytics to understand how your customers engage with your site and Google Search Console to understand how Google experiences it – measure it test it.
- Demonstrate your skills/knowledge, make it easy for users (and search engines) to see what you are good at
- Ensure your website is fast and works well on mobile and desktop devices.
In our ever-changing world, bar another world crippling pandemic... do you have any marketing predictions for the near future?
The information/data we get from Google/Facebook etc will drop as the war on cookies hots up. Any platforms that gain revenue from ads will resist as much as they can, but for the next 2-3 years things could become more challenging. It will force people to change how they target their ads and how they report on success.
In the search-marketing space there’s likely to be a significant investment in the quality of content. AI written content will become more ubiquitous (The Washington Post uses this heavily already), which has a purpose, but exceptional, expert-driven content will likely become more valuable as a result. Google and other search engines are also deepening their knowledge and ability to understand language/content, so being able to write nuanced, verifiable content by trusted individuals will gain further value and will be a significant ranking signal.
What’s on the horizon for Footprint Digital?
Lots of things! Continued growth of the team and driving our mission of education. We’ll be doing lots more work with our book ‘Shoot the HiPPO: How to be a killer digital marketing manager’, our audiobook os out soon, and we’ve developed an online course, too. We’re expanding further into London, continuing to build relationships with partner agencies, there’s lots of new talent coming in and we’re growing our offering. We’re focused on the continued evolution of our service and what we do – as the digital world changes, so do we. Our future will always be about adapting to develop the best possible solution for our clients!