• 06 Jun
    The Curse of Knowledge in Digital Marketing

    The Curse of Knowledge in Digital Marketing

    A subject which is grossly overlooked, something that not only affects digital marketers deliverable work or a client’s organic performance, but also impacts how we communicate on a daily basis. The curse of knowledge is not spoken about enough, so here’s why it’s imperative to look into and how it may impact you.


    So, what is the curse of knowledge?

    A concept dabbled with for many years, but it was Chip and Dan Heath’s explanation of the idea in Made to Stick which resonated with me. The book explained the idea that we all have insider information or knowledge about something that others do not.

    What is meant by this is that when we’re delivering information, either in the form of written text or verbally, we instinctively believe the person receiving the information is also in the know. More often than not, they’re not. This creates confusion and the critical thing we’re trying to get across is entirely not received.

    Why tapping out a song sounds like nonsense to others

    The best example of the ‘curse of knowledge’ is the tappers and listeners exercise. We’ve all tried to tap out our new favourite song using just our fingers, but, shockingly, the people hearing this very rarely pick up the tune. This is because that when we’re tapping, we have the song playing in our head, the person in front of us does not. The same thing happens when we’re communicating our skills to someone without our skill set. We’re met with blank looks every time.


    How the curse affects communicating with customers

    Blog content for customers

    If you work in an agency, it’s more than likely that in the initial stages you have very little knowledge of your clients’ target audiences. So, if you’re producing content for them, you may well be the ideal person for the job as you have no previous knowledge or impartial views. Your mind is a blank canvas.

    For instance, Forex Trading was never high on my list of skills, let alone having any basic knowledge of it. But this was great for marketing purposes. We wrote a series of blog posts that targeted a broad audience, high up in the purchase funnel that essentially just wanted to know how forex trading worked. Had I had ten years of forex trading experience, my written content may have explicitly targeted to the seasoned spread betters, and in turn, narrowing my target audience.

    Keyword Research for customer’s and client’s benefit

    One of the most satisfying parts of my job is finding a relevant, targeted set of keywords for any of my clients. But what happens if you have previous knowledge of the industry you’re finding keywords for? For instance, if you have worked with furniture clients all your life and you’re finding keywords for a furniture e-commerce brand, you may fall into product buying-specific keywords

    It is all about finding those search queries for both knowledgeable users and those first discovering your website. ‘How do I clean my sofa’, ‘why buy a leather sofa’, ‘how do I choose a sofa style’; these search queries are as important than the ‘best corner sofas in brown leather’. Yes, the latter I a search query with a buying intent, but the former will make sure your business is gaining new customers.

    Digital PR

    So, you have a drilled list of contacts to outreach your content to. You’re a niche brand in a niche industry and you want to let people know about your fantastic new product through emailing potential bloggers and news sites. It’s imperative those emails are not too jargony. If you have a glow in the dark mug for camping, don’t talk about its new technology, instead, explain how this will significantly benefit the user.

    You may go for: ‘Gone are the days of finding your mug of cocoa or soup in the dark, this product takes away all the hassle.’ The receiver of the email will then make a judgement call on whether this is ground-breaking enough to write about. If they agree to the perfect, you can then send them detailed press release of all your mug knowledge until your heart’s content.


    How the curse affects communication with clients and peers

    Speaking to a potential lead

    If we’re speaking to a potential client, we don’t bombard them with SEO technical jargon even though at times these skills may be on the tip of our tongue. Instead, they want to know how your expertise will affect their business goals; not the ins and outs of your expertise.

    Speaking to clients

    Communicating verbally has the same principles as the written word. The curse of knowledge can have a profound effect on speaking with clients. You’re a digital marketer who’s built up a substantial knowledge of the industry, but will a client understand anything you’re saying when first speaking through your SEO strategy?

    I’ve had calls when content marketing jargon starts to seep out on the phone, and, quite rightly, it’s invariably met with silence and then a ‘hmmmm… sorry, could you explain that again, please? It’s awkward, there’s no doubt and a time waster. Instead, before the call, understand what they are likely to know then adapt your explaining and questioning during the call.

    Speaking with your peers

    Whether you’re in-house or agency, the team you work with is not likely to know as much as you in your specialist area. If you’re a year into content marketing and you’re next to a paid media specialist with three years’ experience, it’s likely they’ll need things explaining from you despite their longer industry experiences.

    There’s no doubt that sometimes it comes down to vanity. Instead of helping our peers, we may think it’s an opportunity to parade our skill set. This is in no way beneficial. Communicating with your peers comes down to mutual respect and the way you speak with each other; condescending or patronising them with your slightly greater knowledge is not best practice.

    How the curse of knowledge impacts teaching methods

    I’ve only tried my hand at teaching for the first time recently, but it’s something that has taught me so much about communication, and particularly the curse of knowledge. My first presentation was a mess; I was attempting to explain everything I knew in two hours. This is a) not possible, and b) not the point of teaching.

    If I had put myself in their shoes – a mixed group with relatively little digital marketing knowledge – then I would have done things very differently. Making sure they understood one area of content marketing with the help of engaging group tasks would have been much more efficient than me reeling off things to blank faces.


    The importance of user intent and knowing your audience

    Understanding user intent

    Everything I’ve spoken about really comes down to thinking about your audience before engaging with them and understanding their intent. This both means to have a grasp of their knowledge of a subject as well as what they want to know about it.

    Whether it’s verbal or written communication, if you have never met your audience before then it’s important you use all the tools you can access to create a persona around them. Potentially ask all of the questions below:

    • Who am I communicating with (is the key target audience experienced in the industry?)?
    • What is their previous experience of what I’m offering (whether someone reading your blog post or a peer asking for digital marketing advice)?
    • What information do I have that’s unnecessary and hard to understand for my target audience? (Is it worth mentioning the technical specifications of a new product to prospective journalists? Probably not)

    These are just a snapshot of questions you need to answer, the more you think about them, the more they will start to expand.

    Lift the curse by creating personas

    How to combat this and lift the curse of knowledge upon you? Create personas for your target users. It’s one of the greatest clichés, but put yourself in their shoes.

    For example, you’re writing a blog for your new client – a small online wine business based in the UK. You have years of wine experience, both researching and tasting, home and abroad. A knowledge built up that is far above the norm. However, your end goal is to make people aware of this British-produced wine.

    Create the persona of your core target audience:

    • Andrew
    • 35-year-old office worker
    • Lived in Britain his whole life
    • Likes to drink wine but bored of the same stuff

    Once you have this persona in your head, you’ll write for Andrew, you’ll no longer write from the point of view of someone with above average knowledge of wine. Your initial title before thinking about the target persona might have been ‘how the age of grape affects its dryness’. This is great for wine enthusiasts but what about Andrew.

    How about ‘British Wine: Same Quality as European, But Half the Price’. If this is true, which I have to be honest I don’t know, then this will resonate with a much broader audience than the initial title.


    Final word on lifting the curse of knowledge

    Always understand your audience. Never let the curse of knowledge rear its ugly head. If you do, there will be heaps of confused faces and unproductive dialogues – either the written word or verbally. Time will be wasted, money will be lost, and there will be lots of sad faces.

    It’s not rocket science, it’s more how rocket scientists should communicate with us lesser individuals.

  • 01 May
    My First Brighton SEO

    My First Brighton SEO

    If you’re reading this, you’ll probably be aware of the SEO industry’s biggest gig of the year. Held in sunny (most of the time) Brighton in a large conference hall hugging the coastline, Brighton SEO is the UK’s largest free SEO conference.

    With the top names in the industry delivering talks on a broad range of digital marketing topics, it is a no-brainer for any agency or search enthusiast to attend.

    More →

  • 10 Apr
    Finding your Path in Digital

    Finding your Path in Digital

    When you first start out working in digital marketing, you’ll find that eventually there’s a need to specialise. The amount you can learn and do is so broad that it’s very difficult to be an expert in every element. Whilst at first you’re going to want to keep your knowledge broad and learn about all the different sides to it, as you gain more and more experience it’s likely you’ll begin to prefer one side of things more than others. So how do you make that choice?

    Have an open mind

    More →

  • 21 Mar
    Where can you meet us?

    Where can you meet us?

    SMX West – San Jose, March 21st-23rd

    If you’re based on the west coast, or just fancy a trip out to San Jose, you can find us speaking at SMX West. With hundreds of updates in how search works each and every year, staying ahead of the curve can be difficult – especially when one of the key changes has been a loss of the data we have access to. With everything from ‘not provided’ keywords to the aggregation of search volumes in keyword planner, these changes make it harder and harder to do our jobs. Hannah will be covering how we can bridge the gap in data by using the metrics we find in social instead. More →

    By Stuart Events Marketing News
  • 02 Sep
    Beyond Link Building – Using PR to Fuel Your Digital Strategy

    Beyond Link Building – Using PR to Fuel Your Digital Strategy

    Today (2nd September 2016) I had the pleasure of presenting at BrightonSEO in their brand, spanking new venue!

    Aisha Kellaway BrightonSEO September 2016

    The response to the talk was amazing, and a huge thanks to everyone who came along.

    You can see the slides from my presentation below:
    [slideshare id=65628292&doc=skippybrightonseoslidessansanimation-pr-160902134520]

    And I’ve also added a (rough) transcript of my talk below to help out anyone that wasn’t there.


    title slide

    This presentation is not about links, but it is about PR.

    I think it’s brilliant that PR has become a lot more prominent in the digital industry in the last few years, and it’s great that, in line with that, our approach to links has shifted – from an approach of building them to one of earning them, through creating truly remarkable content, and conducting effective, and targeted outreach to the right influencers and publications.

    But the issue that I do have is this is really the only context in which we hear about digital PR. And that’s a real shame because PR spans so much more than that, and an understanding of the fundamental principles of PR can really help boost your entire digital strategy, especially when it comes to online communication and reputation online. So we’re going beyond links today.

    skippy slide

    I’m the digital PR specialist at, a full-service digital marketing agency in Oxford and London. Before joining White I worked for a travel PR agency, with a focus on media outreach and relations. And way before that I worked in house for BrightonSEO and the 5 other conferences we were running at the time – working on the community management and all online communications – focusing on the events reputations and relationships with delegates, speakers and sponsors through our online platforms.

    This presentation shares principles and processes that I’ve learnt through these three roles, that I think is relevant and applicable regardless of what industry or sector you’re in.

    Okay – so to get started I thought I’d go back to basics, to what PR actually is.

    And the best person to define this is a chap called Edward Bernays, who was Sigmund Freud’s nephew. Bernays was responsible for using Freud’s psycho-analysis theory in propaganda campaigns of the first and second world wars. Following the second world war, Bernays built upon propaganda theory to develop the practice of PR.

    edward bernays

    In 1950 he actually published a book called “Public Relations” which, despite being published over 60 years ago, is still THE most pertinent book on PR that I’ve ever read. In it, he defines PR as “Information given to the public to persuade and modify attitudes and actions”, but he doesn’t stop there. He adds that PR is also “The efforts to INTEGRATE the attitudes and actions of an institution, with its publics, and of publics with that institution.” And it’s the second part of the definition that I care about, and unfortunately, it’s the second part of the definition that usually gets overlooked. When you look at just the first part of the definition, it’s very reminiscent of propaganda – it’s a one-way communication system – it’s broadcasting and publicity.

    digital pr is...

    In a digital context, it’s where we find media outreach and relations. but when you bring the second part of the definition into it, you see that PR is about two-way communication, about relationships – and beyond that, about reputation – because reputation is not what you say about yourself, it’s what people say about you when you’re not there. When you bring this into a digital context, you see that PR is involved in anything that influences your relationships and reputation, online, through communication. So yes, outreach and influencer relations are important. But so is all other aspects of your online communication with your different target groups.

    reputation precedes you

    And the word I really want you to focus on here, and what PR really boils down to, is reputation. And this is important because your reputation PREcedes you. It comes before a user really enters the marketing or sales funnel. And if you successfully build your reputation, you’ll find that the hard part of your sales and marketing is done for you. And that is due, in part, to something called the confirmation bias.

    confirmation bias

    The confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that explains the human tendency to interpret new information as evidence that supports existing theories and beliefs. Essentially, we look for information that supports what we believe and ignore information that goes against what we believe.

    I want you to think back to any teenage celebrity crushes. Mine was Johnny Depp. I didn’t know Johnny Depp, I never met him, but I fell in love with the idea of him. And this meant that anything good said about him was gospel, and anyone who said anything negative obviously had no idea what they were on about.

    Now think about how this would play out if you got people to fall in love with the idea of your brand, this is before they bought from you, and before they’ve even entered the sales funnel. They’re not going to be trying to catch you out. They’re going to be doing the opposite, and will be actively looking for ways to continue along the user journey – and you then have every successive touch point with that user to reinforce that positive reputation, and lead them towards a conversion.

    And for the rest of the presentation, I’m going to give you a five-step process that will help you do that.

    #1 – Understand your business.

    vision, mission, values

    This seems like common sense, and it is – but how many of you could tell me, on the spot, what the vision for your company was. What is the 3, 5 and ten-year plan? Now, would I get the same answer from you as I would from a colleague?

    What about the company mission? I’m not talking about what you do. I’m talking about what it is in your industry, or society, that you’re trying to fix, change, create, or perhaps eradicate. It’s what is it that gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you on track.

    And lastly, what are your company’s values. These are what help you make your decisions, from the content you create, to the people you hire. Does everyone know them, and use them to make their decisions in the business?

    If you’re agency side, how many of you know the answers to these questions for every single one of the clients you work on?

    Knowing the answers to these questions sets a really strong foundation. It helps you stay on track, and means that everything you do, and create, if in line with those values, will be a step – even if a tiny one – to getting closer to that vision, and achieving that mission.

    #2 – Understand every single one of your target publics.

    general public doesn't exist

    In PR – there is no such thing as the general public, it doesn’t exist. I still meet companies where they think that their product or service is for “everyone” and that everyone is going to respond to the same message or call to action.

    The term Public Relations is also a bit deceptive, as it actually refers to “publics” – the individual groups that are important to communicate with, and build relationships with, to benefit the business. These will, of course, include customers, but it could also include potential employees, stakeholders, partner businesses or organisations, or community groups.

    You need to identify who these groups are that you’re targeting online. Then you have to understand them, what their goals are and how you can help them achieve them. Lastly, you need to craft messages to communicate this to them through your online channels.

    To better understand your audience, whether they’re just browsers or existing users, you can use intelligent user communication tools like Intercom, as well as personalised live chat platforms like Drift or Olark. These tools give you really valuable insights on your users, help you identify the different goals your users have, and enable you to have personalised, two-way communication with individual users directly through your site without them having to pull away from the user journey and potentially disengaging.

    The insights learnt in this part of the process help in stage three.

    #3 – which is to audit your online communication.

    This is something we do at White, before we undertake any creative PR and outreach efforts, and it’s something I think more companies should do.

    We take the information gathered in steps one and two, and make sure that key messages are communicated effectively across their online platforms.

    We then take insights from the user communication tools, analytics, and any other software like HotJar, and we also usually perform UserTesting, to ensure that we’ve properly understood our target groups, and can analyse how easy it is for the different groups of users to get the information they need to achieve their goals as efficiently as possible.

    This process allows us to find content gaps and UX opportunities, with a focus on improving engagement and conversion metrics.


    After analysing the website, we’ll also audit social media platforms as well as branded listings in the SERPs. We’re not looking for the messaging doesn’t have to be the same, but it does need to be consistent in order to help build that brand image. And that brand image, doesn’t necessarily have to be a “positive” one – it just needs to be in line with those three things you identified about your business.

    Take RyanAir as an example. Even if you haven’t flown with them, you’re probably not sitting there thinking “Yeah… Bloody brilliant airline!”. But you probably are sitting there thinking “Yeah… Bloody cheap airline!” – and that’s what they’re going for.

    They’ve understood what their mission is, and they target a customer base who are looking for what they have to offer – which is budget travel without any perks or luxuries that can come along with the travel experience.

    You can see this reinforced in their messaging across all of their online platforms. And it’s this consistency that we’re looking for in these audits.

    In these audits, I also look at social media content, and I’m constantly amazed that some companies still see social media as a one-way channel to flog their products or services, rather than an incredible opportunity to build a sense of community around their brand, or build their authority within their industry through thought leadership.

    Your social strategy should also be founded on what you’ve identified in stage two. Which of your target groups use social media? Which platforms do they use and in what capacity? Add value to that experience, rather than try and distract them with marketing messages.

    I also like to take a look at supplementary blog content, as well as the social media posts, and look at the balance of quantity and quality. I’m often asked what the optimum number of posts is, and the answer is always the same. From a PR perspective, NEVER forego quality for the sake of quantity. By all means, publish 10 times a day, as long as each of those posts is of high quality, and adds value to your users.

    #4 – Keep on top of what’s being said about you.

    What someone else says about you holds a lot more weight than what you say about yourself. It’s something we’ve always leveraged in PR through gaining favourable publicity, but online, most of what’s said about us is out of our control.

    If you’re not already, you might want to consider setting up basic Google Alerts for your brand, a key product or even yourself. This won’t pick up everything, but it will alert you to anything significant published on the web. It can also be handy to set up alerts for topics you specialise in, to find opportunities where you can jump in and add value to the conversation.

    This is free and easy, but it is limited. Beyond Google Alerts, you might want to look into media monitoring tools like, and specialist social media monitoring services like Brandwatch that will do a much more thorough job.

    review sites

    Lastly, on this topic, if you’re in retail, e-commerce, or you’re in the food, travel or leisure industries – review sites are your friend!

    Positive ratings are not just great social proof and good for click through rates, but reviews give you incredible insights from real customers. If you’re getting great feedback, you have access to testimonials and a way to build relationships with potential brand advocates. If you’re getting some not-so-good feedback… it’s better that you know. You have an opportunity to turn that customer’s experience around, and if you can’t achieve that, you still have a platform to show potential customers a lot about the kind of company you are through the way you respond.

    #5 – Actions speak louder than words.

    It’s all well and good to have a great value proposition, a wonderful website, and brilliant messaging – but ultimately, it’s what you do, not what you say you do, that leads to your reputation.

    I’ve referred to this image of Madeline Vogel, which you might recognise as it circulated widely a few years ago. She didn’t stop to help a fallen competitor cross the finish line because she wanted the global publicity that followed – she did it because it was a no brainer. It was in line with her values. Then the publicity followed.

    Walking the walk is what’s going to get you the reputation you dream of. Because outreach alone won’t get you the headlines, but being truly remarkable will.

    And then all the tactics will be so much more fruitful, as you’ll have built your reputation.

    Any questions, leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter.

    By Aisha Kellaway Events Marketing
  • 08 Aug
    Cognitive Biases all Marketers Should Understand (Part One)

    Cognitive Biases all Marketers Should Understand (Part One)

    If there’s one thing for certain about us human beings, it’s that we’re terrible at making rational decisions.

    dilbert decisions
    (Image source)

    When presented with a choice, we often defer to using heuristics, which are simple, efficient rules that help us make quick decisions when faced with a difficult choice, rather than coming to a rational conclusion. (This will likely sound familiar if you’ve read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking fast and slow, Philip Tetlock’s Superforecasting: The art and science of prediction or Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational – all really great books!)

    Heuristics can be very practical, as we don’t have the time to analyse and rationalise every single one of the 35,000 decisions we make on a daily basis, but they can also result in cognitive biases. These biases are errors in our thinking and decision making that happen when we attempt to process and interpret information, usually influenced by subjective experience or environmental factors.

    Cognitive biases have fascinated me for a while now. But more than understanding exactly what they are, I think what’s most interesting is seeing them in action, and understanding how, as marketers, we can better understand how our audience make decisions and then use this insight to improve our positioning and communication.

    In this post, I’m going to walk through four common cognitive biases. I’ll explain different ways you can use them to your advantage, along with examples of brands that are a step ahead and are already implementing these tactics within their marketing strategy. Who knows; you may already be appealing to these biases without even realising it!

    The anchoring effect:

    Can you ever remember making a purchase simply because it was on sale and compared to its original price, it was simply too good a deal to pass up?

    If so, I’m sorry to break it to you but it would appear you’ve been the victim of the anchoring effect.

    What is the anchoring effect?

    Anchoring is a cognitive bias that refers to our tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information we receive. This means all new information is only viewed relative to the first.

    In the example of a sale, rather than rationally working out “is this a good deal”, we switch this question to the easier one of “is this a good deal compared to the product’s original cost?”. With the “WAS” price in front of us, this is a much simpler conclusion to make.

    Now think about how anchoring might affect negotiations.

    The person who comes in at the starting bid, or price, has the upper hand as all negotiation will be adjusted from that initial starting point.

    That’s why if you’re trying to sell a service or product, or negotiate your salary, it’s a good idea to get in first and set the asking price higher than what you’re hoping to get.


    Similarly, if you’re looking to buy a service or product, or negotiate an employee’s salary, you have the upper hand if you come in first with a lower offer than what you expect to pay.


    I think this cartoon sums it up pretty well:

    anchoring effect comic strip(Image source)


    Examples of the anchoring effect in marketing:

    The most obvious place you see the anchoring effect in marketing is on sales and pricing pages.


    Take this example from OnePager below:

    onepager pricing page

    Not only do OnePager showcase their agency packages on the same page as their starter packages, they startwith the agency price, which is significantly more expensive than the next available option.


    Even if you’d never need the agency package, by seeing this cost first, all other packages are suddenly viewed in relation to $199, rather than to other more comparable packages. Suddenly $15 seems like a bargain, even if you really only need the $8 package.


    Now let’s take a look at a slightly different example from Nutmeg:

    nutmeg fees page

    If you haven’t heard of Nutmeg, they’re a platform that manages your investment portfolio for you based on your risk appetite.

    The screenshot above is from their fees page. What I want you to notice is the slider. The page loads with the automatic expectation that you’ll be investing £25,000, and the position of this to the left of the slider implies that this is a low investment amount.

    For a lot of people using Nutmeg, I’d hazard a pretty strong guess that that’s going to be more than what they’re willing or able to part with. When you push the slider down, you’ll notice that the minimum investment amount is £500 – much more reasonable. But by having the automatic suggestion at £25,000, this amount becomes the anchor, so if you were initially planning on investing a small amount of £500 – £1000 – it’s likely you could be persuaded to increase this amount, without them even asking you directly.



    The bandwagon effect:

    If all your friends decided to jump off a bridge, would you do that too?

    This was one of my mother’s favourite lines when I was growing up. I’m sure a lot of you were delivered something similar by your parents whenever you asked to do something and gave the reason as “But so and so are doing it!”

    My mother was certainly clued in on the bandwagon effect.

    bandwagon cartoon(Image source)


    What is the bandwagon effect?

    The bandwagon effect is one of the better known and longest-studied heuristics. It’s a bias that occurs as a result of social proof; where we make a decision based on popularity of the options amongst our peers, rather than from rational comparison. (This article from the Economist explains it really well with lots of further reading referenced).

    The bandwagon effect is why we’ll choose a cafe or pub with people sitting in it over an empty one, or watch a TV series because everyone’s been talking about it, even if it isn’t a standard genre we’d go for.

    For a more topical example, how many of you have secretly or somewhat reluctantly downloaded the Pokemon Go app, even if you wouldn’t call yourself a Pokemon fan?

    (For the record, I have not… yet…)

    Even if you haven’t, are you somewhat curious? I mean, as everyone is playing it and talking about it, it must be pretty good. Right?

    Bandwagon effect strikes again.


    Examples of the bandwagon effect in marketing:

    One of my favourite examples of the bandwagon effect in marketing is from Groupon.

    They appeal to the bandwagon effect three times above the fold. Take a look in the image below and see if you can pick them out:

    groupon page

    Find them? They’re not exactly subtle.

    You have the average customer review, supported by the total number of 2483 customers; You have the “Over 1000 bought”; and you have the Facebook share count.

    Having these multiple points of social proof acts to validate both the Crazy Bear as a venue, as well as the deal itself.

    Bonus points if you also noticed the anchoring effect going on here too. £25 for afternoon tea seems pretty bloody reasonable against £63!


    How you can use the Bandwagon effect

    Here are some simple ways you can invoke the bandwagon effect:

    Share counts:

    If you’re not already doing so, consider having share counters alongside your social share buttons on articles and key pages. Keep in mind this can also work against you (negative social proof) if your content isn’t consistently getting high shares.

    I’d opt for a plugin that you can set to hide share counts under a certain amount. Two I know of that enable this are SumoMe, and Social Warfare.


    Previous and existing clients:

    If you’re a service provider, displaying your past and current client base is another way of demonstrating positive social proof.

    We have ours displayed on our homepage which show a range of industries, as well as different sizes of businesses:

    white clients


    Total number of customers:

    Publicly shouting about the number of customers, users or downloads your product or service has will help with positive social proof and evoke the bandwagon effect.

    You’ll often see this for software downloads (think about the app store as an example of this) as well as for webinars and for events. You’ll also see it used heavily in fundraising platforms:

    kickstarter page



    Showing aggregate reviews and ratings is yet another tactic that you can use, and various review sites will integrate with AdWords to show positive aggregate ratings next to your ads. Positive reviews (especially in high numbers) are one of the best ways to boost your click through rates of PPC ads, and boost individual product conversion rates.

    Further reading:

    This article from Forbes goes into a lot more detail on bandwagon marketing then I have here, so if you’re interested in learning more, give it a read.


    The sunk cost fallacy:

    You’ve purchased a book and you’ve started to read it. After a few nights’ reading the early chapters and making solid progress, you realise it’s not nearly as good as you thought it was going to be, but you keep reading. After all, you’ve already invested the time and effort in buying the book, and spent the last 3 evenings getting half-way through, you may as well finish it… right?

    What is the sunk cost fallacy?

    In economics, sunk cost refers to a cost that’s already been incurred and can no longer be recovered. As such, economists argue that these purchases or investments should not factor into decision making. Instead, you should make decisions based on the expected future costs and benefits.


    But that would be too logical, wouldn’t it.


    You see, the problem with this logic is that it doesn’t factor in loss aversion – We’re wired to avoid loss, more than we’re motivated towards gain, so when we invest in something, we are very reluctant to abandon it, often resulting in us investing more and being worse off than if we’d cut our losses, be that financial, time, or effort.


    My friends, welcome to the table the sunk cost fallacy.

    sunk cost fallacy cartoon

    (Image source)


    Examples of the sunk cost fallacy in marketing:

    You see people utilising the sunk cost fallacy all the time in marketing, primarily for customer retention.

    Any product or service that requires an initial, non-recoverable investment will help tie your users or clients to your service.

    Now remember, this doesn’t have to be financial investment.

    Think back to when you first signed up to Twitter or LinkedIn – both of these platforms do something very clever when new users register. They don’t make it easy to just create an account. Instead they lead you through a series of processes. You’re directed to enter out your contact information, find and connect with friends, fill in profile information – and they don’t make it easy to skip steps along the way.
    linkedin sign up

    Trust me, that’s not just them being helpful; that initial investment of time becomes a sunk cost – you’re not going to get that back. Suddenly you’re a lot more motivated to use the service than if you’d just had to enter an email address and click a button.

    To emphasise the investment users have put in, having clear progress statuses can be very effective.

    Again, LinkedIn is a great examples of this, showing your progress in setting up your profile:

    linkedin process

    And keeping a profile strength bar on your profile, even as a dedicated user:

    skippy linkedin

    Another good example of how I’ve noticed the sunk cost fallacy work on me, is with my Nike Plus running app. Every time I go for a run I sign in to the app and track my miles.


    The app now holds a bank of data of my running performance – and everytime I log in I’m faced with a reminder of the literal blood, sweat and tears that I’ve invested in that app, not to mention the 300+ miles. Trust me – there’s no way I’ll be swapping to Map My Run any time soon, even if it was the better option for what I needed going forwards.

    nike plus

    (Image source)

    How you can use the sunk cost fallacy


    If you have a shocking product, or simply can’t offer value to a specific user – I can’t help you. But even the best companies have some strong competition these days, and what an understanding of the sunk cost fallacy can do is improve customer retention.


    The examples above teach us that we should get an initial investment from our customers as soon as possible. The more emotional this investment is, the better.


    They also showcase the importance of maintaining contact with our customers – providing them with a status update or virtual (if we can’t provide a real) progress bar, and providing ways that they can continue to emotionally invest in what we have to offer them. As an agency, flexible roadmaps, access to project management tools, and a system to ensure weekly and monthly catch-ups is not just great from a client experience perspective, it also reinforces the investment both parties have made.


    Further reading:

    This post from You Are Not So Smart analyses the sunk cost fallacy, using a key example of the 2010 Facebook app game, Farmville.


    The choice-supportive bias:

    We’ve all heard of buyer’s remorse; that sinking feeling we get after making a purchase that we know, retrospectively, we didn’t need.


    But think carefully about this – what do we usually do to get rid of this feeling, or to avoid it in the first place? This might be hard to answer, and that’s because it comes quite naturally, without us consciously deciding to do so. And when it does, the choice-supportive bias is at play.


    What is the choice-supportive bias?

    Choice-supportive bias is what it’s called when we think back to choices we’ve made and ignore or downplay the faults of the option we chose, and exaggerate the faults of the options we didn’t select.


    By doing this, we reduce the likelihood of feeling regret or remorse over the decision.

    choice supportive bias

    (Image source)

    Essentially, we don’t like to be wrong – so we avoid recognising we’re wrong and instead skew our recollection of the decision making process to reinforce that we made the right decision by focusing on the good aspects of the journey, and ignoring the bad.


    Examples of the choice-supportive bias in marketing:


    The choice-supportive bias really comes into its own after you’ve gained a customer. It also compliments the sunk-cost fallacy beautifully; once users feel invested, they find it harder to break away.


    Email marketing campaigns that are triggered after a conversion are one of the best examples of how marketers trigger the choice-supportive bias.


    The best kind of emails are those which contain information that reinforces the customer’s positive perception of your brand. This could be as simple as helpful information about the product, a free Ebook sent out when people sign up for a webinar, or customer testimonials of a service that a new customer has just signed up for. Better still, it could say something positive about the user themself!


    Dollar Shave Club do this very well by reinforcing that by signing up, you’re now part of an “elite club of geniuses” – That right there is choice-supportive ammunition handed to you on a silver platter.

    dollar shave club(Image source)

    Toms is another example, this time reminding you that you’ve not just purchased a product – you’ve joined “The movement!”:


    (Image source)


    These are both post conversion tactics, but companies can also trigger the choice-supportive bias during the marketing funnel itself.


    This is usually achieved through micro-conversions. Filling out a lead-gen form, opting in to a newsletter or liking a brand on social media all count as “choices” to align with your brand that your users will defend, and which will help ease their journey through the rest of the conversion funnel.


    Dollar Shave Club is a great example of this. They don’t just flatter in their confirmation emails, they provide flattery throughout the entire customer journey, along with a brilliant user experience.


    Everything about the user journey is positive, providing lots of reference points for users to justify a purchase.


    There’s a very in-depth post on the choice-supportive bias by Jeremy Smith, in which he also uses Dollar Shave Club as an example: “Throughout the conversion funnel, the messaging gets warmer and more self-satisfying. By the time I’m done buying, I feel like I’m some sort of shaving god.”

    dollar shave club products

    (Image source)

    How you can use the choice-supportive bias in marketing:

    Something worth noting is that the choice-supportive bias is especially likely to be triggered when the choice reflects positively upon the user, and as such – it’s possible to trigger the bias during the conversion process itself, not only after you’ve made a sale. This is what makes the Dollar Shave Club’s conversion process work so well.

    The great feeling of having a seamless user experience, seeing brilliant customer testimonials, noticing a relevant and clear value proposition, and having access helpful customer support not only makes users more likely to convert, it means they’ve already got positive connotations of the brand, which they’ll actively reinforce following the purchase.

    After a user does convert, sending confirmation emails that point out the positives of the decision they’ve made will mean you’re doing a lot of the hard work for your customers.


    Summing up:

    In this post I’ve run through only four out of hundreds of identified cognitive biases.


    I’ll be doing part 2 of this article in the near future, delving into another four common biases and how you can use them to improve your marketing efforts, but if you’d like to do some further reading in the meantime, I suggest starting with this crazy list on Wikipedia.


    I also recommend looking into the books I mentioned in the introduction, which I’ve linked to here as well along with a couple of other good’ns:



    If you’ve got other examples you’d like to share, or questions about other resources I can point you to, do leave a comment or feel free to reach out on the Twitters!

    By Aisha Kellaway CRO Marketing
  • 18 Apr

    Getting your Client Experience Right

    Client Experience

    As an agency, the key to stabilising your business is by having long-term clients; the kind that stays with you for over two years and where you become an integral part of their business – just as much as they are to yours.

    If you’re able to nail this magic relationship, not only will your finance department and investors be happy, but the quality of work you’re able to produce will also increase due to your knowledge of their business.

    This is why you’ll often hear the words ‘So how do we improve the client experience?’ within the agency environment.

    What is Client Experience?

    For a start, if you Google ‘client experience’ and lazily use the knowledge graph snippet to get your answer, this is what Wikipedia has to say:

    “Customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes a customer’s attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy and purchase and use of a service.”


    If you’re on the ball, you’ll notice that Google has determined that client experience equals customer experience. The words become interchangeable in this context when you understand that despite the service nature of agency work, a client is still buying, therefore, they are a customer. That’s lesson 1.

    As Google suggests, following on from users searching for the definition of customer experience, people then normally want to know how to manage it. The elements that make up customer experience management become key to building a strategy that will support your business in having happy customers.

    CX- Google Screenshot

    Lesson 2: Understand Your Relationships

    In order to improve the experience of your customers, you need to work out the base level of how you’re performing now. Benchmarking means understanding the types of relationships you have with your customers at present.

    If you’re an agency, classify all of your clients into these categories:

    • “Promoters. Loyal enthusiasts who keep buying from you and urge their friends to do the same.
    • Passive. Satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who can be easily wooed by the competition.
    • Detractors. Unhappy customers who feel trapped in a bad relationship.”

    This is taken from a Forbes article which suggests you calculate your Net Promoter Score by subtracting the number of detractors from the number of promoters and passive clients you have. This will provide a metric of how content your customers are, rather than just looking at revenue as a measure of success.

    Lesson 3: Set Goals, understand what you want, build a strategy

    Every business needs a good customer experience and to develop that there needs to be a strategy. However, before rushing into the implementation of a strategy document, it’s important to begin with the goals and understanding the core objectives.

    Is your customer experience system in place just to drive sales? Are you trying to generate referrals? Reduce the strain on your customer service team?

    As an agency, the happier our clients are with the service they’re receiving, the less reactive account management we have to do. This puts the power of where our time is spent back into our hands more than if we’re answering a series of calls and emails due to concerned clients. It’s in our best interest to have the best customer experience as then we can spend time driving results for them.

    Lesson 4: Your customers are not homogenous, nor should your tactics be

    One of the biggest trends in marketing is the rise of persona marketing. We all know the common themes amongst our customers and strive to make our services meet the needs of these groups.

    Whether you choose to have one persona group, or six, or ten, there will always be outliers from your typical customer. Furthermore, the difference between consumer (a potential purchaser of your service) and customer, means a whole new complexity of to your personas as you also try and target those who might not already be purchasing from you.

    The most frustrating thing for any customer to hear across any business is ‘We have a policy…’ Every business needs customer service policies and guidelines on how to deal with the average complaint or enquiry, but what about those extra special circumstances?

    Providing those interacting with your customers the most the flexibility to make sensible decisions based on the circumstances will enable them to assess what matters the most to each individual they deal with and make that the priority.

    The best way to do this is to have a top-line strategy; a clear mission statement of the values your business holds will support staff to make the right decisions that relate back to this core. By doing that, each person will feel empowered to make immediate choices, without that annoying ‘let me get my manager’ conversation, whilst knowing they are doing what is best for the business.

    From this strategy, an employee will be able to develop their own tactics for resolving the problems they face. Of course, successful tactics or answers to commonly occurring problems may become commonplace across the whole business, but flexibility to let these develop organically will ensure they’re the most customer-centric.

    Lesson 5: Think beyond your direct customers

    When you say client experience you’ll immediately think of those people that you have direct transactions with, but it’s important to think bigger. Whilst it’s clear those that are buying from you are important, you should also factor in the other people your business interacts with – including the employees – in order to boost overall experience.

    Each and every interaction in your business needs to be a positive experience, as ultimately this will support the overall level of service everyone experiences – to put it simply, treat others as you wish to be treated.

    You can’t ensure that all your customer’s are perfectly courteous to your employees, but you can ensure that you demonstrate how much you value them and thereby improve morale.

    High morale = Harder workers = Better Experience for your customers

    Cyclical Flow of Employee Happiness - CX

    By Hannah Marketing
  • 11 Apr

    The Telegraph, Travel and Tom Hiddleston

    The Telegraph, Travel and a Tom Hiddleston

    We’ve all heard the sayings in the last few years that TV, both stateside and here in the UK, is in the ascendance.

    Recent months have seen big budget, trans-Atlantic productions, such as The Night Manager (the most expensive drama in BBC history at £20m), and epic historical saga War and Peace (£8m production) hit our screens with a vengeance.

    These mega-productions are drawing not only celebrated silver screen actors to the small screen, but are driving increased viewing figures for TV in general, with The Night Manager averaging 6.2 million viewers during its 6 week run.

    So what does this all have to with digital marketing and, indeed, the daily newspaper The Telegraph?

    In researching this blog post, which was originally going to be about how brands are capitalising on the growth of big-budget programmes, The Telegraph kept popping up in search results and twitter feeds as a winner in the TV search trend stakes. This post will look at the recent opportunities The Telegraph has taken advantage of, and look at how brands could replicate this success.

    Let’s take a look at our first example; the aforementioned phenomenon, The Night Manager.


    The Night Manager

    With the series taking place across a number of glamorous (and some not so glamorous) locations, the broadcast period of The Night Manager (and the weeks afterwards) inspired a great deal of related search traffic. This included viewers seeking images of Tom Hiddleston, and also those wondering if there’d be a second series.

    But it wasn’t only these direct topics that were of interest to searchers; the products and destinations featured in the series got their fair share of search queries too.

    When I think about the possible reasons for this, it’s easy to see how the sleek attire of the principal protagonists and the luxury locations lend themselves to daydreaming viewers. After all, they are watching the series during the cold, stormy winter months and can imagine themselves living the life of luxury in stylish, sun-drenched locations.

    Let’s look at few topics in particular that have seen uplifts in search volume.

    Majorca Villas

    Below shows the uplift in impressions for a travel retailer for terms related to Majorca villas (one of the principal locations in the series) over the broadcast period of The Night Manager.

    We can see defined peaks around the broadcast of episodes that featured the Majorcan villas location. However, these impressions and boosts in search volume can be converted into real traffic with the help of clever planning and quick action.


    Surprisingly, it was not travel and villa retailers that managed to capitalise on this story. Instead, this opportunity was taken by the newspapers. The Telegraph, in particular, took the bull by the horns and utilised the increased interest in this location to drive traffic to 3rd party websites via affiliate links.

    Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 16.32.33

    This content also serves to promote other Telegraph travel articles and location guides.

    Other news outlets that covered this topic were Radio Times and The Guardian. This example presents a prime opportunity lost for travel/villas to ramp up paid media spend, write relevant and focused content, and create conversation on social media off the back of a TV show.

    A missed opportunity for Marks and Spencer

    In the days and weeks following the airing of a scene in which a principal character, known for wearing expensive designer wardrobe pieces, is shown wearing its brand of underwear, Marks and Spencer did, well, nothing.

    Once again, the traditional news outlets, this time the Daily Mail and the Mirror, covered this topic with gusto.

    This was certainly an opportunity missed by Marks and Spencer, which, as we have written about previously, has features on its website dedicated to editorial content and ‘picks’. So what could Marks & Spencer have done differently? We’ve created some tips for next time this happens…

    • Add the product and at least a short story to the Editor’s Picks which feature across the website (shown below)Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.09.22
    • Monitor brand mentions and tweet about the product during the show, and follow up the morning after so people can find the featured product
    • Create a promotion/competition around the product

    War and Peace….and city breaks

    When epic saga War and Peace debuted on our screens just after Christmas, travel brands were in peak holiday booking season. However, search terms around ‘visits to St Petersburg’ jumped big time during January and this presented a great opportunity for Russian Holiday brands to make some noise and capitalise on a new audience for its offerings.

    Unfortunately, not many appeared to have made the most of this opportunity.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 16.37.02
    Big jump in searches for holidays and trips to St Petersburg
    Once again, The Telegraph jumped in with great, timely content, the day before the first episode (forward planning – the production was announced in 2014 after all) with a comprehensive guide to the city of St Petersburg.

    They didn’t stop there, but went as far as to use this content to promote a reader offer.Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 12.19.29Picture1

    At a time when lots of people are talking about Russian destinations, the largest Russia holiday operators ended up promoting The Telegraph’s article, instead of gaining the traffic and brand-awareness for themselves through valuable on-trend content.

    As you’ll see below, Regent Holidays were in fact featured in one of these articles – as the operator of one of the 5 best tours of Tolstoy’s Russia – so they did gain valuable publicity and probably quite a bit of referral traffic from people landing on The Telegraph.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 16.52.13

    But it’s unlikely this was a planned and meditated strategy. More likely, Regent Holiday’s PR team responded to a media request from The Telegraph’s writer asking for Tolstoy themed tours and pitched one of the best options available. This is a great effort from the PR team. But wouldn’t it have been awesome if the PR team flagged the trend with the onsite content team and they complimented this feature with their own branded piece of content which they could promote too?

    Finally, on 8th March, more than a month after the series had finished airing in the UK, Regent finally put together a page that addressed the demand for visits to Tolstoy’s great cities.

    By this point, much of the buzz around War and Peace had died down and the telegraph had already run a series of 3 articles on the topic:

    This screams of a well researched and planned campaign to capitalise on the popularity of a TV series, and The Telegraph have done a great job. So this leads me to actions, and what we can actually learn from The Telegraph.

    What can we learn from The Telegraph and how can we replicate their success?

    Plan ahead
    Most major series are announced months in advance, so put relevant dates in the diary and keep an eye on build-up and noise around the topic in the lead-up.

    Be comprehensive
    Where possible, make content comprehensive and useful. Yes, you may be writing a feature ahead of a traffic peak, but don’t underestimate the power a long-form piece of content can have in the visibility stakes. That articles might bring you thousands of visitors in the years to come.

    A joined up approach

    • Make sure different departments and teams are informing you of any opportunities. One assumes the Marks and Spencer PR department must have known their underwear would be featured in the Night Manager?
    • Keep an eye on Journo requests from publications who might be planning articles and features to take advantage of these topics – just as we saw Regent Holidays did above. But don’t stop here – use them as a source of inspiration for your own content – Haro is a free platform you can sign up for which might be a good place to start, as well as #JournoRequest on twitter

    Use your strengths

    Take advantage of the insider knowledge that news outlets won’t have. Use in-country insights, opinions and tips in the case of destination based topics. You will be in a much better place to create authoritative and expertise-based content than commissioned writers.

    Track and understand
    Create Calls To Action (CTAs) either within or at the foot of the post, and set up ways to track users that have engaged with this content to understand how this content works for your brand.

    Monitor Google Alerts and Trends
    Never underestimate the power of a Google Alert in keeping you informed on news about the latest TV series announcement. Also check out Google Trends’ Rising and Top trends, see what specific phrases people are using, and act on them (shown below is the example from the day after the first episode of War and Peace aired).

    Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 12.34.02

    The key point to remember from all of this is that your brand may not consider an article or blog post about a TV show to be a real conversion path, but if other brands and news outlets write about it instead, you’ll be missing out on a potentially relevant audience. Don’t think that you can jump on the bandwagon later, you may well have missed the boat!

    By Alexandra Johnson Content Marketing SEO
  • 18 Mar

    Finding your version of the perfect customer experience

    Think Tank

    Whilst we’d all love unlimited budgets and resources in order to achieve our idea of perfection, when it comes to customer experience the likelihood of this being possible is pretty slim. Instead, on a daily basis we make decisions regarding which changes will be most beneficial to our businesses. At Linkdex’s SEONow ThinkTank I spoke all about how you can get as close to perfect as possible for your customers.

    What is ‘perfect’?

    There are many different approaches to choosing objectives for Customer Experience:

    • Should you aim for the maximum happiness possible for your customers as a whole? Utilitarian
    • Or do you want everyone to be equally content with the service they’re receiving? Egalitarian
    • Does customer experience directly impact your sales or is it unimportant? Self-Interested 

    One of the key methods of decision-making when it comes to Customer Experience is often forgotten but can be fundamental to solving some of the problems that occur with the models above. Aiming for finding the Pareto Optimal can reduce the risk of wasted investment into CX changes through a strategic approach to making these choices.

    Pareto Optimal – Conditions under which the state of economic efficiency (where no one can be made better off without making someone worse off) occurs.

    Every option for tweaking the customer experience of those interacting with your business must fulfil this criteria; as long as it benefits at least one person, without reducing the current quality of experience of another, then it is helping to shift your CX towards that point of Pareto Optimal.

    Optimising in Stages

    Whilst Pareto Optimal is a good starting point for identifying the most beneficial tweaks to make to your Customer Experience, it only acts as a quantifiable yes/no for if the action should be taken. It does not act as a means of choosing one option over another if both are meeting the criteria of a Pareto choice. For this level of prioritisation, it’s important to look at the process your customers and potential customers go through before purchasing.

    Start with basic metrics to assess each potential change you want to make:


    Then utilising these metrics, enter them into the Impact Model formula to assess which one scores the highest and will be the most impactful change for you to make:

    Impact Model

    This provides what is a basic version of calculating the decision-making process for every Customer Experience change, giving you the support you need in order to sell this to seniors in your business or to your clients. However, the more experienced you become in utilising it and the more data you have readily available to you on the experience so far, the more complex you can make this model. For example:

    Complex Model

    If you’re doing this correctly then you should start to see some significant changes in the way your discussions on Customer Experience take place. Firstly, the longer you do this for, the closer to Pareto Optimal you will become. Therefore the smaller the changes will be each time in terms of the Impact Model.

    In reality, this should also equate to far higher ROI’s on your work, a quicker sign off process in getting these changes agreed and in general far happier customers as a whole.

    By Hannah Marketing
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