Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Local Business Google Search Marketing Frustrations!

A local business owner came into our studio last week frustrated by the cost and level of support being provided by two mass market companies who were contracted to manage his website, Google Adwords (Paid listings) and Google MyBusiness (Local listings) account. 

After a little digging around, I found that his AdWords account was showing adverts with wording not relevant to his business plus they were not covering the full area he covered. Additionally his Google MyBusiness was set up under a service that he actually offered, but it was not the primary term the business should have been listed under. 

In his frustration, the owner had set up his own AdWords account and MyBusiness account resulting in having duplicate accounts! 

This got me thinking... how many other local businesses are being 'supported' in such a way?

One way I have been able to help is by explaining the Google search results page landscape, what each section is and how it is managed (See screen grab)

1) Google AdWords (Paid Listings) 

I'm sure you haven't failed to notice that a little while back Google changed the layout of its search results page so that the paid adverts no longer sit on the right hand side of your browser. Basically Google have tried to make their paid results look more 'native' by showing up to four adverts above merit listings and three below. This section is managed through Google AdWords or AdWords Express found in your MyBusiness account. Here you can select terms used that your advert will appear under when they are searched for, the wording of your advert and how much you are willing to pay to get higher in the list. 

2) Google MyBusiness (Local Listings) 

These adverts appear when terms are searched for that Google has registered as category's a local businesses fits into. So for example, when looking at the term "roofing repair evesham" the results page shows MyBusiness listings, the terms "roof maintenance" does not. At least three listings are shown here until that category is expanded, so you can see how important it is to set this up correctly. Google MyBusiness information can be edited in your Google + account. 

3) Merit Listings (Search Engine Optimisation) 

On some search result pages you have to scroll down past four AdWord listings, then three MyBusiness listings before you even get to a merit listing! A merit listing, as suggested by the name, is how Google reviews the merit of showing your website page above a competitors in the page results. This is commonly called search engine optimization and is managed through the content and structure of your website and using a technique called back link generation.  

Our aim is to reduce the monthly cost of local business online marketing spend whilst improving their results.  

We can help you fully understand how to achieve this and importantly exactly where and how effective your spend is. 

Call 01386 764747 or email if you are frustrated with your Google Search Marketing!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Get the best out of your Digital Marketing & Branding Agency

With the new year underway, companies are generally reviewing marketing strategies and budgets. They tend to question the effectiveness of their current marketing strategy - begging the question, are you using your Digital Marketing agency to its full potential?

If you have hired a digital marketing agency already it demonstrates you understand how valuable a digital presence can be for your business. In order to market your brand to its maximum potential use the services your digital marketing agency has to offer.

Increasing mobile usage
Each year the increase in mobile usage continues to grow with 67.1% of people accessing the internet on their phone. So, unsurprisingly, the use of mobile marketing will be a key trend to follow in 2016, which also means if your digital marketing plan is not mobile then it really should be.

Social Media Marketing
Are you using Social Media within your company and how can you make this work for you? Digital marketing is ever changing and social media is no exception. Facebook and Twitter are becoming the most powerful marketing tools out their. 65% of adults used social media in 2015 which is nearly 10 times for than in 2005. (, 2015). If you're not using social media in some form for your business then the question is why not? Interacting with your customers through social media is proven to increase your online presence.

Email Marketing
You may be thinking, I already have an email marketing strategy in place. But what some business' are failing to realise is that emails are less likely to be opened on desktop computers but rather on smartphones - '45% of email opens occurred on mobile, 36% on desktop and 19% in a webmail client.' – Adestra “Top 10 email clients” (March 2015), so optimising your email template for mobile is essential if you want to increase your click through and open rates!

Use your Google Business Tools!
Get your Google Business page set up! Its surprising how many companies still don't use Google Tools to their full potential, with Google AdWords, PPC, Analytics and Business Page make sure you have these services in place which will meaning spending some money in order to maximum your companies search engine optimisation! Show the world you're open for business . Google (2016)

Use Video
Don't be afraid to take advantage of your Digital Marketing agencies expertise and trust them to increase your brands digital exposure through a variety of different medias, a key channel to be used in 2016 is video. By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Including this in your marketing strategy is imperative to engage with your users. For any social media campaign, any SEO exercise, video is without doubt one of the best tools in the kit.

So, make use of your Digital Marketing Agency and use these digital marketing tools to get the best for your business! If you have any questions about Digital Marketing & Branding, email

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Why should you set up a company Linkedin profile?

Since LinkedIn was established in 2002 it has revolutionised the way people network. Over the last 13 years many new features and opportunities have been made available - do you find keeping up with these changes difficult?

Having recently spoken to a company director about the best approach on using LinkedIn to market their services, we noticed that his business was being represented by a personal LinkedIn account not their company LinkedIn page.

This restricts the opportunities available to that business in a number of ways;

1. Branding
2. Creating show pages
3. Making company posts rather than personal
4. Link together all your employees on LinkedIn

Wherever your business is represented, brand continuity is of upmost importance to maintain a professional identity. This applies to your company LinkedIn page and is not be available via your personal LinkedIn page where a profile picture would be placed showing the account administrator rather than something that reflects your company such as your logo at least.

Creating Show Pages
Often a company will offer a number of different services or may wish to promote different features of a product. This can be achieved using show pages. Each show page resides under the one account and can be categorised to show only posts relating to selected topics.

Making company posts rather than personal
Social media is often used for connecting people with people, it is also essential for connecting people with information. If you designate a LinkedIn administrator account that is personal, what happens if that person leaves your business or if they want to post something that is not business related? Having a specific company account that is listed as making posts will help to avoid these and other issues.

Link together all your employees on LinkedIn
Show off your team on LinedIn by associating personal LinkedIn accounts with your business account, but beware of the two issues that may occur mentioned in the early paragraph.

If you need advice on how to use LinkedIn to promote your business, Swimming Hippo can help.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

How to overtake your competition online:

 Request a free SEO audit

How to overtake your competition online:

When it comes to digital marketing or SEO as its more commonly known, reaching high positions on search engines like Google can make a huge difference to your overall visibility and sales.

There are many aspects to consider when you want to climb up this ever challenging organic ladder:

One aspect is what is known as link building and content marketing.

Google and other search engines are always looking to offer viewers the best experience and to do this offering the most relevant and up to date content is key.

Once you have this content though the big question is what do you do with it?

Well we have expert content writers that each have a passion for a specific field be it sport, lifestyle, business, tech, fashion and many many more.  They have contacts with web site owners (webmasters as they are known in our field) and they offer this content out to them.

If the webmaster likes it, they will put that piece of content onto their website and when Google do their rounds and look at the website that has your content on it, they look fondly on this and put you higher up as they feel you are the most appropriate.

As long as you don't drone on about you and your business and keep it very non promotional and the sites are respected it works.

Now nothing happens over night, but this is a proven tried and tested method to get you those enquiries you could do with, and right now we are offering to review where you currently are for free, we will look at your competition, your strengths and weaknesses and even put a game plan together with some suggestions that you could do yourselves or we could help with.

If your keen to explore this idea and would like a free review why not let us know by calling 01386 764747 or click here.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

How often should I have my website re-designed?

How often should I have my website re-designed?

Firstly lets address the bias here... this is a digital agency asking the question, it's like Evian telling us that drinking more water is essential. But this is a question that I am asked fairly routinely. (Just to clarify, when using the term re-design, I mean a complete creative process resulting in a new look website but not necessarily a new company identity/logo).

So how can that question be answered because it's certainly not an answer that should be given in years. Why not? Because the requirements and expectations of visitors to your website can change unexpectedly and the services you offer or your business process may force a new approach that needs to be communicated. On those occasions, you can't wait 2 or 3 years, a fluid view has to be considered.

Lets take a look at a few key indicators that will dictate when change is required: 

  • Design trends 
  • Technology 
  • Keeping up with competition 
  • User expectations 

Design trends 

Yes they are called trends for a reason, they change frequently. Now some business types will be more affected by trends than others. Take for example the comparison between a couple of market sectors that Swimming Hippo deliver to, Hospitality and Manufacturing. Hotel websites are bound to be more affected by trends than say a traditional engineer company because user expectations demand it - larger images, more information about room layout, reviews, videos, social media, booking facilities... etc., etc. But a traditional engineering company that delivers to a specialist market sector may not be swayed so much by design trends as focus on providing technical data could be the main requirement here. But that does not mean that such a company will escape from technical expectations.


There's simply no avoiding the effects of progressive technology, April's blog post discussing the increased urgency in making sure that your website is smart phone friendly highlights one example of this. If technology changes, then you need to make certain that your website is updated to cope with the advancement, if you don't then you are isolating visitors rather that inviting them.

Keeping up with competition 

You are not alone! If somebody searches for your website address, company name or especially the service or product you deliver they will obviously be presented with many alternatives. If the websites available are better designed, easier to navigate or mobile friendly in contrast to your website, a potential client or even an existing may be more inclined to use a competitors.

User expectations 

So the answer to that question, how often should I have my website re-designed? When the experience you want your target audience or that they are expecting is not delivered. Is that happening now?

Swimming Hippo have been designing and delivering websites for over 14 years. If you have a website design or digital marketing requirement, why not email us or call 01386 764747.

Friday, 22 May 2015

More coffee please!

May is the month for new business (April was pretty good to actually...)

Swimming Hippo is pleased to have been selected to continue or start new contracts with a number of businesses in April & May.

Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa

AA Inspectors Choice Hotel with five stars based in the Cotswolds have been working with Swimming Hippo to improve their email marketing. So far the Whatley Manor e-newsletter is achieving an open rate of 24% and a click through rate of 6%.

Smart XS - Exhibition stand designers

Having developed a site for Smart XS over 4 years ago, we are pleased to be working with them on the design and development of a new mobile friendly website.

A Creative Combination

Gloucestershire Dance & Artshape are working on a range of projects under the umbrella branding of the Arts Inc Partnership. A new responsive website is being designed for this combination of creative arts organisations.

"Both GDance and Art Shape chose Swimming Hippo to develop their individual organisations’ websites, and felt confident returning to SH with this new brief for the Arts Inc partnership micro-site.  Joe had already taken time to understand the two organisations’ values, image and vitally important access requirements" Cath Wilkins (Director)

The Speech House

Recognizing the need to increase their digital marketing requirements, The Speech House have approved an increase in their digital marketing program.

"Having worked with Swimming Hippo developing our digital marketing for several years, we
have found them to be both extremely helpful and innovative. In an ever changing market place one has to always be aware of new trends. I would fully recommend Swimming Hippo." Peter Hands (Director)

Fire Starter Business Solutions

Firestarter Business Solutions delivers sales and growth engines that achieve real, measurable, positive impact on your business performance & profitability. Swimming Hippo is now the selected supplier to deliver all digital marketing requirements for Fire Starter Solutions.

"We are really pleased to be working with Swimming Hippo to deliver digital marketing in support of our clients' sales and growth objectives. We look forward to a long and successful partnership." Matt Wheeler (Director)

Reaching for the skies

Fletcher Access ( have used Swimming Hippo for the conversion of their website to responsive design in response to last months Mobileaggedon email campaign.

"Thank you Joe, good job done." Simon Fletcher (Director)

We are looking to take on more projects over the next few months. If you have any digital marketing or creative requirements, please call 01386 764747 or email

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Email marketing, is it worth it?

Email marketing has become a default method for many businesses to keep in touch with their clients and contact companies with a view to gaining new business. It's a cost effective marketing tool that can be fully tracked and monitored in order to check the success of each time you 'broadcast' or send a message. 

The effectiveness of an email campaign depends on many factors, this post provides an overview of items to consider for starters:

How do I acquire good data?
Should I send the same message to my entire data list?
How important is design?
Can I avoid spam filters?
What are responsive design templates?
To what extent can I track activity?
What are your legal requirements?

How do I acquire good data? 

Okay, so you have a great product or service but nobody to email it to, how do you start to build an email data list?

Buy it! Well first of all you can buy data - but this presents an issue immediately as data suppliers range from the 'buy one million business emails for a dollar' offers to ones that you should actually consider. So what we are saying is NEVER buy cheap data lists, they will contain mainly useless email accounts that probably don't exist anymore and worse than that, emailing those lists is quite possibly illegal. So that's the don't, what about who you should buy from. As with purchasing any product, check your supplier background, who they currently supply and if they are accredited with the right groups such as DMA and IDM. Once the basics have been established, ask questions such as how was the data acquired, i.e. what did the people who have registered these email accounts opt in to receive information about, how old is the list and when was it last cleaned, that is when was the list last checked for email accounts that no longer exist (those that hard bounce).
Existing clients. If the information that you are emailing is relevant to existing clients, which it should be, then contact each client and request permission to add their email details to your data list.   

From website enquires. Ideally a contact form from your website should be made available for visitors to request information about your business, but don't forget to allow for those making the enquiries to tick the 'please send me information in the future' inclusion box. 

Should I send the same message to my entire data list? 

As with any good direct marketing exercise, the more focused your effort, the better chance of success you have. So if you can segment your data into specific relevant categories then do so. It maybe that the topic you are promoting is suitable for your entire data list, but maybe you have some vital information for a specific sector and on those occasions having the facility to focus your broadcast is beneficial. For example,  there is very little point in me sending an email only covering the topic 'helping hotels to increase direct bookings'  to a data set that includes schools and academies. Planning is required to manage your data in this way. 

How important is design? 

Good design is vital to the success of any email campaign in so many ways ranging from brand continuity to presenting the right first impression to making sure that the recipient knows where to click to get to relevant information without really having to think about it. Applying simply design principals will make your email more attractive and eye-catching, so more effective. 

Can I avoid the spam filters? 

The immediate answer to that question is, you can't avoid spam filters. According to Return Path who monitor spam data, you can expect to loose 10-20% of your emails each broadcast.  

So how do you keep this figure as low as possible? There are a number of basic ways to do this: 

Your email subject should not SHOUT AT IT'S RECEPIENT, avoid caps. 
Do not go crazy with exclamation marks !!!!!!!!!!! 
Avoid using brightly colored fonts. 
It's probably not a "Once in a lifetime opportunity" so don't over exaggerate with your terminology. 
Avoid using one large image and make sure that the HTML code used for your template is very clean. 
Keep your data fresh, don't send to stale or dead email accounts. 

What are responsive design templates? 

Just like your website should view correctly on smart phones and tablets as well as desk top computers, your email should also because... no surprise here, take a look at this stat: 
"More email is read on Mobile than on desktop email clients. Stats say 48% of email is now opened on a mobile device Litmus --"Email Analytics" (Jan 2015)" 

To what extent can I track activity? 

The tracking of activity following an email broadcast is one of my favorite aspects of email marketing, in fact I can become quite obsessed with it. You can track the basics; how many people received your email, who opened it and how many times, which link they click on, when and again, how many times... then you can get more interesting, sending out to a sample of your data emails with different titles and tracking which is the most effective prior to completing the full broadcast. Linking your email into Google Analytics is also a very useful method of tracking data, especially when e-commerce is involved... there's just too much to list, don't get me started please! 

What are the legal requirements? 

Okay in as basic a statement as possible, make sure that all your email data recipients have opted in to receive emails from you (or you as a third party). Provide recipients with a method of unsubscribing from your data list and display your company details on all emails broadcast. If you want to know more, it's worth taking a look at  

Is email marketing worth it? If it's done effectively, yes! 

Swimming Hippo have been designing, managing and broadcasting email market campaigns for over a decade. If you are interested in starting or improving your email marketing, we can help. 

Email or call 01386 764747 for more information.