Simply Friday

Business & Marketing Strategy

2014 reflections oh, and about that Unicorn...


So that was 2014!  Pretty good year if you ask me.  I know some of you struggled, particularly in the retail sector but others thrived and there seems to be a general optimism for 2015.  About bloody time!

When I look back at the businesses I worked with this year a number of things stand out:

Web Platform

All sites this year were built on the Squarespace platform , I haven't built a new WordPress site since 2013. Not only are they great to look at, scale beautifully on Mobile and are easy for the business owner to update and use, not one of you has had to deal with an outage or a hack - this is huge!

New websites  from Simply Friday in 2014

New websites  from Simply Friday in 2014


The whole "managed" website idea, which can initially turn people off because they don't have full control is actually perfect for small business owners who don't have in-house tech resource.  If you're still futzing with servers, updating plugins and responding to ever more prevalent security alerts - you might want to think about changing.

Content Production

So we're all pretty familiar with blogging nowadays, but what I'm thoroughly enjoying is how everybody has their head around the use of Imagery.   Whether you're sourcing from the creative commons or getting creative yourself with iPhones and digital cameras, content is looking better than ever and of course that helps spread your message through your social networks.

What I'm perhaps most excited about is the development of video.  I know a few of you have it on your Q1 Ed. cal for next year but I've got to give a shout out to Keith at Greenstate Insurance and Winky at Schatan Optical Gallery for buckling down and learning how to do this.  Like everything, video is not difficult, but it takes time to learn and to find your voice.  For pure ease of information delivery and SEO value, you can't beat it - just watch this short video on who is covered to drive your car - and watch out for the rooster!


Outsourcing the boring but essential bits

We all know how hard it can be to actually create good content in the first place, but the whole image sourcing, adding of alt tags, proper meta descriptions, correct formatting and then sharing etc can be a pain in the butt.   Fortunately there are resources like Nicole Paulus over at Nico New Media who has been doing this for years and is great at her job.  She's now working with several people on this list and I know she makes their lives so much easier.

If you'd like to focus on the creative aspect and leave the formatting and delivery to Nicole get in touch with her.  Also, she's a fantastic writer, if you're not a natural wordsmith Nicole is a great resource for getting your ideas into well written SEO copy - check out this latest newsletter she wrote for Casa Victoria

Finally - about the Unicorn

It's the classic cobbler's children have no shoes thing, but for three years I have been growing this business without a defined brand or logo.  However, next year I will be developing my visual identity and defining my product offer on the website.  I had had an idea for a logo and sent it out to the list for feedback and while the younger online crowd loved it, the more traditional physical location business owners thought it was lame!

As I explained to a few of you - the color palette comes from the Scottish flag - The Saltire - which represents my background and heritage.  Blue is also a great color for a consulting business as it is seen as a very trustworthy color (and it's pretty masculine too!)

I like the circle approach as I think it will work well as a 50 by 50 pixel icon plus I like how the text works around the central image.  Below is a second iteration from a designer friend of mine in Berlin, Maja.  I like where it's going and I think a few more tweaks of the font and actual wording and we'll be pretty close.


As for the Unicorn, well, the Unicorn is the national animal of Scotland - bizarre but true - but in addition to that, amongst the digital marketing community a Unicorn is someone who possesses both Marketing and Technology skill sets, which would sum up my business pretty well.

But perhaps more importantly - it's a frickin' Unicorn!  And I think that's cool.

So - that's it for 2014, I wish you and your families  a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.  I will see you all in January and we'll continue to build on the great work you have done in the last 12 months.



The Best (and worst) Newsletters of 2014


I started this newsletter on Thursday 18th August, 2011.  Sent to the client list from my former web building company, it was an explanation of how Google works and had an opening rate of 35%.

  • In 2012 I sent out 44 newsletters and had grown the opening rate to 43%
  • 2013 saw another 44 newsletters and the opening rate moved up to 54%
  • This year I will send out 47 newsletters and the opening rate is averaging just above 58%

Even though the data indicates that I'm getting better at this, there are still the outliers that shed light on what resonated with you and what didn't - and they're always fun to look at!

The Best of 2014

Why your data is like a fine wine
Opening rate of 70%
September 4th

I liked this one - short and sweet it made the point that the longer you track your data, the more sense they make - check it out here.

The Worst of 2014

Just how scary is your website?
Opening rate of 48%
November 6th

Sent after the Halloween holiday and intended to  make the point about the importance of mobile, not only was it a little late - it didn't give you any indication of what was inside - it was fun though!

Subject line takeaways for 2014

What's been super interesting for me this year is the use of "How" in the subject line.  When I use it to explain how something works the opening rate goes down.  When I use it to explain "How not" to do something - the opening rate goes up.

I'm not quite sure what that means - I suspect that with limited time, it's easier to learn what to avoid than it is to have to learn something new.  Hmmmm - I might play with that next year.

More newsletter analysis next week!


Why Digital Marketing Takes So Bloody Long!


I've got a new site launching this week - check it out:


Guess how long it took from first meeting to today?

5 months.

5 months!

I know - crazy right - for a 10 page website!

Where the time went

June was spent establishing what it was we were going to create and why, July was all about defining the look and feel.  August and September focused on words and images and booking photographers and caricaturists. 

The last few weeks have been spent putting it all together and we've still got to launch the blog!

Total time spent

Total hours so far on the gig are just over 35 - so technically speaking, yes - we could have done it in a week - but that's the point.

Digital marketing isn't your business, it is an adjunct to your core activity and as a result will always take longer than you think it will.

It's not a race!

Digital marketing is not about who gets there first - it is about who does it best - consistently - over time. 

Incorporate it into your weekly operation, say a couple of hours a week, and you'll develop a habit that will grow your business into the future.

Written while listening to: Create Flow Playlist - music2work2


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