As a Drupal Association Organisation Member, we’ve been proud supporters of Drupal for many years and Drupal is our go to CMS for many of our web development clients. When new Drupal releases launch, we’re often busy helping clients plan their upgrade path and with Drupal 10 launching in December, it’s a busy end to the year for our web development teams.
Drupal 10 upgrade path
If you’re already on Drupal 9 then upgrading to Drupal 10 is a relatively simple upgrade. However for older versions of Drupal, the upgrade path is a little more complicated. Drupal 9 provides the required technical architecture to upgrade to Drupal 10 and with Drupal 7 end of life scheduled for November 2023 and with Drupal 8 already retired in November 2021, there is no better time to make sure you’ve upgraded to Drupal 9.
Drupal 10 borrows heavily from Drupal 9 an includes several key features of Drupal 9
Themes are overhauled with Seven being replaced by Claro as the administration theme, the default Bartik theme is replaced by Olivero and there’s a new theme Starterkit tool for theme creation
CKEditor 5 replaces CKEditor 4 for a more up to date editing and content management experience
Symfony 4 is replaced by Symfony 6 and PHP 8.1 is used
System management and development is greatly enhanced with Distributions, Starter Kits and Recipes that can help make the ideal start points for new projects and there’s plenty of pipeline developments coming soon too. Automatic Updates will help ease system maintenance tasks with intelligent patching capabilities and Project Browser will help admins easily find new modules and themes for their projects.
All in all Drupal 10 promises to be a feature rich and important landmark in the evolution of the Drupal platform and as an agency committed to Drupal development, we look forward to our clients making the most of the new release.
If you’ve ever wanted to look at what ads brands have live on Google but know that conducting search after search will never give you the full picture, you’re going to want to read this.
Introducing the Google Ads Transparency tool!
Launched in September 2022. it allows you to see all Search, Text & Video ads by any brand currently advertising on Google. You can also filter by date, territory and ad format.
Over the past couple of years, Google has been building on its transparency programme. This started with the advertiser identity verification programme – asking advertisers to provide documents that prove they are who they say they are, what country they operate from and details of what is being sold – and has now expanded to include ‘About this Ad’ disclosures.
In Google’s official announcement they said “This transparency helps users learn more about the company behind a specific ad. It also helps differentiate credible advertisers in the ecosystem, while limiting the ability of bad actors to misinterpret themselves.”
This means anyone will be able to click to learn more about the advertiser, but more importantly view all their ads from the last 30 days.
Step 1: Search for a brand/product on Google to trigger an ad.
Step 2: Click the dropdown arrow next to the ad, to the right of the display URL
Step 3: An ‘About this ad’ panel will open, click ‘See more ads by this advertiser’.
Step 4: You’ll be navigated to Google’s Ad Transparency page, which will list all the ads the advertiser is currently serving.
Here you are able to adjust the date range, location and ad format to refine your browsing.
So why is this useful?
The tool allows you to see what creative and messaging other brands are currently using in rotation. It provides an opportunity for inspiration to improve your own advertising, perhaps expanding from text only ads to broader campaign types such as Display and Video.
The tool might also enable you to spot a gap in the market to help differentiate your brand from your competition.
Thinking in terms of competition, it can be a great tool for auditing and providing insight into competitor advertising and the types of copy and creative they use. Being able to clearly see your competitors’ USPs, promotions, brand messaging, photography etc. could influence your performance marketing calendar.
As digital marketers, this is a useful feature from Google, providing better competitor insight to inform and differentiate the marketing strategy we provide our clients. It is also a responsible move in the right direction to provide transparency and control to the user, creating an overall more trustworthy ad experience.
Consumer expectations are higher than ever before; increased mobile adoption has conditioned consumers to turn to their mobile devices for instantaneous information, often while they’re multitasking. Increasingly, consumers are using voice searches on their smartphones, smart speakers, smart TVs, cars, wearables, and other connectable devices to ask for digital assistance in I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy micro-moments.
Voice search is increasing in popularity
Initially introduced as more of a novelty than a feature consumers relied upon, voice search was launched by Google in 2011 as a new way for consumers to search the web on connectable devices.
Every time a voice search is conducted, the digital assistant filters the sounds to ensure it focuses on the search query not the background noise, transforms the query into digital data, conduct a voice analysis, process the digital data, and then connect to external data sources to find relevant answers and translate the information to satisfy the searcher’s intent.
Voice search eliminates the effort required for typing a query into a search bar, particularly on mobile devices where the keyboard is smaller, thus providing the convenience and speed of information that modern consumers crave.
Since 2011, improvements in speech recognition technology has caused a gradual rise in adoption and dominance of voice search which now can’t – and shouldn’t – be ignored.
Embracing and optimising for voice search is important for every business
Voice search is a prominent digital marketing trend. In 2022, Google reported that 27% of the global population is using voice search on mobile.
At Strange, 6.4% of search terms triggering our campaigns used conversational, long-tail, and question terms; indicating the use of voice search.
The voice search trend is set to grow in the coming years, and as voice searches becomes more common, embracing and optimising for voice search is an important consideration for every business.
So, how can you optimise your digital strategy for voice search? First, it’s important to understand how user’s search queries differ from those in traditional search queries:
Voice queries are longer and more conversational in comparison to traditional search queries because the user is talking to the search engine instead of typing in text.
Voice searchers typically ask for products or services using questions, so thinking about the which, what, why, how, and where of your offering is important when determining your keywords.
Voice search queries are often for local content; user’s are more likely to make “near me” searches. So local SEO is important to consider.
Therefore, keyword research and generation by thinking like the user – targeting long-tail, conversational, and question keywords and then using these keywords contextually – is pivotal when optimising for voice search.
Voice search will only continue to grow and improve over time
It was recently announced that the University of Illinois, Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft are joining forces in the new Speech Accessibility Project to develop advanced voice recognition systems and make voice search accessible to users with non-standard speech patterns (Google). Given that all five tech giants will work together to solve speech recognition problems, instead of separately, further signifies the expected prevalence of voice search in the near future.
It’s likely that voice search technology will continue to improve, connected devices will gain more enhanced voice-enabled features, and consumers will become more comfortable using their voices as a way to search, so digital marketers need to study voice search statistics to identify new trends and reveal how consumer’s search habits are shifting with the ever-increasing usage of voice search.
With Google automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, it’s more important than ever to ask what is Performance Max and should my business use it?
What Is Performance Max?
Performance Max is an innovative new goal-based campaign type that will help you find more converting customers across all of Google’s channels like YouTube, Display and Search. Simply give your ad creative and Google will use automation and machine learning to determine the most efficient delivery and placement of ads across their entire inventory.
Smart Shopping and local store visits campaigns are being automatically upgraded to Performance Max. If you were previously running any of these campaign types, it is vital to understand Performance Max in order to maintain and increase performance for your business.
Should I Use Performance Max?
The combination of all the different platforms, Google’s machine learning and the limited ad creative that’s needed can create a campaign that is easy to set-up and profitable for your business.
Performance Max expands your reach considerably as it can reach across Google’s ad inventory. This can help you not only deliver conversions, but brand awareness as well. In terms of ad creative, at minimum you just need to provide 4 images, 4 headlines and 2 descriptions.
For one ecommerce client that we look after, ROAS increased by 26% and purchases increased by 24% YoY with using Performance Max compared to Smart Shopping.
However, there are limitations to using Performance Max. One of the biggest is the lack of data, you can’t see which platform or device is converting the best to optimise for it. You also cannot add any negative keywords so you are completely relying on the accuracy of Google’s algorithm.
Overall, using Performance Max can have very positive results for your business, utilising machine learning and Google’s algorithm across different platforms. While the lack of transparency may be frustrating, we would still recommend setting up a Performance Max campaign to replace smart shopping campaigns and in addition to search campaigns for lead generation.
What goals can I select for Performance Max?
Sales, leads, website traffic, local store visits & promotions.
Should I stop search campaigns after launching Performance Max?
No, if a search term matches both a Search campaign and Performance Max – Search will take priority. Performance Max can also reach platforms that Search cannot.
Can I see on which platforms my Performance Max campaign is serving?
You can see the independent websites and apps your Performance Max campaign has served by impressions. For Google platforms you cannot see which individual channel your campaign served. There is no conversion data by platform.
Where can I find the creative assets needed for a Performance Max campaign?
Google’s creative requirements can be found here.
Can you disable videos being automatically created?
Currently there is no way to disable out of the automatically created videos.
Does Performance Max cannibalise brand search campaigns?
No, when a query matches a keyword in a brand search campaign, the search campaign will be prioritised over the Performance Max campaign.
Is Performance Max only available for ecommerce businesses?
No, performance max campaigns are available for lead gen businesses as well.
As businesses begin to bounce back following the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever to start looking towards the future. And for us, there’s no better place to begin than with how we run our agency.
We’re fortunate to be in a position of optimism – we’ve got a great team and our industry and skills are in demand as companies need great digital marketing campaigns and websites. But as any business owner knows, adaptation is the key to success and this has got us thinking… How do we build the best agency of tomorrow, what does the best look like and what do we change?
Below are three important changes we’ve made to help position us for the future, foster collaboration and deliver better work for our clients.
4.5 day week, work from home and flexitime
At first, it may seem counterintuitive to think that working less can actually produce better results. But after taking a long, hard look at how we work, we have come to the conclusion that having more flexibility is key to unlocking better results. By working from home and having a flexitime policy in place, we’ve seen an increase in employee engagement. And to explore this idea even further, we’re now trialling a 4.5 day work week at full pay and benefits. We’re excited to see how this new approach improves the agency and how much it will benefit our clients.
We know that face to face meetings are important, but we have also been very successful incorporating online meetings into our work and in many ways we are more integrated with our clients than ever before. By retaining office facilities in Bournemouth and Bristol, we’re also able to provide the perfect balance of in person and online interactions. This allows us to stay connected with our clients and employees whilst also being efficient, cost effective and environmentally conscious. We believe that this is the perfect way to operate in today’s business world.
Becoming a B-Corp
B-Corp certification is awarded to companies that meet very high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. This program will help us positively impact all our stakeholders – our employees, consultants and partners, the communities in which we live and work, our customers, and of course the world we live in.
We’ve always done our best to be an environmentally friendly and socially responsible agency and we love working with and supporting charities. In fact they often teach us a lot in the process. Our work with Friends of the Earth introduced us to the notion of carbon budgets, our work for The Centre for Ageing Better reminds us that Gen Z and Millenials are only two of the age demographics that we need to cater for in the workforce and our work with Amnesty International… Well that makes us feel proud that we are helping to improve human rights. Becoming a B-Corp feels very natural progression for us.
Optimism about the future – policies and plans
Although it may seem like a relatively minor task, working from home has actually given us the opportunity to step back and analyse how things have changed since we entered lockdown. We’ve had the chance to reflect on all of the unwritten rules and expectations we’ve developed during this time, as well as take stock of where we currently are in terms of our employee benefits. This project has led to introducing or enhancing some great benefits for our employees. Examples include a quarterly Work From Home bonus designed to help with increased cost of utilities and living costs in general (yes we actually pay people more to work from home!), enhanced holiday packages (length of service, buy / sell holiday, volunteer days etc) and enhanced maternity and paternity packages.
We take pride in our ability to deliver great work, and we’ve been doing so for over 20 years. Our agency planning process and methodology has always been at the heart of our success, ensuring that we deliver stable, reliable results for all of our clients. Our top priority is always giving our clients exactly what they need—and with careful planning and thoughtfulness at every stage, that’s exactly what we deliver. After two years of ups and downs caused by Covid, it’s great to be back on track and focused on growth plans again.
We want to attract clients who are looking for more than just basic digital performance. We want clients who want much better performance and are committed to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in terms of digital marketing. So if you’re not feeling the commitment from your existing agency, or your internal team needs some extra help, or perhaps you’d like an informal chat to explore working together then please do get in touch. You can email [email protected] / call 01202 203160 for more info. If you’d like to see the sort of results we generate for our clients please view our case studies.
And in order to reach these clients, we need to have the best team supporting us every step of the way. That’s why we’re always on the lookout for talented individuals who can help us achieve our goals and unlock new opportunities for our clients. Please do get in touch if you think we could be the right agency for you or check out our careers page for current vacancies.
The modern digital business is faced with new challenges to understand the complex journeys of their customers, all while prioritising user privacy.Google Analytics 4 was introduced two and a half years ago to help businesses succeed in the ever-changing world of digital marketing. The newest update, now available for all users has machine learning technology built in so you can find new insights and it’s built to keep up with the ever evolving digital ecosystem.
By moving to a modern cross-platform measurement solution, you can finally take full advantage of the insights Google Analytics 4 provides. But don’t wait until it’s too late! If your company hasn’t already upgraded from Universal Analytics by next year (2023), then they will no longer receive new data after July 1st 2023.
Benefits of GA4
Understand customer touch points
Gain a comprehensive understanding of your customers with an event-based measurement model that is not fragmented by platform or organized into independent sessions.
Improve understanding of ROI
The power of data-driven attribution can help you optimise campaigns by understanding the full impact your marketing activities have on conversions. With this type of analysis, Google Ads and the Google Marketing Platform are able to credit more than just last click for accurately analysing conversions across all touchpoints in a customer’s journey from awareness through purchase or even post sale service experiences like reviews.
Privacy by design by territory or country
In order to better manage your business and compliance needs, we have designed our software with new country-level privacy controls in mind. Now you can minimise the collection of user data – like cookies or metadata – while still preserving key measurement functionality for increased accuracy.
Actionable insights from your data
Data-driven marketing gets even better than before with GA4’s machine learning’s sophisticated insights into user behaviour and conversions. It creates new audiences of users likely to purchase or churn, while also automatically surfaces critical information that can improve your campaign performance for better results in the long run.
Time saving integrations
Easily integrate your insights with other Google products to make the most of them.
If you’re not already taking advantage of all that Google Analytics 4 has to offer, it’s time to get in touch with us. With machine learning technology and an ever-evolving digital ecosystem, GA4 is essential for businesses looking to stay ahead of the competition. Upgrade now and be sure to take full advantage of all the insights GA4 can provide.