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Author: Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher was the Deputy Editor at Econsultancy. He runs pop culture site Methods Unsound and you can hound him on Twitter @Christophe_Rock.

How Gala & Mecca Bingo can make it easier for new players

The number of bingo clubs in the UK has dropped from well over 1,000 between the 60s and 80s to just 400 today.

Since the 90s bingo has faced challenges from many directions, not least from launch of The National Lottery in 1994. Today however the greatest pressure facing bingo halls up and down the country is from online gaming.  

As Graham Soult writes in his excellent scrolling article The Fall and Rise of Bingo the success of online bingo has been a double edged sword for the traditional bingo industry.

Established names like Gala and Mecca have managed to offset decline in trade with a new source of revenue and managed to dispel their supposed ‘old-fashioned’ image.

However the popularity of online bingo means that traditional bingo halls are having to compete with hundreds of new online-only operators. Foxy Bingo, The Sun, Sky and even Iceland supermarket. 

Inspired by the above article I’m going to take a look at the online UX of the UK’s most popular bingo sites Mecca and Gala and see how easy and welcoming they are for new users.


International SEO: A beginner's skills guide

Or… how to attract the attention of global search audiences in territories that aren’t your own?

So you’ve successfully adopted a brilliant tactical SEO strategy, your business is achieving high organic rankings for all your most desired search terms, traffic is flooding in and life is good. 

You’ve also triumphed with your local SEO and now your business is regularly providing search results that are relevant to searchers based on their current location and creating huge amounts of footfall through your high street doors.

Heck you’ve even smashed through the roof with your off-page SEO efforts, thanks to some stellar social media work, relevant white-hatted link-building and thankless devotion to Google+.

However, if you look closely at your analytics platform, you may see that your audience isn’t just coming from your own country. A small portion could well be accessing your site from anywhere else in the world.

It’s possible to not only make you site more accessible to your global audience, but also with a few processes and techniques, grow that audience substantially.


How Hyatt uses mobile to improve the customer experience

This time last year, our own Ben Davis reviewed Hyatt’s multichannel web presence taking in everything from its desktop site, social channels and mobile apps.

Ben found its digital presence didn’t really mark the luxury hotel chain out from its competitors, but instead provided reliable, easy-to-use functionality, nothing more and nothing less.

Hyatt has just announced the launch of revamped mobile app and mobile site with many new features, so now seems like the perfect opportunity to revisit the brand’s small screen concerns. 


How Toyota beats 24 other car brands in Twitter engagement

When it comes to buying a new car 64% of research is done between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.

Car buyers want to engage with brands in the evening when they're home and can take the time to research this major purchase decision properly.

This means it is vital to adopt a social media strategy that does not switch off after 5pm or at weekends.

Research from Auto Trader and BirdSong suggests that Toyota is the best when it comes to satisfying the consumer’s multiscreen, out-of-hours demands.

Here is the league table featuring the top 25 UK automotive manufacturers, followed by some analysis on what makes Toyota's Twitter account so engaging.


Starbucks, Costa Coffee and some ‘damn fine’ Facebook pages

Starbucks and Costa Coffee are currently the most popular food and drink brands on Facebook.

Starbucks is at the top of the league in the UK with 1.3m Facebook followers. Costa Coffee is close behind in second place with 1.2m.

They are also the only food and drink brands to have more than 1m followers.

Facebook is a tough platform for brands to succeed on, although it is still possible. Some Facebook pages reach 82% of their fans despite recent algorithm changes.

Starbucks and Costa Coffee are proof of this, with their incredibly high engagement figures.


The current social media landscape: statistics

The last time we heard, Facebook was struggling with ‘waves of disenfranchised youngsters looking for a hipper alternative’.

Twitter is apparently struggling, with a drop in daily engagement, projected sales for the next three months falling short of expectations and a stock price plummet.

Instagram has stuck the knife into fledgling platform Vine by offering similar video capabilities for its already large incumbent audience. Brands seem to prefer it too. 

It’s not looking pretty out there for our favourite social networks. Of course, whether you trust any of the above reports depends heavily on how much sway you have with the respected sources and how much confirmation bias is at work.

Let’s take a look at some actual statistics to see how healthy social media channels are in 2014.

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Six brand case studies that proved the value of storytelling

Storytelling in marketing terms isn’t just about producing an advert with a narrative, it’s about telling the story of the ‘brand’ across multiple channels and using various tools and methods.

Storytelling techniques can give credibility and personality to brands both large and small.

You can build more meaningful relationships with customers by either highlighting the people behind the brand, creating a distinct tone of voice across all channels or by using the history of the brand to broaden the richness and authenticity of your story.

Join us at our Festival of Marketing, a two-day celebration of the modern marketing industry held in November, where we have an entire stage devoted to Brand & Creative.

Here speakers will help you find the right story for your brand and teach you to how to grow your business while maintaining culture and brand authenticity.

In the meantime, let's take a look at some other useful case studies.


This week's most distracting things on the internet: Halloween special

Hello boils and ghouls! 

Welcome to this horrifying edition of our weekly guide to the best, weirdest and funniest things we found on the internet over the last seven days.

The difference is this week, everything featured here will scare your pants off. Or at least have a cobweb in the background.


Well, I say ‘enjoy’…

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What is Google AdWords and how does it work?

If you’re new to the search marketing world or just want a plain-English description of certain phrases and tools in digital, then you’ve come to the right place.

Here we’ll be looking at Google AdWords, Google’s own advertising service which allows you to place search results for your website on a search engine results page (SERP) by paying for them.

There’s no need to wait for your new site to work its way organically up the rankings. By using paid search you can see immediate results and it’s not nearly as difficult to use or expensive as you may think.


95% of online shoppers will use click and collect this Christmas: stats

This is a huge increase from the 45% of online users using click and collect last Christmas.

Obviously the main benefit of click and collect is the ability to pick up purchases when and where the customer chooses. 

You don’t have to wait in your house all day for a package, or take a trip down to the sorting office before it closes on a Saturday morning if you’ve missed it.

The other benefit is that theoretically click and collect should always be free to the customer. Almost 80% of the online shoppers surveyed said they expect click and collect to be offered for free.


13 best branded Instagram videos from October 2014

It’s the end of the month so finally I can empty my locker of all the fantastic branded Instagram videos I’ve been hoarding for the last four weeks.

It’s the spookiest month of the year too, so expect a few bats to come flying out along with a witch’s broom or two.

Oh and uh… maybe don’t look in that plastic carrier bag at the bottom. There’s nothing there that would interest you.


21 best branded Vines from October 2014

It’s that time again: the final few days of the month where my daily trawling of the social video ocean finally pays off.

Personally I’m hoping for nothing but wall-to-wall Halloween themed Vines this month, being as it’s not only my favourite time of the year but also because I’ve been saving some really good puns for this occasion.

Will my prayers be answered? Will Halloween be overlooked for other less spooky events? When will you begin to question the artifice of me writing this introduction as if I haven’t already begun looking yet?

Two of these questions will be answered (at most) in the following round-up...