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6 min read

Impression Picks – Digital marketing roundup for December 2023

Welcome to December’s edition of Impression Picks! This digital marketing roundup serves as some food for thought for you from Impression’s experts and the wider marketing community. Each month, we will highlight an interesting article, insight and campaign of the month.

This month features thoughts from our strategy team, including; Head of Technical SEO, Charlie Norledge, Paid Media Lead, Laura Carr, and Digital Strategy Consultant, Matt Roffe. As always, we hope you enjoy the content and insights we provide as a part of our monthly roundups.

SEOs, we need to talk about the Elephant in the Room 

Based on the 2020 US vs Google anti-trust lawsuit (owing to the accusation that Google engaged in anti-competitive conduct through exclusivity dealings with Apple), there have been significant revelations about how our understanding of Google’s Search ranking systems differs from reality.

User Behaviour Signals

The sources of this article clearly show how fundamental user signals are to search engine rankings. Google has consistently denied using these as a ranking factor, and it’s easy to see why, as they are highly manipulated.

As an SEO we can often remove ourselves from conversations around user experience as it’s not in our wheelhouse. With this information, we might need to start changing that school of thought.

UX as a ranking factor

If we’re working hard on content for a website, and the blog has a confusing layout or slow responsiveness, then those user signals will be poor. Content is a significant investment, so as marketers, we ensure that the template it’s going on warrants the effort put into it.

More clicks, more rankings

Using ‘clicks = rankings’ logic, you can see how big brands with larger marketing spends can rank higher in search. Have you just finished that huge budget TV campaign? Well, here are all these positive ranking signals from users clicking on your results in search.

I’m not wearing my tin-foil hat just yet, but seeing these ranking signals be so clearly laid out just shows how much you need to rely on other marketing channels as much as SEO.

The court documents state that they weren’t great at understanding content as of 2020. Google’s algorithms have been heavily focused on content over the past year, with passage ranking and the Helpful Content update. Connecting these two things together shows why they have been focusing their efforts on this area.

I’d highly recommend reading this article as it’s backed up by sources from lawsuits provided by Google themselves!

Article reviewed by: Charlie Norledge.

52% of Britons say they will spend less on Christmas 2023 due to the rising cost of living

While Christmas 2023 may be feeling a lot more ‘normal’ than in the COVID-19 years, we’re continuing to face more challenges with the cost of living crisis.

A recent YouGov survey confirmed that 52% of Britons will spend less this Christmas than in 2022. It’s no surprise that increasing energy costs and rising food and fuel prices are causing people to cut back their Christmas spending.

Of the 52% who will be spending less, 86% of respondents said they’ll be cutting spending on presents this year. On top of travel, Christmas parties, new clothes and meals out, spending on presents and gifting makes up a large proportion of overall Christmas spending. 

So, what can marketers do to win in this challenging economic climate?

Shoppers are becoming savvier in searching for the best deals. Ensure your presence is strong during key promotional periods and adopt competitive pricing. Highlight value for money in ads with gift sets and bundles to capture those searching for gifts this holiday season.
Despite the rising cost of living, sustainability is a growing trend so highlighting your brand’s sustainability and ethical values and/or products will help consumers prioritise your products over those of competitors.
Looking longer term, maintaining a strong brand presence during more turbulent economic times will make sure your brand is top of mind when the economy begins to recover, and you’ll be rewarded when spending returns to usual levels.

We expect to see a reduction in gifting this year, but we’re confident that spending will increase in future years when the economy recovers. Until then, it seems more of us are adopting Mariah Carey’s stance that it doesn’t matter what presents are underneath the Christmas tree!

Download the full report.

Insight provided by: Laura Carr

Majestic Wines, the best story brand this Christmas?

Every year in the marketing community we like to debate the best Christmas advertising, and it’s no coincidence that as an industry we produce our best 5-star ads during this period. According to System1 the distribution of 5-star ads nearly tripled against Summer months.

The sad truth is that we showcase this work for the least amount of time, the average life span is half that of ads shown through Q1 – a whole topic in itself!

Storytelling is the lifeblood of festive campaigns with big names such as John Lewis, Aldi and Amazon ruling the roost. However, this year, one advertiser caught my eye for their refreshing simplicity. Majestic Wines, ‘There’s a story behind every glass.’

While it’s not the production value of some of the big advertisers, there’s clarity in the ad, no ploy, no brand mascots, just a well-delivered emotive story.

Also, in an industry commonly product-orientated, Majestic Wines has grounded its ad in customer thinking, showcasing a clear use case (a job to be done). This helps add layers of depth to the storytelling, particularly the music which has struck a chord with the public.

In terms of media effectiveness of this campaign, there hasn’t been any data released yet. However, with the emotive story angle (typical of brand effects) married with high search intent seasonality throughout December (typical placement for activation advertising), I would expect there to be an impact on the brand’s bottom line as well as future positive brand sentiment.

How can your business follow Majestic Wines’ lead and be a story-led brand?

  • Begin with your default approach to strategy being customer-oriented – you are not the hero in your own story, the customer is the hero!
  • Seek to understand key problems or jobs to be done and create customer use cases (try this template). Weave stories around these problems.
  • Understand how stories can exist in your brand ecosystem ie. what are the sounds, the humour, the style of imagery or the tone?
  • Understand where stories are most applicable within your marketing communications. Is it an integrated campaign? Is it purely social?

Try using a story framework like the SB7 Framework below (by Donald Miller). It’s a take on the classic ‘hero’s journey’ framework.

  1. A Character. The customer is the hero, not your brand
  2. Has a problem. Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems
  3. And meets a guide. Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they’re looking for a guide
  4. Who gives them a plan? Customers trust a guide who has a plan.
  5. And calls them to action. Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action.
  6. That helps them avoid failure. Every human is trying to avoid a tragic ending.

And ends in success. Never assume people understand how your brand can benefit them. Tell them.

Check out the campaign.

Campaign reviewed by: Matt Roffe

Look out for our next Impression Picks in the New Year for more digital marketing articles, insights and campaigns to inspire your digital strategy. Have any further questions? Get in touch!