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What really makes an award winning website and digital marketing campaign?

I was ecstatic to learn that one of my marketing programmes won an award, an incredible feat in one of the most competitive industries on the planet, read the news here. I thought I would take the opportunity to share a few useful tips that may help you to do the same. It’s worth the read, so grab a coffee (or something stronger if it’s the right time of day) and take a moment.

It’s the results that count

Let’s start with the outcomes! Not only did the site win an award, in the first 3 months alone the site experienced a 30% month on month increase in visitors, 132% increase in job applications, 65% increase in engagement and our social media campaign hit the roof, with a 5,000% increase in LinkedIn activity and visitors from social media increasing by 1,500%. Not too shabby!

Bringing a brand to life online

I have led or been involved with around 50 web projects in one way or another and there is one characteristic common to every single one: people always underestimate what is involved. In fact, I was guilty of that to a certain extent with, it was just a lot bigger than we expected. I’m not just talking about the website as in what you see on, but all the work that goes into making it perform and deliver results for the business.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to delve into this a little further.

Making it work for you

Earlier I said there is one common trait in website projects, well there is another one that sets apart a website that actively contributes to a business to one that passively swallows a load of cash: That’s taking a strategic approach.

Investing time and resource into the groundwork really does boost the bottom line, but so many businesses rush into the very last part of the process, read one of my earlier blogs for more about this.

I thought I’d tell you how I put this into action with ARM.

The power of digital outreach

Anyone who works in the STEM markets will be well aware of the fierce competition for talent, there just isn’t enough skilled people to go around! Firms providing recruitment services in this space have to work hard to find fresh and unique specialist people to fill the surplus of permanent and contract roles. Many recruitment firms fish from the same pool of candidates, so the only way to create a competitive advantage is to create your own source of candidates.

Digital marketing has a significant role to play as 54% of people turn to the internet to find a role and further their career (as many as 83% for the under 30s). There’s also the concept of attracting and nurturing passive candidate relationships, people who aren’t actively looking for a new role, either to entice them into an open opportunity or to be the first point of contact when they are ready to actively search.

Time to reflect and reinvent

With ARM we started with the brand positioning and messaging platform. I kicked this off with a series of brainstorming workshops and internal questionnaires. We looked at where the brand was today, where we wanted to take it, explored its purpose ‘the why’, how we could stand out, how we could create a better client experience, candidate experience and so on. I have explored some of this in an earlier blog if you want to understand more about this process.

We spent a day with Google Dave and his team doing persona mapping. I pulled all of this together and formulated the brand positioning and messaging platform, socialised this with all stakeholders and got the business behind a refreshed brand message that captured the true essence of the ARM business in a way that resonates with its three target audiences: future and present clients, candidates and employees.

Making business with your website

Another output from the discovery process was a marketing strategy, combining both offline but mostly online routes to market. With very clear marketing objectives and our audience fully defined and prioritised, I worked up a comprehensive content-based marketing campaign, along with routes to market and how we would approach audience engagement.

The aim was to push engaging content out via social media supported by other digital marketing such as SEO, PPC and email, to build talent communities and drive traffic to the website. We had our marketing framework fully mapped out and ready to go.

The next step in the process

We had a full marketing programme ready to go, we were clear about our audience, knew how we were going to deliver our new marketing message and had a plan to entice people to the website with relevant and engaging content marketing.

Next we mapped out what we wanted them to think, feel and do when they visited the site and when they left the site. How could we use the site to create a user experience that prompts action today and build relationships for the future? How would the website facilitate our marketing programme?

Working through this we were able to define the website content strategy, the user journeys, the architecture, key conversion points and look at how the online experience can add value to the ‘real world’ relationship. With our minds firmly set on our goals and a strong appreciation of our audience needs, we got to work creating content.

It is around about now that you will want to get the website team involved. If you can involve your account manager throughout the entire process then you are onto a winner, but this isn’t always possible. The more insight they have into your strategy the better the outcome. But remember your strategy should lead the outcome and until you have worked through the above, you are not ready to delve into the website.

Content first, ALWAYS!

Now we didn’t do this with, but you should write your content before the web team starts working on your website. In fact, I don’t know anyone that has ever done this, but I guarantee you that your website project would be UNBELIEVABLY EASIER if you started with your content. I am writing a blog about this so watch this space.

All agencies vary but the typical process goes through the following phases:

  • Initial Brief
  • Discovery
  • Site Map
  • Wireframes
  • Specification
  • Moodboards
  • Production
  • Testing
  • Launch
  • Warranty

So get your content in shape and your web agency will thank you for it – you will be much happier with the outcome and the overall experience will be significantly more rewarding. By content I mean copy, testimonials, case studies, insights, imagery, graphics, video, animations, logos and so much more. A tremendous amount of work goes into pulling this together, do not underestimate it (though I bet you will).


And so begins the slog of creating content, this took months and months of man (and woman) hours. Writing copy, photo shoots, video shoots, image sourcing, interviews, staff profiles and so much more, not to mention hours of content uploading and proofreading. We also had a lot of integration work which required a significant amount of testing, as well as the user flows in the ‘job board’ user portal. It was a beast.

Work with the best you can

Now you have probably noticed that I haven’t delved too much into the website build, that’s because you have entrusted this part to an expert agency. They have a lot of work to do. You will be intensely involved with regular input and reviews, but there is a lot that happens behind the scenes, they’ll be sure to fill you in on this.

After months dedicated to getting the website ready to launch, we were then ready to initiate our marketing programme. We were ready on the starting line proactively pushing out content and driving traffic to the website. Check out our launch video, we launched on the extraordinary date of 29 February on a year that celebrated 20 years of the business.


It was a massive success with an incredible boost in website traffic, job applications, CV submissions, job alert subscriptions and social followers and engagement. So good, we won an award for it!


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