Blog image - How to write an awesome creative brief

How to write an awesome creative brief

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Over the years, we’ve responded to a fair few creative brief processes. Like all agencies, we’ve won some and lost some. But the true value of the experience comes down to what we’ve learned from the process. That’s why we’ve put together this article on the value of writing a collaborative creative brief (sometimes referred to as pitch brief, the language often depends on the project and the client).


A creative brief confession  

Now we could say that winning new business is 100% down to the awesome people at Fifty Five and Five, but that wouldn’t be strictly true. Our most successful proposals have been the result of clients that have been entirely open and fully supportive of a collaborative process to get the best outcome.

Whether you’re a client looking for a new agency, or an agency wanting to improve your pitch-win ratio, this article provides advice for both sides of the fence.

We’ve boiled it down to several key aspects that make up the best type of client-agency partnerships when it comes to a creative brief:

  • Research
  • Transparency
  • Collaboration
  • Evaluation and feedback

With that in mind, let’s start exploring how to make the pitch experience a win-win for all.

Do your research

Client: Finding the right talent, chemistry and shared culture and values with an agency is no easy task. Do your research – know who you want to pitch for your business. Find the experts in your field. For example, Fifty Five and Five is a perfect fit for a B2B tech brand. A bit of time spent here will save effort later weeding our agencies that were never going to fit.

Agency: It makes no sense to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. Inevitably, you’ll end up overstretching your teams, ignoring your existing clients and creating a culture of pitch complacency. Have a scorecard that you evaluate briefs against, and if the results show that you’re not a good fit, take a pass. This is not a sign of weakness; it’s sensible business decision-making. When you get to the creative brief, a good scorecard process will set you up for success.

Be transparent

Client: What are the motivating reasons behind bringing in an agency? What do you and your stakeholders want (vs. what you actually “need”), and how will you communicate this in the creative brief? When it comes to deliverables, think about how you want to run the process and be realistic with your timings and budget.

Agency: If you can’t deliver the scope of work within the timescales or budget, be straight with the client. They’ll appreciate your honesty and directness, even if it may not be an easy conversation. Share your reasons and discuss whether there’s an alternative solution. Don’t ignore your instincts or sacrifice learnings from past experiences just to win the business. It never ends well.

Collaboration is key to a good creative brief

Client: It’s really not worth keeping your cards close to your chest; sharing data (from campaign performance to customer insights) will help agencies shape their strategic response to your brief. It also makes a huge difference when you give them ample opportunities to ask questions.

Agency: Why not offer your client the chance to feed back on your ideas and co-create? It’s an excellent opportunity to showcase your culture, ways of working and compatibility. At Fifty Five and Five, we offer a one-hour problem-solving workshop as part of our approach to new business.

Evaluation and feedback

Client: It can be challenging to evaluate proposals if you don’t have clear criteria, especially if there’s more than one person involved in the decision-making process. Sharing how you plan to score proposals can help agencies ensure they deliver a balanced response, focusing on the same areas that matter to you. Try to include this stuff up front in your creative brief.

Agency: Like after a job interview, make sure you push for feedback – whether you win or lose. It’s essential to learn from every new business opportunity and find ways to apply those learnings in the future. It also allows you to continue a relationship with the client because you never know when there might be a second chance.

 

If you are looking for a new agency, and have an an awesome brief (or want someone to help you write it)get in touch with the team today.  


Blog image - The art of seduction: your brand tone of voice is your secret weapon

The art of seduction: your brand tone of voice is your secret weapon

You have probably given a lot of thought to how your business looks. From your website to the murals on the walls in the office, when it comes to visual representation of a brand, companies put serious time and effort into their looks. But have you given much thought to how you sound? The way you express yourself as a business is made up of more than just your colour scheme. Beauty is only skin deep. Personality goes right to the bone. If you attract your audience with design, your brand tone of voice is how you seduce them. In this post, you will learn:

  • It is appropriate for your specific audience
  • Helps you stand out
  • It’s a trust builder
  • Helps you go from prospect to customer

 

Get your personality across

Even when you know exactly what your business’s strengths are, they won’t come through unless your brand voice is engaging. Way back when, Marketing Week reported that in the B2B sphere, emotive marketing messages works better than rational marketing messaging—and that hasn’t changed much in the intervening years. This is interesting when you might assume that B2B is all about rational decision making.

An engaging brand tone of voice is what generates emotive messaging. It’s what engages your audience. So, let’s look at how you go about making sure your organisation is expressing itself consistently and in a way that ‘fits’.

Get everyone on the same page

If you’re going to stay consistent, you need to have everyone within your business on board. From marketers to your CEO, everyone must understand your voice, or at least know that you have one. If not, it won’t come through in everything you put out there.

What to do -

Get the important people together. Host workshops where you can discuss your brand voice and get input from different areas of your business. It’s only when you start discussing ideas that you’ll find out that people can interpret ‘friendly’ as different things – and you need to iron out those creases. Highlighting what you’re trying to achieve will help everyone understand why you are doing this in the first place, and help ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Tune into your values

Your business should have brand values (if not, that’s a bigger conversation). Your values should help guide your business decisions both internally and externally, and logically it should also inform your brand voice.

What to do -

Look at your brand values and see how they translate into a personality. If transparency is one of your brand values, then your business prioritises honesty, clarity and getting right to the point. That translates to a straight-forward, honest brand voice.

If you’ve chosen integrity as a brand value, this signals that your business cares about making responsible decisions and going the extra mile to help customers. Your brand voice should be helpful and trustworthy.

This act of translation is how you create a tone of voice that’s tailored to your business, your brand and your audience.



Write brand voice guidelines and stick to them

It’s easy enough to create a brand voice document and think that because you’ve created it, you’re automatically creating marketing materials in your brand voice. Consistency really is key. When multiple people are creating different materials, it can be hard to remember how to ensure that your brand voice comes through. That’s why you need a set of simple guidelines that will make it easy.

What to do -

It doesn’t have to be complicated or long – think of it as defining a character or persona that you’ll be able to inhabit:

Our brand voice is uplifting; we always look on positive side of life. We’re friendly and warm, making sure that everyone who interacts with our business comes away feeling optimistic. To keep things simple, our brand voice uses the simplest and clearest language possible.

Your guidelines should tell this person’s story and explain their voice in a way that makes it easy for anyone to understand. Keep these guidelines up to date and revise them when your business makes any changes to the way you operate. They’ll be the thing that keeps your identity constant even as you grow and change.

 

Fifty Five and Five is a digital marketing agency with a lot of really talented storytellers. We’ve been creating brand voices that get results for years now – if you’re not confident that you know where to start, we’d be more than happy to give you a hand. Get in touch today.


6 digital marketing technologies to help you raise your game

Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, from the way we communicate to the way we shop. Marketing has become an art that’s primarily digital. No matter what you’re selling, and to whom, technology can improve the quality of your marketing output and, ultimately, help you generate more leads. In this post, we’re going to examine the current state of six digital marketing technologies, and how you can use them to raise your game. 

  • Social media 
  • Paid media 
  • SEO 
  • Email 
  • Reporting 
  • Training 

You already use all of these technologies, right? Well, let us blow your mind.  

Social media  

Social media can be used to build your brand identity, to reach out to your existing customers and to find new audiences. It can be used for thought leadership, to enhance your SEO rankings and as a direct channel for people to interact with your brand. Most organisations already know this, but they invest hours in social media management without having a good idea of how to get return on investment.  

The key to using social media is knowing what you’re using it for. Are you looking to create brand awareness? Then that goal needs to inform the way you use social media - you need to target your audience, create relevant content and maintain a strong brand.  

What tools to use and why? 

If you’re looking for greater visibility over your social channels, detailed insights about what is does or doesn’t work or greater control over publishing posts through automation and scheduling, these tools can transform what’s possible with social media. If you want to produce quality posts that engage and grow your social following across multiple channels, then these tools are exactly what you need. 

Hootsuite is one of the most popular tools for enhancing your social media output. It supports over 150 integrations, allowing users to update multiple networks in one step. It’s also capable of analysing over 200 metrics, so you can create a dashboard that perfectly tracks your business’s goals . It’s the perfect first tool to get started when you’re investing in your social media management. 

Hootsuite’s dashboard 

Sprout Social is a social media scheduling, monitoring and reporting platform that offers a customer relationship manager (CRM) feature. This enables you to create profiles of your customers, which will lead to stronger relationships. When it comes to social media followers, it’s about quality over quantity: having many followers who don’t interact with your channel is less valuable than a few followers who do.   

Sprout Social’s CRM platform 

Revive Old Post is an excellent tool to get maximum impact from your content. It helps you schedule new and old content that can be automatically posted in regular intervals that targets your audience. Many businesses make the mistake of never reposting their content, but it’s essential to reshare content in order to improve its performance. This tool will help you create a schedule that works for you.  

Revive Old Post PRO 

Loomly isn’t just a social media management tool – it’s also an idea generation platform to help you create ideas that will resonate with your audience and tie in to current trends. It suggests ideas related to your industry, any holidays or national days that are close, trending hashtags, and more. You can even integrate it with Zapier so that your content generation and publication processes are entirely streamlined.  

Loomly’s post builder 

Having a social media channel is an excellent way of reaching new audiences and creating a recognisable brand. These social media tools represent just a fraction of what’s available on the market to help you make the most of your content and your social channels. Brands are going to be expected to keep up with social media and be present on an increasing amount of channels as times go on – best get started sooner rather than later.  

Paid media 

Paid media is an external marketing effort that involves a paid placement. This can include PPC advertising, branded content and display ads. It’s a crucial part of any marketing strategy: by picking the right platform and targeting the right demographic, paid media can ensure your message reaches the right audience. However, to do this you need the correct tools to track your campaigns. There are also great tools to help you develop a competitive strategy.  

What tools to use and why? 

Using a third party platform means you can extend visibility of your advert placements and find a larger audience. Your ROI needs to be optimal, which means a lot of planning and overseeing your long term strategy. A management platform simplifies the process, allowing you to target your audience more effectively and reduce your overall spend.  

There’s a great tool called SpyFu, which enables you to carry out PPC competitor research. Whether it’s a competitor’s estimated monthly spend, the keywords that they are targeting or how well their ads are ranking, SpyFu gives you insights to help put together a highly competitive campaign strategy . 

SEMrush is a popular paid media tool that offers an extensive keyword database. It makes building ads simple -using information about the ads posted by your competitors to ensure that they have the best chance of ROI. This chance for better audience targeting means your PPC campaigns will be more likely to succeed. 

SEMrush’s dashboard 

Leadpages is a tool that’s suited for smaller businesses who are looking to engage with their core audience on social media channels. It acts as a funnel, sending your target audience to a specific landing page designed for them. When it comes to social media followers it’s a case of quality over quantity – if you can engage with a small selection of more interested followers, your content is more likely to see conversions. It’s integrates with with Google Ads and Facebook Ads, so you can capture leads effectively and quickly.  

Leadpages’ dashboard 

PPC is an investment that takes research and precision to get right. Before intelligent digital marketing tools, it was simply a case of buying ads in places you thought your audience would see them and hoping for success. But now, with the amount of research and segmentation that’s possible, your business stands a much better chance of getting seen by the right people. 

SEO 

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is all about staying visible on search engine results pages. It feels like an arcane art sometimes because Google is forever changing its algorithms. Staying on top of these changes is hard enough but being able to adapt your SEO to these changes and stay ahead of competitors is the real challenge.  

What tools to use and why? 

Moz is a great bet for continued SEO success. Not only does it offer useful educational resources to keep on top of SEO best practice, but the Moz all-in-one SEO toolset provides the full range of capabilities that you need. It tracks desktop and mobile keyword ranking, allowing users to easily keep tabs on any and all active keywords. This intelligent keyword analysis is supported by other features like link building and opportunities, site audits, search visibility score and page insights. 

Moz’s dashboard 

DeepCrawl is a unique website crawling tool. It provides SEO auditing that shows you a deep dive of your site issues to assess your overall site health. With features like backlink tracking, device breakdowns, ad hoc keyword research and more, DeepCrawl puts you in a great position to begin improving your SEO from. It’s not a tool for keyword research or position monitoring, so it’s perfect for SEO newbies.  

Deepcrawl’s dashboard 

In today’s competitive online world, it’s not enough just to use SEO practices and hope you rank above competitors. You need to use the right tools to find the right online niches to occupy. Long tail keywords, in particular, have become a beacon of hope for small businesses hoping to rank on results pages. Taking SEO seriously means doing your digital research and picking the perfect keywords.  

Email 

Our email inboxes are awash with communications competing for our attention. With so much competition, you need to make sure you optimise your emails so they stand out from the crowd. Great email marketing isn’t just about open-rates but click-throughs and conversions. It’s not just about getting people to open your emails; you need to offer actual value.  

What tools to use and why? 

MailChimp is our tool of choice for sending out emails. MailChimp allows you to automate your email marketing with simple A/B testing, ready-to-use campaign templates and a simple email designer, so you can focus on the strategy to guarantee that your emails add value to the target audience. ‘MailChimp reports’ make it easy to track how successful your emails are at engaging with your audience, using advanced segmentation for precise targeting, distribution by time zone and comparative data reporting. 

Mailchimp’s dashboard 

SendinBlue is a digital marketing suite that includes an email marketing platform. It’s easy to build emails with a drag and drop editor, and it offers personalisation, data list segmentation, automation and analytics. The free version is more than enough to keep a small business going, offering unlimited contacts and up to 300 emails a day, so this is an ideal way to get started with email campaigns.  

Omnisend, as the name suggests, is an email marketing tools with omni-channel capacity. Within the automation workflow, you can add additional functions like push notifications and social media messages alongside your email campaigns. This is a wider approach to email marketing, incorporating it into targeted workflows that reach your audience using multiple personalised methods. It’s ideal if your marketing resources are stretched, giving you a single tool with plenty of functionality.  

Omnisend’s automation dashboard 

Email marketing is one of the core tools for a marketing team for a reason; it’s excellent at nurturing leads into customers. It also offers an opportunity to create a dialogue with your audience, sending them targeted updates and offers that’ll pique your interest. It’s a more one-on-one dynamic, and that means gauging the tone and the relationship between you and your audience correctly. The name of the game here is personalisation. 

Reporting 

40% of marketers said that demonstrating the ROI of their marketing activities is one of their greatest priorities. Marketing professionals are under pressure to prove that their campaigns are creating business value. These days, marketing is very much a numbers game. You need to be able to report back to the C-Suite with hard evidence that your campaigns are working – otherwise the budget for your next social campaign will dry up. 

What tools to use and why? 

Most tools and platforms – from the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to the dedicated-marketing tools like Hootsuite – offer in-depth analytics. Google Data Studio collects real-time data from YouTube, Google Ads and Google Analytics to help you create dynamic, interactive dashboards. It’s also compatible with multiple third party data sources like Twitter, MailChimp and Salesforce. Google Data Studio helps users put together reports that are fully customisable, easy to filter and easy to share.   

Google Data Studio’s dashboard 

However, for that added bit of magic to pull everything together, Google Analytics stands head and shoulders above the rest as a tool for measuring the bigger picture – particularly by monitoring traffic arriving on your website and how site users are behaving. Google’s machine learning capabilities mean that Google Analytics can generate insights you just can’t get anywhere else.  

Google Analytics dashboard 

Cyfe is a popular tool for marketers because of its comprehensive reporting. It tracks just about everything within your business, from social media to analytics, and sales to KPIs. There are more than 250 metrics available to measure, and it’s easy to integrate with other services like Google and Salesforce. The dashboard is fully configurable with pre-populated widgets that can be tailored to each marketer’s need. The reporting is all-encompassing across your business, so this is a great tool for businesses without much room for new tools.  

Cyfe’s dashboard 

Instead of thinking of reporting as the culmination of your efforts, you need to think about it as the way that you justify future investment in your marketing efforts. After all, management want to see results and return on investment – this is the best way to show that the tactics you’re using are successful, and that you have ideas about how to improve in future. Digital reporting tools are your best friend when it comes to innovation in your marketing efforts.  

Training 

In a sector where change is almost always constant – SEO is a great example of this – it is essential to keep on top of the latest marketing platforms. In this respect, to succeed in marketing you need to be a life-long learner. You need to be open to change and ready to pick up new skills all the time. 

What tools to use and why? 

There are several tools that can help you keep up with the latest digital marketing platforms and skills. LinkedIn Learning is a great example – with a wide range of professional courses and tutorial videos. There are courses for every level from beginner to expert, and even over 16,000 entirely free courses. From the technical aspects of PPC to the writing skills you need for engaging content, there’s a course here for everything.  

LinkedIn learning  

Another great example is the Partner Benchmarking Tool, a tool created by our team at Fifty Five and Five. Using a wide variety of metrics, you can rank your company’s marketing efforts across its social output, website and blog. Now the tool identifies where your marketing efforts are lacking and offers training through articles and videos to help you improve those areas. Check it out. 

Partner Benchmarking Tool dashboard 

Google Digital Garage also offers a fundamentals of digital marketing course that’s extensive enough for any beginner. After all, a lot of digital marketing is about working with Google, so why not go directly to the source for more information? It’s self-directed, with 26 modules coming in at around 40 hours, so it’s a handy way to get started for free. 

Keeping on top of your marketing education is essential – things are always going to change, and if you don’t keep up then you’ll get left behind. We like to think of training in marketing as a way of investing in the success of our future efforts.  

Why are digital marketing technologies important? 

There’s now such a wide range of applications to help B2B marketers that it can be hard to decide what your team requires. A recent BrightTALK study found that lack of resources such as staff, funding and time remains the biggest obstacle to successful B2B lead generation for 61% of respondents’. With that in mind, more marketers are going to rely on digital tools to streamline their marketing efforts. 

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer variety in the market, but the key is remembering what your business is trying to accomplish. Create a strategy and set goals – this will make it easier to identify features in tools that will be most beneficial to you. There are thousands of tools available, so make sure to create a list of the most beneficial services your business needs before you get started researching. 

We hope this guide can point you in the right direction to find the technology that your marketing team requires.  

 

At Fifty Five and Five, our expert marketing team use a variety of digital marketing technologies to help them deliver the best results for our clients. To find out more about our team, what we do, and the technologies we use, get in touch with us today.


How to write for email campaign success and actually get results

When it comes to email campaign success, starting from scratch can be daunting. It’s predicted that we will be sending and receiving upwards of 347 billion daily emails by 2022. With all this noise, how could your emails even be noticed – never mind opened? 

But there is a way. It’s about being simple, engaging and consistent. We’re going to share some straight-forward steps you can use right now to bring your email campaigns to life and enjoy actual results—and good ones too. 

Identify the goals for your email campaign 

The first step in this process is identifying exactly why email should be your preferred option. The clearer your goal, the easier it will be to measure progress and results once the campaign has been executed.  

For example, goals for your campaign could include persuading recipients to: 

  • Download an eBook 
  • Sign up to a webinar 
  • Buy a specific product or service 

As well as provoking actions like these, campaign goals could also include: 

  • Getting recipients interested in your offerings 
  • Raising brand awareness for your business 
  • Re-engaging or nurturing current subscribers  

Once your goal is established, you can get started on defining your audience.  

Who’s reading these emails, anyway? 

Now, before diving into copy, you must first outline exactly who your emails will be seen by. If you’ve been doing email marketing for a while, you’ll no doubt already know who your audience is. But if you’re new to the scene, you’ll probably need to make a few educated guesses so you can tailor your content effectively.  

To do this, you can use Google Analytics to access data on demographics, interests, locations and so on. This will provide a snapshot of who your customers are and what they are interested in. 

The trick with successful emails is to make them personal. By segmenting your audience, it’s easier to send emails that at least feel personalised.

Curate effective emailfor your audience 

With your purpose and audience in mind, you’re all set to begin writingHere are a few simple pointers to keep in mind:  

  • Keep it short and sweet 

When taking into account the sheer volume of emails sent and received every day, it’s important that your copy is engaging. Avoid wafflekeep to the subject and add value 

  • Provide clear and obvious value 

If you only send promotional emails, your readers will likely lose interest. Keep them interested by outlining how your business or product can benefit themSeems too obvious but make use of bullet points and bold text so that the important parts of an email are easy to find.  

  • Stay relevant  

When writing your emails, always keep your audience in mind. What is it that they want and need? How can you address their pain points? Rather than focus on what you’re trying to sell, you should focus on what your readers need.  

  • Include a clear CTA 

What is the overall objective of your email? The call to action you include needs to be immediately obvious and move the recipient towards your goal. So, if you’re looking to encourage sign-ups for a free trial, your CTA might read ‘Sign up now!’  

  • Check, check...and check again 

Once the email is written get a second or third opinion, proofread and ensure you’ve ticked off every point in this list. When sending out an email to a large mailing list, you really don’t want to make any avoidable mistakes.  

Add the finishing touches 

When it comes to selecting imagery for your emails, we’d recommend avoiding stock photos – or at least the most obvious and artificially-posed ones – as these can deter readersAdding a few interesting images can boost the click-through rate but be mindful of the file size – as images that are too big can trigger spam filters, sending your email to the junk folder. 

Your email campaign also provides a good opportunity to highlight your website and social media platforms. Add links where possible to drive people to your site. This shouldn’t distract from the overall objective of your email, but it certainly can’t hurt to include a few inbound links where relevant.   

Create your email template  

Fortunately, there are plenty of email providers (we use Mailchimp) that will allow you to set up and schedule emails with no need for coding.  

A crucial consideration here is responsive design. This ensures that your email looks great on every device and will improve your click-through rate (CTR). If you’re using an automated email platform then this will be taken care of for you. If not, there are lots of tips out there for responsive design best practices!  

Set up tracking devices  

Before sending your emails out into the world, you’ll need to track them. This is the best way to quantify the success of your campaigns, and it can be executed with relative ease by using a tracking pixel.  

The gist of it is that a tracking pixel is added right before the closing body tag of the email. Then, when this image is loaded by the reader, the image request is logged by the server. This information is then collected by your chosen analytics service and you can access statistics on click-through rates, open rates and more. 

Testing! Testing! 123 

With all of the above in place, you’re ready to test your email. This should involve sending it out to multiple email accounts (accessed from a variety of devices) so that you can ensure everything looks as you want it to. Different email providers tend to display emails differently, so you need to check that yours works across the board.  

This stage is vital as it gives you the chance to iron out any creases before your email is sent. Any issues that you spot should be addressed, and the testing process repeated 

What are you waiting for? It’s time to push the button 

Sending mid-morning during working day seems effective in terms of open rates. To find your optimal time, it’s best to trial a few different times and analyse which gets the highest engagement.  

Let the data do the talking 

Hopefully, you will gain lots of useful insights from the data your campaign accumulates. Understanding this data is vital to understand what works and identify areas for improvement. We suggest looking at:   

  • The success of your CTA – does it need tweaking next time? 
  • How many readers are using mobile devices? If you have lots of mobile users, you’ll want to focus on mobile-friendly design. 
  • Who is least engaged with your emails? You can segment these contacts out and then try to retarget them with tailored content in the future.  

Pick a partner to do all the grafting for you 

We hope this article has provided helpful insights to get your email campaigns off the ground and produce fantastic results. However, if you don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to achieve this by yourself, we have heaps of email marketing experience and would love to lend a helping hand.  

 

If you’d like further help with email marketing, get in touch with a member of our team today. You can also check out our website for more information. 


It’s time to reinvigorate your best lead generation strategies

What your marketing can learn from Rocky IV 

(Please bear with me while I relate lead generation strategies to a boxing film from 1985...) 

Remember that training scene in Rocky IV? Sylvester Stallone goes to a Russian farm in the dead of winter to get in shape for his bout with Ivan Drago. While his opponent uses state-of-the-art equipment, Rocky trains by hacking at trees with an axe, lifting logs, sawing wood, pulling sleds, crawling face first through the snow.  

What’s my point? Well, who won the fight? (Spoiler alert: it was Rocky) Cutting edge technology can provide an advantage but it doesn’t replace good old-fashioned grit and determination.   

Let’s move from the boxing ring to the marketing gauntlet - 61% of marketers say generating leads and site traffic is their top challenge. 85% of marketers say lead generation is their most important goal. Lead generation is hard. Almost as hard as defeating a giant Russian boxer surrounded by his comrades.  

It can be tempting to look for the ‘silver bullet’ that claims to boost your leads. in reality, it’s a result of consistent marketing efforts, ongoing relationships, interactions and everything else happening in a business’s day-to-day. 

Below we’re going to run through some old lead generation strategies and introduce some new ones too. But to generate those leads, just like defeating Ivan Drago, it’s going to come down to good old-fashioned hard work and staying persistent.  

#1 - Microsurveys 

Microsurveys are extremely short surveys, made up of a handful of questions that take a couple of minutes to complete.   

This has a variety of benefits over regular surveys. The short nature naturally brings a higher participation rate and, in terms of lead gen, you can approach people at a specific point in the customer journey. Sometimes, without them even leaving the page.   

Lead generation strategies in practice 

Let’s say you’re an IT consultancy targeting the top end of the sales funnel. By locating and focusing on customer pain points (pre-identified through marketing personas), you could create a microsurvey on the challenges they want to solve with your services. Embed this microsurvey on a webpage with high traffic and watch the responses roll in.   

A little further down the funnel, you could embed a microsurvey into the top of your email newsletter. Here, you’ve got a more engaged audience than your website and you can use that to your advantage. Adding a one or two question microsurvey in your newsletters is a great way to gather consistent, unique insights. Ask your subscribers what content they’d like to see and include it in your next newsletter!  

#2 - B2B influencer and word of mouth marketing 

Influencer marketing is where you encourage, persuade or pay market influencers to promote your product or services. This can encourage word of mouth marketing (even if those words are said over the internet) which can result in 500% more sales than a paid media impression.   

People listen to their peers. An individual is far more relatable than a brand. A shoutout from an influencer in your sphere can provide a big recognition boost, they can also add authenticity and credibility to your business through thought leadership content.   

Lead generation strategies in practice 

Now, let’s say you’re an ISV. The first step is to build a pool of potential influencers. Tools like Audiense andFollowerWonk are great for this, helping you find and rank leaders in your industry or niche. Even something as simple as looking at the ‘most popular’ social accounts that follow your brand can net surprising results.   

Why not combine microsurveys and influencer marketing by asking current customers who (in your field) they like to listen to, read and watch?

It’s important to remember that building relationships with influencers is a gradual process. B2B purchases usually involve multiple decision makers, giving the ultimate decision more nuance than in the B2C space. The good news is, the average B2B purchase dwarfs that in the B2C market, giving successful referrals a huge impact.   

Aim to start small. Thought leadership content is a good first step and can be a gentle introduction to your product and brand. Once they’re on board, educate them on your product. Despite being experts in their field, the more they know about your product and brand, the more genuine their marketing will be.   

#3 - Lead magnets 

Also known as gated content, lead magnets offer a long-form resource, such as an eBook or whitepaper, in exchange for contact information. Essentially providing information for free, this can be hugely tempting for the reader.   

This might be number one on the list of lead generation strategies, but one lead magnet stands tall in terms of success rate: webinars. Adobe Connect found a 51% average registration conversion on their webinars, leading to 36% live attendance and a further 55% viewing the recording post-event. This opens the door to a series of polls and further communication during the webinar as well.  

Lead generation strategies in practice 

Start a webinar! Or other content that involves the ‘human’ element, like podcasts or a video series. If these are live events, signing up will feel like a natural step of the process. Even if visitors are getting pre-recorded content, knowing that they’ll see or hear from a real person - not just read some text - helps usher form filling.   

#4 - Never underestimate the power of a landing page 

The landing page is the step between lead magnets and form filling - the dedicated space where a visitor becomes a lead.  

This might seem obvious, but that’s because it’s proven to work, time and again. It’s also because we still see companies link CTAs to their homepage. A call-to-action should always drive a visitor to a place designed to convert them into a lead.   

So, you know that landing pages are critical to success. How do you make sure they actually convert your visitors into leads? We’ve got a step-by-step guide that explains exactly how. 

Lead generation strategies in practice 

This time, you’re a marketing agency offering best practice advice and content marketing for B2B tech companies. You’ve got an avid reader approaching the end of your blog (sound familiar at all?) and there’s some relevant, in-depth content that could help them further.   

We practice what we preach. The link above takes you to a dedicated landing page where you can peel through our free ultimate guide to B2B content marketing, curated by our very own experts at Fifty Five and Five. All you need to do is to fill out the form - but you know that now, don’t you?   

Lead generation is an uphill battle, but every great training montage features a rise to the top. Rather than reaching for the next advanced piece of technology, change your mindset. Go back to basics, thinking of ways to improve and optimise what you’ve already learned. Yes, it’s hard work. But as Rocky said: “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change.”  


Our team’s top tips for B2B marketing automation

It might be an unpopular opinion, but sometimes I do wish the robots would take some of my jobs. When it comes to tedious and repetitive tasks like creating targeted mailing lists, or personalising individual user journeys, actually, you know what? Take it away, robot friends.  

Bill Gates is widely credited with saying that lazy people will find an easy way to do things. I think Mr. Gates has it slightly wrong here – sorry, Bill. It’s actually smart people that find an easy way to do things. That’s why we have the amazing tools that we have today – very smart people built incredibly complicated software and algorithms so that computers can automate tasks or analyse data so that we don’t have to. That’s brilliant, and I want to get in on it. 

In this blog, I’m going to tell you how you can use B2B marketing automation effectively to make marketing jobs easier and our work a lot more impactful. There will also be insights from some other members of the team who use automation regularly in their work for our clients. Let’s start with that classic mainstay of digital marketing: the email.   

Smart, responsive email marketing 

Many businesses use email marketing to communicate with leads and existing customers. It’s one of the oldest, most established, tried and tested formats. Automated email marketing usually comes under one of the following categories:

  • Event-based emails that are triggered by pre-defined events or user behaviour 
  • Drip-feed email content that’s scheduled to be deployed at specific times 

Trigger events include when someone joins your email list, clicks a link in an email, fills out a form or visits a page on your website. When these things happen, you can pre-define an email to be sent out to them. This is a great way to follow up from previous points of contact and nudge a prospect along the path to a sale.  

Drip-feed email content is a series of automated emails to subscribers sent out at pre-determined intervals, usually forming the bulk of your email campaign and taking prospects on your lead nurture journey. These emails are perfect opportunities to provide leads with content that will support your sales pitch – links to blog articles, eBooks and more.   

Here at Fifty Five and Five, we often use Marketo and Mailchimp for our email marketing automation. As well as scheduling emails, today’s sophisticated B2B marketing automation tools often allow you to make use of your customer contact lists in clever ways, and they can also provide valuable data on how your email campaigns are performing.  

I asked our marketing executive Maria about how she uses Mailchimp. Here’s what she said: Mailchimp helps you to build an email campaign by sorting your audience based on some specific characteristics (such as where they're based, what they signed up to before, etc.) and it pulls them into the campaign. Then, once you launch the campaign, it sends the email to who you choose to be part of the pool and it gives you useful insights, such as open rate, drop rate, etc. that help you to shape up your campaign.  

In summary, Maria also added: “Email automation is a great help in reaching out to leads and providing them with "richer" information on your product or servicesAnd, when it comes to managing large amounts amount of data – thousands of emails or more – these tools can save a lot of time and reduce the chances of making mistakes. 

Optimised paid media advertising  

B2B marketing automation can also be highly valuable in the world of pay-per-click advertising. Running successful paid media campaigns is a skill, and it requires an awful lot of time, in the prep and planning stages, through to creative design and execution. However, once the strategy and assets are agreed, it's time to be smart in order to achieve the best results possible. That’s where automation and machine learning can help. 

For example, if you're running a Google Ads campaign and not using 'Responsive Search ads', you're missing a trick. These ads use Google's algorithms to serve potential customers with the most personalised combination of copy you have provided. That means the user sees something more relevant to them, and you can benefit from better results and performance. 

Bidding algorithms are also hugely helpful in the paid media world, as our Head of Client Services Aidan Danaher explains: “Almost every platform provides this functionality, along with traditional methods like manual cost per clicks, or maximum CPC. What's great about this approach is it will optimise based on the objectives you've set, improving that ever-important customer journey, and ultimately the conversions for your campaign. 

As Aidan says, functionality like Responsive Search ads and bidding algorithms are now a vital part of the paid media toolbox. Businesses today should definitely be harnessing them across their pay-per-click marketing.  

Scheduling your social media campaigns 

Social media marketing is another area where B2B marketing automation can offer serious benefits. Scheduling and automating your social media marketing means whoever’s managing your social media accounts doesn’t have to concern themselves with remembering to post this or that post at a particular time – which may be when they’re sitting down to eat lunch or getting settled for a night of TV.  

Our writer and social media executive Megan explains the benefits: Social media automation allows me to keep a clear view of all our upcoming content. It's important to post consistently on social channels, and the tools we use allow me to plan ahead of time – so we never miss a day or an opportunity to engage our audience! 

Fifty Five and Five marketing executive Laura also had this to say on the subject: “To ensure the success of your campaigns in social media, timing is crucial. That means finding out at what time of the day your audience is going to be most receptive to your message. But we're all human – and sometimes very busy ones – so it's easy to forget to post. That’s where social automation becomes a game changer.” 

Top tips for making the most of social media automation  

No more grappling with time-zones 

This ability to schedule social media activity at any time of day or night is especially useful if your team want to post in different time-zones. They don’t have to be awake at 2am to post because it’s midday somewhere else in the world. With social media automation, they don’t have to be.  

Keep a healthy balance  

This isn’t to say that all your social posts should be automated. Social media is, by its very nature, supposed to be dynamic and personal – there’s no substitute for posting in the moment.  Ad-hoc social activity capitalising on recent events, news stories and trends ensures your followers stay engaged, and don’t feel like they’re just following a bot.  

Be careful with your responses 

On a similar note, think carefully before using automated responses to social media interactions – this can easily come across as lazy and impersonal. We’ve all received an automated “Thanks for following!” DM and thought, “OK, great, but so what?” A good rule of thumb is to automate your campaigns and use real-time personal interaction for the rest.  

Choose the right tool for the job 

Hootsuite is the social media automation tool of choice for organisations all around the globe, including our own. It’s simple to set up and use, with an intuitive dashboard interface and support for all the most important social networks including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. 

I asked Laura about the benefits of using Hootsuite for B2B marketing automation. Here’s her reply: “From my experience with Hootsuite, I can say that it helped me a lot in previous campaigns to get the right message across to the right audience while making sure that my campaign execution was following the strategy thoroughly". She’s summed it up well.  

Ready to get started with B2B marketing automation? 

I hope this blog has been useful in illustrating some of the many marketing automation benefits. Automation is addictive: once you start using it, you’ll soon be finding new ways to apply it to your role and across your whole business, making life easier for everyone and achieving some pretty impressive marketing results. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.  


Illustration man at computer

Win new work. Save your business. Cheer wildly. 

We all know the score. Trying to win new work is tough. Sourcing prospects, tailoring your marketing, arranging meetings and keeping potential clients happy whilst they are courted by numerous competitors all takes a lot of effort. And, in the current climate, it’s harder than ever.  

In light of this, we thought it would be useful to share some insights around what we’ve found works when it comes to selling ourselves to prospective clients, and the vital steps we take in the sales cycle journey. We’ll showcase our current approach to finding leads, outlining our sales processes and how our teams contribute – and how you can do the same. 

We may be biased, but we like to think we’re quite good at what we do – so we’ve collated our key findings here. We hope that, by following this structure, you’ll be well equipped to perform a full health check on your business and uncover new ways for gaining leads and driving sales.  

How do you currently win new work? 

To kick things off, we suggest taking a high-level view of the ways your business currently wins new work. This provides a super helpful insight into areas where you do well, and where there is room for improvement.  

It helps to organise this exercise into the following categories:   

Main channels for new work 

The likelihood is that there are already multiple facets to your business that have the potential to bring in new work. This may include: 

  • Existing clients. For many businesses, a high proportion of their revenue will come from work with current clients.  
  • Referrals. Former clients and current employees can be brilliant sources of new work. Never underestimate the power of a recommendation! 
  • Your website. Take a look at your website visits, content downloads and website leads – how do these elements contribute to your overall revenue? 
  • Social media. The potential for social media to bring in new leads is huge. Are your channels bringing in new work? If not, it may be time for a strategy overhaul.  

Website leads   

Your website should be set up with targeted keywords that address the services you provide. Keeping these keywords up to date and optimised is an ongoing process – and one that’s very important in bringing in leads. To assess how well your website is performing in converting leads, it’s worth looking at: 

  • The content you produce that surfaces on Google. For us, this is largely blog content – so we understand the necessity of putting out regular posts on topics our audience will find valuable. But whatever kind of marketing content you produce, now’s the time that it needs to shine.  
  • Traffic from social media. How many visits to your website come from your social channels? If certain channels already perform well, it could be time to put more effort into social media marketing there in order to fast-track new opportunities.  
  • Email content. Do you send out regular updates to your mailing list? If not, maybe it’s time to step up your email marketingKeeping in touch with current contacts is a great means of keeping your brand at the forefront of their mind – should they realise they need your services.  

How your team can help win new work

Aside from the pointers listed above, it’s worth remembering another valuable resource at your disposal: your people! Your team is comprised of individuals who could all prove to be great assets for business growth. This can take on many forms:  

  • Referrals. Everyone’s on LinkedIn these days, which means we all have large networks comprised of individuals and businesses who may benefit from your offerings. Tapping into this resource is never a waste of time.  
  • Employee advocacy. This simply refers to the promotion of a business by its workforce. This could involve getting your employees to share company information on their social media channels to boost engagement and brand awareness.  
  • Upselling on existing projects. The employees working on specific projects will be well placed to identify scope for more work. Encourage your team to strike up conversations with clients about new ideas for work, and to keep thinking about more ways to address their needs.  

It would be a mistake to overlook your employees’ potential for bringing in new work. Start conversations and get the ball rolling – once you’re all on the same page, you may be pleasantly surprised by the leads that could follow.  

What does your sales process look like? 

Of course, when new leads come in, it’s important that your whole organisation is ready to deal with them efficiently. For guidance, our process looks a little something like this: 

  1. New work appears as a case or an opportunity 
  2. For opportunities, we begin to plan appropriate resourcing to ensure we have the means to handle the workload 
  3. The pipeline and future opportunities are then managed by relevant account directors 
  4. Work orders are issued to clients and the entire process is signed off 
  5. Work commences and the whole team pitches in where necessary 

Finetuning your sales process will not only provide a better, more streamlined experience for new prospects (and keep them coming back for more!), but it will also put you in good stead for handling multiple opportunities as and when they arise. 

Spoiler: the best sales pitch is simply doing a good job 

We truly believe that being good at what you do, exceeding expectations, and consistently delivering good work is the best sales tactic out there. Every single piece of content you produce, whether it’s billable client work or internal marketing, needs to add value and showcase the very best of your expertise.  

At Fifty Five and Five, we’re always asking ourselves (and each other!) if we are offering value and producing work that will make clients want to work with us again. This is how we build relationships that have lasted as long as we’ve been around.  

If you need help getting your marketing on track so that you’re better placed to win new work, we’d love to talk through your options. Get in touch with a member of our team today to learn more about how we can work together to realise your full business potential.  


Your 4-step guide to creating great content

It’s 2020. You know the deal; effective marketing requires good content, but the internet is crowded with companies competing for clicks, scrolls and views. Creating content that stands out is harder than ever. And yet an effective digital strategy relies on it. So, what’s the solution? How do we create truly great content?

Many have tried to crack the secret to good content. And there’s no single trick to guarantee a piece of content will be truly great. No formula will replace personality, creativity and a strong brand voice. But there are certainly a few things that can help you along that journey.

1. Know your audience

The first key to creating truly good content is to know your audience. It might sound simple, but it’s true; if you’re not sure who you’re talking to, your content will never be able to truly sing. One of the best ways to achieve this is by creating personas before you start planning or writing your content.

A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal target audience, complete with a name, job title and back story. You can find this information by looking through your CRM or website analytics data. The idea is that by giving your ideal character a personality, it becomes easier to target content towards that person; ensuring the resulting piece of content is clearer, more specific and more relevant when the real audience finally reads your piece.

2. Offer a solution

The internet is awash with content. Everywhere you look there are how-to guides, listicles, roundups, recaps, webinars and anything you could possibly think of. Standing out in the crowd is difficult. But it’s not impossible. Good content achieves value by offering a clear solution to a specific problem.

Whenever you plan a piece of content, it’s important to have the audience in mind, and consider what they’re going to take away from the information you provide. Will it explain a tricky concept, will it provide advice, or perhaps simply give a unique opinion or worldview that they might not have encountered? Whatever the case, make sure the value you’re offering is clear, the points you make are concise, and you don’t leave the reader waiting too long to find the real nugget of insight or vital takeaway that you’re offering.

3. Tell a story

Many assume that B2B tech writing is dry, functional and lacking in creativity. That might be sometimes the case, but good content should be eye-catching, compelling and interesting, regardless of whether it’s travel writing or an explainer about Microsoft’s latest productivity update. And the key to that is in storytelling.

Consider, for instance, a company that installs a new productivity app. Which of the following statements is more compelling:

  • “John no longer has to spend two hours each day trawling through emails.”
  • “Productivity in the business has increased 20%”

That’s right; it’s the first one. Humans love a story. We love to meet characters, understand their wants and needs, experience what they experience. And even in the driest, most technical piece of B2B content, stories can be found. A story can be as simple as a character having a problem and finding the solution. It’s much more fascinating to talk about people and lives than it is to talk about abstract business benefits.

But whether you’re talking about software licenses of digital transformation, make sure your content is grounded in the stories of the people and lives that technology will impact.

4. Add value

Here’s a secret about online content; a lot of it isn’t very good - or more specifically, plenty of content fails to add value. It might be coherent, well written, eye-catching or funny – but if you’re stating the blindingly obvious or just repeating information that can be found elsewhere, you’re not creating good content. And chances are, your audience will pick up on that.

The benefit of the internet being awash with bad content is that it’s very easy to learn what not to do. So, when you’re planning content ideas, make sure to do some research into similar pieces of content. See what they’re saying, where they go wrong and where they add value. And then consider how you can make your content different; how you can say something different, give new information, perhaps even challenge a consensus.

Are you content with your content?

Creating good content isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort when done properly. If you offer something that isn’t available elsewhere, the readers will begin to flock in. And by presenting your content as informed, expert and unique, your readers will naturally assume the service or product you are selling is equally unique.

At Fifty Five and Five, we work with technology providers of all shapes and sizes to make sure their content really sings. That involves all of the things we discussed in this blog; finding an angle and telling a story, all underpinned with a detailed understanding of the audience and the subject matter we discuss. But it’s about more than just that; it’s about understanding the unique personality and culture of the companies we work with and finding how to translate that into truly winning content.

If you want to find out how we do that, simply get in touch today.


Lead generation secrets you need to know

It all starts with lead generation. And, according to marketing automation provider Nurture, 60% of marketers say that lead gen is one of their top three priorities, of which 26% claim it’s the highest. However, this cornerstone of B2B marketing can be the trickiest to master. At times, lead generation is more of an art than a science, making it hard for businesses to define concrete and actionable lead generation strategies. It’s a craft that needs to be honed if you want to practice it successfully. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some lesser-known, but highly effective, tips to boost your lead generation skills. Read on for Fifty Five and Five’s lead generation secrets you need to know.  

1. Understand lead magnets 

It’s not easy to stand out in the crowded, competitive B2B marketplace. It’s loud, crammed to the rafters, and you can easily get elbowed out of the way by other brands vying for attention. In these circumstances, first impressions really countthe first impression may be the only chance you get to create a long and fruitful relationship. 

Here’s where lead magnets come in. They’re the incentive you dangle in front of prospects in order to attract them to your business. Sounds a little cynical? Not at all. What you’re offering is something valuable: the solution to a business problem they face. It might come in the form of a piece of content, free consultation, or something else that helps them. And, if it’s good enough, it will earn you their business.  

2. Master the micro survey 

We’re living in a fast-paced, time-poor, low-attention world. More so than ever before. You can’t expect your audience to willingly answer 15-question feedback form. They’ll balk at being asked to take ‘just 10 minutes to answer our quick survey’. If that happens, you’ve just lost their attention – and their valuable input. The next of our lead generation secrets addresses this.  

Mastering the micro survey allows you to gain this vital feedback without subjecting your prospects or existing customers to lengthy, time-consuming questionnaires. If you can ask the right questions, with enough brevity, to deliver the data you need, then you’ll be able to create more effective campaigns, enhance your lead generation strategies and convert more of those leads into customers. The bottom line is that micro surveys will allow you to get insights faster and more often.  

3. Learn to mix it up a little 

As with all things in life, lead generation campaigns don’t last forever - no matter which combination of classic lead generation strategies you use. You may earn and convert dozens of leads over a short period, but eventually this will peter out. Every campaign has a shelf life. 

 Variety is the spice of life, and mixing it up, testing new approaches and staying flexible leaves you room to constantly transform. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to abandon the things that work, however. If one of your tactics is converting leads at a higher rate, maybe there are some tweaks you could make to keep it fresh or tap into a different audience. Try to always be evolving to meet the current needs and challenges of the market.  

4. Consider influencer marketing 

The consumer world has already enthusiastically adopted this trend, and 2020 looks to see the growth of B2B influencer marketing. Buyers trust other buyers more than they trust businesses or brands – that’s why the retail sector has seen an explosion of reviews on sites like Amazon. If you can harness this kind of credibility, it can do wonders for your business.   

Influencer and word of mouth marketing might even be more important for B2B than B2C. After all, B2C decisions are often thought to be more carefully considered and with greater consequences than consumer purchases. When you spend company money, you need to be able to properly justify any purchases you make. The realisation of this is causing more and more businesses to implement this strategy to boost their lead generation success.  

5. Don’t underestimate the landing page 

Imagine you bought a car online that promised a spectacular drive, guaranteed to blow your socks off. You get to the showroom and it looks like it’s gone ten rounds at the demolition derby. Even if it’s just cosmetic damage, you still wouldn’t want to get inside  no matter how well it drove. 

The same goes for a badly written, badly designed or dated landing page. A prospect will arrive full of good expectations, attracted by all the good work you’ve done with your lead generation strategies. This will all be immediately undone if they arrive on your unprofessional landing page expecting a Rolls Royce product but get a 1978 Fiat with no doors. Unless you make your landing page as effective as possible, can kiss that lead goodbye. 

Discovering and developing your own lead generation secrets 

We hope this blog has helped you develop your strategies for lead generation success by providing some useful areas to focus on. As time goes by, you – or your marketing agency – will discover and refine the tactics that work best for your business, brand or products.  

With time and experience, you may even develop your own set of tried-and-tested lead generation secrets. If you’ve got any top lead gen tips that you think are missing from our list, or you’d like a hand getting to grips with any of the existing, we’d love to hear from you. 


Top 5 tips for cybersecurity during COVID-19

In March 2020, the British Government, like many others worldwide, made the transition into a period of ‘lockdown’ designed to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Following the lead of other nations, people in Britain were told to minimise non-essential travel, stay at home, and work from there if possible. As Fifty Five and Five completed our own transition to all-remote working, we witnessed businesses and employees all over London making their own arrangements. Our head office is located in the heart of the UK’s capital, and on that busy evening we saw countless city workers on their way home with the familiar laptop bags but also monitors, keyboards, and many folders of documents. Practically overnight, the home office became the office. In their scramble to set up a coronavirus lockdown home office, workers are keen to make sure they can reach all the vital business data they need. However, are they neglecting security in this rush for access? With that in mind, take a look at our top 5 tips for cybersecurity during COVID-19.

1. Stick to password best practices and do testing

The longer and more complex your password is, the harder it is to guess or crack. When you create a new password or change an existing one, password managers such as LastPass (our favourite) or Google Password Manager will generate a lengthy random password containing a combination of different letters (capitalised and lowercase) as well as numbers and special characters.

What’s more, these password managers will even audit the security of all your passwords for you. They’ll investigate and notify you of any low-complexity bad apples in the barrel and whether you’ve duplicated the same password across multiple accounts. Just make sure that you have a strong password for the password manager itself – it’s the key to your entire kingdom, after all.

2. Set up two-factor authentication

Also known as 2FA, two-factor authentication means having an extra step of security. So, as well as entering their password, a user will have to authenticate their identity in another way – for instance entering a code they’ve received or clicking on a link in their emails. It’s a powerful, fundamental tool in enabling secure remote working.

You and your users have probably already encountered 2FA during password recovery or when signing up for a service. It’s common to receive a PIN number via text message to enter for second-step authentication, as it’s less likely an intruder will have knowledge of your password and access to your mobile device. Implement two-step authentication wherever you can and encourage your personnel to set it up and use it, too.

3. Guard against shadow IT

‘What is shadow IT?’, you may be asking. Simply put, it’s software or hardware that’s being used within your organisation for business but hasn’t been authorised by system administrators. They may not even know about it. It’s just lurking in the shadows, posing a risk from security flaws, malware and simply being outside your scope of control.

Administrators can help to ensure that authorised software is installed or accessible for your users, and that running or installing unauthorised software is blocked. Restrictions can be applied even if it exists in the cloud, where much of today’s software-as-a-service lives. If you allow employees to use their personal laptops or other devices for work, consider making this conditional on whether they agree to use company-sanctioned solutions. At the end of the day, secure remote working comes first.

4. Ensure devices are protected with antivirus

This may seem obvious – who doesn’t use antivirus in 2020? – but it’s still important to remember to use your antivirus solution effectively. For instance, all personnel should be using the same solution, whether that’s Kaspersky, AVG or trusty old Windows Defender. Just like any other kind of process, when security processes are standardised, they’re easier to manage – an old universal truth of system administration. As explained earlier, this is no time for shadow IT.

Make sure your antivirus software and its virus definitions database are kept up to date. If you can, ensure that they can only be switched off by an administrator. And if, for whatever reason, your staff need to switch off the antivirus software temporarily, or set an exception, they should consult IT staff. Protocols and security standards like these should be kept high at all times, not just for cybersecurity during COVID-19.

5. Keep apps and operating systems up to date

As well as keeping your antivirus solution up to date, it’s important to keep all your other software updated, too. Out-of-date software can hide a multitude of unpatched security holes and bugs. That goes for your operating system as well as the applications that run on it.

If your IT staff aren’t already doing so, they should consider auditing how up to date your software is, to get an idea of what and where the weak spots are. Depending on your systems, they may even be able to roll out updates remotely across all your business devices. Just like there’s no such thing as being ‘too secure’, there’s no such thing as ‘too up to date’.

Confident of your cybersecurity during COVID-19?

We hope our tips for secure remote working in the coronavirus crisis have been useful. When you’re confident that you’ve done everything you can to secure your systems and protect your data, that’s one less thing to worry about. Perhaps that’s one of the most important benefits of staying secure right now.

Want to make security a selling-point?

If you’re confident your security makes your business look good to prospective customers, Fifty Five and Five can help you tell that story.

Get in touch now