Helping Businesses Grow during the Pandemic

Over the last year, we've been working more than ever to help local businesses grow, and make the most of the internet.

It’s no doubt that 2020 will go down in the history books. We’ve all had to learn how to deal with living in the current pandemic and the changing rules that are being put in place. It’s clear that the lockdown period and the current restrictions are resulting in constantly changing landscapes for businesses in every industry across the country.

Even for us at Sokada, whilst we normally like to work with our clients face-to-face, we have had to adapt. Either working from home and having meetings with our clients via Zoom in order to continue to work with them.

We’ve also had to adapt some of the marketing strategies that we provide for our clients. We’ve been working with all of them to ensure they continue to grow and thrive during the Covid-19 pandemic.

That’s why we thought we’d showcase a few of our clients who we have worked with over the last few months to adapt and help them grow… Just like these little acorns.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFw3IbAhmBw/

Green Fig Catering Company

The Green Fig Catering Company is a small family-run company established by partners John & Jo Crittenden. Committed to providing real food throughout East Sussex. They provide food for weddings, events, business lunches, society dinners, and much more.

John & Jo are both by their own accounts ‘proper foodies’ and when Covid-19 restrictions came into place in March, they realised that they needed to adapt what they currently do, so they could continue to provide great tasting food to people across East Sussex.

So, right from the start of lockdown, we worked with them to set up a homemade meal delivery service. This would help people provide delicious food to people who might be shielding or self-isolating and not be able to make it to the supermarket.

This homemade delivery service has been so successful. They’ve had hundreds of orders and are still going strong today. Additionally, over the last few months, we’ve also worked with them to introduce new offerings such as a fine dining delivery service, and afternoon tea delivery service. Also along with their buffet in a box, Halloween dinner and also traybakes for delivery.

Even in the last week, we have launched their newest offering; festive Christmas hampers! These beautifully put together hampers would be a perfect Christmas gift for your loved ones.

If you’re a local business, Green Fig can also provide hampers for staff members. A great Christmas gift full of fantastic nibbles and treats that your colleagues can enjoy. Click here to see the great selection of hampers and luxury hampers they have available.

Burts Catering Butchers

Burts butchers are one of the South coast’s leading catering butchers. They provide great-tasting high quality meat to restaurants and caterers across Sussex, Kent & Surrey. At the start of lockdown they wanted to help out around their local area and provide delicious meat and other produce to people living in Bexhill, Eastbourne, Polegate, Hailsham and all the surrounding villages.

They wanted to create a meat home delivery service, where people can place an order online and get delicious meat delivered straight to their door.

This service has been continuing to grow in popularity, and over the last few month Burts have worked to increase the offerings they can provide to BBQ products and other everyday essentials such as sugar, flour, and even sanitiser gel!

Tunbridge Wells Football Club

After reading one of our recent blog post about Track & Trace forms, they were looking at opening their grounds for football matches. As a result they needed to find a way to track the people that visited the football ground on a particular day.

Therefore we helped them to create an online track and trace form that is found via a QR code. The form is also able to remove entries after 21 days in-line with GDPR regulations.

This form has been working for a number of weeks now, and has made sure that the club is able to keep track of everyone visiting.

Think Heathfield

In order to not just help our clients businesses grow, we have also recently been working with the Heathfield Chamber of Commerce to provide a business directory. This will help encourage people to think about shopping in Heathfield when they need necessities, gifts as well as food. All these local shops and businesses have been hard hit over 2020 and have kept going due to local residents and visitors supporting them. Which we think is great – this will hopefully show everyone all the offers that local businesses are offering so they continue to thrive, moving forwards.

Visit the Think Heathfield website to see for yourself the great choice we have available in our small town. Be sure to also follow Think Heathfield on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with the latest offers.

Want to Make Your Business Grow?

Where we can, we have tried to help all of our businesses, one way or another. Even just down to adding Covid messages or change of details. It is our small way of keeping our community going and we hope it will.

During this uncertain and ever-changing year, we can help your business grow, and make the most of the internet. If you’re interested in working with us to create a website for your business, or create an effective online marketing strategy, get in touch with us today.

On 1st September 2020, Google announced that the search terms report within Google Ads will now be showing only the search terms that reach a certain volume threshold. This reduced visibility for Google ad campaigns has caused a lot of concern among advertisers as well as agencies, who rely on the search term report’s insights to optimise their Google Ads performance.

Just for information, A Google Ads search term report will show you exactly what someone has typed into their PC or mobile device when they have clicked on your ad. It also allows you to see exactly which search terms triggered your ads to appear. And companies such as Sokada Ltd will rely on all these searches to ensure that there are no wasted clicks for our clients. Using this search term report will give us the opportunity to drill down to exact terminology and add in many negative keywords, to ensure these searches are not clicked upon again. Especially if the campaign uses broad match modifier or more open search.

Statement from Google

“Starting September 2020, the search terms report only includes terms that a significant number of users searched for, even if a term received a click. You may now see fewer terms in your report.”

The Impact of Losing this Important Keyword Information

One may think that low-volume, keywords aren’t important—after all, they’re irrelevant. But every single click is possible ad spend wasted. Several low-volume terms can really add up.

The resulting reduced visibility into search queries has many advertisers worried, as this report is so important for Google Ads optimisation.

  • It inhibits small campaign and ad group changes that could possibly create overspending.
  • It makes keyword mining more tricky and renders broad match unusable.
  • It can lead to lower bidding and reduced conversion rates.

Reduced Transparency by Google

This now means that advertisers will need to start using more exact match variations in order to ensure they are only showing for exactly the right search queries. Or reporting will become useless and we will be stabbing in the dark when using certain match types. Unless the advertiser is happy to spend their money in the hope that their ads will be automatically shown to the right people!

You Still Need to Work Hard on Your Campaigns

  • You now need to keep a closer eye on your campaigns.
  • Change your keyword to exact match if you feel more comfortable – although this will lose you some of the smaller search terms and long tail keywords.
  • Start to use Dynamic Search Ads a bit more as they will be used, based on the content within your landing pages. Dynamic Search Ads not only helps you cover your bases, but their search query reports can also help reveal where your traditional search campaigns have gaps in their keyword coverage.
  • Although the data is not now available, Google will still be using it. So if we want to optimise for that data, we will need to think about letting Google optimise for this traffic. Using smart bidding strategies, such as enhanced CPC or target CPA.
  • Or you could always try and broaden your skillset by trying some different ways of advertising your product or service. For example would your business benefit from Facebook marketing? Make sure your SEO is at the top of it’s game (also great for Google Ads). Perhaps a spot of email marketing would be good. There are other ways to get your business out there and seen by potential buyers….

As the new normal of living alongside Coronavirus has set in; businesses across the country are opening up and adapting to new ways of working safely.

If you have a small shop, restaurant or cafe in England; you’ll more than likely have had to overcome certain hurdles such as limiting people on your premises, providing space for social distancing, and limiting contact between staff and customers.

Whilst you may have got round all of these challenges, there might be a few more things you can do to help limit the spread of Coronavirus in your community. We’ve found that the use of QR codes in local business have been a really useful way of providing information and reducing unnecessary contact with customers.

What are QR Codes?

QR codes work in a similar way to barcodes on products. They are square, machine-readable codes that can be picked up by a smartphone. Once read by the smartphone, the QR code can instantly lead to a specific page on a website, a brochure, an image or an app.

QR codes were originally designed in Japan, where they have always been much more prevalent. But now that it is key to reduce person to person contact; QR codes are popping up in all types of businesses in the UK.

A few years ago, you needed to install a special reader app in order to get your phone to read QR codes. But now you just need to point your phone at the QR code when the camera is open and it’ll read it automatically.

Using QR Codes in Your Shop or Local Business

How to Use QR Codes

Over the last few months we’ve seen many different uses for QR codes. It’s definitely clear they’re becoming a great tool at providing information safely during this pandemic. The best thing is they’re free, customisable, and easy to make.

QR codes can be generated online, and can be colour and brand customisable. This means that whatever business you run, you can create perfect, on-brand QR codes that customers can use.

We’ve found some really great uses for QR codes over the last few weeks. Such as at restaurants to find menus, hotels to see welcome letters and coronavirus information. Also in a local pub, where they’d used a QR code for people to sign up to their track and trace. Beauty therapists can use them for their treatment list as well as making offers. And of course certain large supermarkets use a QR code for customers to pay with their scanning systems within the shops.

All of this helps to limit the amount of contact your staff needs to make with customers. It’s therefore a great way of adjusting to the new normal of shopping and eating out.

We’ve even helped some of our marketing clients with QR codes in their local shops and businesses. We can help them get set up so that they link to a specific page on their website if needed. So contact us if you need advice!

During this period of uncertainty, plenty of small businesses in our local communities have had to adapt to a new way of selling their products and services. Or perhaps even close up shop altogether. Many businesses will have turned to their online marketplace in order to keep selling their products and services. But even with the ability to sell online; it has still been tough on the smaller businesses that depend on their bricks and mortar location.

One of the great ways businesses around us have been able to stay in touch with their customers is through social media. Sites such as Facebook and Instagram have been incredibly useful in keeping your customers up-to-date. Whether you’re posting about opening hours, sharing products from your online shop, or posting updates on how the business is getting on; it’s a great way to stay in touch.

Facebook Shops – A Potential Game-Changer

Yesterday, Facebook announced a new feature to help small businesses to sell products online directly through their social media page. This could be a game-changer in the world of local business. From today, anyone with a Facebook or Instagram page can have an online E-Commerce offering for their customers.

Image from Facebook

“Facebook Shops aim to make shopping seamless and can empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers.”

Facebook

What Facebook Shops allows you to do is to create an online shopping platform for your products that can be viewed within the Facebook App or website. This makes it easier than ever to promote your products to your followers on social media. It also makes it easy for customers to browse through your products, ultimately being able to purchase products and services from you.

During this uncertain time, this feature will be a great help to businesses struggling to move to an online marketplace. If you have a Facebook page, it will be simple to set up a shop and start selling to customers.

Integration with Ecommerce Websites

If you already have a website for selling your products, you might not think that Facebook Shops would help you to reach more people and increase your sales online. But according to Facebook, this new feature can import, and integrate items from Ecommerce systems such as WooCommerce, Shopify, and BigCommerce.

Facebook is also working with these Ecommerce sites to ensure Facebook Shops work hand-in-hand with an established online shop. This means you won’t have to spend time constantly updating the stock on two different platforms.

Having your products on Facebook also creates a new form of advertising. You can use Facebook Ads to promote a particular product, which then leads to a product page on Facebook. By doing this, you can create very specific targeted ads that advertise individual products or collections. You can then use this to advertise to niche audiences who will be more likely to buy certain products.

How can I get started?

If you already have a Facebook page, you can set up your shop straight away. We’re already working with some of our clients to make sure they’re up and running on Facebook Shops. We’ll be uncovering the full potential of these online shops in the coming weeks. We hope to soon understand exactly how much this will help the businesses we work with.

If you’d like to set up a Facebook Shop for your business, and you’re not sure where to start; get in touch with us, and we’ll be happy to help you get started.

Well we are all starting to realise, very quickly how this is going to affect us. At our offices, we felt safe in the presumption that we could all work very comfortably from home. All systems we currently use can be successfully actioned remotely. Which is perfect for our online work. Nothing should change for us right? WRONG!

What we have come to understand very quickly that, working with so many other external companies means that their businesses have been dreadfully affected, which then has an impact on ours. We are still here though, all working. We are available so you can get in touch to make changes to your website, write a post explaining what is happening for your business, as well as modifying the way you are working. To adapt to the changing market conditions.

There are many ways to still communicate. As many companies are now finding out. Using Slack, Facetime, Whats App, Zoom, Skype, Podio, Google Docs, plus many many other online applications means that you are still in contact with all your fellow staff. As well as ensuring you are all working on the same information. The options are endless, so it is important to put in place what works for you as a business. Which is great! But all businesses need to know they can still get customers, either into their shops, physically or online. To be able to buy from them, enjoy their services as well as staying safe and keeping their loved ones safe too.

There are so many useful articles at the moment, so we thought we would share a few ideas that may help:

Get your cashflow sorted

Call in some debts and ensure everything possible has been invoiced. It will be tough for any business to pay promptly at the moment, but try and ensure you have everything up to date, so you know where you are.

Keep marketing and promoting your business

Now more than ever, you need to keep reminding people you are still here. In general, people still need products and services. And those who are marketing their business more effectively will come out on top. Especially once everything is gradually getting back to normal. Changing your marketing message may be worthwhile. But keep reminding people that you are still here and still open for business. Many of our customers are now adapting what they offer, to keep going and get through this. Move online more, offer something different, offer better delivery options. There may be some angle that you haven’t thought of. Brainstorm and see what ideas you can come up with!

Sourcing your products

Now may be the time to look around and see where else you can source your products from. Use local companies who won’t have to travel too far to get to you. Again, be creative. Many companies are offering delivery – take advantage of this so you can save time to work more on other things.

Move online

Shops will be one of the worst to be hit by all of this. So people will be buying more online – now could be the time for you to start offering this as an option. Even if you can’t afford to add an ecommerce solution to your website, make it prominent that you can offer this. Make sure you can show as many of your products on your website, so customers can see what they could have if they bought from you. This could be a great option for anyone who physically sells products but has not opted yet for online selling.

Plan for the future

Try and spend some time reflecting on what you want and how you see yourselves in 6 months. Where do you want to be? It is vital to plan ahead and work out how you are going to come through it. Try to keep a clear head and remove emotions from this. Hard and extraordinary times as these are, spend a bit of time writing or updating your business plan. This could create new ideas for the future and keep your business afloat. We are all obviously hoping that the Government assist us, but if you can put new plans in place then that will be a great start.

Be creative

This is so tough as we understand so many businesses will be completely firefighting at the moment. But try and be creative. There could be other ways that you sell your products or services. Try and think what you can offer people, with your expertise. There could be something that will ensure your business stays afloat during these really trying times.

Can we help you?

We are all still here and working. If you need to make changes to your website then please do get in touch. Just give us a call on 01435 817226 or send us an email. We may be able to adapt what you have already. or perhaps help you to offer something different to your customers. Maybe we can set up an email campaign for you. Telling all your customers of the improvements and updates you are making to your business. Or to just be there to chat through your ideas. We need to help each other out at the moment and we will do our best to help you.

Warmest washes from all at Sokada Ltd

As we said in our first Instagram post of this year, 2020 for Sokada is shaping up to be one of the most exciting to date!

If you’ve come to visit us at our offices, you’ll come to know that we have quite a compact office. Having been here since the start in 2016, it’s become clearer in recent months that we need to upscale our offices a bit. We were looking for somewhere that was still in a prime location on Heathfield High Street but with slightly more floor space.

We’ve been looking for the perfect place to move into for a few months now – and as luck would have it, in December last year we found the perfect place.

Our New Office is… Next door!

That’s right – we’re moving just a few feet away to the office next door to us, previously used by Belladonna Beauty. With this new and bigger space we’ll be able to do much more in our office, and we’re already looking at how best to use our new space.

moving office
We’re packing up our offices at the end of this week to move in on Monday 2nd March!

That means we’re only a few steps away from our old office, if you know where that is, you take the right-hand door next to our old office, turn right, left, and down the corridor.

From the 1st March if you have a meeting with us, you can ring our doorbell which is at the door on the high street, in between Westwoods and Pople & Broad Opticians.

Moving Day

We’re going to be moving offices from the 28th February. So over the course of this day, we’ll have our phone lines and Internet connection switched over. This means you may not be able to get in touch by phone for a little while. It should only take a day for us to set everything up again, so we’ll be back to business as usual on Monday 1st March.

Our New Address

Our New Address is nearly the same as our old one;

Suite C,
Bank Buildings,
Cherwell Road,
Heathfield,
East Sussex,
TN21 8JT

As Christmas is only just around the corner – we’d like to wish all of our lovely clients a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Do you like what we’ve done to make our website Christmassy? Santa himself put a little flurry appear on our site. If you’re one of our clients, and you’d like to see some snow on your website for the Christmas period; email us, and we’ll add some for you!

We hope you have a Great Christmas

We hope you’re spending this festive period with friends and family, and you get the chance to relax before the start of the New Year. As we’ve done before, we’ll close the office for a few days over Christmas; just so that everyone here can put their feet up a bit!

You might be getting Christmas cards from businesses like us. We hope you don’t take it personally, as we haven’t sent cards to anyone this year. Instead, we’ve decided to spend some money giving to charity, after all, Christmas is all about giving, and not receiving. So that’s why we’ve chosen the charity Warming Up the Homeless to donate to. So if you’d like to join us in helping this worthy cause over the Christmas period, click here.

Our Christmas Party!

We decided to hold our Christmas Party this year at Pilio; a boutique Greek Bistro in Heathfield. As you can see from the photo, there were lots of empty plates and beer bottles – so we can only assume it was well received!

Thank you to Pilio for having us, and providing such delicious food!

christmas party at Sokada

Christmas Opening Hours

We hope nothing goes wrong whilst we’re out of the office, but should a website or email related emergency occur please contact us via Email with the subject line URGENT.

But if it’s less urgent, our office opening hours over the Christmas period are;

Monday 23rd December – Friday 27th December
Closed

Monday 30th DecemberTuesday 31st December
Open 9:00 – 17:00

Wednesday 1st January 2020
Closed

Thursday 2nd January 2020
Open – Business as usual!

We are now pleased to offer our clients a CDN package to improve the performance of your website. This package is particularly helpful if either your website has a lot of images, or you have visitors to your website from all around the world.

If you’ve not heard of a CDN before, you probably have a lot of questions like what is a CDN? How does a CDN work? Does it cost me an arm and a leg? (spoiler: it won’t)

This blog post will hopefully answer all the questions you have and help you decide whether a CDN package would be a good idea for your website.

What is a CDN?

A CDN stands for ‘Content Delivery Network’, and you would certainly not be alone in thinking that you’ve never heard of it before. But in fact, they’ve been around for quite some time now. Did you know that over half the traffic on the internet at the moment is served by a CDN?

This is because most large businesses such as Facebook, Amazon and Google all have their own CDN, and they’re used to improve the loading times of websites around the world. But just because the big boys of the internet use them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother having one for your own website.

Why You Should Use a CDN

A CDN might sound self-explanatory, and to a certain extent, it does do what it says on the tin. A CDN helps with the delivery of the content (mainly images) on your website through a network of different servers. But what a CDN does is put all your images onto different servers around the world. This means that wherever you are, your images are sourced from the quickest server that you can reach, and your page load speeds and images are loaded much quicker.

How Does a CDN Help Me?

If your website is hosted on our server, it’s currently sitting on UK cloud-based servers. So when someone visits your website, all of the content and images comes from the same place and is transferred to the user’s phone or computer.

This is fine if your clients are in the UK, as our server is never that far away from them, and it doesn’t take that much time for them to load your website. But what if you have someone in Australia that wants to visit your website. Their computer or phone still must access the same UK server, and because it’s so far away (even for technology), it will take a long time for the page to load.

Another instance of when a CDN comes in handy is if you have lots of visitors to your website at once. This might be because you’ve just posted an interesting blog post that people want to read. If there is one server dealing with all these visits to your website, it’s going to slow your website down.

You know the well-known phrase ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ – A CDN works on this kind of principle. A CDN is able to use multiple servers at once to help one person or hundreds of people load a page. What this means is there is never too much work for one server to manage.

To show you just how much a CDN improves your page load speeds; here’s an example of our own site, showing that across the world. We have speeds that score at least 97% based on PageSpeed score and a load time of 1.2 Seconds!

Why You Should Use a CDN

Why Should I Care About Page Load speeds?

One reason you should care about page load speeds is that it affects your customer’s experience. Studies have shown that for every extra second it takes your page to load you lose 7% of your traffic.

It’s not just conversions that you need to consider. For over a year, Google has been taking into account the loading speed of a page to help determine page rankings on their search engines. What this means is the longer it takes for your page to load, the lower down in the search results you will appear.

Where Do I Sign Up?

We’re offering our CDN package to all of our clients that don’t have an E-Commerce website. This package costs £100 for the initial setup and full website optimisation and then £10/month to continue hosting on our CDN.

If you’d like to add this package to your website, or you have any questions about our CDN, please get in touch with us.