Jul. 17, 2014 | by Alex Shilton ‘Subscribe is the new shop.’ – Are subscription business models taking over?

There was once a time when subscriptions and magazines were an established and monogamous pair. But now, the subscription plague is quickly spreading between industries. The modern day consumer wants on-going, easy access to their everyday products and commodities. As such, the one-time purchase may not be as appealing anymore, but instead, a flexible service that can last a lifetime may be.

A subscription service could be anything from the perks of your Amazon Prime, to a monthly visit from your window cleaner. A subscription is a type of billing option, which charges an account on an annual, monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. With this model, companies instantly look to gain a subscribed consumer who offers the business a possible lifetime loyalty. This can therefore improve their revenue on a long-term basis. For consumers, they may find that a subscription saves them money on a product they buy regularly and could avoid that daunting trip to the shops. The most significant factor for the success of a subscription model is outstanding value – if the consumer does not believe they’ll receive this, then there will be no subscription in the first place.

Subscription businesses are nothing new. We have seen them bravely enter the Dragons Den, pitching for investment in a company that constructs a quarterly bill for ‘members’ who sign up for having their olive oil delivered to them. Yes…olive oil. Although that may not have worked out, you’ll be more familiar with companies such as Netflix and Graze. Who’d have thought healthy snacks being put through the letterbox could be the next big thing? Jamie Oliver missed out on that one. A common submodel of subscription is ‘Freemium’ – a term that sounds galactic! Spotify embraces this model, as they provide users free music content but restrict access to their premium features to paying subscribers. Last year, Spotify reached over 24 million users, including 6 million paying the subscription fee. Their philosophy is that once they get you hooked on their service, you’ll be crying out for more.
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Jul. 09, 2014 | by Sharna Waid Personal development at iCrossing – aiming to be a learning organisation

There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about the digital skills gap in marketing.  Econsultancy released a report in May 2014 (skills of the modern marketer) about how marketers need to be more technically adept and data focused, but most importantly it reveals how traditional soft skills like empathy, collaboration and lateral thinking are as important as ever – if not more so.

In light of this, Rachel Collier, Chief Talent Officer at iCrossing discusses why personal development is such a vital ingredient of a digital marketing agency and how iCrossing has encouraged people to continuously learn and develop across both technical and soft skills…

Why is personal development important?

Maya Angelou, author, poet and civil rights activist, and personally, a long-time role model and inspiration for me, answers this question; “When you know better, you do better.”

Personal development is what you consciously do to grow as a person.  Being motivated to develop your skills in a way that embraces change without fear of failure is what Carol Dweck calls a ‘growth mindset.’ Not everyone is wired that way, but everyone wants to be valued – by their peers, communities and contexts. The ability to adapt and develop your skills is a valuable one to maintain throughout your career. 
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Jul. 03, 2014 | by James Mortimer Twitter app promotion

Earlier this week Twitter introduced its latest new advertising products for mobile app promotion and we’re quite excited about them here in the paid social team at iCrossing.

The new product will allow advertisers to target users with a card that they can use to download their app from directly in their timeline. In the past advertisers have been able to include links in tweets that would take users straight to the app store of their choice but this new product should make the process more efficient and improve download rates.

To ensure that advertisers are meeting their cost per install goals Twitter has put analytics tools in place that will allow advertisers to optimise download costs to match their specific requirements and goals. Before this product was introduced this is something that advertisers weren’t able to do directly in Twitter so this should make the process a lot more efficient.

These new app promotion tools combined with Twitter’s existing targeting options open new opportunities for advertisers to reach very specific audiences with their apps. Moving forward we’re really looking forward to trialing this new product to improve our client’s campaigns.

Jul. 01, 2014 | by Sam Vining The changing face of Facebook

Latest research from Forrester shows that Facebook still dominates teens’ social media usage, but this doesn’t mean it can sit back and relax.  The challenge now for Facebook is to remain relevant to younger audiences as smaller competitors continue to innovate at a blistering pace. So far they have achieved this by tactically acquiring other technology firms – nearly 50 to date – once they’ve demonstrated the ability to attract and retain an audience.

Although this has been successful to date, given the eye-watering costs ($1bn for Instagram, $19bn for WhatsApp, $2bn for Oculus VR), it remains to be seen whether this strategy is sustainable.

Whether or not Facebook is currently the social network of choice for most young adults is a moot point (although the data is fairly clear that it is). Facebook is constantly under threat that an upstart will emerge that won’t sell, and whose product is strong enough to lure away Facebook’s core demographics.

So far new competitors seem to be operating in tandem with Facebook rather than competing for the same attention. Snapchat and Twitter have grown meteorically in the last few years , although Facebook has weathered this as the average time adults spend using digital media has continued to increase (up to nearly 50% of time spent with major media in the U.S.), allowing room for more than one social network in most users’ lives.

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Jun. 30, 2014 | by Sharna Waid A day in the life of an Account Manager

What’s it really like to work in the world of digital marketing?

This series of blog posts will show the variation of roles we have at iCrossing and will give an insight into what happens on a daily basis including commuting journeys, social activities, lunch time food spots as well as the best and most challenging aspects of the job. This post introduces Bianca from the client services team based in Brighton.

Background – what did you do before iCrossing?

Bianca MayI spent the first part of my career working in finance, although it wasn’t for me, it did subsidise some hilarious nights out whilst at university. On a more serious note, working in finance taught me some invaluable skills about credit control, risk and negotiation which all helped when it came to my next role in purchasing at Virgin Holidays. I’ve always been passionate about travel, so studied a BA Hons in International Tourism Management and Spanish. During my three years in the travel industry I started to work closely with the marketing team at Virgin which fuelled my passion to work in digital marketing. I’m a bit of a data geek at heart so loved that I could measure the effects of online campaigns – this passion helped me move into an account management role agency side. I approached iCrossing because of what the agency could offer me in terms of long term career progression, exposure to big brands and above all a better work-life balance.
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Jun. 27, 2014 | by chris.woodham 11 deep crawling problems you probably haven’t thought of


In the product development team we develop tools that the rest of the agency uses to do all sorts of cool things for our clients.

One of the biggest projects we’ve been working on for a while is a deep crawler to help analyse client websites. Deep crawling is the process of crawling through as much of the site as possible, as fast as possible, and extracting as much information as possible. On the face of it, this doesn’t sound like the hardest thing in the world. Get start page, analyse, find all links on page, repeat, right?

Well, no, not by a long way as the internet is a barely held together collection of hacks and tricks that, more often than not, only adheres to a few basic standards or logical set of rules. Everything on the internet is an edge case. The biggest wonder is that any of it actually works and, frankly, often it doesn’t.

What follows is the collection of odd, nonsensical and downright weird problems that we have encountered over the years whilst trying to perform the simple task of crawling websites, maybe it’ll make someone think twice about trying to create their own deep crawler, and spare them the headaches.
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Jun. 25, 2014 | by Sean Mazur Will Google Glass be everywhere at Glastonbury 2015?

glasto2True story: I was at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival waiting for the headliner Arcade Fire to start. The crowd was 70,000 strong, and I managed to be about 5 rows back. My eyes were glued to the stage waiting anxiously for the moment the band would come out.

Next to me, somebody else’s eyes were glued to the stage as well – well 4 eyes I guess… he was wearing Google Glass for the entire two hour show! A Glasser if you will…Either he was very sensitive to the Coachella sun (even at 11pm at night!) or more likely he was recording the show via his wearable device. This struck me as slightly bizarre – that it was somehow getting in the way of this persons’ true enjoyment of the spectacle itself in real time, but maybe this is how live gigs will be viewed through wearable devices moving forward.
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Jun. 20, 2014 | by Tobit Michael The death of paid search keywords

The decline of keyword centric paid search is gradually accelerating, to the point that the once preposterous notion of running a successful campaign without keywords is firmly established, and will conceivably be the norm within 5 years.

Retailers know that product listing ads already form a core element to their adwords activity, in many cases taking money from non-brand search campaigns due to their comparative efficiency.  These ads have no positively targeted keywords, just a data feed listing a client’s inventory.  Given the success of these Google will expand into other verticals such as travel and finance, supplementing or even replacing Google compare and the hotel finder results currently shown in the main SERP.


Remarketing lists for search have unlocked audience targeting, arguably making who is searching more important than the terms they are using.  If you know that someone is of a certain age, has been to your site and is in the market for a particular pair of shoes of a certain size, is there any need to have hundreds of terms covering these eventualities? Or would a simplified list suffice?  It is conceivable that in time when combined with 1st party audience lists, interest categories or predefined vertical groups will supersede keywords when targeting returning visitors. As audience data expands this could well extend to new visitors too.
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Jun. 17, 2014 | by Sam Zindel Predictive animalytics – a World Cup phenomenon?

On the day Google has doodled the psychic octopus that gave a faultless performance during the World Cup in South Africa four years ago, I thought I’d take a look at what other World Cup predictions we can make and how marketers can exploit opportunities during the World Cup in Brazil.


Having unsuccessfully attempted to contact some of the most talented psychic mammals, amphibians and invertebrates working during the 2014 World Cup – including ‘Big Head’ the turtle (Brazil), ‘Flopsy’ the kangaroo (Australia) and Sikko the guinea pig (Netherlands), I decided to stick to home ground and analyse some search data to spot trends and patterns.

Here are five things I learnt:

1. It’s all about the players

Players’ names are the most popular searches. Anyone who thought that football was a team sport can think again. People are nearly four times as likely to search for an individual player than for their national team.
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Jun. 17, 2014 | by jo-ann.fortune Five ways to make great connections through content

What’s the best way of using content to generate links, attention and conversation? That’s always been the number one FAQ I get asked here at iCrossing. And do you know how my answer always starts? With the audience, of course.

For it’s only by seeing how people respond to what’s already out there – on your own and competitor sites, and in online conversations – that you can find focus and justification for your investment.

While topics and format can vary, a few key principles frame successful content across all sectors – measured by traffic, links or engagement. Here are five that work for me, on my own pet project site

1.      Be useful

The instant gratification of big-splash campaigns can be hard for marketers to resist. But highly topical content can quickly date, leaving your website attracting only tumbleweed.

Often it’s the less showy but more useful content that works hardest, driving the most traffic and links to Vintage Brighton: The shop directory, markets and events listings and posts offering tips, advice and guides.

People find the site through keywords such as ‘Brighton market’, ‘vintage shops in Brighton’ and ‘vintage fairs Brighton’ as well as by searching for specific businesses and events. And once they’ve found what they’re looking for, will often share the resource with the rest of their network.
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