The power of graphic design during COVID-19

During the globally dark times of COVID-19, the beauty and colour of graphic design – along with its ability to share powerful messages simply and effectively – has provided an unexpected source of comfort and relief.

As a studio with a passion for good design, we know firsthand the transformative power of creativity, and feel very blessed to still be working when so many businesses in our industry and beyond are less fortunate. As an enormously powerful tool of communication, graphic design has rightly been hailed by UNSW’s Dr Rebecca Green as an unexpected yet effective weapon in the ongoing war on COVID-19, with striking infographics able to convey complex messages to the masses in a simple and compelling way.

Think of the ways you’ve processed important information during the pandemic. How clearly can you picture what flattening the curve looks like, or the up-to-date global infection rates? What about the state-by-state social distancing rules? As perhaps the most common infographic being shared, the ‘flatten the curve’ graph has successfully motivated people to stay indoors and abide by the government’s rules – true testimony to the effectiveness of design-as-messenger. Amidst the noise of the two-million-and-counting references to #coronavirus in the media, when the government has needed to get detailed, technical and often data-driven information to a large body of people as clearly as possible, it’s looked to simple, well-designed infographics to do the job.

Blog post from Sketch Corp. The power of graphic design during COVID-19

As with any example of graphic design, the effectiveness of an infographic is very much driven by its quality: “…We often judge the authority behind the infographic – and how trustworthy the data is – based on what the infographic looks like’, notes Dr Green. And it’s not just data-centric messages that can be communicated in this way – everything from the best way to wash your hands to how to stay motivated and mentally well during a pandemic can all be powerfully conveyed by graphic design. With that in mind, here’s Sketch Corp.’s very own COVID-19 infographic – designed to bring you a welcome splash of colour and beauty. We hope it reminds you of small ways you can bring happiness and calm to your day as we get through this time of uncertainty – knowing we’re all in this together, and better times are to come.


Blog post from Sketch Corp. The power of graphic design during COVID-19

Why your digital presence matters during COVID-19

As we rise to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, these are surreal, challenging and downright scary times for all of us across the globe. With the majority of the world now in isolation for the foreseeable future, the online presence of your business has never been more important, or under greater scrutiny. Whilst we rightly continue to focus on the health of ourselves, those around us and the wider community, it’s important to also look at boosting the health of your company by generating new business digitally – here’s how we recommend you do it.

First up, start with your website. In a crisis, often one of the first things to go is your marketing budget. But with the Australian government currently offering support to help small businesses stay afloat during COVID-19, now’s the perfect time to give your online presence an overhaul. If you’ve previously relied on ‘walk-ins’ and kept pushing your website to the end of your to-do list, chances are you have a regret or two now. With so many people cooped up at home, online browsing (and spending – online sales are said to be up by at least 25%) is seeing a marked increase – and interestingly, desktop viewing is having a rare triumph over mobile.

As well as being a platform for sales, your website is an opportunity for potential customers to verify your credibility, with research pointing to increased consumer confidence in online purchasing decisions compared to those made in-person, as customers have had the opportunity to do comparative research around the web.  It’s important to also think of the long-game – to ensure you’re in the strongest possible position when ‘normal’ life resumes, you’re going to want to up your social media and Google advertising – both of which will be accelerated if you to have a kick-ass website ready to go.

Blog post from Sketch Corp. Why your digital presence matters during COVID-19

Speaking of social media – it’s a vital marketing tool for businesses during COVID-19. If you haven’t already, you should have a post on your socials that covers where your business is at with regards to COVID. Instead of sending out a generic email, your social media should convey a genuine, thoughtful message that demonstrates your brand values and speaks to your customers on a personal level. If you’re able to share information or provide services that could be useful during this time, even better – be aware of your customers’ pain-points and if you can help, do.

Next up is advertising – and specifically, Google ads. A key strength of a Google ads campaign is its flexibility – meaning you can make changes to your messaging, target audience and budget based on what’s happening in the world. Depending on the situation, we may also recommend temporarily switching from an automated bidding system to manual, since Google’s system may struggle to react quickly enough to regular changes in your market.

If your business is slowing due to COVID-19 and you need to reduce your advertising spend, we’d strongly suggest you don’t fully suspend your Google ads. In this time of lockdown there’s an increased audience searching for businesses just like yours – meaning its crucial you retain visibility. Instead of suspending activities, we recommend you instead adapt your message and target the key areas that will deliver the very best bang for your buck. Keeping at least some activity going will also retain current data and trends in your account – information that Google’s system can then use to your advantage.

Conversely, and depending on your own unique situation, this might in fact be a good time for you to increase your marketing spend. If you feel confident your business can weather the storm, you may benefit from others in your industry who choose to pause their advertising. This could lead to a lower cost for more click-traffic – gaining you a significant competitive advantage. As ever, we’d recommend you closely monitor your key metrics before considering the best course of action.

Finally, it’s important to recognise these are unchartered waters, and you may need to be flexible in your approach to marketing. Whilst you may have had a stellar campaign all set for launch on 20 April, you may well need to reassess your plans – especially if that launch was prepared before the impact of COVID-19 and is not sensitive to the current environment. Whatever you choose to do and however you choose to proceed, Sketch Corp. is operating as usual (safely, from our homes), and we’re here to discuss the very best way forward for your business.

Are you ready? Google announces mobile-first website ranking

As of September, search giant Google will start ranking all websites by their mobile version, rather than desktop – meaning both new and existing websites will have to ensure they’re friendly and responsive for mobile.

Kicking off a testing period three years ago, Google has already reached the stage of using mobile-first indexing for more than 70% of the pages it displays in search results, and the plan to apply this across the ranking of all websites is just a few short months away.

Whilst Google is confident most websites are ready for the mobile ranking system, it’ll continue to crawl desktop sites with its traditional Googlebot – a function that may lead to site owners seeing increased Google crawling over the next few months. This will be carried out by two different crawlers – one representing mobile, one desktop.

What do friendly and responsive actually mean?

A lot of people assume ‘mobile-friendly’ and ‘mobile-responsive’ are the same – they’re not. This article has a good summary of what exactly’s meant by responsiveness:

 “Responsive design is an approach to web page creation that makes use of flexible layouts, flexible images, and cascading style sheet media queries. The goal of responsive design is to build web pages that detect the visitor’s screen size and orientation and change the layout accordingly.”

The same article describes mobile-friendly, however, as:

“A website that’s easy to use on a mobile device, especially the small screens of smartphones.”

It’s important to be ready for Google’s shift to the prioritisation of ranking mobile-first websites. If your site isn’t yet mobile-responsive and friendly, Google might’ve already been in touch with a notice that looks a little something like this:  

image of indexing issues detected on site text from google mobile ranking first

If you receive one of these and are unsure of what to do next, contact us today. If you’re not well-prepared for Google’s ranking of mobile-first websites when it kicks in, it may affect your own ranking – a problem we can easily help you with.


Google Reviews: what, why and how to get ‘em.

Whether or not we’re aware of it, most of us are regularly influenced by Google Reviews. Not just the domain of local cafes and restaurants, those five little stars that appear under a Google My Business listing can have *major* sway when it comes to credibility, SEO and ranking across any business industry, and can be the difference between a customer choosing you over a competitor. With many businesses only paying Google Reviews panicked attention when they get their first, one-star (eek!) rating, we’re urging you to be pro-active when it comes to nabbing those stars.

Google reviews give you street cred

From surgeons and lawyers to accountants and recruitments firms, a whole host of people, businesses and organisations are at the mercy of Google Reviews. With consumers now relying on a quick Google search to see what your customers have said about you, check your credibility and ultimately decide where to take their business, every company needs to be aware of, and working on, their Google Reviews.

Because the process is transparent and fairly trustworthy (Google can smell a fake review a mile off), Google Reviews are viewed as an accurate and honest representation of your company – a fact that massively influences buyer behaviour and can genuinely make or break a business.

Google reviews for local SEO and ranking

As well as boosting (or seriously hindering) your perceived credibility, Google Reviews really matter when it comes to local SEO and ranking. It may come as no surprise to learn that Google loves Google, duh, so the search engine naturally rewards your business for getting on-board with the tools it provides. In fact, in terms of local SEO, the quantity and quality of reviews you have on Google is one of the most important ranking factors.

As well as getting you ranked in the first place, your stars will also be one of the first things customers will see when searching Google for a local provider. They’re so influential, in fact, that they appear right under your business name. Here’s an example:

Obviously if this shows a review of only one or two stars, it’s not hugely inviting for potential customers and may not encourage much click-through.

Now in classic Google style, there’s a secret science to the quality, quantity and frequency of Google Reviews you need for it to have a hugely positive impact on your SEO.  However, despite the secrecy, we can pass on a few handy tips. You need a minimum of two reviews for your star rating to show up (although we recommend a minimum of 10 – set your business the benchmark of gaining a certain amount per month), and Google Reviews aren’t as effective if you get them all at once – clever old Google knows that gaining 20 reviews in one day probably isn’t legit.

Google review screenshot on blog guide to google reviews by Sketch Corp.

Handy feedback, bad reviews and when Google Reviews go rogue…

Google Reviews aren’t just there to help customers – they’re also a handy way for you to get valuable feedback on what your customers actually think. Unfortunately, that works both ways – if you’ve listed your business with Google, you’ve opened up the ability for people to leave negative reviews. If you don’t have a strategy for encouraging reviews from all your clients, you could find your one-and-only ‘client gone wrong’ could leave the kind of less-than-glowing review that sees you losing customers.

When they receive a negative comment, most businesses first question is ‘How do I get it removed?” Unfortunately, you can’t – another good reason for having a strategy in place that encourages reviews from all your clients. If you’re worried about competitors jumping on and leaving fake or unwarranted Google Reviews, don’t be – Google doesn’t allow it and, if you feel one’s slipped through the net, you can submit a removal request to Google. The issue of authenticity and accountability around Google Reviews is one that’s developing very rapidly, and there’s increasing online noise demanding Google provide more transparency when it comes to the people behind the reviews. If you’re tempted to write a fake Google review, don’t – it could land you in very hot water, with an Adelaide lawyer recently receiving a $750,000 defamation payout after a woman left him a false, and highly negative, review. 

How to implement a strategy

Happily, Google Reviews don’t cost a cent – in fact, the only cost to you is a little time in building your strategy. With that in mind, here are some handy tips for making Google Reviews work for you.

Remove the barriers

Everyone’s busy, and simply asking your client to go and leave a review probably isn’t going to result in it actually happening. Instead, literally send them a link and tell them exactly what to click – emphasising how easy and simple the whole process is.

Integrate it into your process

Make ‘Asking the client to leave a Google Review’ a formal part of your business processes – that way it becomes a must-do action whenever you complete a project or client interaction.

Depending on the nature of your business, it may also be appropriate to include calls to action on your website, in your digital signature and in your email marketing. Whatever the relevant touchpoints with your clients are, make sure you’re utilising them.

Be grateful

Google Reviews are valuable for your business, and it’s important you show your appreciation to clients that take the time to leave them. Respond to them, thank them –  maybe even send them a gift. They just gave you the gift of increased credibility, better visibly and more customers – and some may say that’s the best business gift of all.

Help your business become more visible ‘on-SERP’

It’s tipped as one of the marketing hacks to watch in 2020 with digital marketers and SEO specialists vying to get their businesses and clients featured ‘on-SERP’. Now don’t be alarmed if you’re unsure what this means or why it’s important because we’ve got the lowdown on what you need to know.

Wait a minute – what on Earth is on-SERP?!

Yes, the jargon can be confusing when marketing isn’t your bread and butter!

We can now find the answer to any query by typing a few keywords into a search engine. The battle to have a top spot on the first page for your search is a competitive one, especially now with organic search results being pushed further down the paid, preceded by paid Ads and what’s known as on-SERP.

On-SERP is what Google chooses to display to try to answer your query with tailored, intuitive and succinct information. On-SERP, especially the featured snippet that appears at the top of the page (also known as ‘position zero’), is incredibly valuable space. Think of it like a blazing billboard appearing in the middle of the road while you’re driving! It’s going to get noticed.

And if a user gets all the information they need from a featured snippet, then they don’t need to click on any of the other results.

How you can use on-SERP to help your business get noticed

Look we’re not going to pretend high performing on-SERP is easy, after all trying to work out Google’s ever-changing search algorithms is a specialist field. But there are some ways you can best position your business for on-SERP results.

  1. Make sure your website is optimised for Google Sitelinks

Sitelinks are subheadings that appear under a search result showing the key pages of your website. Here’s an example showing the Google Sitelinks when you search for us here at Sketch Corp

Your website needs a very clear navigational structure to boost the chances of your sitelinks being displayed in a Google search. Strong internal links to core pages, such as ‘Services’, ‘About’ and ‘Contact’, will optimise your website for Google sitelinks.

Sketch Corp. google results from SERP and google site links optimisation

  1. Make ‘Google My Business’ your business!

Google My Business is what appears when people Google you, displaying details like your map location, reviews, services, contact numbers and business hours. Keeping this information current, relevant and refreshed is a great way to attract traffic for local branded searches. And the best part is that Google My Business is free! At Sketch Corp, we wrote this blog about why this easy-to-use tool is a must.

  1. Consider running a Branded Pay-Per-Click Ad campaign

If someone searches the internet for your brand name, then that should be a fantastic – not to mention super easy – opportunity to convert that search into a click to your website. They’ve already heard of you and now they’re trying to find out more so don’t lose that query to another business that also appears on the search results page. Running ads that showcase your brand name can be achieved through a basic Google Ads brand campaign. If you’re not experienced using those tools then it’s best to speak to a Google Ads specialist (we’d be happy to help!).

  1. Video

Video marketing is a very powerful tool to boost your brand. Cisco forecasts internet video will grow to more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. Google knows this and they’ll show video snippets among the list of organic search results. Featured Video will also appear at the top of the SERP. If you haven’t already, then it’s time to consider video for your website and make sure you link it to video sharing services like YouTube and Vimeo.

  1. Connect your Social Media Channels

Google’s knowledge panels appear on a search results page to show a quick snapshot of information about your business in a box. You can link your social media channels to your website and verify them with Google so that they’re automatically included in your knowledge box.

  1. Use Twitter to help boost your on-SERP presence

On the first Search Engine Results Page, Google shows the most relevant branded tweets.  Actively tweeting relevant and engaging content and interacting with Twitter users will also help boost your presence on-SERP.

  1. A picture is worth a thousand words (or clicks!)

Use images to boost your brand’s presence on Search Engine Results Pages especially in ‘position zero’ or the Featured Snippet. More than 12% of SERPs will display images so it’s an important hack. You should give images a descriptive title and also try to reduce the file size without sacrificing quality.

Want to boost your brand’s presence on-SERP in 2020?
If you’re keen to learn more about on-SERP and how to make your brand more visible in online searches, get in touch with us at Sketch Corp.

LinkedIn Advertising in 2020: is it for you?

It’s part of a powerhouse social network, its audience has twice the buying power of other social media channels and it’s gaining momentum every single day. Impressive, we know – and these are just three of the reasons we’re predicting LinkedIn advertising in 2020 could mean majorly big business for your company.

A hugely popular platform still in its growth phase, there’s just something about LinkedIn. As an agency that specialises in working with B2B business, we received a huge number of LinkedIn-related enquiries from our clients last year – all of whom wanted to know how they can best utilise LinkedIn’s remarkably effective lead generation with their own LinkedIn advertising in 2020. On the off-chance you’re not familiar with the stats surrounding this ongoing ­­success story, they’re pretty impressive:

So what do we think is so exciting about LinkedIn advertising in 2020? Well, it’s where you’ll find your people – it’s used by more businesses and business owners than any comparable platform. This is because the way it’s used is more aligned with the needs and mentality of its users – whilst networking is at its core, it’s a different, less fluffy type of social interaction than that offered by other well-established platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

How to make the most of LinkedIn advertising in 2020 

If you decide to add LinkedIn to your marketing mix this year, you’ll want to think carefully about your content and advertising strategies. With that in mind, here are some quick tips for producing great content that’ll knock the socks off your competitors…

  • As with every time you hit ‘post’ on your socials, make sure your content is timely, relevant and compelling. Quality always trumps quantity – everything you publish should be a must-read for your audience.
  • If your business has a wider marketing strategy in place, make sure all your LinkedIn content aligns with this. Consistency is key – and this applies to the frequency, as well as the content, of your posts.
  • Ever heard the saying ‘No one likes a show-off’? Well, that doesn’t apply here – this is your chance to really show your expertise to the wider business world. Don’t be afraid of using your post’s 1300 character limit to its full potential – people have reported 10 x more visibility on their long-form articles than their short-and-snappy ones.
  • Get tag-happy – tag any people or audiences you reference, and make sure you use the hashtag function to its full potential. (Here’s a great guide to using LinkedIn’s unique hashtag system.)

In terms of advertising, LinkedIn spent 2019 investing serious time and money on ensuring its advertising platform, Campaign Manager, lets users achieve the kind of results that align with their company marketing objectives. What does that mean for you and your business? Well, your LinkedIn advertising in 2020 could take advantage of some of these super-straightforward, highly effective features.

  • LinkedIn’s switch to objective-based advertising means you can run your campaigns around clearly-defined goals including brand awareness, lead generation and engagement.
  • When it comes to brand awareness, you can now boost the share-of-voice for your product or services through top-of-funnel campaigns that charge by impressions, e.g. cost per thousand (also known as CPM).
  • A simple conversion tracking tool means you can create campaigns that are optimised for actions on your website, including purchases, downloads and event registrations.
  • If you’re a LinkedIn Talent Solutions customer trying to drive applications on LinkedIn or your own site, you can now create ads using Campaign Manager.

If you’re not already across Linkedin advertising, another key advantage is the ability for advertisers to specify the industry, company size and job title of people they want to see their ads. This feature is hugely beneficial for a BD team with a detailed potential customer hitlist – basically, you can put your ad right in front of the people you most want to see it.

For smaller B2B companies with limited budgets, you’ll have to think carefully about whether or not to invest in LinkedIn advertising in 2020. With LinkedIn clicks working out to be more costly than those on other platforms, you’ll have to weigh the value of your conversion against what you spend on your ad. Generally speaking, LinkedIn advertising isn’t a cost-effective option for those with a limited budget  –  $100 per month, for example, sadly won’t cut it.

If, however, you are a B2B company considering utilising LinkedIn advertising in 2020 (and we highly recommend you do), it’s important you get the right person or organisation to take charge of the implementation. When people find themselves declaring “It doesn’t work!”, it’s usually because the strategy hasn’t been rolled out properly – if there even was one to begin with. To avoid issues like ads being shown at the wrong time or with sub-par content, unrealistic and uninformed expectations or a team member gone rogue (think those mid roll-out, personal, non-aligned posts…), make sure you speak to an expert before you get started. And that’s where we come in…