With the digital world of marketing seeing an even greater need in light of the pandemic, many businesses are turning to marketing agencies to help meet their requirements, rather than doing it in-house. One such company that has seen the impact of Covid on the digital marketing industry is KMedia, an agency that specialises in online marketing services to help businesses grow.
Situated in Darlington, but with clients spanning the UK, KMedia is owned by Kerry Metcalfe, a former marketing executive who left a top marketing position at a national motor retailer to set up her own business. Unbeknownst to her at the time, a day later the first UK Covid-19 lockdown would begin in March 2020. Did this hinder her success? “In fact,” says Kerry, “what actually happened was that I saw a huge rise in businesses and clients requiring my services. I think people realised that they were on the precipice of something where they would need to be online, and they were either scared of this new chapter, or had no knowledge of how to tackle it. They hadn’t needed to be online before, or not to the same extent, so they now had a new, quite urgent requirement for digital marketing support.”
According to The Global State of Digital 2021, an annual global overview report on ecommerce, internet, social media, and mobile devices from Hootsuite and We Are Social, out of the world’s population of 7.83 billion, 4.66 billion are internet users, and 4.20 billion are active social media users. This is an increase of 316 million and 490 million respectively since 2020. The world’s population itself has only grown by 81 million in that time, so we can see immediately that most of these new users are people that previously either did not have access or chose not to be online. Although there will of course be an organic rise in users as technology, ecommerce and society develops, it would not be ridiculous to assume that many these new users will be as a result of the pandemic. ‘2020 was a tipping point for baby boomers online’, states the report. With many being in the vulnerable category, and therefore needing to shield, people in this age bracket will have connected with the outside world virtually instead via WFH, online shopping, family Zooms, and social media to connect with friends. So, it stands to reason, then, that as they needed to move online, so too did their businesses and their consumer needs. And so, the need for greater digital marketing grew.
But it was not just this demographic that affected the digital marketing industry. With lockdowns and shielding throughout the year, footfall has been limited, and, in some cases, non-existent. Convenience, reputation, and brand-recognition have been the main influences governing people’s online shopping choices. Hence why small businesses with a smaller online presence suddenly required the exposure and accessibility that digital marketing agencies like KMedia provide; without it, they would become just another statistic of a company negatively affected by the pandemic.
Since starting out nigh on a decade ago as an SEO apprentice for a marketing agency in Middlesbrough, Kerry has taken on a brace of skillsets. Working in the early days of her career with a butcher, a tap manufacturer, and a dog food producer (to name but a few), she quickly learned that you need to have the ability to understand a brand from the inside out to market it effectively. As a result, she now does a company audit when she first takes on a client; this gives her the knowledge she needs to produce a marketing strategy for the brand and its target audience.
This aptitude for getting to grips with a brand quickly and delivering strong, meaningful content for each different business has served her well. She currently has, amongst others, a candle company, a training provider, a mental health coach, and various manufacturers on her books. “This is what I love most about my job – the sheer variety of clientele I manage. Every day is different: I could be working for a manufacturer in the morning and a beautician in the afternoon. The breadth of work is what keeps everything fresh and exciting to me.”
So, what challenges has Covid posed for the agency? “Working from home has been a bit of a change; because of the removal of face-to-face meetings, I’ve had to adapt to Zoom conversations and phone calls a lot more. It’s not so much a challenge for my business, but I do miss being able to talk to clients in their workplace.”
A lack of in-person conversation with customers and clients is something that most businesses will have had to adjust to in the last year. Little wonder, then, that the digital marketing industry has been in such demand. Companies are looking to connect and engage with their audiences in the virtual world now more than ever. In parallel, the number of social media users globally has increased by 13.2% (490 million) in the last year, with the most active social media users in Northern and Western Europe, at 79% each versus the total world population.  40.4% of global internet users are on social media for work purposes, including networking, and/or following work colleagues, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople. And with internet users aged between 16 and 64 having, on average, 8.4 social media accounts each globally (6.9 in the UK, 7.1 in the USA), the demand for companies to be present on more than one channel of communication is growing exponentially.
Imagine you have never used social media for your business before. Not only is that a large number of demographics you aren’t reaching, it’s also pretty daunting to learn the ropes of marketing overnight. It is not as though you can simply whack a couple of pictures on with a hashtag and hope for the best. B2B, B2C, SEO: there is a lot you need to know about the science behind digital marketing. Now imagine you need to be on six or seven different platforms. Overwhelming. This is where KMedia can step in and take the burden off your shoulders. Be it managing the entirety of your social media portfolio, SEO for your website, email marketing, digital advertisements, or just a one-off consultation, KMedia has the knowhow to solve your digital marketing issues and help your business grow.
However, learning effective digital marketing skills is not just an issue for 2020, or for businesses who have not made the leap to online marketing yet; lots of companies may have established digital marketing strategies in place but not know where to go next to convert visitors to sales. In the last month, 81.5% of internet users aged 16-64 searched online for a product or service; 90.4% visited an online retail site or store; only 76.8% purchased a product online, however. Persuading visitors to become customers is key then. ‘Top-line social engagement is leading to more valuable customer relationships,’ states the Digital 2021 Global Overview Report. KMedia helps with this too. Following an audit of the company and its current marketing, they create clear goal-oriented strategies for achieving purposeful, effective content and engagement, then gives detailed advice on how to achieve each step, working alongside the company to support them.
Moving forward through the pandemic and beyond, companies will still need to maintain strong digital marketing strategies to retain customers, whether they are able to use their physical locations at some point in the near future or not. ‘Using social [media] to recover revenue lost in the wake of the pandemic will still be a high priority in 2021. But to differentiate and win long-term loyalty, [businesses will need to] use social to rejuvenate the online customer experience with discovery, connection and fun.’
And what of KMedia’s own plans as an agency? “Once Covid has settled down it would be good to expand my team further and grow into a larger office space,” says Kerry. “But in the short-term, I’ll be releasing a series of mini-courses for clients.” These courses will contain online training for businesses to do themselves, providing the tools and general knowledge (for example, SEO basics) they need to maintain their own digital marketing. “A lot of people working from home perhaps have some time to upskill and research to improve their own subject knowledge; these courses will give them a way into the industry that they can take at their own pace.”
Keep an eye out on KMedia’s website, kmediauk.com, and social media accounts (Instagram: @kmediauk; Facebook: @KMediaUK1; LinkedIn: KMediaUK) for the launch, expected Summer 2021. For all other queries about how KMedia can rejuvenate your digital marketing, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Digital 2021 Global Overview Report (January 2021) v01, (Hootsuite and We Are Social: https://www.hootsuite.com/pages/digital-trends-2021) p.8. Digital 2021 Global Overview Report (January 2021) v01, p.9. Digital 2021 Global Overview Report (January 2021) v01, p.103.  Digital 2021 Global Overview Report (January 2021) v01 p.79 Digital 2021 Global Overview Report (January 2021) v01, p.81  Digital 2021 Global Overview Report (January 2021) v01 p.100  Digital 2021 Global Overview Report (January 2021) v01 p.95  Digital 2021 Global Overview Report (January 2021) v01 p.225  Digital 2021 Global Overview Report (January 2021) v01 p.103  Digital 2021 Global Overview Report (January 2021) v01 p.103