Key takeaways from our IoD event

| 26 Sep, 2014

Last week, in partnership with the IoD and Avondale, we held 'Accelerating Growth in the Digital Age', an inaugural one day thought leadership event for UK CXOs at the IoD in London.

Content on the day was extremely well received, and we’re now pleased to provide a concise summary of the key takeaways.


Leadership in the Digital Age

By Kevin Uphill - Chairman, Avondale

The digital age presents us with truly global opportunities for internationalisation and business growth as it's now possible to transmit ideas and share information instantaneously.

Currently there are 2.8 billion people online. This makes up 40% of the world’s population of 7 billion. Considering that 60 years ago the world’s population was only 2 billion, this represents a tremendous rate of change in both our expansion as a civilization, but also the rate of change with which better technology is becoming available to us.

Are we busy? Yes. Are we busy doing the right things though? In times of such rapid growth and development, there is a need for leadership within the business world, not just management. Business growth comes from the top in any business and connecting on a personal level with existing and potential customers.

Leaders need to be:

  • Less destination orientated and more journey orientated
  • Focus on 12-18 month goals rather than destinations
  • Embrace new ideas. Don't miss your chance.

A Call to Action: Long Live the Internet 

By Matt Owen - Managing Director, Jellyfish UK Agency

With a 20% year-on-year growth in UK online retail, the Internet is clearly able to do what your average shop can't - it caters to the 'always economy'. And sales completed via mobile devices exceed 45% of total online sales.

Broadband is now regarded as 'the fourth utility' after gas, water and electricity. Apparently a home without at least a standard broadband connection could be worth up to 20% less than a comparable property.

Business growth and money aside, the Internet is also great for family interactions, marriages, building relationships:

  • 1 in 6 marriages start online
  • 36.6m US jobs are found via social media
  • 50% of Americans say the internet has improved family connections

The Internet is a utility, ubiquitous, essential

Still a working project and always developing, the Internet has no centralised governance in either technological implementation or policies for access and usage; each constituent network sets its own policies... growth is often attributed to the lack of central administration. So do we need rules (for industries, countries, even regions) and the right to be forgotten?


How to create and implement an export strategy

By Martijn Bertisen - Industry Director, Retail - Google UK/IE

Martijn opened his session with a selection of key stats:

  • The Internet is borderless, with global ecommerce sales currently at $1.5tn in 2014
  • In the ecommerce world, Asia will be the engine of growth by 2016
  • 400m people will come online in the next year, a vast majority from China alone

Digital removes the borders; as a retailer you don't just have UK borders, you have a global market at the ready.

So are countries doing enough ecommerce? The UK is currently the best country globally at ecommerce exports, meaning we can win in many international markets.

How do we successfully address the challenges of internationalisation?

  • Localise where it matters to customers; prioritise markets and identify the easy ones
  • Address language; this is very important though can incur a large cost
  • Google Translate can currently translate 82 languages
  • Use real time data effectively in your organisation 

However, export is never a replacement for having a great proposition in your home market - this is still an absolute fundamental. When looking at customer ratings for companies and their success internationally, there is a high correlation between the two.


The New World of Display

By James Bourner - Head of Display, Jellyfish

James covered advances in display technology and the resultant efficiencies to media buying.

These occur in three key ways. The first two are concerned with ad delivery progressions and advancements in ad technology. The third is the result of technology reducing workflow and making the entire value chain more efficient:

  1. The speed and power of ad tech allows for each ad impression to be analysed individually and rejected if it doesn’t fit criteria. This allows for massive reduction in wastage of advertising spend
  2. New methods of tackling fraud measuring viewability allows for many ad placements to be seen by users. This was a great area of unknown for many years in display advertising
  3. New platforms that operate over nearly all publishers means that media plans can be fulfilled with less partners, meaning less commission and fees being taken out of advertisers’ budgets

Experian Experiments

By Julie Doleman - Industry Director, Retail - Google UK/IE

Julie's session explained Experian Experiments - how to truly understand customers, putting their needs at the forefront of every decision that we make.

"Experian Experiments is all about doing more and talking less. We took our people away from their day jobs and all the barriers that can block and hinder innovation. Then we brought in experts in fields that we know nothing about; online gaming, payment processing, culture. We learned all about pitching ideas and rapid iteration.

We challenged ourselves and found new tools, creating prototypes of some brilliant new ways of working. We finally had two working product prototypes within just seven days. Where are they now? The first idea has evolved into an entire personalised planning tool. That planning tool is going to be live within the next few months and will be pushed to all our members. And the second idea is now a minimum viable product that our customers have given us great feedback on.

We learnt that innovation isn't something to be feared. Innovation is about taking something already good and making it better. And committing to doing things differently to make an improvement."

See more from Julie Doleman here.

Why The Future of Online Marketing Strategy is Mobile

By Marc Warburton - Global Industry Manager - Google

Mobile is undoubtedly driving growth in the digital age.

Mobile devices are starting to penetrate the developing world at an impressive rate and are having an immense impact on individuals’ livelihoods. Accessibility of devices within these areas will help to drive business growth into previously uncharted territories. It is also becoming increasingly rare that you go somewhere which does not have internet access.

By 2020, there will be 50 billion internet enabled devices and the traditional lines between the ‘first’ and ‘second’ screen will become blurred as we find ourselves in an environment where there are just too many ‘screens’.

Tips to multi-screen success

  • Improve the consumer experience. For example, 30% of mobile shoppers abandon a transaction because their experience has not been optimised for mobile. If we were to imagine that this was a physical shop front and 30% of those walking through the door did not purchase an item, there would be changes seen in store the very next day.
  • Get your marketing right. 53% of people use their personal devices for work and the line between work and pleasure is becoming increasingly blurred. Marketing messages need to be aware that a potential customer may be using their device for a variety of different reasons...
  • Measure everything. This will help to inform the above tips, such as tracking how someone is accessing various pages on your site can be a great way of tailoring ads to their specific needs.

Remember, the path to purchase is a complex journey - consumers move across devices seamlessly.

10 best practices for mobile sites

Keep it quick. Help mobile users; design your site to load fast and make copy easy to scan
Simple navigation. Clear navigation, hierarchy and vertical scrolling aid access to information
Be thumb friendly. Design your site so even large hands can easily interact with it
Design for visibility. Ensure your content can be read at arm’s length
Make it accessible. Ideally, your mobile site should work across all mobile devices and all handset orientations
Make it easy to convert. Focus on information that will aid conversion
Make it local. Include functionality that helps people find and get to you
Make it seamless. Bring as much of the functionality of your desktop site to mobile
Use mobile site redirects. Give users a choice to go back to the desktop site, but make it easy to return to the mobile site
Learn, listen & iterate. Good mobile sites are user-centric, meaning they’re built with input from your audience

Learn more about mobile optimisation here.

Digital Transformation through Mobile Technology

By Mike Short - CBE, Telefonica/O2

Everyone now has the power to innovate in a digital world thanks to the marriage between the two great innovation platforms of the 21st century: internet and mobile.

The average UK adult is now spending more time using media than they are sleeping. 8h 41m communicating versus 8h 21m sleeping. In fact UK adults squeeze over 11 hours’ worth of communications and media activity into less than nine hours. The total volume of media and communications activities undertaken by an individual each day equate to 11 hours 7 minutes. But as some media activities are conducted simultaneously, this is squeezed into 8 hours 41 minutes per day.

Digital business

Attract. Getting online and being seen through all channels. Both internal and external audiences
Retain. Serving customers better. Getting closer to them: being more responsive and interactive
Grow. Outsourcing the business model and IT to be more efficient, agile and productive

Businesses are moving to 'mobile first'

77% of small businesses are using mobile tech (up from 66% in 2013).

Mobile websites are leading the change, with 60% having a mobile optimised - almost double than that in 2013.

However the mobile dial is moving slower in some areas. Location based promotions such as Foursquare or Priority are being used by just 19% SMEs.

Text message marketing is used by only 13%, which is a 2% decline on last year. And yet these are quick and cheap to implement and allow you to market in more targeted ways; a brilliant customer retention tool.

Do We Need Growth? Where Might it Come From?

By James Sproule - Chief Economist, IoD

Although economists struggle to forecast volatility, trend forecasting is often more feasible. One thing is certain - technology is helping to drive economic growth.

Factors that suggest that globalisation will continue:

  • More countries are attaining middle-income status and increased productivity
  • The internet makes it easier to trade across borders and also more people are learning English, the global language
  • Social and commercial networks are increasingly global rather than local or national
  • Trade in natural resources is rising given the materials-intensive nature of most emerging economies

Factors suggesting that globalisation has peaked:

  • Services drive GDP, but they are harder to trade
  • China’s economy will become less resource-intensive. More generally, the rise of China will not continue at its previous pace
  • There has been a lot of wage equalization across borders, and that limits future gains from additional cross-border trade
  • Robots and smart software lower the returns of investing in and trading with lower-wage nations
  • The next 20 years may not be as peaceful as the past 20 years


  • Economic growth matters – a lot! Economic growth allows old industries and old technologies to be phased out and shut down.
  • Growth is going to be driven by consumers and hindered by politicians. A lot of people are scared of the future
  • Barriers to starting a business have been falling. Agility is key: information overload is endemic, so what really matters?
  • Think outside the box. Human ingenuity can fix most problems and will avoid the others

Reputation Management in Digital

By Steve Leigh - Founding Partner, Reputation Consultancy

Steve opened with some 'eye-opening' statistics from their research about employees:

  • 88% use at least one social media site for personal use
  • 50% post messages, pictures or videos in social media about employer often or from time-to-time
  • 39% have shared praise or positive comments online about employer
  • 33% post about their messages, pictures or videos in social media about employer often or from time-to-time without any encouragement from employer
  • 16% have shared criticism or negative comments online about employer
  • 14% have posted something about employer in social media that they wish they hadn't

With regards customers - they expect you to be listening

33% of customers who received a reply to their negative review turned around and posted a positive review and 34% deleted their original negative review.

Five rules for reputation management in the digital age

  1. Establish a method for acute listening
  2. Rise above the noise to see the overall trends and themes
  3. Be proactive and minimise causes of reputation risk – remembering that internal practice will equal external reputation
  4. Proactively engage and communicate on reputation themes – don’t leave a vacuum for others to fill (unless that’s the right thing to do)
  5. Repeat until fade…..this is a process that never stops

Customer Retention using Digital Media

By Tim Wakeham - Operations Director, Jellyfish UK Agency

Why should we focus on customer retention?

  • 61% of retailers cite customers retention as their greatest obstacle in 2013, up from 51% in 2012
  • On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times more than their first purchase 
  • 80% of your future profits will most likely come from 20% of your existing customers
  • A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by more than 25%
  • 10% rise in customer retention can yield a 30% increase in the value of a company
  • The probability of converting an existing customer is between 60% to 70%
  • Repeat customers spend an average of 33% more than new customers
  • A 2% increase in customer retention can have the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%

Search marketing tells you what your customer wants. Use remarketing to retain customers.

  1. Challenge your view of retention
  2. Understand the tools available
  3. Change one thing you are doing
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