Flextime, Anytime: Do These Schedules Really Work?

flextime

A 9-5 work schedule has been far from the norm in many major metropolitan areas for quite some time now. With more corporations and organizations adopting the flextime and remote working options that were traditionally reserved for startup culture, people are starting to wonder if the practice lives up to the hype. As a team, we’ve always been a bit spread geographically, so flextime is something that we’re all too familiar with.

American Express recently caught up with our CEO, Attiya, along with a few other industry leaders to talk about the pros and cons of offering this kind of schedule.

Some company owners have added flextime as one of their perks to lure and keep top talent. And according to a recent survey by online service FlexJobs, it may be an option worth considering.

FlexJobs surveyed nearly 2,000 parents with children 18 and younger living at home. (The company services professionals seeking flexible schedules and freelance jobs.) The survey found that the majority consider work-life balance and flexible schedules more important than salary when evaluating job prospects.Keep in mind that employee flextime is not for everyone, advises Attiya Abdulghany, Founder & CEO of Oliver + Sons, a boutique digital strategy consulting firm with offices throughout the world.

You can check out the full article on the American Express site here.

And read up on our own remote working practices on our blog.

Virtual Workspaces: A Chat With Our Head of Content Marketing

Canva is still a best-kept secret amongst the marketing community. For the many of you who are content marketing extraordinaires but haven’t stepped foot into a graphic design school, this tool has literally been made for you. Ever been in a situation where you’ve written your best copywriting work, but your sub standard accompanying artwork just doesn’t quite do it justice? Then take note.

Canva, titled ‘amazingly simple graphic design software’ was one of the first of its kind on the scene back in 2007. Since then, it has grown from strength to strength with 150,000 users worldwide. Being perfect for remote teams, O+S jumped on the proverbial bandwagon, and every one of our members is a fully fledged daily user.

I caught up with Ariel to see why she can’t live without Canva and why, as a virtual workplace, it satisfies some of her many marketing needs:

Canva’s all-encompassing feature list means that users have no reason to use another program alongside. As virtual workspaces go, that’s pretty rare and cool in itself. Let’s delve into these features below!

1) Photo straightener: Keep your photos in line with photo straightener tool

Oh we’ve all been there, haven’t we? With this awesome feature as found in other graphic design programs (Photoshop, Sketch), you won’t ever have wonky or off-centered creatives again!

2) Add text to photos: Create a narrative for any photo

Want to add text to your Adobe Stock image, but don’t know where or how to start? Never fear. Canva already has hundreds of fonts you can use, with the option to change the size, color, and position on the image. If lack of inspiration strikes, they even have a whole heap of templates which you can customize, font recommendations you can peruse and color combinations which are perfect complements.

3) Free icons: Complement your designs with icons.

Sometimes your designs can use a little lift. Icons do just this. At O+S we use Canva’s fabulous social media icon inventory to add buttons. Additionally, they can be used to highlight our social pages in a fun and engaging way.

4) Web wireframe: Create the basic design for your website.

This is an excellent feature which is relatively new. Whether you are a budding entrepreneur and want to get your design ideas down, or if as a growth hacker you want to A/B test the design of a landing page, Canva’s wireframe tool is exactly what you need.

Here at O+S we are well versed in Canva, and wouldn’t be without it. You can see examples of our designs in all of our blog posts. If you need help with a winning graphics and copy combination to grab your customer’s attention, then contact us!

The 3 Best Podcasts That Will Make You A Kick-Ass Female Bo$$

Feminism is a pretty important right now, but many people still confuse it with being a group of women who despise men. This, ladies and gentlemen, simply isn’t true. Feminism, as many of you know, is the belief in the equality of the sexes, pure and simple. Let’s not get aggressive about it, let’s just get informed. It’s a movement that projects the message that women around the world can and will do what they like, and can succeed in any workplace of their choosing.

In the current business climate, sadly this is not always possible. It’s a tough world out there, especially for women working in predominantly male industries (like our own). All institutions have been created to function within a patriarchal framework. So forgive us, Apple, that we are not forcibly clapping you on the back for offering female employees the option of freezing their eggs. We women want change. It won’t come quickly, but we’re ready for the fight.

Source: Me.me

This list of 3 exceptional podcasts is for all you strong ladies out there (and indeed men) to give you that added oomph and jump in your step to succeed. Don’t let the day-to-day patriarchy get in your way and don’t settle for less – SMASH IT. These fabulous females will show you how it’s done.

The High Low

Hosted by Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, this incredible podcast got me into this genre in a big way. They explore everything current, offering interesting perspectives on popular culture and feminist discussion topics with no sugar coating – just raw, intelligent, female wit. ‘The High Low’ is a weekly burst of pop-culture that isn’t afraid to delve deeper into extrapolating and supporting feminine trials and tribulations when necessary. These women are up for a challenge and you will be too, as you strut into your office woke and without a woe.

The Guilty Feminist

If you want something a little more hard hitting, then I recommend this masterpiece. I admit the name sounds ominous and could be misconstrued as a rant. It’s not, I assure you. This podcast is downright insightful, imaginative and inclusive, with many men present in the audience.

The host Deborah Frances-White is seriously cool. I know she’d laugh if she heard that, but she is. She’s a source of inspiration for all, whether to her talk show audience or for all the listeners at home (with a massive 16 million downloads in the past year and a half). She discusses topics which ‘all 21st-century feminists agree on’, and often invites many professional and successful female guest speakers to give talks in their specific fields. We’re talking NGO leaders, to other fellow comedians, to female motivators. I guarantee it will make you think, and give you a serious chuckle at the same time.

The Broad Experience

Imposter syndrome is a big deal, but many don’t even know they are suffering from it or even what it is. For those that don’t know, it’s been proven that females predominantly suffer from it, not only in the workplace but also in relationships. Imposter syndrome is the mindset that doesn’t allow you to internalize your accomplishments and you live in persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’, despite external evidence of success.

Being another by-product of the male patriarchy, ‘The Broad Experience’ works to change this. By catering specific podcasts to improve the confidence of women in the workplace, such as When Women Work for Free’ they are taking a firm stab at stopping female self-undervaluation. Pretty awesome in our book.

 

What did I miss? Do you have any podcasts that you just can’t stop listening to? Got female empowerment on the brain? Share this post on your socials and get people talking!

Get in touch we’d love to hear from you!

Data Knows All: Tackling the Best Types of Blog Content

This. Is. Amazing.

You know when you’re feeling a little stale on ideas, so you crack open Google and search for some kind of new inspiration on how to get creative, drive more leads, etc? It’s one of the laziest marketing practices we’re all guilty of, and, while it can be fruitful sometimes, is more often than not a waste of time.

Why? DATA.

The numbers don’t lie. Ever. That’s why we’re so in love with them.

Sumo.com put together a definitive list of blog post ideas you can actually get behind — because they’re actually backed by data.

“We analyzed the highest trafficked content based on 175,000,000 visitors to find out what type of blog posts get noticed.”

You better believe these marketing angels put in the work. They found that “the top 200+ blog posts on Sumo’s content-creating customer’s sites revealed that these are the top 10 pieces of content you need to create. They were responsible for 147,000,000 hits (83% of the top 175 Million hits were on these 10 types of content).” (Sumo)

So, What Are the “Top Types” of Blogs?

We’ll dive into the top 3 types of blog posts right here, but you can check out all of the rest on the Sumo blog here.

#1 — “How To” Posts

Everyone loves learning something new, especially when it’s timely or relevant for them. Always a win. Here’s one of our top-performing how-tos.

#2 — List Posts

BuzzFeed readers and beyond, everyone loves scrolling through a well-put-together list of images, facts, anything really. Here’s one of our top-performing listicles.

#3 — Explanatory Posts

Complicated topics take a lot of time to digest, making explainer blogs a hit for just about every audience type. Here’s one of our top-performing explainers.

Want to learn more? Head over to the Sumo site to keep reading.

Top MarTech Stacks: 8 Essentials for Your Marketing Technology

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Marketing Technology had a predicted capital investment of $2 billion in 2016 but investors are still a bit skeptical. Ric Elert, President of Conversant says “It’s a lot more ‘artificial,’ unlike billboards or a TV ad.” There is a promise of personalization within marketing technology where a lot of consumers help deliver their data, but it’s still yet to be proved.

The Difference Between MarTech and Ad Tech

Marketing and advertising serve different purposes: Ad Tech serves a general audience with the purpose of recognition, with communication being creative advertising, while MarTech has a loyal, one to one purpose to build customer relationships.

To build your own stack of MarTech resources, you should be open to new technology. Although it can be time-consuming and, well, scary to adapt to new things. Your own stack of MarTech will all depend on your business model, but here are some to start you off.

1. Marketing Cloud

What does the cloud actually mean? Whilst your belongings seem to be stored in the air, a marketing cloud acts as a support for email marketing, advertising, and other services. The cloud then connects data between platforms to focus on various types of objectives across channels or devices. Try Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, for example, it manages your content and assets, personalizes each experience and orchestrates your customer’s journey.

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Source: bluetext

2. Data Management Platform

A Data Management Platform (DMP) serves a purpose for 3 main things.

1. It captures data from web traffic, online ads, and apps.

2. It then centralizes where it is attached to a user’s anonymous online identities.

3. Lastly, DMP makes that information available for marketers.

Signals are creating profiles from data that are essentially pixelated and hard to use, so identities are still completely protected. But by using purchase history, loyalty, and other past interactions, vendors are selling DMP technology to the digital media world. Platforms currently include Adobe, Krux, and BlueKai.

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Source: Rubrik

3. Analytics and Tracking

Tracking is your key to success – how else would you know wrong from right? Performance tracking ads and technology is your weapon. Google Analytics is used by more than 80% of small businesses.

For limited resource organizations, Google Analytics has the biggest advantage as it’s completely free. It also integrates with other Google programs, such as AdSense and AdWords, which makes it that much more valuable. Many sites offer advice and guides to Google Analytics which are specific for smaller businesses.

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Source: Barracks

However, consider Adobe Analytics if you are looking to head in the direction of growth. As features are far more advanced specifically for growth. We’re speaking about its eCommerce tracking, which is perhaps historically one of Adobe’s strongest features, and still is.

Also, it’s Conversion Variables (eVars), end up being way more powerful than Google’s dimensions with the ability to custom set allocation and expiration. For example, you can set a variable to persist until purchase, so that future purchases don’t automatically inherit a prior dimensional value.

4. Marketing Automation

All your analytics, online forms, tracking, and email marketing efforts are pulled together here. This is usually a suite that mainly provides customized content and facilitates sales and marketing. Ones to try would be HubSpot or InfusionSoft.com. Both capture leads, improve conversion rates, manage the sales process and save time.

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Source: Cremarc

5. Conversion Optimization

Getting a customer to your website is the first and foremost priority. But keeping that customer as a loyal, long term buyer is the selling point. Conversion optimization can ultimately double the number of people providing you with valuable data. With poor optimization, you will be losing this aspect by unattractive layouts, a slow loading page or long forms. Optimizely is one for A/B testing of your landing pages or check out the free Landing Page Grader from WordStream.

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Source: Search X

6. Campaign Management

Applications for organizing segmentation, targeting and marketing messages are available to manage your multi channel campaigns. It doesn’t have to be so complicated. Components to manage the functionality of your business can range from data mining to customer segmentation, to the next-best-action recommendation sites. These may not be some of the aspects of your plans but there are some platforms to better control them. Welcome, Integrate and Adobe Campaign. These are the recommended ones – both accomplishing resource saving, enabling informed decisions and delivering on marketing goals.

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Source: Right On

7. Email Marketing

This one won’t be going anywhere, but you can use it to its full potential. People are interested in your offerings, hoorah! The key thing to do would be to send the most personalized and valuable messages to them, in all the right doses. MailChimp and Emfluence are some of the best tools in the email game, both featuring email marketing automation, social strategy, and surveys.

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Source: MailChimp

8. Advertising Networks

Having tons of advertising methods on your lap is hard to control. Tracking code types can be used on your site – Google AdWords, Google Retargeting, or DoubleClick, don’t be missing out on Facebook Ads as well. They both know future you, so target these as much as you can!

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Source: Wired

By using services like Ghostery, MarTech stacks can be drawn or imagined and organized accordingly with colors! Here’s one great example from HomeDepot.com, they’ve carefully managed to draw upon the key data performers and simplified in all the right places.

Depending on your organizational skills, acquiring your personalized stack of MarTech items shouldn’t be an issue. All of these tools are useful for your daily marketing life but depend on your business model, goals, and size of your company.

Oliver + Sons can help organize your stacks and move towards a more replenished digital world. We love data. For example, business intelligence, online communications, and media planning are just a few of the services we provide. Get in touch to see what we can do for you.