Businesses turned out in force to hear expert advice on how to boost their online presence to increase leads generated by digital marketing.

Around 80 business representatives from a wide variety of industries attended two seminars hosted by LOCALiQ at The Halston in Carlisle, for guidance on where they should focus their time and resources to drive sales.

LOCALiQ, part of Newsquest Media Group, the publishers of in-Cumbria and newspapers The Cumberland News, News & Star, Times & Star, Whitehaven News, The Mail, Westmorland Gazette and Hexham Courant, gives you access to a network of 200-plus news brands and publications in print and online, an award-winning events division, recruitment platforms and a wide range of multimedia marketing solutions.

As well as giving hints, tips and strategic advice on everything from social media and display advertising to search engine optimisation, businesses were also invited to take up a free digital health check to see how their digital activity is currently performing – and what can be done to improve it.

The seminars were welcomed by delegates, who stressed the importance of digital marketing to their business.

Jen Jamieson, marketing manager at multi-disciplinary firm David Allen, told in-Cumbria: “We’re constantly looking at new ways to get the brand out to a different target audience.
“We operate across four different business sectors, IT, recovery solutions, financial services and obviously the accountancy part of the business.

“To come here today and listen to all of the different possible ways we could be doing better digitally is really interesting. We could certainly work with LOCALiQ on pulling everything together, because obviously time is money and we don’t have all the time in the world to be looking at the detail digital marketing entails.

“We’re focused on targeting the local market initially, but all of our business areas are looking at businesses across the country.”

The sentiment was echoed by Rachel Ferguson of family-run Rickerby Retreat spa and restaurant based in Rickerby Park.

“Digital marketing is massive for our business,” she said.

“We need to keep in touch with our clients through social media and keep them updated with all of our latest information, offers, menus for the restaurant, and any special events.

“It was good to see what we’re already doing and doing well in. We really came to see where we can improve, and also to know if we’re putting our advertising budget in the right places.

“People will travel to Rickerby Retreat, so we are looking to reach people outside the vicinity, such as the Scottish Borders, the North East and south Cumbria as well. We do need to appeal to a wider audience if we can.

“We know tourism is increasing in Cumbria, so we want to capture some of that market as well and get people to travel north of The Lakes and come and see us and see what we do.”

Newsquest sales director Lee Taylor-Craddock told delegates that LOCALiQ boasts an 82 per cent reach across Cumbria and Hexham through its locally based newspaper brands.

The combined News & Star and The Cumberland News website alone attracts over 403,000 unique users a month who, on average, look at six to seven pages of content, he said.

It also has 50,000 Facebook followers and 20,500 Twitter followers

“We have sticky content people want to read and engage with,” he said, stressing that print still had a role to play in the wider marketing mix.

Nationally, LOCALiQ reaches 30 million unique users a month as well as 6.2 million readers of Newsquest’s print titles.

Reflecting on the event, Mr Taylor-Craddock said: “It was really well attended, but it was really clear in the room that there are some businesses who need some significant advice and guidance in relation to their digital marketing.

“The biggest benefit of LOCALiQ is that although we’re a large national organisation with brands up and down the UK, we are absolutely committed to local businesses.

“What puts us at the forefront of any other digital marketing provider in the UK is our technology.

“Our conversion-based optimisation technology will ensure your budget works harder than any other provider in the UK and we’re the only ones currently with this technology, which simultaneously operates across Bing and Google.”

Rachael Dunn, business development manager for LOCALiQ, said it was continuing to develop its digital strategy and invest in new products to stay ahead of the competition.

“LOCALiQ is a fantastic opportunity for businesses wanting to branch out to a wider audience,” she said.

“They get the benefit of having one person looking after their whole advertising strategy as supposed to maybe three or four different companies dealing with different elements.”

She said that businesses needed to stay focused when it came to their digital marketing and needed to constantly measure results.

“I would say to businesses, don’t try and do everything at once; take some time away to reflect and see if what you are doing is working,” she said.

“If it is not don’t be afraid to change it up. If it’s not getting you the leads, the calls and the emails in, then there’s obviously something not right there and you’ll have to choose a different strategy. Not every platform is right for every business.”

After successful events in Hexham and Carlisle, the LOCALiQ seminar will call at Energus, Lillyhall on Thursday, with sessions at 10.30am and 2pm. To book a place at the 2pm seminar visit https://tinyurl.com/westlocaliq 

There are only a few spaces left for the 10.30am seminar at the Abbey House Hotel and Gardens in Barrow on Friday, February 8, while there is still availability for the 2pm session.

To book, visit https://tinyurl.com/barrowlocaliq.