Year Ahead 2016: Jonathan Filewood, Enjoy Digital
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Jonathan Filewood, managing director of Enjoy Digital
What didn’t happen in 2015 that was expected to?
As a business, everything we set out to achieve in the last 12 months has been achieved. It’s a satisfying position to be in as we approach the new year.
Further afield, we envisaged that ‘wearable’ technology would have a much bigger impact in 2015 alongside an increase in app technology. With the launch of the Apple Watch hype was high but uptake didn’t keep pace and drive the innovation we expected. Many apps merely provided a watch interface as opposed to enhancing the experience.
With the hike in Bitcoin prices in late 2014 we thought this may become a viable online currency this year but the volatility and reasonably high barrier to access seems to have dampened spirits slightly.
What should we expect to see in 2016?
One of the biggest developments within digital has been the increased convergence of PR and SEO. This blurring of boundaries has largely been driven by Google, but has ultimately led to traditional PR agencies being unable to offer the necessary SEO expertise whilst search agencies often lack the strategic PR capabilities. We see this trend continuing in 2016 and purposely took the step to recently appoint an experienced communications director to expand our existing search offering and provide clients with a much more integrated proposition.
From a social media perspective, we expect to see increased investment in paid activity across channels such as Facebook and Instagram. Instagram is an interesting one as it is a relatively new advertising platform, but it is really paying dividends for big consumer brands. A trend in 2016 will be for smaller brands to embrace it more.
What would be a sign that things are going well?
The fast-paced and often unpredictable nature of the digital sector can make this a difficult question to answer.
Continuing to grow the team will be vital as we’re rapidly expanding our integrated digital marketing offering and recruiting the best talent available within the industry. We’re a people business, so our success hinges on the expertise and personalities we can continue to attract and nurture.
What would be a sign that things are going badly?
There are no signs that brands are going to invest less in digital marketing in the next 12 months. It’s actually quite the opposite as brand spend has increased sharply year on year for several years as businesses look to maximise the wealth of opportunities available through online. The outlook is extremely healthy.
What do you want to see happen in 2016?
More brands offering a seamless customer experience across their owned, earned and paid media channels is critical. A focus on personalisation and behavioural needs will ensure marketing initiatives are more effective and make it easier for customers to engage with a brand or make a purchase. The online space is so competitive that it is forcing brands to become more relevant and deeply ingrained with their customers’ day-to-day lives.
Who or what do you predict will have a successful year?
I think start-up, consumer ecommerce brands in the region will continue to flourish. There’s endless possibilities for entrepreneurs to grow a thriving online business from scratch and follow in the footsteps of so many other digital success stories in the region.
Who or what is most at risk/faces a difficult year?
Unfortunately, I feel it’s going to be a difficult year for the PR industry and agencies that have not adapted to the digital landscape and invested in the necessary expertise. The same can be said of search agencies that don’t have the PR talent within their business.
Forward thinking brands simply demand much more integrated thinking from their agency in terms of strategy, campaign delivery and ROI. It will be a tough year for those agencies that don’t or can’t embrace that mindset.
What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
Leeds as a city is thriving at the moment and its continued growth and expansion is really exciting. In our sector alone, Leeds boasts some of the country’s biggest and most creative digital agencies outside of London. It’s a real hotbed of talent and long may it continue in 2016.
On a personal level, finally finishing off all the endless DIY projects and home improvements that have taken over my life for the last few months will be a welcome relief. If I never set eyes on a paint brush and screwdriver again it will be a day too soon.
What are your words of wisdom for the year ahead?
Clients must continue to challenge their agency or agencies in the year ahead and vice versa to achieve even greater results.
Whether you work in marketing or not, I’d also always urge everyone in business to grow their knowledge and understanding of digital marketing as the online space is now so pivotal to long term commercial success.