Reflect Digital is delighted to have hosted our first Brunch & Learn event of 2024 - Looking Ahead: Ask the Experts Panel Discussion on the 8th of February 2024.

To kick off our Brunch & Learn series for 2024, we welcomed five familiar faces from across our core disciplines, including: 

With so many ways to elevate brands and marketing through digital channels, who better to get the latest insights from than the people at the forefront of the industry? As we all tucked into our delicious brunch box, our experts talked about digital trends, challenges, ideas for the future and disruptive strategies.

We were joined by over 30 attendees, including several of our partners, clients and colleagues. Brands such as Love2Shop, Travelopia and Give a Grad a Go also tuned in to learn about the future of digital in 2024, AI, audience segmentation and so much more.

Paolo from Carter Jonas said, “The panel was so much better and more interactive than a traditional presentation.” and another attendee said, “Please run these at least once a quarter!” 

Let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways from our latest Brunch & Learn session!

#1 Kiran Webster - Behavioural Strategist

Kicking off our Brunch & Learn event, we looked straight into the future of digital marketing. If you want to be an innovative, industry-leading business, you always need to be thinking three steps ahead of your competitors. So, what does the future look like for behavioural marketing?

Our Behavioural Strategist Kiran believes that the future of digital marketing lies in hyper-personalisation. As a brand, you should always be personalising to your target audience, however, hyper-personalisation takes this a step further by using AI and algorithms to personalise to individuals rather than groups of people. This is particularly ideal for eCommerce businesses.

According to Kiran, personalisation and data privacy are going to be two of the biggest challenges in 2024. While brands want to get more personal with their marketing, people, quite rightly, are becoming more conscious of how their data is used. Kiran believes that brands need to be more transparent about their use of personal data. People don’t want long terms and conditions, they want simple, clear and concise information.

Other key takeaways from Kiran included:

  • Personalisation is important because you don’t want to talk to everyone. In fact, when you talk to everyone, you talk to no one.
  • When thinking about B2B messaging, you need to remember that they’re still humans. Work out their needs, pain points, what resonates with them etc…
  • As marketers, we all have a duty to be ethical. While the integration of AI into digital marketing has many benefits that we should be leveraging, it’s important to strike the right balance. Are you being ethical if you let a robot do it all?


#2 Joanna Earle - Head of Digital PR and Content

Speaking about the future of Digital PR, Joanna believes it’s going to be more important than ever to take a human approach when it comes to creating campaigns. With AI being used more and more, journalists are looking for a personal, human angle that can’t be created by ChatGPT.

ChatGPT was a hot topic of conversation during our Brunch & Learn event. Jo’s opinion? It’s brilliant for research and brainstorming but you need to err on the side of caution. Let’s delve deeper:

  • Jo and the team currently use ChatGPT for idea generation and creative brainstorming
  • Our creative team also use Midjourney for support with creative outreach such as brainteasers
  • However, journalists will see straight through an AI-written press release and are much less likely to cover something generated solely by AI
  • Some journalists even use tools to identify whether a piece has been written by AI or not
  • Ultimately, using AI past the research stage could risk damaging your relationship with journalists

We had lots of fantastic questions asked to all our experts by our attendees, including one for Jo about measuring Trust Flow and Citation Flow. Jo’s top tips for dealing with backlink profiles included:

  • Majestic is a great tool for measuring the backlink profile of websites
  • If using Majestic, a general rule of thumb is to aim for publications with a Trust Flow of 40+ as less than 40 may indicate a spammy website
  • Regardless of Trust Flow and Citation Flow, it’s important to think about your client. A local paper might have a lower Trust Flow, but is more relevant to your client’s audience.
  • When doing competitor research, remember that some publications might have editorials which means competitors have paid for their links/coverage

In 2024 and beyond, Jo believes the biggest challenge in Digital PR is being the first. With lots of brands leveraging both reactive and proactive PR, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and secure coverage from relevant, high-quality publications. How can you overcome this challenge?

  • Elevation - Think about how you can take your Digital PR campaign to the next level. Do you have access to data that no one else has? Is there a case study you can utilise? Are there any Digital PR trends you can use as a hook? How can you make this piece more relevant?
  • Back to basics - Sometimes the simple way is the best way. Create a content calendar, plan well in advance and ensure you stick to your schedule. Take a look at the key dates for reactive and proactive PR strategies everyone needs.


#3 Gary Gumbleton - Creative Director

Our next expert gave attendees a wonderful insight into the world of content creation. For our Creative Director Gary, the future of video lies in Employee Generated Content (EGC). Some businesses are already taking huge steps towards this, such as Deloitte who are training staff to be LinkedIn influencers. He also emphasised the importance of having a personal brand within the B2B sphere in 2024, highlighting that if you can create human-first video, you can cut through the noise of competitors. 

When it came to discussing the topic on everyone’s lips, Gary shared similar thoughts to Jo about using AI for ideas but not output. Gary’s top tips for incorporating AI into the video content production process included:

  • Treat AI as another creative colleague, someone you can brainstorm ideas and kickstart the creative process with - we love this idea!
  • If you need internal buy-in from your organisation and you have a modest budget, use AI video to storyboard your idea and then create it in real life once you get the buy-in.
  • AI can be really useful for dealing with the ‘boring’ tasks, such as creating descriptions.

During our Brunch & Learn event, Gary also shared some key insights about marketing to Gen Z audiences:

  • Gen Z audiences want to be emotionally connected to the product before anything else. It’s all about education and inspiration!
  • Did you know…Gen Z is moving to TikTok for search. Google’s never going to be replaced but TikTok has a great search capacity and is now recognising the difference between objects in videos (for example, it can now differentiate between a wooden table and a brown dog within a video).
  • Gen Z (and most audiences) want to see themselves in the video - this is the idea of the ‘mirror strategy’ whereby audiences feel more connected to videos/brands they can identify themselves in/with.

According to Gary, the biggest challenge brands are facing in 2024 with regard to content creation is not creating enough video content. His top tips for solving this problem?

  • Batch creation - Avoid disruption in the office by batch-creating video content once a quarter. If you’re organised and have an itinerary, you can maximise your efficiency by creating brilliant content all in one morning and minimise disruption to employees.
  • Video cascade - This is Gary’s definition of working smarter, not harder. If you start with a significant piece of content, such as a podcast, you can create a whole host of smaller pieces of content from it. You could create 10 smaller videos of the podcast, transcribe it and turn it into a blog, take quotes and create captions or tweets, and so much more.

Lisa Sendall from Sunsail said: “It was one of the best panels I’ve watched in a long time, particularly Gary’s insight into content creation.

“[It was] really thought-provoking about how much businesses can/should adapt with the use of AI even for internal processes.


#4 Andy Mollison - Head of SEO

From ChatGPT to Answer Engine Optimisation (AEO), Andy covered a plethora of pressing topics during our Brunch & Learn webinar.

Named as both an SEO trend and a challenge, AI is taking the world of SEO by storm. According to Andy, AI is becoming much more prevalent in SEO and he sees this trend continuing into the future, although, like Jo, believes we need to lead with caution. AI is particularly popular for content creation, however it is time consuming as you spend more time editing the content than you would have spent writing from scratch. 

Instead, Andy and our SEO team have been using AI for branded documentation and streamlining operational processes. Also, very specific tasks such as writing meta descriptions in bulk have been made easier with the integration of AI. 

With the increased use of AI for content creation, Andy believes the biggest challenge for SEO in 2024 is demonstrating experience. What can you do as a brand to show your expertise and authority to both Search Engines such as Google and users? Andy suggests creating:

  • How-to blogs
  • Comprehensive guides
  • Author profiles

Andy also answered a question from one of our attendees about Answer Engine Optimisation and whether brands should already be optimising for it. His short answer: Yes, brands need to be thinking about AEO already. Why?

  • We’re already seeing examples of AEO with Google’s Featured Snippets.
  • Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) is already in testing in the US and Japan. The idea is that it provides AI-generated answers to particular search queries.
  • For SGE, AI has to learn the answers from somewhere. If your brand can be the source of this information, that puts you in a brilliant position as SGE is top heavy which means, in the future, users will need to scroll further down the SERPs to reach natural content.


#5 Lottie Namakando - Head of Paid Media

What does the future of Paid Media look like? Our Head of Paid Media Lotties believes we’ll see a shift towards AI integration and machine learning, where AI can come in to enhance delivery. New formats are already coming in and Lottie thinks we’ll see a continuation of this - AI and machine learning won’t overtake completely, but will be a big factor going forward. Audience integration is also going to become more prevalent, as Lottie highlights there’s going to need to be a delicate interplay between an audience-led approach to Paid Media and automation.

When it comes to B2B Paid Media, Lottie is already seeing a move towards account-based marketing, whereby you start with a smaller group of targets at the start rather than a broader group. Why is this positive? Account-based marketing helps with maximising budget as you’re starting with a smaller but pre-qualified subset.

Armed with plenty of topical questions for our experts, one of our attendees asked Lottie about how to start thinking about audience segmentation in a world where we’re advised not to be too niche. Lottie’s answer?

  • As Kiran mentioned earlier, the answer lies with hyper-personalisation
  • The key is categorising people into subsets where it’s niche but you can still use machine learning. Just because it’s relevant, doesn’t mean it has to be a tiny group!
  • In the last 5-10 years, we’ve been breaking it down into audiences by ad group. However, with the advances in AI over the last few years, if you go too niche, there’s simply not enough data to analyse. There’s a fine line between segmented enough and too segmented.

As we look to the future of Paid Media, what is the biggest challenge Lottie expects businesses to be faced with? While measurement is always at the forefront of people’s minds, GA4 is going to be a challenge for big brands in particular. How to make the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4 smoothly? Lottie believes it’s important to quantify the difference between the two and to spend time educating Senior Leadership Teams, board members and key stakeholders to ensure everyone understands.


What’s Next?

So that’s a wrap on our first Brunch & Learn event of the year, and we’re already excited for the next one!

If you want to uncover industry insights and find out how to rise above your competitors through digital innovation, come along to our next Brunch & Learn webinar. When you sign up for an event, you will have the opportunity to select to receive a pre-packaged box of goodies including waffles, honey, orange and more to enjoy while you hear from our specialists. Keep an eye on our events page for more information about our next webinar.

Loved listening to our experts and want to work with them to elevate your brand’s digital marketing? Whether you’re looking for a sizzling SEO strategy, wanting to level up your Paid Media game or hoping to increase brand awareness through Digital PR, we’re here to support you every step of the way. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can collaborate with your brand and reach for the stars in 2024.

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Wordsmith Morgan joined the Reflect Digital team fresh out of University and is learning about the world of digital marketing while supporting the SEO team with highly engaging content. With a background in website administration and social media, she also brings a broader perspective to her clients. 

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