How will Brexit affect Cornwall-based businesses that use online marketing?

Brexit uncertainty has been dominating the media ever since the nail-biting referendum results three years ago. As the October 31 deadline looms closer, HookedOnMedia’s technical director, Andrew Thomas, gives his professional opinion on the potential implications for businesses in Cornwall and how they should adapt their online marketing strategies.

How is Brexit likely to affect businesses and their online marketing efforts?

Although some businesses may not immediately be hit by Brexit, over time I think every business will see either a positive or negative effect. There have been lots of discussions on how businesses will be hit, but surprisingly few on how it will affect businesses who rely heavily on online marketing. If your business employs an online marketing agency, they should be delving into analytics, competitor research, keyword opportunities, and trends to show you detailed reports explaining what is happening in terms that you understand. This way you should be able to see any potential Brexit risks before they occur and implement strategies to overcome potential loss in business.

Can you give examples of Brexit-ready digital marketing strategies?

Yes, make sure you know what percentage of traffic/visitors to your website is coming from Europe. More importantly, from that traffic how many converts via a foreign visitor are you getting?
Analyse data to see which European towns and countries currently drive your traffic, and invest in Facebook Ads or PPC (pay per click) ads targeting the specific area that you know currently works.
Consider what uplifts might occur if you had the option to translate your website to the language which the visitor comes from.
You may also want to think about implementing procedures to help you gain better results with Google.fr, Google.de, etc. By adding tags (for example, hreflang tags) for multilingual search and potentially purchasing country-specific top-level website domains such a .fr, .de, or .es will help increase traffic from abroad. Another option is to restructure your existing website to increase rankings, e.g. www.example.com/fr, where all French copy would be indexed by Google.

Most importantly, make sure your online marketing agency is transparent, making you aware of the negatives, not just the positives. For example, time will tell if there is a drop in traffic/conversions. If your agency hasn’t reacted to this, you should be asking questions. Depending on your industry, a Brexit-ready online marketing strategy should be in place!

What other preparations do you think businesses should be making? 

This depends on your type of business. If you’re based in the UK and don’t rely too much on European trade, then with some forward thinking and some online marketing investment, it could be positive news. For example, pubs that sell local beers or shops selling local food that may have a slight downturn in trade can easily make up the numbers by putting more effort into online marketing. Promote your business via Google Maps, Voice Search (e.g. ‘pubs near me’) and Social Ads to increase local awareness.

For B&Bs, hotels, and campsites that can fill their occupancy without relying on visitors from abroad, there is actually a positive opportunity, as many British travellers may now decide to book local destinations in the UK. We would recommend these businesses broaden their online marketing visibility. Increase SEO efforts, create more paid ads, promote via paid social ads, and create content to drive UK searchers to come to your area. e.g. ‘The 5 beaches in Cornwall that beat any Mediterranean destination.’ Think of your target audience, do you know where your traffic comes from? What percentage is from the UK compared to Europe?

If you’re an e-commerce shop serving Europe, you’ll need to consider whether people will still purchase from a UK domain if they are based in Europe with additional import charges that may occur.

What’s the worst-case scenario for marketers in the event of a no-deal Brexit?

Any agencies who have clients abroad could be threatened.

How can businesses take advantage of Brexit?

Look at where your current online traffic is coming from, analyse and make business decisions, produce competitor analysis reports to ensure your competition isn’t marching ahead of you, look at trends for search phrases. With this type of data, your online marketing agency can provide ideas to drive your business forward.

Has Brexit uncertainty had an impact on many HookedOn clients?

We have actually seen a positive impact for some of our holiday provider clients, who can see an opportunity that next year potentially a high proportion of people will book their holiday in the UK and travel to Devon/Cornwall. This is based on the fear that travel prices abroad will be unknown, plus insurance, passport, and car hire implications.

What are HookedOn’s predictions for the UK’s post-Brexit digital marketing industry?

As most of our clients are UK-based and quite a few local in Cornwall, unlike the majority we see it as a positive. Cornwall is a tourist area, and local towns, attractions, and holiday accommodation providers can all benefit by focusing on driving more traffic from UK searchers. If tourists from overseas still come (which they will), it’s an added bonus.

For more information about HookedOn’s online marketing services, contact the team on 01872 248376.