Successful Display Ad Creatives

Successful Display Ad Creatives

In our last blog, Top 3 Factors for Display Ad Design, we focused on elements that are important for successful display ad creatives. This time, let’s break down some examples to see how they utilise these factors.

Like every type of advertisement across all Pay Per Click platforms, display ads have a few different factors that contribute to their success. Whilst text-based search ads take into account factors like ad copy, highlighting unique selling points, the combination of relevant ad extensions, and the repetition of keywords; display ads are more focused on visual elements. 

What factors contribute to a Display Ad?

Factors such as colour, ad size, and images or graphics are crucial to invoke action, emotion, and engagement from your audiences. 

You have a split second to entice users to your landing page, so you want to make sure your little digital billboards are as loud and eye-catching as possible.

Factors such as a ‘Call To Action’ (CTA) can improve your chances of attracting clicks. Including a button with the text “Shop Now”, “Learn More”, or “Watch Today” can be enough for someone to stop scrolling, and instead take the time to see what’s waiting for them on the other side of the ad.

Additionally, people tend to associate your business with your branding. It’s far easier to catch the attention of your audience when you include elements such as logos or brand colours and graphics. Even the smallest golden-yellow “M” indicates you’re about to see an ad for McDonald’s. Perhaps, your interest is already piqued. This is exactly what you want your audience to feel!

What are some examples of ‘good’ Display Ads? Why do they work?

A ‘good’ display ad is mostly subjected to the circumstances in which it is being advertised. This also means that it’s easy to determine whether a business has succeeded in constructing their eye-catching, on-brand display ads or if they’ve missed the point entirely.

Below, I’ll identify some Display ads that do work, and I’ll explain why. 

Oscar Wylee Successful Display Ad Creatives Vine Street Digital

Oscar Wylee

Take this display ad from the glasses company Oscar Wylee. 

As you can see, the new frames are the subject matter of the ad. They take up a huge portion of the screen real estate. But, they are angled, so the ad doesn’t appear flat – instead, it looks three-dimensional. 

The colour of the frames is a careful choice too, designed to contrast against the background. The background colour is very on-brand for Oscar Wylee – you won’t be caught off guard when you reach their landing page. 

Additionally, the copy is minimal but includes a Unique Selling Point – an offer on 2 pairs of glasses. This will instantly capture the attention of someone in the market to buy new frames, as the offer is competitive. 

Finally, a CTA is also included: “Shop Now”. This is situated at the bottom of the ad, where your eyes have naturally settled after you’ve observed the rest of the ad. All of these elements come together in order to quickly grab the attention of its target audience. 

I can personally attest to this ad being successful, as I found myself scrolling through Oscar Wylee for quite some time and evaluating their offer.

Origin Energy Successful Display Ad Creatives Vine Street Digital

Origin LPG

Have a look at this next ad from energy company Origin.

Whilst this ad doesn’t highlight any products like the one from Oscar Wylee, nor display any designed elements such as graphics, there are a few aspects that make this ad catch your eye. 

The bold, orange-red background is on-brand for Origin energy. It also stands out against a large majority of websites, which usually feature white backgrounds. This ad popped up for me when scrolling through a blog, and it was incredibly hard not to notice.

The copy included is short and punchy and manages to touch on two selling points for the company. The aim here is to preemptively answer the question, “Why should I sign up?”. When you highlight these selling points, you give your audience an incentive to sign up – one that isn’t directly related to a promotion or an offer. 

Most importantly, the call to action – a “Sign up” button – is highlighted via a contrasting yellow colour. This draws your eyes straight to the button, making it hard to not click or look elsewhere. All of these elements are coming together to direct your attention to Origin’s simple goal for the ad – to get people to sign up for their services.

Summary

Both ads are contrastingly different from each other. One includes product imagery, an offer, and minimal copy. The other uses bold colours and selling points to capture attention and draw you to the call to action. 

But, if you take a look at the elements that contribute to a ‘successful’ display ad, both ads include these in some shape or form. They include:

  • use of on-brand colours,
  • unique selling points or a promotion,
  • and placement of each company’s logo.

These are all factors that contribute to the success of the ad.

If you’d like to know more about display advertising, check out:

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions!

Written by Harry Taylor

Top Digital Marketing Agency 2021 – Vine Street Digital’s Newest Clutch Award

Clutch Names Vine Street Digital as a Top Digital Marketing Agency in Brisbane & Australia

The worldwide web has unlocked a new playing field; a new space for businesses and service providers like us. The vast majority of people can agree that the traditional way of marketing your services and products is slowly dying, and we’re all transitioning to digital.

Technology’s impact can be felt in all of marketing’s facets, and we should all maximise the opportunities that it brings. Digital marketing is the present and the future.

Here at Vine Street Digital, we’ve dedicated ourselves to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing, offering PPC-centric services including conversion optimisation and tracking. We pride ourselves on the quality of services that we provide here in Brisbane’s digital marketing scene and around the world. As a completely remote business, we offer our services worldwide and are proud to have clients not only in Australia but in the northern hemisphere as well.

We are excited to announce that this year, Vine Street Digital won a prestigious Clutch award. Clutch is a fast-growing B2B review startup from the heart of Washington, DC. Every year, their team holds an awards cycle for the leading B2B service providers around the world. We are thrilled to be named as one of the top B2B companies in Australia!

 

Clutch Top Marketing Agency Australia | Vine Street Digital

 

This award means so much to us because it means that our clients truly appreciate us. Achieving such a feat would not have been possible without our clients’ trust.

As a five-star agency, we are honoured to have our clients’ feedback. Here are some of our favourite quotes from their reviews:

“Vine Street Digital is honest with our team when things aren’t working. Their team is open to fixing issues and trying new things. When areas are working, they make sure to highlight and review why they’re working with our team.”

— Head of Digital, Fun and Function, LLC

“For a small business like us, it’s a big leap of faith to invest in an agency, but Vine Street Digital made us feel safe. That trust is an important part of our relationship. Other vendors we’ve worked with have just left our account alone and we didn’t get enough value out of our partnership. On the other hand, Vine Street Digital ensures that we get the most out of our budget.”

— Owner, Ultimate Paintball

Want to work with a world-class agency? Get in touch with us and let us know how we can help.

What’s up with Google, Facebook, iOS 14 and how you can adapt

What’s up with Google, Facebook, iOS 14 and how you can adapt

There has been a lot of talk about Google, Facebook, and the iOS 14 update in the recent media. Lots of ‘he says she says’ about what content is going to be allowed or banned. So, what’s really going on, and what does it mean for pay per click advertising?

Australian News Content on Google & Facebook

Most of the changes we’ve been seeing on these digital platforms have to do with news content. The Australian Government recently proposed a media bargaining code. In simple terms, the Australian Government wanted to implement a law that would force Google to pay for news content. After some back and forth, Google threatened to pull their entire search engine from Australia, which could have been disruptive for Google Ads targeting Australia. Luckily, it didn’t come to that. Google later responded with its own alternative solution and has since entered into partnerships with 50+ news publishers in Australia. So, the situation seems to have stabilised. Even so, we’ve often said that it’s worth having a look at Microsoft Ads (Bing Ads) to branch out into other markets. Now is as good a time as any to check out Microsoft’s PPC platform, if you haven’t yet!

On the Facebook side of things, negotiations weren’t as smooth to start. Most Australians would have noticed recently that news accounts were no longer available. However, Facebook then announced they will be reversing this news ban after talks with the Australian Government. It appears that both sides have agreed to make amendments, so there’s a positive solution for all.

Apple iOS 14 Impacts on Facebook Ads

Apple’s most recent iOS 14 update now asks users if they would like to opt-out of certain data collection and sharing. This means as more people are updating their iPhones and opting out, data will be limited for app and web conversion events. So, Facebook can’t track as much information for ad personalisation and performance reporting.

The biggest change we’ve seen on Facebook has been the attribution window changing from 28 days to 7 days. This means conversions will only be counted if they occur within 7 days. A lot of our PPC specialists haven’t seen a dramatic change in results as a consequence of this. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) metrics appear to be increasing slightly in some campaigns, but that’s logical when we consider our purchase cycle.

One other concern is audience sizes. Audiences play a huge role in targeting Facebook campaigns. For businesses that already have small audience sizes, this may mean limited reach. We can combat this, though! By expanding and diversifying our target markets, we can find new and creative ways to target them. Or, we can reduce the budgets so we don’t fatigue our audience.

So, what can we do?

These updates are almost in full effect but we haven’t seen a slow down in advertising. It’s about human behaviours – and people are still using these platforms as they did last year. At Vine Street Digital, we’ve been preparing for these updates for months. So, these changes haven’t had a dramatic effect on our campaigns.

There are certain preventative measures we can take in relation to the iOS 14 updates. As we are a Facebook Preferred Agency Partner, we have a representative that prepared us for the changes. They outlined some actionable items we could implement to mitigate the effects. A few of these included verifying your domain and implementing Conversion API, which can be done at any stage.

It would also be a good idea to review your historical data in terms of your purchase cycle. Find out how long it actually takes for someone to convert. If it’s over 7 days, you might want to consider changing your CPA goals to accommodate for this.

I believe there is a really important point we should take from all the changes happening in the digital world. As the old saying goes, ‘Don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket’. Diversifying your marketing strategy is going to lead to a more holistic and effective approach. You could tap into a whole new market you weren’t aware of or didn’t understand prior to now. It’s always worth having a chat with your PPC specialist about which other platforms could be effective for you. Reach out to us any time!


Written by Malinder Ah-chong

Top 3 Factors for Display Ad Design

Top 3 Factors for Display Ad Design

It’s no secret that Google Display ads can play a key role in your PPC strategy. You can use display ads to help build recognition of your brand and remain at the forefront of your consumers’ minds. They can be used to reach people at different stages of the buying cycle, and are a cost-effective way to massively increase the reach of your campaigns.

Now you’ve decided you need them – what’s next? Well, designing your new ads, of course! This blog will take you through the top 3 factors to consider when designing your Google Display ads.

Colour

In almost all applications of design, colour serves as one of the key aspects that captures the attention of your audience.

In the instance of Google Display ads, the colour of your creatives helps distinguish your brand against your competitors, as well as stand out against the website it is being displayed on.

It is important to keep your ad colours consistent with the palette you use for your website. For example, if a consumer clicks on a large, red display banner, but the website linked to the ad is mostly green, they may be a little confused! This could even cause them to bounce away from your landing page without completing any goals or conversions for you.

You want to make sure the journey of your audience is both smooth and transparent, and that they aren’t surprised when they reach your website.

Additionally, simplicity is key when it comes to colour choice. Choose 2 or 3 bold, on-brand colours that help your ad stand out. Highlight what you’re trying to achieve with your display ads, whether that be product sales, brand awareness, or lead generation.

Ad Size

It’s hard to think that something as simple as ad size can have such a large impact on your audience, but it does!

A few extra pixels can mean all the difference between a user scrolling right past your ad or clicking on it to see what it’s about. It’s important to ensure your display ads are distinguishable from standard web page content and aren’t mistaken for something else. To do this, you must structure your ads to be flexible across different devices and different sized screens.

There are three ad sizes that have been recognised – by Google – to be top performers and are a great place to start when putting your creatives together.

These three ad sizes are known as:

  • the ‘medium rectangle’ (300×250),
  • ‘large rectangle’ (336×280), and
  • ‘leaderboard’ (728×90).

It is important to note, however, that if you are opting for a Responsive Display Ad, Google will automatically ensure that your creatives will fit different size requirements.

Images and Graphics

Choosing the right image or graphic (if you decide to use one at all) is one of the most difficult, but important, parts of designing an effective display ad.

Even if your brand doesn’t have any physical (photographable) products to use in your display ad, you definitely want to consider using some form of imagery in your Google Display ad creative.

It helps strengthen the relationship between your brand, your messaging, your Call To Action, and most importantly, your audience.

For example, a local mortgage broker is looking to onboard more clients. But, they don’t have any physical products to showcase in the display ad creative. The ad’s copy is, “To the moon and beyond – if it has a mortgage, we can help”.

They can opt to contrast their messaging and Call To Action against a striking background image. For example, a starry night sky, or a drawing of the moon with a house atop. Your imagination is key, here!

This relationship between the image and the messaging may catch a user’s attention far greater than a simple coloured background.

Whilst it may be tempting to opt for stock images in the absence of a designer or catalogue of display ad creatives, it’s always best to customise your ads to keep them unique and eye-catching.

Successful Display Ad Design

In summary, there are many different aspects of display ad design that are all equally as important as each other.

If you make sure that…

  • you’re consistent with your colour palette,
  • you optimise your ads for top-performing sizes,
  • and you have eye-catching images and graphics,

…you are giving yourself the best chance at running a successful display ad campaign, whether it’s with Google or another advertising platform.

There are many other important aspects to consider such as your messaging and Call To Actions. However, these aspects are already accounted for as part of your ongoing PPC strategy.

If you’d like to have display ad creatives/designs included with your PPC management, talk to our team about our add-on package!


Written by Harry Taylor

How Display Ads Can Benefit Your Business

How Display Ads Can Benefit Your Business

There’s no doubt you would have seen a Google Display ad while browsing the internet, but have you ever wondered how Google Display Ads could benefit your own business? We’ll take you through a range of reasons for why you should incorporate this PPC channel into your marketing strategy. Firstly, we’ll bring you up to speed on what they are and why you should get started with Google Display today!

What are Google Display Ads?

Google Display Ads run on the Google Display Network and offer a way for you to connect with your customers even if they’re not directly searching for you and your products/services. To put simply, they are the ‘visual’ or ‘banner’ ads that you’ll see whilst browsing on platforms such as Youtube, mobile apps, and Gmail.

The Google Display Network covers over 2 million sites and reaches over 90% of the people on the Internet, which means your Display Ads have some serious potential. Sounds pretty good, right? Let’s get into some more benefits of Google Display Ads below.

Benefits of Google Display Ads

There’s a range of reasons you should consider Google Display Ads, including targeting and cost. We’ll outline the main benefits below.

Targeting & The Google Display Network

As we mentioned, the Google Display Network is very powerful in terms of its reach potential. Combine this with the available targeting methods for your audience and you’ll soon be on to a winner!

The different targeting options allow you to show your ads to certain types of people or certain contexts or content. For example, when targeting certain types of people, we can select specific audiences based on their demographics or what the product or service they are likely in the market for. If you’re interested in learning more on this topic, we have another article that helps explain the different Google audience types further.

On the other hand, when targeting contexts or content, we can select keywords or topics as well as specific websites they may be browsing.

Reach People At Different Stages Of Buying Cycle

Google Display Ads allow you to connect with customers at different stages of the buying cycle. They allow you to capture the attention of your target audience when they aren’t necessarily ‘looking’ for you. Google Display ads are a great fit in a ‘brand awareness’ strategy, allowing you to put your ads in front of people at the very start of the buying cycle.

Google Display Ads also allow us to remarket to people who have already engaged with the business in some way, where it can be as simple as a website page view, or something more valuable, such as an ‘add to cart’. Reconnecting with customers should be an important part of your marketing strategy.

Overall, the ‘intent’ behind how a person may approach a Google Display Ad is different when compared to Google Search Ads (where they are actively searching for your product/service). This highlights how Google Display Ads can fit into your overall marketing strategy by targeting people from the very start of the buying cycle, all the way to the end.

Cost-effective

You might be thinking, how expensive are these Google Display Ads? Well, not at all, really! When compared to Google Search Ads, they are normally significantly cheaper. This means that they are a cost-effective way to gain high levels of exposure and to re-engage your website visitors. Feel free to contact us about our Display and Remarketing management service to get a quote! We’ll provide you with a free, no-obligation strategy based on your business goals and budget.

Who can benefit from Google Display Ads?

So, is this all sounding pretty good to you? A lot of businesses can benefit from Google Display Ads – we’ve outlined the main reasons below.

Long Sales Process

If you know that people are unlikely to enquire or purchase when they first land on your website, you need to ensure that you stay at the front of their mind throughout their research process. This is where the power of remarketing comes into play! You can use this process to further highlight your unique selling points, or even offer a small discount to get the person to take action, whether that’s to enquire or to purchase. There’s a lot of competition out there, and consumers are becoming increasingly savvy. So, it’s even more important to ensure you’re not forgotten!

Brand Awareness

One of the main reasons businesses use Google Display Ads is to increase their brand awareness. Given the reach and targeting capabilities of the network, it gives businesses multiple opportunities to connect with their target audience. This is especially true when you identify your target audience’s interests, what websites they are spending time on, and what they are searching for.

Design Superstars

If you’ve got a backlog of impressive and visually-appealing creatives (designs/collateral), then why not show it off to the world! It’s no surprise that eye-catching designs will work best for Google Display campaigns and help your business stand out from the rest.

There’s a range of different display ad formats and sizes, including responsive display ads and video creative.

It’s important to have eye-catching and engaging creative designs to use with display advertising! If you don’t already have creatives that you can use, feel free to chat with us [[link to contact form]] about our PPC Creatives package.

Visual Product

If your product or service’s main selling point is how it looks, then you MUST show it! Whether it be designer clothing or fun kids toys, if you know that it’ll capture the attention of your target audience, then Google Display Ads will help you do just that. On the other hand, if your business offers a service which can be visually displayed, then Google Display ads can still work for you. For example, before-and-after photos, pool designs/builds, or hotel rooms and facilities.


If you’d like to know more about Google Display Ads benefits and find out if your business is a good fit, get in touch with our team today!

 


Written by Gabrielle Behm-Pike

Health Practices for Remote Work Environments

Health Practices for Remote Work Environments

Prior to 2020, working from home for most people was something that seemed unattainable. With the pandemic forcing some workplaces into remote work for the safety of employees, there must be a focus on ensuring that each employee has a remote environment that is comfortable.

We now, more than ever, need to be aware of best health practices in the workplace. Not only for physical health but the mental wellbeing of employees as well.

Here are some practices employers can implement to assist their staff in being comfortable and healthy while working remotely.

Ensuring A Comfortable Remote Work Space

A practice that I experienced in a previous job was an assessment of my workspace by my employer, prior to assuming a remote position. The assessment included a checklist of ergonomic requirements as well as tips from other remote employees for making the space more comfortable. We were to set up our space and complete the checklist, then provide photo evidence of the space to the HR department.

Once approved, we could then commence the remote position. Not only did this ensure we were starting off on the right foot in a new work environment, but it also demonstrated care from the employer. This practice is something that could be effective on a wider scale for businesses who may be hesitant to implement new work options.

Health In A Remote Working Environment

Adopting a remote working environment can be a double-edged sword depending on the workplace and the particular employee. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some workplaces were forced into a completely remote environment within a matter of days to protect the health of the workforce.

For some people, remote working would have been a dream. However, such a huge change being enforced in such a small amount of time, although it was to protect people’s physical health, could have had an impact on the mental health and wellbeing of those affected. Any kind of change can be difficult, but with a complete overhaul of policies and procedures within a workforce, steps need to be put in place for the future of the workforce if it is going to thrive.

Employers need to remember that each individual is different. So, while some working environments are great for one person, a different approach may be needed for somebody else.

In my experience with remote work (my current position included), I would say work-life balance is something that not only makes an employee more comfortable at work but also has an impact on mental health. Even though I enjoyed my remote position in my previous job, the hours were regimented, lunch breaks were set, and even though I was at home I had no real control over my day. Over time, that started to take a toll, especially because your home is your work environment.

Allow Freedom Within Your Remote Work System

My previous employers were always hesitant to allow their employees to work from home. Perhaps it was because of a lack of trust, or a concern that autonomy may lead to lower productivity.

My personal experience of remote work with Vine Street Digital has been extremely positive. I find myself a lot more focused now that I’m able to set out my workday according to when I will be most productive. Having the ability to work flexibly has created the perfect work-life balance for me! I feel as though my performance has skyrocketed now, compared to how it was in a regimented office environment.

If I had to give advice to employers on how to keep a happy, healthy and productive workforce, I would have to say the biggest thing, in my opinion, is giving your staff a choice. If you provide your employees with the freedom to choose from a range of options that work for your business but are also diverse in the type of approach your employees can take, I feel as though employers would find they have a much happier and productive workforce than that of a business that is putting everyone in the same box.

Written by Zea Holmes

We have many articles about remote work! Here are just a few:

What Makes A Good PPC Report?

What Makes A Good PPC Report?

An important part of running PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns is a good PPC report. You need to know if your PPC campaigns are on- or off-track, and understand what the track is in the first place. There’s no denying that PPC reports can be full of technical jargon and metrics. However, a truly great PPC report should come with context and lead to further insights.

Good PPC reports are also great for keeping your agency accountable, and to see if they’re really doing the job you’re paying for. So what makes a good PPC report? Here are some critical features your PPC reports should have.

A Good PPC Report is Goal-Focused

It should be pretty clear what you’re trying to achieve with your PPC campaigns. A good PPC report should tell you whether or not you’re hitting your goals. Goals differ between businesses, and it’s common for a business to have multiple goals with their PPC campaigns. Now when I say “goals”, I don’t mean broad things like “increase awareness” or “make more sales”. I mean clear, measurable things.

Some good examples are:

  • “keep the cost per conversion under $50″
  • “achieve x number of leads per $x spent”
  • “an ROAS above 200%”

A good PPC report will show you if those goals were achieved in the reporting time frame. Ideally, it should also be clear how well you managed to achieve those goals; and if you didn’t achieve them, how far off were you? Either way, when you open that huge list of metrics, the first thing you should be able to tell is “did it work?”

Metrics and numbers are nice, but they need to be put in context

There’s no doubt you’ll see some core metrics like Clicks, Impressions, CTR, Average Position, Impression Share, and so on. That’s all very nice, but these metrics and numbers need to be given a context. It’s good to have the report explain why things are the way they are. If your CTR went down, what does that mean? Why might it have gone down? Was it necessarily a bad thing? Giving context and an explanation of changes that were made, and how they affected your numbers, not only keeps your PPC manager accountable, but it can give you some useful insights.

The numbers you see are a reflection of how well your lead funnel is set up, how refined your audience or keywords are, the effectiveness of your messaging, and the optimisation of your website. If you understand your metrics more than just “it went up” or “it went down”, then you can truly assess your business, who you need to reach, and how best to reach them.

Comparing your numbers over time

A good PPC report should show you your numbers in relation to your goals, but also show you how things have changed over time. If you receive a PPC report each month, it’s great to see how things have changed in comparison to last month. I’m also a big fan of historical tables showing you month-to-month stats going back a year or two. This allows you to see if any trends are apparent, and if the results you’re seeing this month might be impacted by the time of year. Comparing how you did this month to how you did last month, or this time last year, is just another way you can put things in context. Plus, it can often be a great feeling to see just how far your PPC campaigns have come, so why not celebrate with every report?

What’s a report without recommendations?

After you’ve seen whether your PPC campaigns have reached their goals, why the numbers look like they do, and how you’ve tracked over time, the big question is – what next? Any good PPC report will come with a recommendation of what the plan is going forward. That way, you and your PPC manager will be on the same page of what the next steps need to be and what actions need to be taken.

Not sure if you’re getting a good PPC report?

Here’s what to do next

If you’re looking at a PPC report and you’re not sure what you’re seeing, you’re not alone. Many business owners receive documents full of metrics, numbers and graphs and find them a bit meaningless. Here’s  few things you can do as a business owner to make your PPC reports more useful;

  1. Ask your PPC manager for a written summary of the report so that you can gain context on why things are the way they are.
  2. If you don’t know what metrics mean, don’t be afraid to ask! There are no stupid questions when it comes to PPC!
  3. Make sure you have clear and measurable goals for your PPC campaigns, and make sure your PPC manager knows what they are.
  4. If you get reports on a regular basis, don’t hesitate to ask for additional ones that cover longer periods of time. For example, you might want to see an annual or quarterly report.

If you’re still not sure if your reports are providing you with the information you need, feel free to get in touch. We’re always happy to provide a second opinion and provide reports that will help you move your PPC campaigns forward.

Written by Gemma Renton

Hygge in the Workplace: What it is & why you need to get on board!

Hygge in the Workplace – What it is and why you need to get on board!

You’d be forgiven for having never heard of Hygge, especially since it has its origins in the Scandinavian countries of the world.

A quick Google on the meaning of hygge produces the following:

hygge
/ˈh(j)uːɡə,ˈhʊɡə/ (“hue-guh”)
noun
a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality (friendliness, warmth) that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
“Hyggeligt” is the adjectival form.

Hygge is more than happiness, it’s more than comfort, and it’s a concept that, in and of itself, is difficult to encompass. But Hygge is a huge element in the Scandinavian way of life. This is important on account of Denmark (in particular) being listed consistently as one of the happiest nations in the world.

Hygge is hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day. And a lively yet cosy dinner with friends, surrounded by tealight candles, finished off with chocolate cake and wine. It’s reading a book in a window seat, covered in a soft blanket, while it’s snowing outside. It’s a sense of cosiness, camaraderie and homeliness. The Danes attribute their happiness and contentedness to a national dedication to cultivating hygge at every level of life.

Happy people are more productive, less stressed, and well… happier! So, introducing hygge into your workplace can have a positive impact on your work, your life, and your mental health.

Here are a few tips that might make you feel a little cosier and happier while you work.
Drinks Station - Hygge in the Workplace - Vine Street Digital

A Hygge Drinks Station

What better way to create a cosy space than with a beautiful tray, filled with everything you like to drink. Try herbal teas, craft coffees, and decadent syrups. Even when heading into summer, this idea still works! Just replace your hot drinks with refreshing cold juices, herbal infusions, or if you’re lucky enough, a water jug filled with edible flowers, fruit, and herbs straight from the garden! Think mint, rose petals, and strawberries. Hydration has been scientifically linked to productivity, so pretty up your space, drink more water, and work harder!

Natural Elements

The benefits of indoor plants have been touted the world over in office spaces and there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate this into your at home-work space. No room for a ficus? No problem. Mini terrariums, baby succulents, and fresh flowers work just as well. Plants purify the air, add greenery (which is a great colour to look at to assist with eye strain), and give you a general feel of cosiness and personalisation. You could also display that seashell you got on your last beach vacation, your favourite crystal, or piece of driftwood. It’s homey, personalised, and good for your environment. This is a great tip no matter the weather, so you can incorporate Hygge whether it’s rain, hail, or shine.

Cosiness at the desk

The Danish nation buys and uses more candles than any other nation in the world. Candles provide ambient light, a sense of wellbeing, and a beautiful, cosy feeling right on your desk. Scented candles in your favourite colours and shapes can be used to make your desk feel more like your own personal space. Turn it into somewhere you enjoy being, and make it the foundation of your productive, efficient, and motivated workday.

Cosiness - Hygge in the Workplace - Vine Street Digital

Cosy, not cluttered

You can create a cosy, hyggeligt space on your desk without making it look like you’ve established a small jungle that’s lined with Dusk candles. There’s a balance to hygge that indicates that your space should feel inviting, comfortable, and uplifting. Clutter is not uplifting and is a known source of stress. Clean your desk of all filing, kids toys, empty coffee cups, superfluous stationery (I could go on) at least once per day so that you feel great while you work. Replace the clutter with meaningful objects such as plants, candles, and photos of your family. Make your office space work for you.

Lighting

One of the best ways to be more hyggeligt is with great lighting. Natural light is not only great to work by, but it’s great for you in general. Open the windows and doors, position your desk strategically, and feel more yourself in the morning sunlight. If sunlight isn’t an option, or it’s too hot or distracting (as is common during a Queensland summer when it’s 30 Degrees at 8 in the morning), make use of desk lamps to enlighten your space. Or, if you prefer to work at night, fairy lights can make your office cosy and uplifting. Candles also help slightly with lighting, but don’t rely on them to see – just use them to make you feel great!

So from the country that has its own Happiness Institute, you can create a space that is productive, personal, and comfortable. Even in the warmer climates and months, hygge is a concept that can make you feel happier, less stressed, and more efficient. Think outside the box when working from home and bring a little Scandi serenity to your day. It would also be a great principle to integrate into your morning routine to make your day run more smoothly!

Written by Kristen Boucher

Keeping Your Ads Fresh: How To Come Up With New Ad Copy

Keeping Your Ads Fresh: How To Come Up With New Ad Copy

Whether you’re using Google ads, Facebook ads or one of the many other PPC platforms, it’s important to keep testing your ad copy. In the case of search engines, testing ad copy allows you to constantly keep improving your ads so that they’re more relevant and more appealing to users. For social ads, we test ad copy to keep improving, but we also change up our ads to make sure people aren’t seeing the same thing over and over.

So with all this constant ad copy testing, how on earth are you meant to keep coming up with fresh ideas? It’s certainly a tricky one. Sometimes ad copy tests are very minor wording changes and don’t have to be ground breaking. However, it’s good to keep looking at your copy from a new perspective. Here’s just a few ad copy techniques that we use to help us keep ads fresh.

Ad Copy Technique #1 – Proof

A good angle for any ad is proving why you’re better than other people. Is your claim believable and why? You might want to consider including the following in your ad copy;

  • Celebrity endorsement
  • Personal endorsement/testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Social proof; number of followers, citations, media mentions
  • Use content with an actual demonstration of it working

There’s lots of ways to demonstrate proof, but a good ad copy technique is also to focus on numbers. Use statistics, savings, losses, price, percentages or dates, to help hammer home your credibility.

Ad Copy Technique #2 – Offers

Offers don’t always have to cheapen your brand or make you give something away for free. The idea of an offer is to help someone make a more informed decision, or to develop trust in a brand. Some offer types include;

  • Guarantee
  • Trial Offer
  • Free Sample
  • Discount
  • “No Obligation”
  • White Papers
  • % to Charity

Offers should sweeten the deal and instil confidence. They should never look like a deceptive scramble to win more business.

Ad Copy Technique #3 – Change your structure

Ad copy isn’t just about what you say, it’s also about how you say it. Sometimes minimal changes can help people to digest information more easily, or make your ad stand out from your competitors. You might want to consider utilising the following techniques when you test your ads;

  • Verb swapping & noun swapping
  • Capitalisation
  • Line Breaks
  • Repetition
  • Quotes
  • Dashes and Slashes
  • Exclamation Marks
  • Special Symbols like ™

These small things can be really fascinating to test. If information is easier to read or your eyes are drawn to it, it’s more likely to win the click.

Ad Copy Technique #4 – Emotions

It’s no secret that advertising plays to people’s emotions. The important thing is to do this in a responsible way, not a deceptive way. Emotions can be broken down into three core areas:

  • Feelings (e.g. joy, anticipation, surprise)
  • Vices (sloth, gluttony)
  • Virtues (justice, honesty)

Thinking about how you can tweak your ad in a different way to appeal to different emotions can give you a totally different perspective on your copy.

Wrapping Up

So you might be sitting there wondering how you could ever think of a different way to sell yourself, your product or your service, but I’m here to say that you do have options! These are just a few of the different angles we explore when looking at ad copy, and not all of the angles apply to all businesses. But sometimes it’s worthwhile simply considering these different techniques to give you a fresh perspective once in a while. Contact us if you have any questions on this!

Written by Gemma Renton

MyBusiness Awards Finalist 2020

MyBusiness Awards Finalist 2020

The team at Vine Street Digital is proud and thrilled to announce finalist status for the MyBusiness Awards 2020, in both the MEDIA, MARKETING AND ADVERTISING BUSINESS OF THE YEAR category, and the WORKPLACE OF THE YEAR category!

As the owner of an agency that focuses on PPC (Pay-Per-Click) digital advertising, Gemma Renton knows all too well the pitfalls and restrictions rife within many agencies in the industry. Noticing the burnt-out staff, low productivity, and unhappy clients, and burning out herself, Gemma knew something had to change. She created Vine Street Digital in 2015 as a way to combat these issues.

“We envisage a world where no one has to sacrifice their careers for their desire to travel, have children, or live rurally. We also want to level the playing field in terms of gender, disability, and race.” – Gemma

Vine Street Digital has operated under a remote-work model since its inception. The business is founded on the principles of honesty, trust, and integrity. Rather than subscribing to traditional office life, Gemma chose to give herself and her employees the freedom and flexibility of a completely remote work environment. Staff can choose their location and their hours of work.

“Fast-forward to the 2020 pandemic, while many businesses are implementing remote work for the first time, we’ve already been working from home in a way that promotes employee health during a stressful, difficult time.” – Gemma

It’s not only about liberating Gemma and her employees, but their clients as well. The freedom and transparency that Vine Street Digital offers to clients is a driving factor in their success. Their PPC management service is contract-free, and clients maintain complete ownership of all their accounts. This differentiates Vine Street Digital from the many agencies that try to keep a firmer hold on their clients.

Achieving finalist status in both the Media, Marketing and Advertising Business of the Year category as well as the Workplace of the Year category proves that Vine Street Digital is on the right track.

“To be the best agency to work with, and the best agency to work for – it’s exactly what I wanted.” – Gemma

Most of the Vine Street Digital team are currently based in and near Brisbane, Australia. However, two team members are in Victoria, and another lives in Canada. Those who are able to travel will join Gemma in celebrating and watching the awards live stream in her living room. The others will join in spirit!

“It’s a perfect excuse for us to hang out, have a bit of fun, and celebrate our achievements,” Gemma commented.

“Our ambition is to ensure that we continue on this path, and lead others by example. We’re inspiring better business. The MyBusiness Awards gives us an amazing opportunity to share our vision and promote change in the industry.” – Gemma

A focus on employee retention and wellness, and a business model that promotes quality work, means that Vine Street Digital is one of the few agencies hiring during a pandemic – not firing! The pandemic has shown the world that flexible, remote work is the way of the future, and has proved to the team at Vine Street Digital that they have countless benefits helping them to mitigate risk and grow during difficult times.


Written by Chelsea Zanki


The MyBusiness Awards is the benchmark for excellence in Australia and the largest independent awards program celebrating SME business owners and professionals. Award recipients represent a true cross-section of the SME industry, recognising the best of the best, highlighting and celebrating outstanding achievements, and providing winners with a desirable accolade.

“This year’s MyBusiness Awards carry more weight than ever, given the unparalleled hardship small- to-medium-business owners have experienced since the onset of 2020,” said MyBusiness editor Maja
Garaca Djurdjevic.

“That is precisely why we feel honoured to have this opportunity to celebrate business owners and shine a spotlight on those that have gone above and beyond to keep their businesses running and offer outstanding service and support to their customers and the Australian community at large. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their continued efforts. We wish you all the very best and look forward to celebrating your achievements in December.”

The finalist list features over 250 high-achieving individuals and businesses across 30+ submission-based categories. The awards ceremony and announcement of winners will be live-streamed on the 4th of December.


About Vine Street Digital:

Vine Street Digital is a digital advertising agency that focuses on PPC (Pay-Per-Click) marketing across multiple platforms including Google, Bing, Facebook, and more. Their management services include a thorough analysis of their clients’ business goals and metrics to help deliver their desired results. For further information, contact Vine Street Digital.

Music While We Work Remotely

Music While We Work Remotely

Music plays a huge part in our lives! Some of our team talk through the kind of music they listen to while working remotely.

Chelsea

The music I listen to varies a lot depending on both my mood and what kind of tasks I need to get done.

When I’m writing, I find it helps to not have any lyrics in the music. I’ve long been a fan of instrumental music from video games (such as Final Fantasy X), and have also been exploring Spotify playlists based on mood/purpose to discover more.

On the other end of the scale, if I’m doing some tasks that might be a bit repetitive and methodical, I pick something that gives me more energy. Knife Party is one of my favourites for this!

I also love a good rain/weather soundscape. Some years ago I discovered the website called “Rainy Mood”. The website has a looping rain soundtrack which is great on its own, but they also have a great collection of music (via embedded YouTube videos) to add to the rain. It’s helped me discover even more music to listen to!

When I want some more control and variation for soundscapes, I use the Rain Rain App on my phone. They let you pick up to three different sounds to put into a mix at one time. For example; a thunderstorm, a tumble dryer, and a washing machine, for some “rainy day at home” vibes. You can change the volume levels of each sound. On iPhones, they’ve even included the ability to oscillate the sounds! Sadly, that feature isn’t available for Android users, much to my despair.

As of May 2020, I discovered the music streaming community on Twitch, and I’m having a great time! I talk more about that at the bottom of this blog. 

Gemma

I enjoy a pretty wide range of music and have quite varied playlists. My playlists are mostly sorted by the decade the songs were released;

2010s | 2000s | 1990s | 1980s | 1970s | 1960s | 1950s | 1940s

I’m a 90s kid so there’s obviously heavy nostalgia when it comes to the 90s, 00s & even 10s. My parents are to blame for a lot of the music prior to the 90s. My father is generally into music from the 60s and 70s, while my mother played what she refers to as her “Daggy Dance List” which is probably responsible for my love of 80s music. Having previously done tap dancing and singing, I have a soft spot for Big Band Jazz as well. This all started a love of exploring music from the past. But, occasionally I’ll be won over by something more recent.

When I’m working, I like to listen to music that makes me happy. A song can be happy because it reminds me of a time, place, or person that makes me happy. Or maybe because it’s upbeat, or it’s just a plain old good song. So, even though I’ll sometimes dip into a decade while I work, usually my go-to playlist is my “Favourites“.

Many people choose to play music to help them focus or concentrate, but that’s not really what music is about for me. Music influences your mood, brings back memories, and brings me a lot of joy. I don’t like playing music that makes it sound like I’m in a hotel lobby, because that doesn’t make me concentrate! I always play music that makes me happy. After all, when I’m happy I’m more productive.

Lachlan

I always have some sort of noise while I’m working. 99% of the time it’s music, but sometimes it’s just having the TV on in the background. My favourite music to listen to while working is something that’s got a nice beat and isn’t too engaging, otherwise I find myself distracted.

Mostly I listen to Chillstep or different styles of Low Fi (Jazz, Hip Hop etc) – very melodic and easy to listen to while working. I almost always use Spotify. But sometimes I’ll just have a YouTube playlist on as well. There’s so much variety in these genres that I rarely find myself listening to the same tune more than once, which is nice.

Rebecca

I tend to get way too emotionally invested in whatever music is playing, so I tend to sort my playlists by mood. If I’m working with numbers, I need either total silence (which is easy to achieve at a home office like mine) or something low-stakes like a song about a guy who’s really good at pinball.

If I’m doing a repetitive task, I like to listen to a work-out mix to get into a good rhythm. Work-out mixes are the modern-day sea shanty.

And when I have a task that I can do in my sleep, I turn on my guilty pleasure playlist for a private karaoke session. No one needs to know that I know all the lyrics to Rapper’s Delight except for me and my roommates.

Kristen

As the mother of a small child, I constantly have Wiggles songs stuck in my head. So while I work, I actually prefer to listen to audio books rather than music! The local library services give their patrons access to apps that allow audio-book downloads for free, so I take advantage of this service while I work.

If I am in the mood for music instead, I have a tendency to stick to instrumental music on YouTube – Celtic and Nordic themes that I can play in the background while I concentrate.

Gabrielle

Music helps me concentrate – as well as being a great mood booster – so I always have something on in the background. I tend to play whole albums rather than playlists, but I love the curated playlists Spotify make for me, they normally get it spot on.

The music I play depends a lot on where I am in the week. I normally start the week off with chill synth/electro-pop style music such as Shura or Clairo. As the week goes on, I’ll put on artists such as Kali Uchis, Anderson Paak or Crazy P.

I definitely can’t pass up a touch (i.e a lot) of pop – queue Charli XCX & Dua Lipa – and 12pm onwards on Friday is the time for it!

Courtney

I enjoy a wide array of music, it really depends on my mood on the day from pop and House to RnB and Rock. I love bands like Future Islands, Foals, Sticky Fingers, Smith Street Band, War On Drugs, Violent Soho.

When I’m wanting to get in the zone, I prefer listening to playlists with music that don’t have sing-along components.

I have a few go-to playlists on Spotify for when I just need steady background music including ‘The Office Stereo’, ‘Lo-Fi Beats’ and ‘Just Chill’. An odd one is the ‘The Sims’ from the original computer game. That music makes time fly by.

Zea

As much as I love music, I actually find it quite hard to concentrate with it playing in the background. I work best with my balcony open letting the city sounds in.

I find with songs I get super distracted and can’t actually focus on the task at hand, whereas with the natural sounds of the city it helps me to focus more and get my work done.

Harry

Music has always been a massive part of my day. Working remotely has given me the privilege to play music all day, non-stop, which I definitely take advantage of.
I have a few go-tos depending on my mood, as well as the activity I am doing. I have specific playlists that I jump on when I’m driving, pottering about at home, or with friends. These playlists mostly consist of modern trap music, contemporary r&b, and alternative hip-hop.

When I am working, relaxing, or occasionally driving too, I will put on ambient music or something downtempo. Examples are artists like Brian Eno, Tycho, Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin. I often find that these relaxed tracks help me concentrate, as I’m not trying to fill empty silence with distracting thoughts; like the fact that there is no physical evidence to say that today is Wednesday – we all just have to trust that someone has kept count since the first one ever.

COVID-19 Update

We put together this post a while ago, but we like to update it now and then with some new discoveries. As of May 2020, we’ve been experiencing a global pandemic, and many people are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety.

Music is something that can be very helpful in dealing with stress, and it can bring people together. The team over at ConsumersAdvocate.org have put together a list of music streaming services that you may like to check out! This list is probably of most use to American audiences, as some of the services aren’t available in other countries (e.g. Pandora is not available in Vine Street Digital’s home country, Australia). But there are still great insights and takeaways no matter which country you’re in.

One of the platforms they haven’t mentioned is Twitch. Twitch is generally known as the site where you can “watch other people play video games”, but that’s not all it’s about. Twitch also has a huge community of music streamers! You’ll mostly see pianists and guitarists, some who sing and some who don’t. Just check out the Music & Performing Arts section of Twitch. You can find streamers playing all sorts of music, from pop and rock to video game and movie soundtrack covers.

How To Use Facebook Catalogue To Boost Your Online Sales

How To Use Facebook Catalogue To Boost Your Online Sales

There’s no denying that Facebook & Instagram are two of the strongest platforms in driving sales for e-commerce stores. With the ability to reach new and existing customers, these social media platforms are now a core part of marketing strategies across a range of online retail stores. As an e-commerce store, how can you make sure you’re making the most of the features offered by Facebook? Today, we’ll look at one feature in particular – Facebook Catalogues.

Tablet Shopping | Facebook Catalogues | Vine Street Digital

What is the Facebook Product Catalogue?

If you’ve run Google Shopping in the past, you might be familiar with Google Merchant Centre (GMC). You can think of the Catalogue Manager as Facebook’s version of GMC, as this is where you’ll house all your product data; including price, title, description, and images. In order to set this up, you’ll need to navigate to the Catalogue Manager. Depending on the volume of products and your website platform, you can either set the product feed up manually, through a website plugin, or with an existing feed file through GMC.

Once you’ve created your Facebook Catalogue, you can then create ‘Product Sets’. You can create Product Sets to group together specific items in your inventory with a range of filters such as brand or price. You’ll need to create these in order for you to run Dynamic Remarketing Ads – which we’d definitely recommend!

There are a few “best practice” rules when setting up a Product Set. However, the main one we’ll note today is that Facebook recommends you include more than 4 items in a Product Set. Including only a few products will limit your ads from delivering.

Ways To Use Your Facebook Catalogue

Once you’ve set up your Facebook Catalogue, there’s a range of features you can use on both Facebook and Instagram. All of these features provide another touchpoint for you to connect with your customers.

Dynamic Remarketing Ads

I’d be surprised if you haven’t come across Dynamic Ads in your newsfeed. This is where you’ll see remarketing ads for specific products that you’ve already looked at or searched for online. How do they do it? The Dynamic Ads match items from your catalogue with ‘events’ from your Facebook Pixel (installed on your website to track user actions). These events can include ‘product page views’ or ‘add to cart.’ These are great for connecting with customers at the bottom of the funnel, right when they are ready to take action and make a purchase. You have the option of displaying these as a carousel or single image ad.

Collection Ads

Collection Ad | Facebook Catalogues | Vine Street Digital

Collection Ads are a great way to showcase your products and provide an easier way for users to discover and browse in a visual and interactive way. The ad format allows you to display 4 items from your catalogue underneath a hero image or video. Users can then tap on items to learn more or browse similar products.

Facebook Page Shop

You can think of your business page as your storefront and the Facebook catalogue as the warehouse that stores your inventory. So firstly, you’ll need to ensure your Facebook page is set up as a Business Page. Once connected, your Facebook Shop will automatically update when you update the catalogue, so it’s easy to manage. The Facebook Page shop allows users to browse products, view product details, and select a size (for example). The user can then choose to ‘Check Out’ on the website.

Instagram Shopping

With Instagram Shopping, you can tag products within your posts or stories. People can then tap on these tags to see the product details such as price. Similar to a Facebook Shop, you’ll need to ensure that your account is set up as a business account and it’s connected to your Facebook page.

Why not get started with Facebook Catalogue?

If you’re an e-commerce store and you want to take full advantage of Facebook’s Ad features, why not set up your Facebook Catalogue! Contact us if you have any questions, or if you would like assistance with Facebook Catalogue Ads.

Changes to the Google Ads Search Query Report

Changes to the Google Ads Search Query/Term Report

This month, Google is stirring unrest amongst the Google Ads community by implementing serious changes in the way we can see search queries. Up until now, we were able to see every search query that triggers your ads. However, Google is now limiting this to only show queries that are “searched by a significant number of users”.

As PPC Specialists, we heavily rely on the Search Query Report. We use it to:

  • understand the way users search for our clients’ products and services,
  • find new keywords opportunities, and
  • reduce wasted ad spend.

We are already experiencing the limitations just a couple of weeks post-implementation. 

Cons of the new Search Query Report (SQR) limits

Less control over what we’re paying for

Gabrielle notes that this is another step that Google has taken towards limiting the control we have over campaigns. With this change, we have less control over which search queries are triggering our ads, and importantly, what we’re actually paying for.

Google’s update apparently excludes low search volume terms. Unfortunately, Google is seemingly disregarding the fact that it can take just a few clicks to generate large amounts of ad spend, especially in accounts where the bids are highly competitive. 

What if there was one specific word that we could either include or exclude in our campaigns that would affect future performance? We’ve already noticed that we’re not able to see some search queries that have converted. If it’s not searched a “significant number” of times, we’ll apparently never know what it is.

Fewer opportunities to find new keywords based on converting search terms

Lachlan explains that usually when a conversion is recorded in an account, his first action is to go to the search query report to see which query triggered it. He can then add it back into the account as a targeted keyword to increase the campaign’s performance. However, since Google’s SQR changes, sometimes the converting query is not available. So, without being able to know what the query was, he has to rely on the keyword that triggered it to keep bringing conversions in.

DSAs (Dynamic Search Ads) can be a valuable tool for finding new keyword opportunities. In fact, Courtney has some campaigns with budgets dedicated to DSAs for this very purpose. 

In the past 14 days, one particular client received two quality leads from this kind of campaign. Courtney noted that it’s a quiet campaign which doesn’t often receive much traffic nor conversions, so she was intrigued to see what search queries had triggered these clicks. But, there weren’t any search terms available for her to view. This same client had another ad group with 18 clicks from the past 7 days, but only 6 of those 18 clicks had viewable search queries.

This same issue applies to regular (non-dynamic) search campaigns and ads – it is already more difficult to find converting search queries to add back in as targeted keywords.

Higher difficulty to optimise campaigns to be as relevant and targeted as possible

Kristen points out that one of the imperatives of running a successful PPC campaign is ensuring that the traffic you attract is relevant to the services and/or products you’re providing. 

Our specialists can manage what keywords your ads show for by building and maintaining lists of “negative keywords” – keywords to be excluded from your campaign targeting. Regular reviews of the Search Query Report are how we identify irrelevant search queries which should be added to the exclusion list.

This helps create a more streamlined, cost-effective account. But without the ability to see all of the search terms, we run the risk of budget wastage with no way to optimise this. It’s harder to tell if we’re showing to the right audience or not.

Coupled with the continued expansion (and muddling) of what Google considers “close variant” matching, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that campaigns are targeting the most relevant keywords.

Going forward

Google’s aim to “maintain standards of privacy”

Apparently this limitation on SQRs is to maintain Google’s standards of privacy. However, it’s unclear as to what this really means. It’s great if Google can keep personally-identifying information (PII) private. But, hiding masses of low search volume keywords doesn’t seem to be the best way forward.

Courtney has opined that if Google is committed to protecting privacy, one way could be to choose not to show for sensitive topics. This could help advertisers to stay in line with Google’s policies regarding topics such as abortion, sexual content, gambling, and so on.

Google’s push for automated campaigns

We’ve spoken with one of our associates who is in a similar boat. They’ve noted that Google seems to be pushing everyone to automation and smart campaigns. The effectiveness of automated campaigns is a whole other conversation. But, in a nutshell, it’s a system that’s far from perfect. It’s still incredibly important to carefully manage and cultivate campaigns – by hand, not by machine – to help them perform highly. 

Future effects

At this early stage, some of our staff haven’t noticed a massive impact to account performance. More so that it’s annoying that Google is limiting one of the most important features of Google Ads. Apparently, Google is investing in new ways to share insights with their advertisers. We have yet to see a clear picture of what this means and how it will affect the PPC landscape. Time will tell.

Now, more than ever, your campaigns require an experienced eye to make sure they’re at their best. Feel free to get in contact if you’ve got any queries and/or concerns!

Written by the team at Vine Street Digital

Chelsea’s Tips To Stay Productive When Working From Home

Stay Productive When Working From Home

Can you stay productive when working from home? It can be difficult when there’s no one else to hold you accountable! Some days are easier than others, depending on what else is going on. By the way, these tips could still apply to anyone working in an office, and to people who are studying!

Here are a few tools I’ve used to help me feel more productive and focused.

Tools For Staying Focused/On-task

Music

SpotifyCertain music can affect how well I work, but it changes and goes around in circles. I’ve started using Spotify to follow a few different playlists. I find that chilled instrumental music is good when I’m writing (having no lyrics in the music tends to help here). And Summer Waves works well as music that lifts my mood but fades into the background just enough to not distract me too much. On the other end of the scale, if I’m doing some tasks that are repetitive and/or methodical, I pick something that gives me more energy. I find Knife Party is great for this! I’m also very into the Tron: Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk.

Timers

FocusKeeperI’ve had days where the Pomodoro method has worked well for me. You work for 20 minutes, take a break for 5 minutes, then repeat this cycle a few times before having a longer break of 25 minutes. I’ve been using Focus Keeper as a tool for implementing this method. If anyone has experiences with another app I’d be happy to hear your suggestions!

Having the timer is great to keep me focused on tasks, one-by-one. Sometimes it feels less daunting, especially when approaching a bigger task, to give yourself just 20 minutes to work on it in every round. This way it’s also less tempting to multi-task too much or to compulsively check emails (which can be a terrible time-waster)!

Know When To Have A Break

Sometimes it’s tempting to keep pushing through a particular problem or task that you’re facing. And sometimes, it’s hard to know when to stop banging your head against that brick wall and just take a break!

I’ve heard it said many times, that if you just give yourself some space from a challenge that often the answers will come to you on their own. The challenge is learning to recognise when it’s time to step away for a while! If you’ve been trying to push through for a while and you’re still not getting anywhere, it’s probably time to take 5 (or 10, or 30)!

Productive Breaks For Body & Mind

As anyone who works at a computer all day can tell you, it feels terrible for your body. Make sure you get up now and then! Setting a timer (such as the Focus Keeper I mentioned earlier) is a good way to remind yourself of that! Do some stretching, go for a little walk, just move your body.

You could even take yourself out for a little date – get yourself some lunch at a cafe, or take a picnic to a local park. Just get out into the fresh air and sunshine! If you can, maybe even meet a friend for lunch/coffee. Going outside and seeing other people is something that can help not just your body, but your mind as well.

CalmMeditation can also be a great way to get some space from your work. There are many apps out there for meditation these days. Sometimes, I use Calm. I love that it has different backgrounds with soundscapes (I tend to use the beach or the rain) which can integrate with whichever meditation you’re listening to. Taking a step away and letting your mind focus on something as simple as your breathing can help you be productive.

Back to it!

Hopefully, you’ve found some tips in here that will help you feel more productive! I find usually having a good mind & body break helps me come back with fresh eyes and renewed vigour. And I haven’t even mentioned caffeine!

If you’ve got any other tips or experiences you’d like to share, I’d be glad to hear them!

Written by Chelsea Zanki

Writing Emails In Your Voice: Trust Me, You Won’t Be Sorry

Writing Emails In Your Voice: Trust Me, You Won’t Be Sorry

I just wanted to say thanks for reading this blog. I mean, I’m no expert, but I think that how we phrase things in emails is really important. Sorry if it’s blunt, but sometimes our phrasing can diminish the substance of what we’re trying to communicate. Does that make sense?

Did you hate that opening paragraph as much as I hated writing it?

Power in Communication

Being a completely remote business, emails are a big part of our communication. When you remove the face-to-face conversations, you really need to step up your email game. The words that you choose can break a relationship, ruin a strategy, and waste time. But they can also build trust, friendships, and respect. I have clients that I’ve known for years who I’d consider close friends, but we’ve never actually met in person. There’s a lot of power in the way you communicate, so it feels like a no-brainer to pay close attention to the way you say things.

It wasn’t until the other day when I was composing a tough email that I found myself really questioning my language. For the more difficult emails, I always say them out loud before hitting send so I can get a feel for how they’ll come across. As I read this particular email draft, I realised I had said the word “just” about 6 times, “actually” twice, and to cap it off, said “sorry” for no reason.

Ugh. That’s not me.

I’m a confident person, and yet there was nothing confident about this email. Why was I apologising for existing and making requests that were totally reasonable? I own a business and I’m awesome, dammit!

“Woman In A Meeting” Language

We can all accidentally or unintentionally undermine ourselves, but the reality is that it happens more for women in the workplace. This article from the Washington Post takes famous quotes and puts them in the language a woman would use if she were in a meeting. One of my personal favourites is a spoof of the famous “I came. I saw. I conquered”, or as a woman in a meeting might say;

“I don’t want to toot my own horn here at all but I definitely have been to those places and was just honoured to be a part of it as our team did such a wonderful job of conquering them.”

This “Woman in a Meeting” language, as dubbed in the article, was so ingrained in me that I hadn’t even noticed it. And the more formal or important a situation was, the more I found myself leaning on it.

For me, I fall into this bizarre “Woman in a Meeting” language because I’m trying to fit in. Times where I’ve been passionate about something, I’ve been called “emotional” or even “hysterical”. Some days where I’ve felt sad, depressed, or frustrated and I’ve expressed those feelings at work, I’ve been told to “put a lid on it” or “go do that in private” – basically the corporate equivalent of “you’d be prettier if you smiled more”. So eventually I learned that if I had something important to say, I had better say it in a way that would be received and heard. And unfortunately, that’s “Woman in a Meeting” language.

Just Not Sorry

I recently installed a Chrome extension called Just Not Sorry, and it has helped A LOT. The app highlights words and phrases that undermine your voice, like:

  • “Sorry”
  • “I think”
  • “Just”
  • “Does this make sense?”

Since using the extension, I’ve realised that I use these words and phrases far more often than I originally thought. It’s an excellent tool that’s made me more mindful of my language. I was a huge fan.

That was until I started drafting this email;

“I appreciate your understanding. I always want to be honest with you, especially when I feel that communication might be starting to break down.”

Squiggly lines appeared under “to be honest” and “I feel”, and I started second-guessing myself. Should I rephrase this? Maybe “I feel” just isn’t strong enough. I re-worded the email several times but I had that same feeling I had before;

Ugh. That’s not me.

Yes, as a woman I do lean on language that undermines what I’m trying to say, and it’s bad. BUT, my strengths are my emotional intelligence – my ability to connect with people and be genuine. Overly professional environments make me uncomfortable. I like saying “Cheers” instead of “Kind regards”. And sometimes, when I say “I feel”, it’s because I actually feel something. And I shouldn’t be hiding feelings or apologising for them.

I don’t want to undermine what I’m saying, but being my genuine self isn’t undermining my content. Being in touch with those things I used to hide at work – my emotions, my concerns, my frustrations – are the things that make me win at business. I shouldn’t have to translate my words to fit into a culture that doesn’t cater to, or respect, those parts about me.

Be Yourself

So my tip for you is this. Download the Just Not Sorry Chrome extension and look for the squiggly lines. But ask yourself if you’re apologising for your own existence, or if you really are sorry. Ask yourself if “you feel” because you can’t come right out and say it, or if you really do feel something. When you’re “just emailing to say”, read it out loud, does that sound like you?

Be the wonderful person that you are, embrace the whole of yourself at work, even the messy parts that wouldn’t fit in traditional office environments. Write emails in your voice. Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

Written by Gemma Renton

Tools To Get Your Local Business Online

Tools To Get Your Local Business Online

Local Business, Global Tools: How a digital presence is your key to bouncing back post-pandemic

The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a multi-faceted impact, not least of which is the effect on the business world. Small business owners have had to close their doors, lay off staff, and appeal to the government for support with varying levels of success.

Now that we are hopefully seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the changing face of business and the way we interact as a society will continue to impact on our local businesses and the way they attract consumers.

But it’s not all bad news! Whether you’re in the process of re-opening your physical storefront, transitioning to a full online presence, or completely starting over, there are tools available that you can employ to get your local business online.

Google My Business

Utilising this free tool from Google gives you prominent online real estate when people are looking for you or similar businesses. You can use Google My Business (GMB) to advise would-be consumers of your location, business hours, contact details, busy times, and so much more. This is a fantastic way to advise your loyal customers that you are back in action and also advertise to newcomers, tourists, or people visiting your area.

GMB also gives you visibility on Google Maps, so you can reach even more potential customers travelling into and through your location. It’s easy to update, and can even let other consumers see great reviews and testimonials. Lastly, a fully-optimised GMB profile will boost your organic listings in Google searches. With so many details and connections to other Google apps, it’s a great way to give your local business an online presence!

Facebook Business Pages

Facebooks pages are another free and easy tool you can use to stay in touch with your customers and clients. It is estimated that 2.5 billion people log on to Facebook once per month. Estimates also indicate that 1.66 billion people across the world are daily Facebook users. This means that your potential customers and clients are on Facebook on a very regular basis, and they want to communicate with you!

Similarly to Google My Business, you can update your contact details, business hours, and product range easily and instantaneously. It differs in that you can visually engage with your audience in rich and interactive ways that are not always about selling yourself, but also about building your audience.

Share images, videos, host live chats and demonstrations of your products and services. You can cultivate customers and enthusiasts who will help spread the benefits of your products and services to others they are connected to.

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Using the targeted approach to advertising is paramount if you want to reach the right people at the right time. Pay Per Click advertising on platforms like Google Ads and Bing Ads makes sure that your services are seen by the people who are looking for them, at the time they need them.

You have complete control over when your ads show, how much you pay for each click, and even what searches trigger your ads to show. If you combine this with targeted locations, you can be extra relevant to your local community.

Let everyone know that you’re back in business

Now more than ever, your digital presence could be the key to moving forward with your local business in our ever-changing society.

Give your business the best chance of staying on-trend, viable, and up-to-date by getting yourself online. It will help you make sure you’re available to your audience and customers when they need you!

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or would like a free strategy to help you get your business online!

Written by Kristen Boucher

Working From Home: The New Normal?

Working from Home: The New Normal?

Time was, working from home was the dream and people who did it could often be visualised sipping mai tais on their deck, Bluetooth headset in, Hawaiian shirt on. Cut to 2020 and a majority of the workforce is working from home in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. By all reports, working from home is nothing like we thought it was.

The difference between the current shift in working trends, and the original idea of remote-working professionals, is that the choice has been removed. Plus, for many workers, we’re also having to contend with our children being home from daycare and school, our partners also being sequestered in close quarters, and our general family equilibrium altered. We can no longer go to the gym to blow off steam, to the mall for retail therapy, or even to our local coffee shop for a catch-up with friends. Things are tough right now. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and just all-round irritable, you’re not alone.

The Vine Street Digital team are well equipped for the “Work From Home” model as we’ve been a remote digital agency since our inception. Of course, we’re all in the same boat with the isolation restrictions, but here are a few tips for you and your mental health, while you adjust to the New Normal.

Let Go of 9–5

If you’re new to working from home, some of the perks include no commute, a bit more time on your hands, and the ability to choose when you want to work. You may feel a little more freedom with how you structure your day. Be kind to yourself about scheduling your tasks. This is especially important if you have children underfoot or a partner to work around. For instance, get up a little earlier if you find yourself more productive in the morning. Alternatively, if you’re a night owl, save some of your work tasks for later at night once everyone has gone to bed (and you can have some quiet time).

Schedule Your Active Time

If you’re used to going to the gym or getting outdoors, this can be a huge adjustment for your day-to-day life, not least of which because exercise/fitness is so important to your mental health. When you’re putting together your new daily schedule, make time for exercise. No equipment? No problem, there are many fitness activities that require little to no machines, weights, or fiddly straps. Think yoga, running, walking, or plyometric exercises. Alternatively, consider taking advantage of the many fitness streaming programmes available.

Working around kids

If you’ve found yourself at home with young children in this time of upheaval, you might be feeling like tearing out your hair. You love them, sure. But trying to work, clean, cook, stay sane, and keep them entertained 24/7 is more than a full-time job – it’s closer to three. Keep in mind that you are not alone, and there are many groups on social media designed for stay-at-home moms, homeschooling, and entertaining little ones. Some tips that may help include working while they’re asleep, tag-teaming with your significant other, and having scheduled quiet time every day. They don’t have to sleep, but they do have to entertain themselves for a couple of hours so their parent/s can work. Feel free to relax your screen time restrictions if that’s going to help you stay sane and get some work done.

You need “you time”

Self-care seems like a vague concept at the best of times, but now more than ever the stakes are much higher for you, your work, and your family. It’s all very well to espouse clichés and sound bites (is anyone else sick of hearing “you can’t pour from an empty cup”?), but our reality is now so different that your health is the single most important priority on your list. Stress and anxiety are clinically proven to lower immune system efficacy.

So have a cup of tea, read a book, buy an adult colouring book, or simply wear your fluffy slippers to your new work/home office (there’s got to be some perks, right?). Even if it’s for only thirty minutes a day, your mind will thank you for it.

Be Kind. To everyone, but especially to yourself.

Yes, you officially have permission to wear your pyjamas to work from home. You can work from the couch and you can have an extra cup of coffee. If your children have chips and nuggets for dinner again tonight, that’s okay. In this trying time, where you’re doing your best to keep things running smoothly, your ability to be kind to yourself will help you get through. Often attributed to the Buddha is the quote “if your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete”. In a world where things have changed so rapidly, it’s imperative that we remember to be kind.

Remember that all things are temporary! Our current situation is not permanent (although it feels like it when your laptop is propped up on the ironing board and you’re watching your twelfth rerun of Frozen II.) So make the most of this time to look after yourself and your family, enjoy the little things, and stay healthy!

Wash your hands!


Written by Kristen Boucher

Keeping A Home Routine For Work & Life – Part 2

Work & Life At Home Routine – Part 2

The coronavirus pandemic has seen people start to work from home and practice social distancing. It’s a difficult adjustment for many; the loss of structure of a daily routine can be hard. At Vine Street Digital, our default office is our home. We’ve written out what our average days look like, hoping to help those who are needing a bit of reassurance that it’s okay to do things at different times. You can read part 1 of our home routines here, and read on below for part 2!

A laptop, plant, and water bottle on a desk. | Home Routines | Vine Street DigitalCourtney

My daily “routine” continues to evolve as the months go on, depending on what I am doing in my life, although this doesn’t change my productivity levels.

Currently, my routine has altered due to watching a new Netflix series, so I’m going to bed later. As a result, I’m waking up at 8am instead of 6:30am. I go straight to my desk, to check emails. Then at 9-10am I’ll go eat breakfast and brush my teeth.

Sometimes I’ll go to the gym or attend pilates classes at whatever time I’d like to go (ideally the less busy times). I make my breakfast and lunch from scratch every day – from muesli, scrambled/poached eggs, and porridge in the morning; to fresh salads, pasta, and sandwiches during the day.

Overall, my work from home routine has allowed me to be more productive at work and out of work. 

Kristen

A computer desk setup | Home Routines | Vine Street DigitalMy home routine is mostly standard, but with a few tweaks as I have two dogs and a toddler who also require my attention.

I normally get up around 7am and get bub ready and off to day-care by 7:45am. This involves breakfast, dressing, and hygiene all done in front of whatever is on ABC kids. I’m home from dropping her off by 8 and then I’m walking the dogs between 8 and 8:30. This gives me a great start to the day with some fresh air and sunshine and it settles the dogs, so they don’t dance around me all day.

I work from 8 – 1, normally having a 10-minute break for coffee and breakfast around the 11 mark. Lunch is at 1pm and I try to take it in the garden, collecting a little more vitamin D where I can. My afternoon is where I schedule any housework, cooking, etc before collecting bub at 4:45pm. We always shower at night so we can get up and go in the morning, and we always spend the half-hour before dinner back out in the garden, tending our fruits & veggies and running around on the grass with the dogs.

Rebecca

Due to a physical disability, I can only work an hour at a time. On a good day, I can manage about 4 hours. If I didn’t have a regular daily routine, I wouldn’t be able to manage these hours. 

9:30am – Wake up, make breakfast and watch something silly to start the day on a positive note. I’m rewatching Parks and Recreation at the moment.

10:15am – 1 hour of work.

11:15am – Brush my teeth, then get into my daily physio exercises which all takes around 30 minutes, but feels more like 10 minutes with a good podcast. (I’d recommend This Sounds Serious.)

11:45am – Jump back into another hour of work. 

12:45pm – Lunch break! I try to go for a short walk during my lunch break in addition to eating lunch. This would also be around the time I’d head out to the grocery store if I needed anything. 

1:45pm – Back to work.

2:45pm – Shower time! I have roommates who work 9 to 5 jobs, so it’s very nice not to have to fight for hot water.

3pm – The last hour of work.

4pm – Call someone! I live in Canada and my family lives in Australia, so this is a good time for me to call my loved ones. I like to take the time to do something relaxing, like a 15-minute meditation (but usually video games). 

5pm – Make dinner. I like my dinner like I like my parties: early.

6pm – Whatever the heck I want! Sometimes I have night classes to go to, other times I’ll be heading out to perform in a comedy show. I’m a very social person, so it’s important to me to make plans with my friends during the week. While I’m social distancing, I have plans for phone chats with a bunch of my friends and family.

Chelsea

I try to stick to a regular routine, but there are a few things that shuffle around.A desk setup with a laptop and two extra monitors. | Home Routines | Vine Street Digital

I’ve been starting work around 9 or 10am most days. If I have some particularly engaging tasks or big deadlines, I might work until 7pm or later, as sometimes I find it easier to focus at night time. Or, if I wake up super early for some reason and can’t get back to sleep, sometimes I will work for an hour or two (e.g. 4-6 or 5-7 am). I’ll usually make breakfast around 9.

If I have leftover food in the fridge, I can relax for a bit when I have lunch. Lunchtime varies each day, it could happen any time from 11am to 2pm. I might watch an episode of a show, play a video game, read a book, etc. Otherwise, I have to make food for myself, which is not ideal (I hate cooking and would love to hire a personal chef).

I have pilates class on Thursday morning at 9am every week, and I’ll schedule a variety of appointments throughout the month. Chiropractor on a Friday morning, physiotherapist on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon, remedial massage on a Saturday, and so on.

Usually, I work every day (around my appointments) except Thursday and Sunday, as those are the days I can spend with my partner.

Due to social distancing and COVID-19 lockdowns, not much of this is happening at the moment, including seeing my partner (we don’t live together yet, sadly). So, I’m suddenly watching a lot more Netflix instead, and working my way through Far Cry 3 (yes, I’m many years behind). I’m also trying to remember to do more exercises and movement at home. A Les Mills online membership helped get me started. I love their Body Balance mixes, they combine tai chi, yoga, and pilates together.

I love the flexibility of working remotely. If I’m hitting a wall, I can take a break for an hour or so, go sit at the beach to get some fresh air, or I can do some stretches/exercise at home. I don’t have much of a routine for doing that kind of thing, it’s more as and when I feel I need it.

Wrapping Up

Thank you for joining us for part 2 of our home routines! Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.

Keeping A Home Routine For Work & Life – Part 1

Work & Life At Home Routine – Part 1

In the midst of COVID-19, many people have found themselves suddenly working from home for the first time. For others whose jobs don’t give them an option to work from home, they are suddenly stuck inside without their regular work and home life routine to keep them on track. We’ve seen posts on social media surrounding this issue, where even regular life admin, self-care, and hygiene tasks have fallen by the wayside. 

Our staff at Vine Street Digital work from home by default; we don’t have a regular office. We’ve had experience with having to craft our lives around remote work, where we can mould the day to our liking. It’s okay to do things out of the box, to break away from the idea of sticking to a 9-5 routine. 

So, here’s part one of our staff describing what their average day looks like! 

Work Life Home Routine | Vine Street Digital

Gabrielle

My daily routine is fairly structured and is centred around staying active while WFH. Previously, I’d walk to the train and to my workplace. However, now my walk to work is from my bed to the office in the next room. To keep active, I wake up at roughly 6:30am, take my dogs for a walk, make some brekky and be ready to start work at 8am. 

I’ll normally go to the gym at lunch when it’s quieter, and finish with yoga in the afternoon. I’ll do the washing/housework during the week so that I can free up my weekend from boring chores. The best part of all this is that I’m normally finished with my daily routine (work, gym & chores) at the same time I was previously getting home from work. So, I have a much better work/life balance! 

Gemma

My typical day starts with me waking up between 6.45 and 7.15am. I have a back-up alarm set for 7.30am but I usually wake up naturally on my own, which has been an amazing benefit of flexi hours. I start my day brushing my teeth, taking my vitamins & brushing my hair. I also take the time to do a skincare routine which is a nice “me-time” activity. Then it’s time to change out of my pyjamas. I don’t dress up or put make-up on, but I definitely pick a comfortable outfit for the day that’s not just sleepwear. 

Once I’m ready, I make my bed and I make it real nice. I tuck in the sheets, fluff & flip the pillows and put a throw on the end. My partner jokes that it’s like we’re living in an IKEA display room, but I love it. No matter how bad my day is I get to come back to a cosy bed.

Then, I take about 10-15mins to make the house nice. I open up all the blinds and let as much natural light in as possible. I pick up empty mugs and plates from around the house, throw things in the rubbish, and just generally straighten up the place. My home is where I work, so if things are overly messy, my day will feel messy. It also allows my mind to wake up!

Speaking of waking up, it’s time for a black coffee. I generally practice intermittent fasting (16:8 for all you fasters out there) so I don’t eat before noon, but I kept the coffee!

Work Life Home Routine | Vine Street DigitalOnce I sit down at my desk (usually at around 7.45-8am) all cylinders are firing. I’m most productive in the morning before lunch. So I tackle the big things first; analysis and complicated campaign tasks, big reports, strategies etc. Anything that I’m worried or stressed about also comes first. If I don’t get it out of the way, the whole day is stressful. But if I knock it over first I feel accomplished and on a roll.

I take lunch at about 12-12.30 each day. Lunch is the time where I switch off my brain, so even my meals aren’t complicated. They’re either leftovers, or an egg dish; whatever requires the least amount of effort and thought. Because I like to turn off my brain at lunch, I tend to watch 30mins of Netflix – light stuff or comedies only! Recent favourites include Schitt’s Creek, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Bojack Horseman.

Once I’m back after lunch, I usually have smaller or less complicated tasks ahead of me. I also like to reserve my phone calls for the afternoons too. Phone calls, depending on the subject matter, allow me to walk around a little bit while talking which keeps me active as my brain and energy start to fade.

Most days end for me at 3.30-4pm and I have my routine this way because it’s also when my brain starts running out of juice. I sign off from my computer, closing down all work-related windows, and I head out for a walk. Having a walk gets me outside in a bit of sunshine, but it also allows me to debrief the day to myself as I listen to music. The act of going for a walk also breaks up work time and home time for me too. Since isolating, walks outside have been more limited. But YouTube yoga and a cup of tea on my balcony also make great afternoon routines.

Lachlan

Work Life Home Routine | Vine Street DigitalFirst thing I do when waking up is head straight downstairs to my coffee machine and breakfast. Then I’ll usually jump on the computer and check my personal emails, updates, etc. During this time, I’m also usually listening to a podcast about tech, football, or gaming.

Once I’ve finished with my own emails, I’ll start with my work emails. I always like to check my emails first because it allows me to pull tasks from them and set my day up. While I check my emails, I’ve also got my task list and calendar open for the day. 

Once I’ve done my emails, I’ll start work around 9am. I usually work until around 10.30am then I get ready and head to the gym. I usually get home from the gym around 12pm, then I shower and have lunch. 

Once I’ve finished that, I work until my tasks are done for the day.

Zea 

My daily routine tends to depend on what kind of social plans I have that day or what I want to cook for dinner. Depending on this, I’ll probably start from any time between 7am-9am. Earlier if I want to finish early to get to a friend’s place, or later if I’ve been out for dinner the night before. I prefer the earlier starts, because it feels like I get so much more out of my day when I finish around 3pm. 

I’ll usually use my lunch break to go to the gym, because it’s not as busy during the day. So, depending on when I get motivated to do that is when I’ll take my lunch. This also helps me to break up the day and get out of the house. 

My days aren’t super structured, I just like to make sure I have enough time to get everything done and not be stressed about it. It’s really nice not having set hours like 9-5, because it takes a ton of stress off. If you’re more productive early in the morning, having the opportunity to start earlier is great. 

Wrapping Up

Depending on the restrictions in different locations, some of these activities (e.g. going to a gym) might not be possible for you, but hopefully, you’ve found something that sparks an idea of what you can do with your time. Perhaps you can adapt some of these ideas into your own routine!

It’s okay if things are a bit unstructured for you right now, but don’t worry. You’ll find something that works for you!

You can find part 2 of our home routines here.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to us.

Working At Home? Stay Focused & Work Successfully With Our Tips

Working At Home? Stay Focused & Work Successfully With Our Tips

Pandemic or no, 2020 is a great time to begin working at home. As the world becomes further digitised and people want greater control over their time and resources, more and more businesses are starting to implement remote options for their employees.

There are plenty of benefits to having remote working arrangements, but it can be a hard transition for those who are used to working in an office. Staying productive and focused in your home environment can be difficult with so many of your creature comforts around you. Our team here at Vine Street Digital all work 100% remotely and face these challenges daily.

We’ve put together some tips on how to stay productive and focused while working remotely. Everyone is different, so some of these things may not resonate with you, but we’re sure you’ll find something that helps!

Work Space

If possible, a separate office – or at the very least, your own dedicated desk – is great. However, not everyone has the space for this in their residence. If you can’t have a separate office, maybe you can fit a desk into another room. You might find you’ll be more productive working at a desk than if you were on your bed or the couch. Having a second (or third!) monitor screen is a great booster as well. Sometimes I’m tempted to take my laptop somewhere else to work; but if I have lots of spreadsheet duties on that day, then there’s no way I’m ditching my dual-monitor setup!

If you can’t fit a full-sized desk, try getting a small laptop desk or tray. IKEA has some great options here: they sell a tray table that has space to rest your legs underneath. This is great for working from your bed or a couch/chaise lounge, especially if you are not able to sit at a desk (because of illness, disability, space, or other reason).

Also, set yourself up where you get some natural light. It helps you keep track of the day, and one of our staff says it helps them feel less isolated. If you have fresh air and see the world moving about outside, it feels less like you’re sitting in solitary detention. Plants are also great for this – introducing greenery and/or flowers into your space brings a sense of vibrancy and life to your surroundings.

Mental Boundaries

You’ve heard it time and time again: don’t bring your work home with you. It makes sense! But when you have to work from home, one of the most important things you can do is to set some strong boundaries.

Tell your housemates/family when you’re working, and at what times it might be okay to distract you. If you know you’re due for a business call, perhaps put a sign on your door to warn the other members of your household. Teach them that they can’t come and bother you all day just because you’re physically there with them.

Try to discipline yourself, too. When you’re working at home and have 24/7 access to your emails, work files, task list, and more, it can be hard to break away. It’s a slippery slope – ‘just 5 more minutes’ can easily turn into another hour or two of staring at the screen. Don’t let your work take over! If you think you might struggle with this, try setting alarms for yourself or bring in an accountability partner. Ask a friend/coworker/family member to come fish you out of your work hole if you’ve not surfaced by a set time.

Routines & Schedules

Speaking of time; keeping to a relaxed schedule on regular days can help with improving your mindset for work. Some of our team keeps their gym and lunch break times consistent so that it’s easier to manage their time, and they try to be at the computer by 8:30am, ready to work.

Figure out what times of the day that you’re most productive and see if you can schedule your breaks around that. If you usually hit a slump around 3pm, then schedule a break for 3pm. You could use it to do some yoga, meditation, cooking, singing; whatever helps you feel rejuvenated.

Maybe you’re the kind of person who gets a power surge in the evening? Great! Consider taking the afternoons off to do something relaxing, and come back to work with renewed focus. Or, maybe afternoons are your best time? Then use the mornings to tick off some smaller tasks, and save the afternoon for the big projects once your brain has warmed up.

Make sure your routine feels good specifically for you. Maybe you want to wake up later – you don’t have to get up early for the commute anymore!

This might be difficult if you are still expected to be online and available from 9–5, but see if you can make an arrangement with your boss. Try to find a compromise for you and your team. Perhaps you can start earlier or finish later, enabling you to take a larger break throughout the day where required.

Embrace JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out)

When you’re working at home (and you’re probably alone), you don’t have the regular hustle and bustle and accountability of the workplace. Take advantage of it! But do this in a healthy, productive way. Instead of the same old office playlist, enjoy the silence or your own music. Eat your lunch in peace, away from your desk, without worrying about someone coming to barrage you with questions and tasks.

Beware of what you might be tempted to do when there’s no manager looking over your shoulder. Maybe you’ll scroll Instagram on your phone or Google for your next holiday destination. Don’t get sucked into the black hole of the internet! What’s worked for one of our staff members is putting their devices on aeroplane mode and placing them in a drawer out of reach. You can also add plugins to your computer browser to restrict your access to specific sites such as YouTube and social media.

And remember, take regular breaks! Take the opportunity to stretch often, or dance around the room, whatever you’d like to do that makes you feel good. It’ll feel even better knowing that nobody is watching!

Communicate with your team

All the benefits of working at home aside, the reality is that sometimes it can get a bit lonely. Remember to keep communicating with your team. Whether you use a chat app (Slack, Skype, etc) or have the odd phone call, daily communication goes a long way to helping you feel more connected. You’ve lost the opportunity to pop your head over the cubicle divider to say hi to someone, but you can still send messages and give a few smile emojis! :)

Our team has implemented multiple ways to help us connect. These include weekly icebreaker questions, shout out Fridays, and a fortnightly pairing of team members to have a chat and get to know each other more.

Having a casual chat with your coworkers might not sound like a way to stay focused and productive, but it can increase your happiness and morale, which in turn can boost productivity. As long as you’re doing this in moderation, you should be fine! And of course, everyone has different levels of interactivity that they require to feel happy and comfortable. Sometimes it’s nice to have peace and quiet to be able to put your head down and work hard. But for when that’s not working, try reaching out to a teammate to have a friendly conversation. It could give you the boost you need to be able to focus on work again!

Final Words

Best of luck to you in your remote working arrangements! Feel free to reach out to us at Vine Street Digital if you have any comments or questions.

Written by Chelsea Zanki, along with tips contributed by the whole team.