Alex Sass' blog

Alex Sass

Digital marketing consultant with 17 years experience across the UK, USA and Europe. Founder of & Alex Sass Consulting and head of social at Dynamo PR. All views expressed are my own, not those of my team, partners, clients or companies.

The Problem with Google: The Squeezed Middle (Account Manager)

Troubleshooting the Phone System by Solarbotics -

<tl;dr> Google Adwords is a fantastic tool for the S of the SMEs and the giants of paid search advertising, but medium-sized companies are increasingly squeezed of precious access to account management and inside info. </tl;dr>

I can only vaguely remember a world without Google. Being in my late thirties, my career and I grew up in an age where everything digital was evolving. I saw and took part in the birth of social media and I incubated, in my own way, the launch (and occasional failure) of early ‘dotcoms’.

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Every online review you leave is wrong. And here's why.

Every online review you leave is wrong. And here's why.

This is what is wrong with every online review: people who leave 7/10 reviews when they are fully satisfied, don’t buy from companies who get 7/10 reviews.

It’s not intentional, we simply don’t understand our role: while we thought we were taking part in a customer feedback exercise, we just became the head of HR.

For the minute it took to write my review, I was nothing short of the CEO. And therein lies the problem.

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How Building a Responsive Website Increased Conversion on Mobile by 85%

Even Elmo has a mobile phone by Ed Yourdon

Every client I work with in the ecommerce business is taking the mobile experience seriously. One client, personalised card retailer,, has seen mobile usage almost double over the last year.

To meet this demand they launched a new, fully responsive mobile site. It was worth the effort, in the soft launch phase, mobile conversion rates on the site improved by 85%.

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The one where Facebook is our friend

Shoreditch Style Office Hours by Ann Wuyts

Laptop on my knee at the local bar, I intended to write a post about the potentially positive impact social media has on addiction. Perhaps I'd cover how forums, niche networks and even public posts might assist in the recovery and support of those alienated from society.

It’s a topic that fascinates me because it may well be an area in which the online social engine has made a positive impact on life expectancy (or at least longevity). However, on posting my intentions to Facebook, friends immediately steered me to the subject of social media itself as an addictive pastime.

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Like it or Loathe it?


Facebook has relaxed the rules on page based competitions. We're all familiar with the ubiquitous "press like to win" and, for now at least, it's a legal and encouraged mechanism for building your fanbase. So what has changed?

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Useful Paranoia

Quiet is the New Loud

When I consider the world of PR, I see confidence and extroverts. Shining the same torch on IT, I find shyness and diligence. The middle ground of social media combines these two in a very unusual way that can produce uncomfortable compromise or magnificent insight.

Some of the best traditional marketeers I’ve worked with lose their confidence when asked to improvise on a live, conversational platform - especially when bombarded with advice such as “keep it natural, don’t sell, accept negativity”. Equally, those people I know who could recode Facebook overnight shy away from using the interface they create, finding it hard to trust their voice in an amphitheatre.

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Passing the Soap on Social Media


I've blogged before about the importance of realism in social media - the fundamental requirement to define your audience and aim for multi-channel benefits that can be measured at board level. To move towards this goal, take inspiration from entrepreneurs.

When combining channels including broadcast advertising, SEO, PR and social, brand owners face challenges in terms of preparation and control. With these on the whiteboard for the year ahead, I took notes from Ian Monk, founder of whose company recently launched a combined digital drive, following venture capital investment in excess of £10m.

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It's Time to Kill Kitty


Many brands continue to treat their Facebook strategy as if marketing has moved no further as an art since the days of glamour models on car bonnets. I’m struck dumb by the lack of meaningful engagement so many moderators offer in their schedule of posts. Whether it be the ubiquitous “win this if you press like” or the “it’s funny because it’s true” sharing of the everyday-odd, I wonder if there is a goal behind the effort.

Of course, in the run up to Christmas, every other brand will be launching a competition in order to extend their fan-base. There’s nothing wrong with that, everyone likes a chance at winning something for themselves in the season of spending. Come January however, when the big bucks have been spent, I think it unlikely that the new fans will represent an increase in engagement in line with the inflated fan figures. I’ve written about the complexity of competition positioning before on this blog, however it’s the lack of ‘engagement strategy’ that worries me more today.

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When It's Not Your Own...

FB Page

Successful brands who launch their Facebook Page through an agency will always expect to be guaranteed some 'ownership' of it. It's not uncommon for companies of a certain size to switch agency every few years, simply to embrace a fresh skill-set or on the whim of internal politics. I've been in that position myself and dutifully handed over usernames and passwords for the public entities I controlled to the hungry new whippersnappers.

As someone who acknowledges the value of being "behind the scenes", it would never cross my mind to withhold access to a vehicle I had been paid to build for someone else should they wish to take the wheel from me. Not just for reasons of commercial vanity but more so because you owe it to the users, fans and members of whatever you have created who should never be concerned with conflicts on an administration level.

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On Being the Pub not the Conversation Within...

pub chat

For fifteen years I’ve provided research, evidence and carefully chosen words to anyone who would listen to describe the benefits of allowing interpersonal communication within a brand-space. We used to call that "social network theory" or "social engine theory". Over time, the 'social media' industry grew up around our voices (not loud enough to dominate it but still we prattled away).

Today, my agency and team operate as a very tiny part of a £Billion business based on the very same ideas; that conversations are a form of marketing, that the customer can be an ambassador and that brand choices are part of expressible identity.

The questions I’m asked each day remain essentially the same, although the vocabulary has changed a little. Ten years ago a major sports brand asked me "What will I do if the public are critical of our product in a forum we put our brand on", today they ask "What are the costs and risks of page moderation".

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The Art of Talking about Oneself on Television

dual screen

Where television and internet advertising channels mix, you’ll find the best of the marketers weaving their magic. It’s a space where the usual rules cease to apply and the inexperienced social media moderator, AdWords controller or brand manager can find themselves a little lost.

I remember working with the IAB some years ago declaring to the world the headline that Internet advertising spend had overtaken television. Now in 2012, I find myself working with online brands which are becoming more and more reliant on and increasingly intelligent within the space of broadcast media.

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Echoer - You Heard It Here


Like every 'social-media' guy, I dream of a world where the noise falls away. For years we've been helping brands and their PR firms kick off conversions about their products. We've created a deafening, hyperworld of mischief that flows ever more quickly towards becoming nonsense.

The fundamental truth is that there are only so many social media tools people can be expected to use and only so many ways they will want to interact with them. The smartphone brought the contact point into our hands. Facebook and Twitter fulfilled the rest. There's little you can't do on those platforms that really adds value to a person's every-day social desires. Or so I thought...

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Compers killed the Competition


Budding brands and those with gazillions of fans alike have one thing in common - a hunger to give things away.

When you're looking at a report suggesting that the start-up cost of client acquisition through AdWords or traditional marketing is nearly always higher than the initial purchase price of your product, it's extremely tempting to brainstorm your way down to the lowest form of marketing...the give-away. Let me argue that we must not and should not go there.

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Facebook Fan or Foe


As Facebook heads towards a record stock flotation that could value the company at £63 billion (and Mark Zuckerberg at £17.8 billion), we have to ask what role we, the users, play in its success.

The website relies on adverts to generate profit. Those can be directed either to an external website or to a branded Fan Page. Marketers realised early on that directing their ads to a Fan Page rather than a standard ‘Dot Com’, not only meant a better response (the site shared information about other friends who endorse the action), but also introduced the potential to grow massive marketing databases to which they could direct promotional messages at no further cost.

We’ve all swallowed the pill and a quick glance at your new timeline profile will show how many Fan Pages you have now ‘liked’- far more than you’d imagine, it’s not uncommon for single profiles to join hundreds a year.

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