Covid-19 has had a profound effect on the UK nation as a whole with many industries coming to a grinding halt. The garment decoration industry has not seen anything quite like it and yes it is difficult to see business picking back up, but inevitably it will.

While it is a great challenge for businesses trying to survive the pandemic it also presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to reset, re-charge and prepare for what awaits once this is all over.

From a Marketing perspective it firstly provides a chance to evaluate, analyse and review your existing strategy. Identify what is working and conversely what is not working, areas you would like to target, areas that are not being targeting effectively and work out how to get the maximum return on your Marketing budget. Your purse strings going to be tighter than ever before squeeze every bit of value out of your Marketing and plan accordingly.

With in-store promotions and local advertising grinding to a complete halt this frees up some budget to potentially look at your business’s online strategy

With website traffic being minimal it is the ideal chance to assess your businesses website, review it, work on any maintenance, updates and ensure it is full optimised and ready to go for a ‘re-launch’ when the time comes. 

Similar with other Online Marketing tools, look at things like Sponsored Ads on Social Media, Google Adwords and identify if there is opportunity for your business. Plan a strategy, budget and build all the key words ready to go live to your audience once business is fully operational.

You might think all this sounds a bit costly. Where will the budget come from with cashflow being tight, it is a great opportunity for a bit of Marketing DIY. Grow your knowledge, skills and carry out the review and analysis. Plus there is also a chance to broaden your skillset and carry out these ideas yourself learning on the go, familiarising yourself with Social Media channels, or testing our different pieces of software for CRM, Email Campaigns, Social Media scheduling and so on.

It is an unprecedented time that presents many challenges but the optimistic business owner the freed up time is a great opportunity to look at your business, think of where it was, where it is now and think of where you want it to be in a year’s time. Use the time to develop your skills and your business, time wasted is time lost.

Programmatic advertising is the use of a software to buy digital ad space, it provides complete autonomy for businesses. In the past few years it has made great strides in its development with a whole heap of tools, platforms and resources available for businesses looking to streamline their online advertising.

This form of advertising uses data science to improve your online conversions, it considers seasonality, user behaviours and much more to model paid search results. It essentially uses predictive analytics to monitor, maintain and enhance your ads based on a number of behaviours namely customer demand.

For this you need the right data sources, this allows you to build models to explore customers behaviours. There is a whole heap of data out there when it comes to Online Marketing and your business (I would argue too much, some useless data which only causes confusion when trying to make decisions). 


A fully data driven approach requires autonomous decision making such as AI & Machine Learning provides has become vital over a manual approach analysing 1000s of sets of data. Using AI & ML provides valuable Marketing insights which a manual approach can’t deliver and can be used to streamline future campaigns.

There are a few things to consider when using an automated approach:

  • Define your goals & outcomes: What is your campaigns end goal? What data is relevant to be collected and collated? Knowing your aims & goals allows you to decipher what data is the most relevant and appropriate to use.
  • Complete a data audit: Your business probably has an abundance of data readily available. Data from Analytics, Webmasters & Ads plus any CRM data or transactional data from previous orders and enquiries. Assess this data and work out what is relevant, what can be used and what would provide value to your business and its online efforts.
  • Consider external data sources: Alongside having data about existing customers, creating an online profile for a new potential customer is essential. Use public data sources such as Google Trends, UK Data Service and other readily available datasets to identify any existing online retail trends.

Undertaking Machine Learning & utilising AI in Marketing is in its infancy for businesses with only large multi-nationals having the facilities and resources to build bespoke software to fully utilise it. But there are a growing number of software available for small businesses to utilise with the pick of the bunch being Phraseee, Optimove, Rapidminer and Automat.

Loading speed is how fast your website loads when a user search for it. Customers want their searches to load almost instantly and are not afraid to shop around online if your user experience is not quite up to scratch.

You might think to yourself - why is this important? How can this be helped? Why does it matter?

Well loading speed actually plays a part in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and how Google views and ranks your website. Recent studies show that Google considers loading speed as an important ranking factor when considering where to index your businesses website.

Recent Google algorithms focus pre-dominantly on user experience, they consider loading speed an important thing for search users. Pages with a slower loading speed will often have much higher bounce rates plus lower average page view time and lower conversions.


Test your businesses website loading speed using Page Insights on Google. If your loading speed needs improving work alongside a quality reputable web design designer. They will be able to help improve your sites speed with some of the below suggestions:

  • Enabling compression: Use a programme (Gzip) to compress the size of your CSS, HTML & Javascript files on-site. For images compress the sizes using Photoshop or other design software.
  • Reduce page re-directs: Every time a page directs to another page, the wait to find a search and page result increases. Ensure minimal re-directs as these slow down your loading time.
  • Leverage browser caching: Browsers store information every time a user visits your website. Set your ‘expires’ header for a year, this reduces the loading speed over time as it loads saved information and doesn’t have to load the entire page.
  • Improve server response time: Server response time is affected by the number of traffic your site generates, the amount of information it has to load plus the software and hosting package you use. Ensure the server you use has adequate space, the most up-to date software and deals with issues like slow queries and performance.
  • Optimize images: A simple but effective tip for improving your businesses website. Ensure images are a relatively small file size and correct format for loading up in an adequate time.

With the rise of e-commerce and shopping online mixed with the steady decline of the high street, traditional local advertising has taken a back seat with customers focusing more on modern marketing techniques rather than the traditional ones.

But there is a place for both, especially for SMEs looking to survive in the competitive print, embroidery and branding industry.

Local advertising can be both traditional and modern. Traditional advertising focuses on elements such as radio adverts, advertorials for magazines, directories etc, direct mail, brochures and so on. This is seen as ‘old-fashioned’ by many but done right this is a highly effective eye-catching way of gaining new customers for your business.

The modern approach to undertaking local advertising is focusing on things such as online directories (Yell etc) plus paid advertising such as Google Ads & Facebook Ads which allows you to target users based on their behaviours and importantly in this case their location.

Focusing on a local strategy and gradually building up to a larger audience has its advantages, they include:

  • Being cost effective: Focusing on a specific customer base allows you to focus your efforts and reach the relevant customers increasing your ROI.
  • Increased referrals: Something that you cannot do online as well as in person is referrals ‘word of mouth’. Engaging with local customers & communities will increase your businesses presence in an area. The lowest cost but most effective form of local advertising.
  • Get found online for local searches: Focusing locally and using directories for your business will help you get found online for searches relating to your location.
  • Easier to maintain & manage: Working on a smaller scale will give your business the confidence to get stuck into Marketing activities as they are on a smaller scale and easier to manage.
  • Allows for more dynamism: Engaging with local customers over different medians means you can work a tailored message per platform. It also gives you the opportunity to test what works and what doesn’t before launching your idea on a bigger stage.

It's not!

One of the common misconceptions I come across from garment decorators is that they class a 'website' order as an order if the customer pays for it online. This is perceived as somehow different to somebody who finds you online and picks up the phone or emails, or visits your store to give you an enquiry or place an order.

It's all about choice for customers. 

If you've got an 'all singing, all dancing' website where customers are comfortable placing an order for their embroidered or printed clothing online, then great. Lots of them will and you should definitely make that option available to them. 

But if they give you an enquiry and you win the order by any other means then put that in your 'website orders' folder as well. 

A commercial website (brochure or e-commerce) is a sales tool first and foremost.

Make sure it looks professional, promotes trust and reflects the brand and values of your business, and of course sells something. Your homepage especially needs to do this, but equally important, it must be flexible enough for you to easily update with your latest offers, promotions, best-selling products, content, social media campaigns and so on.

Try looking objectively at your homepage, if you're not happy with it then it's unlikely your potential customers will be. If you want an idea of just how critical this stuff is online, I found this article 'a real eye opener': http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223150

Focus on marketing, your businesses biggest potential income generator. 

When all that hard work and effort you have put in to promoting your new or existing website starts to pay off and the orders, customers emails and phone-calls are coming in, whatever you do, don't send them back to the place they just came from (your website) to try again, 'cause they'll go somewhere else!

Making sure your website gives the best customer experience possible, and when you get to that dream position of how to handle all the orders then look at the rest of the stuff.

When is a Website Not a Website?

If you want a website that books the job in, does the proofing for you, creates the delivery note, sends the invoice, collects the payments and even makes the tea. That's not a 'website'! 

There's plenty of software out there that'll handle all that (maybe not the tea) and will serve you well. You can get it built specifically or integrate it with your website. We meet lots of people in our industry who tell us about how much time they spend on this kind of stuff, trying to do it themselves, trying to figure out how these systems work, attempting to upload a zillion products, worrying about whether they need to add more widgets or features to make it better for them. 

What about the customer? 

Excercise caution if you find something that promises to do it all in one, that's a tall order to be all things to all 'platforms'. 

What if you want to change your website? 

You shouldn't have to change your order processing system. What if you want to update your brand and improve your marketing or get a swanky new responsive website, you shouldn't have to change your proofing system or accounts package.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that this stuff isn't important, it is! But they are not the same and none of it will win you any business...

One last thought... 

Try setting up a new site from a website design company online, fully branded for your business to sell your embroidered or printed clothing. It will cost £10k+ and take months of planning and consideration.

For a sensible solution that helps businesses actually generates income get in touch on info@etraderwebsites.co.uk or call 029 2074 1663

We will happily chat to you and see if we can possibly help grow your business and its online presence.