Essential are finalists at the RAR Digital Awards 2018!

Essential are finalists at the RAR Digital Awards 2018!

Red carpets and Hollywood smiles at the ready… Team Essential are finalists in the Email Marketing Category at this year’s The Drum RAR Digital Awards!!

RAR – what’s that?

The Recommended Agency Register (RAR) is a service owned by The Drum to enable organisations to choose agencies based on ratings from their clients.

How were you nominated for an award?

The awards are entirely based on client ratings. There’s nothing we can do or say, no written application we make to RAR, they simply download the ratings from their database to identify which agencies are the highest rated by clients for digital services.

This means we are one of the top 6 rated agencies on the register for Email Marketing within our staffing category (Under 40 total staff) and have been nominated for the award alongside those 5 other agencies.

When will you know if you’ve won?

The awards ceremony will take place in London on June 19th2018, where the winners in each category will be announced. We’ll be keeping everything crossed until then!

What does this mean for us?

It means you’re in safe hands! The point of RAR is that you don’t have to take our word for it.

Our clients have rated us highly across multiple services we provide, you can view our RAR agency profile for more details here.

Experts in email marketing

Receiving a nomination for Email Marketing at the RAR Digital Awards is a great badge of honour, highlighting our expertise in-house on a number of leading marketing tools in the market such as Sharpspring, Communigator and MailChimp to name a few.

Thank you to our clients!

The best part about this nomination is that it comes from the recommendations and ratings RAR have received from our clients. If you’re happy, we’re happy – and nominated! So thank you for all of your support!

To find out more about the email marketing services we provide, please get in touch.

All set for email marketing? Why not check out our other marketing services!

Team Essential Earn Qualifications from The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing

Team Essential Earn Qualifications from The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing

Congratulations are in order for five of the Essential team, after each getting their heads down to study for their IDM qualifications over the last couple of months, all passing with flying colours!

What does this mean for you?

We’re continuously learning here at Essential, as digital marketing trends continue to grow and develop, so do we.

The IDM is recognised as a leading authority on marketing education worldwide, training and developing marketing professionals and corporations such as HSBC, Microsoft and PWC for over 30 years. Undertaking further education in different marketing fields with the IDM ensures we can be at the top of our game, using our expert knowledge to deliver you the very best marketing services we can provide.

What subjects are our qualifications in?

The team undertook a number of courses and exams, covering copywriting, social media, content marketing and GDPR. See the full list of courses and qualifications below:

Carol – IDM Professional Certificate in Content Marketing (Cert CM)

Grace – IDM Professional Certificate in Social Media (Cert SocM)

JB – IDM Award in Digital Copywriting (Award DC)

Mike – General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR – In Practice Workshop

Sam – IDM Award in Digital Copywriting (Award DC) and General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR – In Practice Workshop

About the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing

The IDM exists to support, encourage and improve marketing performance with development programmes to help students be the best they can be. Find out more about the IDM here:



Essential become finalists at the RAR Digital Awards 2018.

We’re raising money for Sport Relief!

We’re raising money for Sport Relief!

Sport Relief is a biannual charity event that brings together the worlds of sport and entertainment to help vulnerable people in the UK and the world’s poorest countries.

This year the event runs from Saturday 17th – Friday 23rd March. We’ve decided to dust off the fitness gear and raise money for these important causes.

So what’s the challenge?

We’re a mixed bunch here, all with our own preferred sports. Therefore, we’ve decided to team up to run, walk, cycle, row and swim the vertical distance of Great Britain – that’s 600 miles ! Not only that, we have to reach this distance within 6 weeks.  We’re starting on March 1st and have to hit our target by April 12th.

Sounds tough! How can I donate?

Glad you asked! You can donate to our 600 miles in 6 weeks for Sport Relief challenge on our fundraising page here: 

How do I know how many miles you’ve done?

We’re each equipped with fitness trackers and we’re recording our mileage daily – the competition is already hotting up!

We’ll be posting updates of our challenge over on our twitter page. It’s all for a great cause so please don’t forget to donate and spread the word!

You can find out more about Sport Relief and how to get involved on their website here:

Are images ruining your website experience?

Are images ruining your website experience?

Visual content. It’s engaging, it’s impactful, it’s pretty much a requirement for any business website in this day and age – but is yours actually losing you valuable web traffic?

Large photo and video file sizes will slow your website down

A reported 40% of users abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load [1] . So you can’t afford to let something easy to prevent like large image file sizes cost you business.

The users abandoning your website are represented in your website’s bounce rate figure. Your bounce rate impacts your Google page ranking, so your images really can cost you. This will get worse from July this year – but more on that later.

Ageing man

“I was 25 when this webpage started loading…” 

We’re not talking image dimensions here (as much as it’s important that these are optimised according to your website design) we’re talking about the number of Kilobytes ‘KBs’ or worse – Megabytes ‘MBs’ – of space they take up.

Think about it. You have a beautiful, show-stopping image as your main header or background on your homepage. You might also have smaller images that showcase the different services or products you provide – with the aim of attracting users and encouraging them to navigate to further pages.

These images all take up physical space on your web page. So when a user visits your page, that data needs time to load.

But every image adds to your load time, so every image file size counts.

If your file sizes are too large, do you know what happens to those beautiful, show-stopping images sure to lure prospective clients in? Well, 40% your prospective clients won’t ever get to see them – they’ve already left your yet-to-be-loaded page.

What’s more, 79% of shoppers dissatisfied with a web page’s performance say they’re unlikely to return, and 44% say they’d tell a friend about a bad online experience .

That’s bad for business.

Let’s take a look at an example of a slow website

Back in 2010, Huffington Post ran an article on the Top 10 Slowest Loading Websites of the Fortune 500 [2] . Now the majority of these have since done a great deal of work to improve load times since (we tested them all), but there were a couple still lagging in the load stakes.

Smithfield Foods is a meat-processing company with its HQ in the USA. The first thing we saw when we visited their website? Blank space. For over 4 seconds. We were then presented with:

Blank space

Is that text? Oh yeah, difficult to read on that white background though –

Blank space 2



Oh! So that’s what it’s supposed to look like, a video that showcases their household name brands!


Now we can see that engaging content – but we had to wait for it. Many people won’t.

Remember, this is a big brand. It can afford to take other, more complicated (and expensive) steps to ensure its page loads fast e.g. reducing server response time, minifying their Javascript, HTML and CSS. Which has been done.

Yet despite this, Smithfield’s poor image and video optimisation is contributing to its page-rendering time being in the bottom third of all pages. Fortune 500 company. Bottom third.

How do we know this? Read on.

So how do I analyse my web page speed?

Glad you asked.

Google PageSpeed Insights [3] allows you to analyse the performance of your web page on both mobile and desktop. It also provides recommendations as to how you can improve your speed. This is the result for Smithfield Foods:


What was Google’s top suggestion for improvement?


Of course.


The one downside of PageSpeed Insights is that the ‘How to fix’ sections are really for the tech-savvy and the recommendations for optimising images are code-based.

How can I easily optimise my website images?

There are a number of ways you can do this, from the codey stuff [4] Google suggests to utilising the ‘Save for Web (Legacy)’ feature in Photoshop.

Let’s choose the simplest way:

  1. Use the right image formats for web:
    .JPG, .PNG, .GIF. The holy trinity. Put your .TIF, .SVGs and the like away. They are not welcome.

  2. Make sure your image dimensions are suited to your website/CMS
    Find out your ideal website dimensions depending on where you are placing your image. E.g. full background or header images are likely to be the full-page width, with featured images in your content likely to be smaller.

    You can usually find this information out in your CMS or if you’re using a website design template, it will be in the documentation.

    Having images in the right dimensions means your website won’t spend valuable load time trying to resize them to fit their location.

  3. One steps 1 and 2 are adhered to, use a free web-based compression tool such as Tiny PNG [5] or Image Smaller [6] .
    You simply upload your images into the tools and they remove any unnecessary meta-data and the like, often reducing file sizes by up to 90% !

Tiny PNG even has its own image analyser [7] , which will tell you the no. images it finds on your website, the combined size of these images and then the optimised size, based on the compression Tiny PNG can deliver.

Take our website for example, Tiny PNG has recognised that by optimising the images on our site, we could reduce the space they take up by 60% with our page speed increasing by over 7 SECONDS. We do have an excuse, we’re currently overhauling our entire website – what’s yours?


Won’t optimising my images make them look bad?

Let’s try it! So I know that the recommended image dimension for this blog is 801×517 pixels. I found a beautiful image of a lake on and in Photoshop, resized it to the required dimensions, exporting it as a .JPG, which you can see below:

459KB image

The file size for this 801×517 image? 459KB . Well it is beautiful and look at all those colours!

How about this one?


What’s the difference? 69% to be exact. This image – via Tiny PNG – is only 142KB in file size.

Exact same dimensions, exact same beauty. Faster load time.

What’s a good image file size to aim for?

Well, this depends on the number of images on your web page. For a fast loading page, ideally all the images on your page will take up less than 500kb.

One of our clients for example has a header image on each page that is 1290x850px in width. We know the featured images on their page are 600x400px. The header images will automatically be larger due to the dimensions, so we allow for up to 150kb in file size for these. Therefore we ensure our featured images are below 75kb.

Taking one of their pages as an example, alongside the necessary hero image they wanted 4 further images to support the page text. Following our rules above, here’s how the final optimised image sizes stack up:

96kb hero image x1
30kb body image x1
22kb body image x1
27kb  body image x1

Combined page image size: <159KB

Running that through tiny PNG’s analyser just to be sure:

Suggestions 2

Just what I thought.

Optimising your image file sizes is quick, simple and could ultimately make you money by reducing the number of bounces on your website.

Still not convinced? Google will be using page speed in mobile ranking from July 2018.

Yup. Last month, Google Announced [8] the speed of your website will actively affect where you rank in Google page listing results on mobile devices. Don’t panic just yet, the change isn’t due to be rolled out until July this year, so there’s plenty of time to get your image sizes sorted.

Want more tips like this? Say hello or view our most recent blogs below:



5 interactive websites to play around with this lunchtime

5 interactive websites to play around with this lunchtime

It’s estimated that there are currently over 1.2 billion websites online right now[1] – and this number is growing every second.

Unlike a great book or must-see film, unmissable websites aren’t really top social discussions amongst non-marketing or designer types. We have our go-to websites that we use every day for our social networking, banking, shopping etc. but do we ever really stop to think about websites as a source of entertainment in themselves?

When was the last time someone said to you – “check this site out!” ?

Well, while I go and rest my square eyes, check these exciting, innovative websites out:

1. Predictive world:

Built as a marketing tool for the release of the video game ‘Watch Dogs 2’ this is an incredibly addictive website that uses your basic information or facebook profile to show you interactive stats ranging from your life expectancy, job prospects and even your likelihood of smoking marijuana!

Each change you make alters your predictions based on real statistics –  explaining exactly how this impacts your stats.

It’s creepy, insightful and cool.

2. Get Coleman:

One of my colleagues brought this site to my attention. I won’t spoil the surprise but this is how you showcase your skills…

3. Weirdbox:

Type in your @instagram handle. Watch the film unfold.

4. Nonsilentfilm:

Getty Images designed a genius way of showcasing their audio library by creating an interactive score and sound design for the iconic silent horror film ‘Nosferatu’.

5. Reword it:!/

Built to raise awareness of online bullying, re-word it is a tool designed to make users think twice before writing offensive or insulting content online. Visually impactful and well handled, it’s well worth taking a look.

Famous Stache:

Built by a creative agency as an experiment, this site looks at the most famous ‘taches in human history.