Judges’ Top Tips

See below for some top tips from our judges of what makes a stand out entry:

Emily Van Lierop | Global Head of Digital Operations, Volkswagen at PHD

  1. You have to be in it to win it. Many previous award winners have submitted strong work that wasn’t necessarily ground-breaking, but just really well thought out or executed. So take a leap and enter – especially after the year that was 2020 where just staying afloat for many was a strong achievement.
  2. Every section counts. It’s heart breaking when a strong entry is marked down because they skipped/briefly completed a seemingly less important section – stick to the word count, but make every section work towards your story.
  3. Make sure your results match your objectives. Often the objective will state one KPI, but results listed against another which makes it hard to judge the success of the activity. Ensure the goals set out in the beginning of the entry are measured in the results section.

And a 4th bonus one 😊

Pick your categories wisely. Some like ‘Best PPC campaign’ or ‘Best use of data’ type categories are usually flooded with entries, but some of the more obscure topics have fewer entries, which increases your chances hugely.

Arnout Hellemans | Senior Online Strategist, OnlineMarkethink

  1. Make sure you show proof of what you have achieved using proper data sources and proof.
  2. My suggestion is to write one entry per different category.

Alexandra Tachalova | Digital Marketing Consultant

  1. The most important thing is to follow the entry form requirements. Note: Some nominees leave some of the form’s questions unanswered, which affects the overall score of an entry. Judges are scoring each of your answers on the entry form, and if something is missing, then we’re forced to give a lower score due to blank or incomplete submissions.
  2. Allocate enough time to complete your entry. In fact, it takes a number of hours and a solid effort from your side to complete the entry fully. So, please make sure to allocate enough time to this process. Otherwise, your entry might be incomplete, not provide enough details, or even missing some crucial data that could dramatically improve your overall score. The ratio is quite simple here: The more time and effort you put into your entry form, the greater the chance that it will be highlighted by judges and end up winning an award.
  3. Support your entry with additional materials and numbers. Don’t forget the importance of adding supplemental materials to showcase the implementation of your campaign and the overall results. The best way to support your campaign with sufficient details is to attach a detailed presentation that will give judges all the necessary information and leave no room for doubts.

Krzysztof Marzec | CEO, DevaGroup

  1. Numbers and data that allow us to see real results and business KPI. For example, impressions are far from being ideal. When You state a percentage increase we would like to know the base value.
  2. State all best practices used in a campaign but don’t focus on them. If You tell us about basics we probably read about them in every case study. Focus on the creative and innovative side of Your campaign.
  3. Mind the category name. Low budget campaign case study should focus on all the improvements that were made to make a good ROAS for a small budget. Do not copy-paste the same descriptions to other categories as it will not be optimal.

Scott Hendison | Search Commander, Inc

  1. I look for whether they’re actually answering the questions. So many don’t.
  2. I look for whether they’re actually following the instructions. So many don’t.
  3. I look for standout answers that are either; A. Backed up with facts, and deserve recognition as truly remarkable. or B. Incomplete or half-hearted, making it easy to take them out of the running.

Keith Goode | Sr. SEO Strategist, IBM

  1. Primarily use the provided form to tell us about your entry. Don’t rely on supplemental documents to tell your story. The judges rely on these forms for scoring (so fill out every single required field; hint, hint).
  2. In goal-related entries (campaigns and team categories), make sure that your results are aligned to your initial goals. Don’t submit an entry that says that your goal was one metric but then shows an entirely separate metric in the results.
  3. Channel your marketing talents and SELL your entry to the judges. If you’re really excited about your team, project, content or campaign, show us why we should be excited. Entries should be clear and concise, but they should also be engaging and thorough. Use headings, bullet points, images, clear graphics, client feedback, etc. to add color to your story. Keep in mind that, due to the volume of entries, judges don’t have unlimited time to review your entry. So entries should be concise and easy-to-read.

Arianne Donoghue | Founder & Consultant, Tempest Marketing

  1. This will be one that I suspect is shared a lot – make sure you have clear, measurable objectives and refer to them in your results – this is the biggest thing that tanks many entries as people either aren’t clear about what they hoped to achieve, or don’t make it easy for us to see how they delivered on these goals
  2. Don’t focus too heavily on one single part of the entry – if you focus too much on one section and use a chunk of your word-count, you’ll score highly there, but potentially lower everywhere else – ultimately costing you your chance to win
  3. Make life easy for the judges – we each have to review dozens of entries – it takes a lot of time. Use the template, note your word count as you go through, and stick to the limits. Use supplementary materials wisely – include what you can in your entry, as it makes it easier for us to assess properly. Don’t stick everything in supplements as a way of overcoming the word limit.

Azeem Ahmad | Digital Marketing Manager, Staffordshire University

  1. Be as specific as you can with your objectives – for me, they set up the rest of the entry. Bear in mind, as judges, we aren’t there when the work is being done, so you should take the time to explain (in as much detail as you are able to) things like:
    • What you wanted to achieve
    • When you wanted to achieve this by
      • (for example, I’ve seen entries previously that simply state “we want to increase web traffic to [x]”. That, in my opinion, is nowhere near as strong enough as an entry that states something like “we want to increase web traffic to [x] by 15% vs 2020, which we predict would generate [x] revenue, and we aim to achieve this by doing [1],[2],[3] by April, May, and June”
    • The steps you will take to achieve it (see above)
    • What success would look like
  2. Don’t be afraid to talk about where it went wrong! As marketers ourselves, we’re fully aware that not every campaign or piece of activity is going to run smoothly from start to finish. The best entries I’ve seen and scored highly detail exact challenges faced and how they were overcame.
    • For example – “we came up with the perfect angle for a digital pr campaign, and just as we were about to launch, one of our competitors launched with the same idea. we had to readjust our strategy by [x] and it delivered [x] results for the client”
  3. If you are entering multiple categories, I would always recommend you tailor your entry for that category. I’ve seen entries before across multiple categories where key judging criteria hasn’t been answered as the same entry has been used across multiple ones. It’s worth investing that time to do this, as myself and other judges I’ve judged with in the past look on this favourably.

Thomas J. Vosper | Co-Founder & CEO, aisle 3

  1. Clear measurable objectives and understandable results that relate to the original goal.
  2. Don’t bamboozle with technical terms and endless graphs. Most projects can be boiled down to a relatable challenge and clear path to action it without the need for buzz words and jargon.

Jon Myers | Ascending Media

  1. Clearly defined goals and well written results for the judge to clearly see the performance of the campaign.
  2. Start the entry in the overview section with 3-4 bullet points on what are the top metrics of the entry to get the judge engaged and looking forward to finding out more as they read.
  3. Break up the text in the entry with imagery to make reading the entry easier and also allow you to shout about the positives.

Motoko Hunt | President & Search Marketing Consultant, AJPR

“We go through numbers of great entries. All sounds great, but we just cannot take their word for it. We need the proof of success with the performance data. The winning entries show the achievement using actual numbers (not in %) with the baseline and the results. They also provide the ad copies or content edits that we can see before and after changes. Double check your entry form before you submit to make sure you answered all questions. We still find entries with unanswered questions.”

Patrick C. Price | CEO, Idealizer

“A good entry, provides a quick overview of customer objectives and goals, and how the agency/in-house-team went from status-quo to achieved outcome.”

Tom Bourlet | Blogger, Spaghetti Traveller

  1. Really read the questions and take a step back, don’t rush your answer or copy and past something from a project. You should spend as much time answering it as possible, giving as many details as you can. We carefully read through them and if you just offer a couple of lines, it can be hard to assess the value you brought.
  2. Provide as many metrics as possible, to highlight the real results you produced.
  3. Try to consider why yours is better than all the similar entries. You need to show you did something spectacular, that you thought outside the box and with your creative thinking you have achieved results far beyond the competitors for this category.

Barry Adams | Founder, Polemic Digital

  1. Good use of multiple SEO tactics and a clear strategic approach. I want to see campaigns that do all aspects of SEO really well – not just one-trick ponies that neglected other areas of SEO.
  2. Strong results that have made a meaningful impact on the business’s success. Quantify this! Don’t just give percentages, give numbers and revenue figures.
  3. A campaign doesn’t have to re-invent the wheel or be totally out-of-the-box. Sometimes good old-fashioned tactics work best, but they better be executed perfectly and drive superb results.

Adam Whittles | Head of SEO, Auto Trader

  1. Make sure you answer every aspect of the judging criteria. Many entrants seem to skip/miss some criteria, often the budget or target audience.
  2. Make sure you fully understand the difference between ‘strategy’ and ‘implementation’. Many of the entries I read don’t seem to understand what a good strategy is and often list their tactics (implementation) instead. When they do this, you often find the implementation section is just a repetition of the strategy section.
  3. Objectives should be fairly easy marks to obtain but many entries again don’t seem to follow the basic mantra of S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound (there are a few definitions of the acronym but they all basically say the same thing).
  4. When it comes to the results section, make sure they are clear and ideally that they can be verified. You should be aware that judges will check everything – your backlink profile, your website, your rankings etc. Don’t make false claims, as you can be (and often are) found out.

Marty Weintraub | Founder & Evangelist, Aimclear

  1. Connect the dots all the way to revenue. Channel and tactic metrics are not enough, For instance percentages don’t mean much without understanding scale and revenue. Show the effect of your marketing on the business outcome of the case study.
  2. Tell most of the story, right away, as short as possible, with only few screen captures in the form. Include attachments for clarity but do NOT depend on attachments for the win. If we he have to study deeply to find out a key part of the case study, may miss out on the win.
  3. Respect the awards and don’t spam. We don’t care about your fancy stationary or alternative entry form format. Use the form provided. Stay within the word count. Don’t delete sections or rearrange. You can put a small amount of links in the entry, but don’t expect Judges to watch your 23 minutes of content to understand why you should win. If you are entering a video series, edit a short summary highlighting. Ding Dong: 300 word in six X screen captures on a form is 1800 words. Just sayin’.

Krzysztof Marzec | CEO, DevaGroup

“It is not about selling your campaign to an unaware client. All judges are experienced experts, be honest, be precise and forget about percentages. Show us real numbers instead. We always will take budget and effects into consideration. Be innovative but make us sure to see whole process not only one good idea that worked in the end.”