Why are marketers still breaking the first rule of marketing?

Source: MarketingTech

Now that the end of the year is in sight, many marketers will look back and review the flurry of activity that was 2018. GDPR. Fighting for budget. New platforms. Avoiding potential crises. Metrics. More metrics. 

It’s been a busy year – and for that reason, it’s arguably forgivable that the majority of digital marketers today are still breaking the very first rule of marketing: build the brand.

Digital marketing gives us access to a vast plethora of tools for communication, but many organisations are still getting it wrong and annoying customers and prospects, advertising products that consumers already own, or the same product, repeatedly, across different platforms. This unambiguously and actively damages the brand. Often, this is because digital marketing tools, which usually provide what are believed to be good metrics, drive marketers towards conversion when they should be nurturing.

Of course, the mid-funnel is the mountain stage of the tour de marketing; it’s tough. It’s easy with a new prospect because you don’t know much about them, and it’s easier when they convert because they’ve just bought something, which gives you something really tangible to work with. The middle stage, where a buyer has expressed an interest, visited the site, put something in their trolley and then moved on, is ambiguous and difficult.

This is further complicated by the fact that most marketers still can’t do one-to-one marketing. They work with segments, email addresses and cookies. None of these are real, individual people – or in fact, often they’re the same person across multiple devices. As such, this makes it much more difficult to build a relationship with the people you’re aiming to target. Furthermore, it makes it difficult to justify yourself at the other end as well, because you can’t trust your metrics. In a perfect world, all advertising should generate a measurable, incremental return above and beyond your average brand performance, and should be personalised to a genuine individual, building brand value. But how do we do this?


I’m not a number, I’m a free man!  

In today’s post-GDPR world, we can’t track comprehensively against people’s names – and respecting consumer privacy is, rightfully of the utmost importance. However, we can maintain privacy by tracking against pseudonymised IDs, which allows us to create individual profiles that contain an understanding of what that person is interested in, their age group, their life events, how much they might earn and so on.

Once you’ve got this in place, you then need a healthy dose of human intelligence and – perhaps more surprisingly – manners. My mother always told me, ‘you’ve got two ears and one mouth. Listen for twice as long as you speak!’ Digital marketing is exactly the same – if you can refrain from shovelling product down a consumer’s throat, you’d be surprised by how well they react. In fact, our own research has shown that 56% of consumers click on an ad to find out, yet only 2% click to make a purchase.

Moreover, it’s important to build up this information over time: if your best friend forgets the name of your child, you’ll likely be a bit offended and it will have damaged the relationship. If they remember your wedding anniversary, that’s bonus points. In marketing terms, it builds incremental value.

So, what does this mean for marketing campaigns? It means that we need to use the intelligence we have. For example, if someone buys a sale item at a particular discount, we should advertise follow-up items within a similar sale bracket. If they belong to the VIP club, don’t advertise discounted products to them – instead, promote the benefits of the VIP club and more brand-led communications, reinforcing the prestige of the brand.

Technically, this does require some legwork; if you use different DMP and DSP technology, for example, then it’s really hard to unify the data and make sure that everything is working together. It’s much easier to use one platform that can ‘talk amongst itself’ and leverage the data collected in other parts of the same system.

What does a 1,400-year-old Zen proverb have to do with digital marketing?  

Similarly, there are a few other considerations that marketers need to take into account. Whenever you’re experimenting with new approaches, you need to do ‘test and control’, but not everyone does this right. For example, it’s important to:

  • Have clean samples; you can’t do test and control if one (or more) of your samples is actually the same person on different devices
  • Continue testing over a long period of time. Any one test can be unreliable because of seasonality changes, sales patterns, new technology and more. Good marketers watch trends and don’t generalise from anecdotes
  • Use machines to randomise the samples. Humans are intrinsically biased towards success, whereas machines can help to make sure the test is valid

As the Zen proverb says “if you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions” – and this is exactly what test and control does. It will show up very quickly if you’re serving ads to the wrong group or to fraudulent accounts – and similarly, if you do it right, and you serve the right ads to the right people, then you will see a return. One case we have seen – the well-known retailer Dune – showed an improvement in customer value of +64% over a fifteen-month period, and drove up conversion rates by 33%, allowing the marketing team to show a real benefit to the ecommerce team.

So, when you’re wrapping up 2019 and setting your New Year’s Resolutions, make it a priority not to break the first rule of marketing.  By communicating in a smart fashion, using the tools at your fingertips, you can finally be objective and constantly build on your knowledge because you’ll know it’s rooted in fact, not guesswork and segments. Furthermore, you’ll know that you’re improving the brand, because you’re building long-term relationships – and even better, that you’re building long-term revenue too.

Instagram unveils 3 new shopping features ahead of holidays

Source: Marketing Land

Users will now be able find products via a business profile or video and save to a shopping collection.

Instagram launched three new shopping features on Thursday that will help retailers gain more exposure for the products they’re promoting on the platform.

Instagram’s new shopping collection feature. Instagram users will now have a “shopping collection” option that they can use to save products of interest. After tapping a product tag in a Story or on a post in their feed, a user can tap the save icon in the bottom right corner of the image, which will prompt a “Save to shopping collection” option.

Users can access shopping collections from their profile to browse saved items at a later time.

Shop via video. Instagram has also inserted a shopping icon in the bottom left corner of branded videos that surfaces the products featured in the video, making it easy for users to view product prices.


A new shop tab for business profiles. Instagram business profiles will now include a “shop” tab that lets users browse products from the business. The “shop” tab will include a feed of product images that can be clicked to see product information and the post that featured the product.

Why it matters. With only four days go before we enter the busiest shopping week of the holiday season, Instagram is giving retailers more ways to get their products in front of users — without retailers having to put forth extra effort. The shopping collection, business profile shopping tab and new shop icon for videos are all positioned as user features, but ultimately they will benefit brands by widening exposure for the products they share on the platform.

5 Steps to a Powerful Digital Marketing Strategy

Source: Digital Marketing Institute

According to a ‘Managing Digital Marketing’ study by Smart Insights, 46% of brands don’t have a defined digital marketing strategy, while 16% do have a strategy but haven’t yet integrated it into their marketing activity. But here’s the thing: if you don’t have a plan in place how can you expect to grow and innovate, to measure meaningful results and to learn from past mistakes?

It’s time to stop panicking about next year or next month and start crafting a plan that can pack a powerful punch. We’ve selected the 5 most important steps that you, the decision maker should take to ensure that your digital marketing efforts create a real impact on your bottom line.

1. Know What You Want (& Set the Objective)

Nail Your Mission:

  • Define your business’ overall mission/objective first – your digital marketing mission must fit into your grand plan.
  • Answer this question: what is the overriding objective you want your digital marketing efforts to achieve (for example do you want to position your company as the go-to online provider for computer parts in Europe)? This is your mission.

Set & Measure Your KPIs:

  • Get specific with your KPIs by identifying the figures you will be held accountable for achieving.
  • Get realistic with your KPIs by analysing your previous digital marketing efforts first – this will ensure you aim for a positive increase on your current results, while helping you to avoid setting your expectations too high.
  • Identify a method to help you measure each of your KPIs – for example, will you use Google Analytics to measure your conversions, your individual social media analytics to track engagement or a tool like BuzzSumo to assess the success of your content marketing?
  • Here’s a handy KPI template for you to steal: (Insert goal, e.g. ‘Increase traffic’) by (insert figure)% in (insert number of months).
  • Before you begin planning your KPIs find out which metrics matter most to your CEO.

2. Analyse Your Past (& Learn From Your Mistakes)

You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) go into the planning period in the dark. Analyzing your digital marketing strategy’s past success and failures can help focus you on setting the best KPIs for your business. You, therefore, might want to complete step one and two together.

Choose a time period you’d like to analyse (it’s best to set this time period as the same length of time you plan for your new marketing strategy) – for example decide on whether you’re going to analyse the previous year, quarter or month.

How to Analyse:

  • Determine the time period you would like to analyse and set your Google Analytics calendar to match this timeframe.
  • Try out Google’s Benchmarking Reports in your Analytics account to compare your progress to your competitors.
  • Don’t forget to analyse your competitors’ marketing strategy too – create an analysis spreadsheet of their online activities (you can use SEMrush to identify the SEO strategy of a competitor, i.e. what keywords are driving the largest volume of organic traffic to their website. It can also be used to compare the organic and paid traffic of different websites so again quite useful to see how aggressive they’re being with their paid spend.)
  • Ask yourself this question at regular intervals: is there anything else I need to analyse that I haven’t thought of before – e.g. should I be testing the times I post my content or the types of images I use?


3. Remember Who You’re Talking to (& Speak Their Language)

Don’t let the planning take away from the people you’re trying to reach. You already know who your audience are (at least we hope you do) but sometimes they’re the first thing a digital marketer can forget amidst the KPI setting, budget fretting and channel selection.

You’re not going to make this mistake – not this time. Instead you’re going to put your audience at the heart of your digital marketing strategy, cater to their emotional needs and satisfy their deepest desires. How? Through the creation of well fleshed out and well thought out personas, of course.

Develop Useful Personas:

  • Start with the basics and note down all the demographic information you know about your target consumer – like age, gender and location.
  • Then dig a little deeper and Identify the problems you can help your target persona solve.
  • Delve into their emotional desires, goals, aspirations and fears and document all of the factors that could make them tick (think about their conscious and unconscious desires).
  • You can dive deep into the ‘Audience Reports of your Google Analytics account to identify key characteristics of your target persona like age, sex, career, etc.
  • When creating your personas this is the perfect time to identify the people who will be of influence to them – these will be the influencers your marketing strategy should target.

4. Identify Your Means (& Stick to Your Budget)

Three things are important for identifying your means: these are your budget, your digital channels and your team (or people). It is important to take stock of all of your resources before deciding on what else you might need for the next period.

For example, now is the perfect time for creating an audit of your existing digital channels and to decide whether you’re going to outsource specific sections of your digital marketing and whether you need to set budget aside for a new hire or two.

How to Identify Your Means:

Your Budget:

  • Define your overall digital marketing budget.
  • Look at the historical data of what has worked before (for example, have any specific channels brought you quality leads at a low cost?)
  • Decide whether you will use paid promotion (for, example Adwords or paid ads on social media).
  • Allocate a specific portion of the budget for each digital channel you want to use for paid promotion (delve into your Analytics to help you assess the most cost effective digital channels with the largest reach and conversions and the lowest Cost Per Click).
  • If a certain element of your paid promotion strategy isn’t bringing you the results you desire, revisit it and invest the allocated budget figure into the channel that’s bringing you the best results.

Your People:

  • Look at your current team and assess what you are capable of achieving (be realistic here and ensure that no-one will be over stretched or over worked).
  • Identify whether you need to hire more people and whether you have the means to do so.
  • Decide whether all of your digital marketing activity will take place in house or if you’ll need to outsource some elements to a third party agency.
  • Get each of your team members to review their digital marketing activity and brainstorm a few ideas for their future marketing strategy (the more autonomy your employee has in their role the more they’ll be on board with your new plan).

Your Channels:

  • Review your current digital marketing channels and decide which channels to keep and whether you’d like to invest in any new ones (this depends on where your customers are and the time you have available).
  • Clearly articulate what each digital channel is trying to achieve.
  • Make sure you have at least one KPI attached to each of your digital channels.

5. Make the Plan (& Don’t Stick to It)

‘Create a plan and don’t stick to it? But, but, what do you mean?’ Before the panic sets into the most organised of digital marketers let me explain…your plan is never going to be perfect from the outset. Not every assumption you make is going to be correct.

And although you’ve taken every care to craft a carefully constructed plan based on a set of insightful assumptions and analysis you still can’t predict exactly how your customers will behave. It is, therefore, essential to continuously measure and monitor the performance of your digital marketing strategy and to change elements where needed.

Create Your Digital Marketing Calendar:

  • Try creating your timeline using Google Calendars – that way you can share it with your team members and allow them to edit it where necessary.
  • Highlight the key campaigns you’ll create and promote throughout the year and allocate a timeframe for each.
  • Document the digital channels needed to ensure the success for each campaign.

Review Your Marketing Strategy & Identify Changes Needed:

  • Create a measurement and monitoring plan (this should fit in with your KPIs).
  • Check the success of the individual elements of your digital marketing strategy at continuous intervals.
  • If something is not working (i.e. you’re not achieving the KPIs you’ve set out) isolate the different elements and try to identify what is not working (e.g. is it the time you’re posting content or the taglines you’re using for your ads?).
  • Revisit your previous analysis, personas and budget allocation and try something new.
  • Create a clearly defined KPI for your new venture.

How to turn reviews into revenue: Making the most of positive customer feedback

Source: MarketingTech The rise of online communities, peer review sites and social media has forever changed the impact of the customer voice. Customer feedback has evolved from something owned and managed by customer service teams to a force that influences every department across an organisation: product, HR, finance, IT, and marketing. Marketing agencies are experiencing this shift more acutely than most as often, in these types of companies, all these functions fall within a single person’s responsibilities – anyone from the CEO, the agency’s own marketing lead or even the office manager. In many cases, you’ll find the same person ticking off jobs that belong to very disparate job sets: everything from tracking leads to scheduling invoices, issuing marketing communications to chasing late payments. Running between tasks to put out one fire after another, it’s not difficult to see why customer feedback can fall to the bottom of the pile. It’s a classic case of the cobbler’s children having no shoes – agency heads and their teams advise clients on best practice but struggle to find the time to define their own approach to customer feedback.

A new currency

Not managing to engage with positive feedback could be costing marketing agencies:

  • New leads – customer testimonials = customer referrals
  • A greater number of sales – 88% of customers have been influenced by an online review when making a buying decision
  • Higher profit margins – highly-engaged customers spend 60% more per transaction

Missing out on the extra potential is one thing but, in the age of social media, failing to act in the face of a negative response could spell a serious nosedive to the bottom line for any business. It’s a new currency. Customer service experiences have a long-lasting impact with 24% continuing to seek out vendors for two or more years after a good experience. The distaste for bad customer service, however, has a bigger impact that can last even longer. The same survey found that 39% of customers continue to avoid vendors two years or more after a bad experience. Social media drives the majority of reviews and comments on customer service experiences. Unfortunately, it’s the bad experiences that drive the kind of viral social communications that brands would ordinarily crave.  45% of customers share bad service experiences on social media, surpassing the 30% who post about good ones.

Directing the roadmap

Feedback should always be welcome. Inviting and actioning feedback shows customers that their business is being taken seriously and that their custom matters to a company. Beyond just the financials, it can be an important health check for performance against a number of internal and external metrics; it takes satisfied customers and happy employees to create a positive brand image. However, even with all this wonderful information, many companies fail to utilise and manage their feedback to further propel themselves ahead of their competition. Tech-led approaches like ‘the lean start-up’ and DevOps have infiltrated mainstream business culture and entrepreneurship, particularly in small to mid-sized agencies, advocating iterative product development models fuelled by customer insight. In this way, customer feedback can be used to inform the roadmap, arming companies with the confidence to launch new services, safe in the knowledge of product-market-fit. Some organisations, like Salesforce, have taken this a step further by co-creating new offerings with their customer base. Last year, this led to more than 50 new ideas for product development, signposting opportunities for new revenue streams through services that have already been endorsed by loyal customers.

Where to start

But this level of engagement can’t be manufactured overnight. Surprisingly, 60-80% of customers who describe themselves as satisfied do not go back to do more business with the company that initially made them happy. Often, it’s due to the lack of connection. It takes time to create genuine loyalty – resources that small to mid-sized sized businesses often don’t have. And managing customer feedback can be daunting, especially as the functionality needed to tackle such a big task can often lie amidst a mix of the company’s existing tools and platforms. The first step is understanding where you’re starting from. Small to mid-sized agencies looking to leverage customer insight for growth need to have full view of the customer lifecycle, the sales pipeline and the finances. Only then will they be able to develop the holistic strategy required to drive engagement and loyalty from customers.

What brands are built on

A company’s approach to customer feedback is an important consideration in the company’s culture, brand image, and communications strategy. Failing to make it a priority could risk alienating existing customers, losing the engagement of current employees and countering the brand image that other aspects of marketing have worked so hard to achieve.

Transforming customer experience into an actionable marketing strategy: A guide

Source: MarketingTech The workforce as we know it is changing and companies must be ready to adapt to fast change as we become ever more tech-centric. However, despite the digital noise there is one element that will always remain a constant requirement for success; delivering an excellent customer experience (CX) and maintaining a well-received brand image. In our highly connected ‘always on’ digital world, CX combined with word of mouth is potentially one of the most powerful marketing tools for brands today, backed up by a study that shows 92% of consumers believe suggestions from people they know over any other form of advertising. Advancing technology is now allowing for these opinions to be voiced on a global scale across the likes of social media and review sites. With this opportunity to reach a wealth of potential new customers, brands which make themselves personable and their service customer-centric can work to set themselves apart from competitors, without the need for extremely elaborate marketing strategies.

CX at its best

Some successful brands are where they are today through the power of word of mouth alone, as opposed to costly advertising. One clear example is online clothing and shoe retailer, Zappos. The company has developed a reputation of having excellent service and with its ability to please customers achieved through first hand customer insights. The website has ensured that consumers are now loyal and return to buy products – ultimately driving customer retention and an increase in profit. Ensuring customers enjoy experiences with a brand, the way businesses market themselves as well as the way they develop customer care campaigns can all help to create a sense of understanding and community  amongst customers. For example, taking the time to make communication unintrusive, human and resonate more personally can be a key driver of quality CX. According to a survey on content marketing, the majority (80%) said delivering personalised content, for example personalised emails targeted to suit individual experiences is more effective than delivering ‘unpersonalised’ content to visitors. As a result of this, the customers that receive personalised content will most likely continue to use your product/service and endorse your business to others. A great example of this executed effectively is Netflix’s email campaigns. Despite being one of the largest companies worldwide, Netflix has mastered the tactic of personal recommendations and suggests shows that are similar to what their customers have previously watched. As long as the brand has enough data to provide insights on this, this is a great way to be proactive in making the customer experience efficient, easy and seamless, which ultimately helps to nurture loyalty, as well as short-term sales.

Turning CX into actionable insights

Social media now also plays a particularly crucial role for brands looking to market themselves through good customer journeys. For many, it is now a core marketing channel with the potential to reach a wealth of new customers and can also be used as a research tool for understanding the problems in the customer journey and improving their experience. However, the solutions readily available to businesses now mean that these satisfied customer insights can now be taken one step further, to be measured and then developed into new ways to market their service. The sheer volume of conversations taking place on platforms like Twitter and popular review sites make them an effective way for marketers to not only reach customers, but also enables for positive customer experiences to be published and interacted with. Integrating tools into these channels then also allows these insights to be turned into a research opportunity, highlighting customers pain points and allowing companies to improve overall experience. The more customer insights a business receives about their product or service, the more you learn and understand your customers patterns and trends associated with your business. With customer insights coming through as data in a variety of forms – mainly structured and unstructured, businesses can put the insights together, whether it be big or small and gain a clearer picture of your customers’ way of thinking and how they can dramatically enhance and boost customer experience. There are however, some challenges that brands can be faced with when it comes to using customer experience to inform their marketing strategy. Companies can often spend a lot of time gathering and measuring customer insight data they receive and meticulously mapping all customer pain points to try and tailor their marketing to overcome these customer perceptions. Using solutions to make this process as efficient as possible can help brands to maximise the opportunity to turn CX into new avenues for growth. Through the likes of analytics tools, which offer insights into the sentiment of direct engagements with a brand from the public across various digital channels and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, companies can gather and measure their interactions with current and potential customers, understand them more effectively and ultimately use organic insights of endorsement and satisfaction to fuel their marketing approach. With technological advancements increasing daily, it is becoming a lot easier for companies to weave in their customer insights and turn this into an intelligent marketing strategy. Brands must now realise the influence that customer experiences has on consumer decision-making today, if they are to succeed in using it to market themselves in our increasingly digital world.

11 Agency Payment Models That Make Sense In The Modern Marketing Landscape

Source: Forbes.com

Determining pricing structure is often one of the most difficult tasks for a service-based business. Product-based businesses can easily quantify the cost of making, storing, displaying and shipping goods, but the intangible nature of creative agency work often means that campaign metrics determine your firm’s value and worth to a client.

There are several different viable billing methods, including hourly rates, retainer fees and results-based payments. But which makes the most sense in the current industry landscape? We asked members of the Forbes Agency Council what they think is the most logical payment model for modern agencies. Their best answers are below.

1. Creative Payment Models Based On Campaign-Specific Metrics Different campaigns have different objectives, and based on these objectives, marketers measure success differently. Be objective and transparent while understanding your place in the market. If the campaign’s objective is to increase awareness, then impressions are a great way to measure success. However, if you are marketing to existing customers, success metrics differ. –Ahmad KarehTwistlab Marketing 2. Multi-Channel Attribution Last-click attribution models are obsolete. If you are providing value, you need to have a multi-channel approach and attribution model. Marketers should be paid for the quality of the execution of their services. If the results are there, you will retain their services. If they aren’t, you won’t. – Adam Stone, Octane Marketing 3. Cost Per Transaction (CPT) Tracking marketing dollars to sales dollars is the advertiser’s definite right. Phony metrics like CPM, PPC, CTR and CPA are wasting $37 billion a year, which, according to Proxima, equals 60% of annual digital marketing spend. We should leverage technologies that enable CPT. Last click destroys the top of the marketing funnel. –Susan Akbarpour, Mavatar Technologies, Inc. 4. Flat Rate For Defined Deliverables We charge customers based on a set of deliverables. Paying for results or by the hour would be outrageous for the client. We’re marketers, not contractors. A set of deliverables lays out the scope of work an agency is willing to do and what results should be expected. Any other payment system would see agencies completing work outside of their contract. –Kristopher JonesLSEO.com 5. Flat Fee Based On Media Spend And Engagement At Wpromote, we want to be held accountable to the core metrics that drive the business that we can affect. We have found it simplest to be paid based on the size, scope and complexity of the client’s marketing efforts. This boils down to a fee based on the amount of spend in paid media, and flat engagement fees for earned and owned media. –Michael MothnerWpromote 6. Revenue Generated I would argue there’s only one metric for determining a marketing campaign’s success: revenue generated. The notion or expectation that all or even half of marketing campaigns will be successful is ludicrous. Behind every great marketing team, there are hundreds of campaigns that fell flat. There’s just as much value in learning what doesn’t work as what does. – Kyle Kramer, Huify 7. Flat Rate Plus Bonus Payments For Campaign Results Even the best campaign will not yield the desired results if there’s friction when a potential customer engages with a representative, or if there’s an unpredictable event that causes the market to shift. At the same time, not all revenue growth can be attributed to a single campaign. Ideally, clients should pay a bonus if a substantial lift in revenue can be directly attributed to the campaign. –Jessica GonzalezInCharged 8. Cost Per Lead At Best Company, we specialize in sending qualified leads to companies, and have found that a cost-per-lead model typically results in a win for both parties. We agree to target certain acquisition costs for clients, which also creates an incentive for them to convert because they’re paying us earlier in the funnel. –Jeff GroverBestCompany.com 9. A Model That Works Backwards From Your ‘North Star’ Metric Pricing should be the last item to be reviewed. Define the campaign goals and North Star metric. When a goal is clearly defined (i.e., qualified leads, reach, links, etc.), work backward. Find costs involved with hitting that metric (i.e., landing page creation, paid content placement, coding). Determine what margins are necessary to be profitable as an agency. –Andrew MillerWisePrime 10. Pricing Based On Full-Funnel Results It’s important to focus on the entire funnel: The bottom is short-term success and the top is long-term value. Focusing too much on direct response doesn’t give you the full picture, but ignoring conversion rates entirely is not the answer either. You want to find an agency that applies the right balance and determine a pricing structure from there. –Eric DahanOpen Influence 11. Service-Based Payment Most agencies should be paid for the time that it takes to service a client account. Variances related to the value of the outcome derived from the service, or the skill sets associated with the service itself, should trigger a performance incentive or impact the rate associated with the time. –Mike SkeehanSalted Stone, Inc.