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Digital Marketing

Understanding D2C: What’s fuelling the move?

By Elliott Jacobs, EMEA Commerce Consulting Director at LiveArea

The direct-to-consumer (D2C) market has skyrocketed, experiencing double-digit growth to the point where it is projected to grow 19.2% this year. While D2C will have been on brands’ radars for some time, the majority have lacked the systems and processes needed to support such a move. The closure of physical retail, however, has proved a catalyst for many to make the move as they aim to reinvent themselves for the new landscape.

While the April 12th roadmap puts a return to the high street back on the horizon, we’re unlikely to ever return to pre-pandemic footfall. Together, shrinking margins, the emergence of digital disruptors and the unstoppable rise of eCommerce mean D2C is no longer a nice-to-have for many brands, but a means of competitive differentiation in the age of at-home retail.

Changing behaviours under Covid

When we think of ‘D2C,’ it’s usually the likes of Dollar Shave Club, Brewdog and Bloom & Wild that come to mind, and two key similarities run through them all. Firstly, they tend to be niche and offer a fine-tuned proposition concentrating on one category – think subscription razors, craft beers or letterbox flowers. Secondly, they are obsessively focussed on digital, whether it’s through social media engagement and user-generated content or innovative eCommerce experiences, these brands lead the way in data-driven business decisions.

The most agile, efficient and resilient businesses over the past year have been the ones which place digital commerce, data and analytics at the heart of their operations. Businesses can no longer rely solely on bricks-and-mortar, with many household stalwarts reliant on physical real estate having shut their doors for good. Spurred on by lockdown restrictions and panic-buying, many consumers are now sold on the convenience of buying directly from brands – a trend which is unlikely to change even with the reopening of physical stores. 

These behavioural changes have sprung larger brands into action, who are now launching their own D2C operations to improve profitability and take over the relationship with customers. Here, Nike has reaped the rewards of an earlier decisionto pull back from Amazon and use its website and shopping apps to build close connections with customers no longer shopping in-store. Elsewhere, PepsiCo and Heinz launched D2C offerings catering to common lockdown purchases to address supermarket shortages as a result of the panic-buying seen in the early days of the pandemic.

Acting on data intelligence 

The reason behind many of these brands adopting D2C lies in the data. Typically, CPG brands reliant on supermarkets, marketplaces and retailers to sell their products are at the mercy of these partners in feeding back the data. Retailers who take a D2C approach, however, own the entire customer journey and are well-placed to develop a 360 understanding of their customers.

The wealth of data available is substantial, providing brands with valuable insights and one singular source of truth which cannot be underestimated. Brands can then go on to optimise products, processes and communications and increase relevance to consumers in a way that isn’t possible when selling via third parties. Not only this, but control of the data also facilitates new ways of exploiting it – whether it’s running more targeted marketing campaigns or identifying shifting consumer behaviour patterns. The lesson here is that data is the future, and retailers will want to own as much of it as they can.

The switch won’t happen overnight 

A D2C sales channel should factor in every stage of the customer journey and there are myriad factors to take into account. For a start, they should consider the most effective means of competing with marketplaces, retailers and other brands for web traffic, whether it’s through social, search or PPC. From there, engaging content, immersive experiences and a seamless user experience will help brands build genuine connections with consumers and retain their custom.

Beyond this, a well-oiled D2C operation requires significant upfront investments in real estate, technology and staff. For example, any business aiming to achieve scalable online sales needs a platform that provides all the modern tooling needed to run an online business. It’s through these tools that brands gain the information required to treat customers as individuals. From a fulfilment perspective, D2C brands are in the business of sending regular packages to consumers rather than shipping bulk containers, meaning considerable changes to operating models will be necessary.

PepsiCo, Heinz and Nike have all proven the value of D2C in times of hardship. If other brands are to embark on similarly successful projects, they will need to ensure data, technology and processes can integrate and inform one-another across the entire customer journey. Those which do it right will set themselves up with a new source of income on top of the traditional wholesale channels when they return. But a cookie-cutter approach is no longer enough, and CPG brands considering the leap will have to decide whether such a commitment is right for them.

Online Strategy: Join your online and offline worlds instantly with QR Codes

By Go Inspire

The QR code now provides the perfect mechanism for joining your online and offline worlds, whatever the desired digital action. In this short article, we discuss the numerous benefits to your online strategy of incorporating them into your tangible communications.   

In 2020, society’s need to be ‘contactless’ accelerated somewhat. So much so, the humble (and previously much maligned) QR code has experienced an exponential growth in adoption. 

With in-built QR reading capability on all modern phones and tablets, scanning a QR Code is now a much quicker journey than launching a browser and attempting to accurately type the URL – or searching for a brand in Google, landing on their homepage and hunting out the relevant page or piece of information, that you actually wanted. 

Reduce PPC Costs by driving direct traffic 

On the subject of paid search, QR Codes allow you to reserve PPC spend for the searchers who truly need a nudge, by creating a direct link between your offline communication and digital destinations and you could save your business a considerable about of marketing budget.

Many users will google your brand name, click on you paid advertising and cost you money – remove this possibility by simply adding a QR code. 

Bridge your online and offline worlds with a new level of dynamism for print

Direct Mail has time and time again been proven to offer superior cut through, with recent figures from JICMail’s Q3 2020 report showing a 33% increase in in digital actions prompted by mail – but how many of these responses were driven by a QR Code? 

With all the above advances, QR Codes now offer you the chance to present a seamless transition into your online world, moving your customers from offline consideration into online action and conversion. 

Consider the power of an abandoned basket mailing received 48 hours after browsing and featuring an enticing offer and QR codes for the individual products browsed. 

One simple scan and your customer is online, reviewing their ‘basket’ and just a click away from checkout. 

Generate a multichannel view for more effective digital marketing 

Creating a link between your online and offline worlds will also fuel your digital marketing efforts – customers or prospects who previously hadn’t engaged online may now do so, identifying themselves via their device and enabling retargeting and programmatic display advertising. 

Collect valuable insight through reporting 

Knowing who scanned, when they scanned and the region of where they scanned is incredibly powerful insight, which enables you to capitalise on live opportunities as you know who is in market, right now.

Reporting such as this also enables continuous improvement, as response data can power enhanced targeting of your door drop and partially addressed acquisition campaigns. 

Bring Your Customers Together with QR Codes

Like many, your customers may be feeling a level of uncertainty over whether they will be able to see friends, family and loved ones this Christmas and beyond; as the fight to control COVID-19 before the roll out of vaccines continues and restrictions on social gatherings and travel so frequently change.  

Our range of flexible options means you can either add QR codes to your existing format, or for added effect, incorporate them into one of our many innovative and engaging direct mail formats, as a gift tag. 

The process is simple:

  1. Your customer visits the PURL printed on their mailing
  2. Records their video message on their chosen device
  3. Uploads their video message into their PURL
  4. Applies their QR gift tag to the present, before posting
  5. When the present is delivered, the recipient simply scans the QR code which then automatically to watch the video message

Find more information here

Test a QR Code and receive an incentive discount on your next campaign!

Why not take advantage of a live incentive and include a QR code on your next Advertising Mail or Business Mail campaigns, for 15% and 30% discounts respectively?

Below are just some of the endless possibilities for driving your customers to take digital actions:

  • Drive to coupon
  • Visit web site
  • Send to Geo-location
  • Play an mp3 jingle or message
  • Visit product page
  • Drive to data capture page
  • Link to event details
  • Get a review or rating

Get in touch If you’d like to speak to our expert team and discuss how QR Codes can help you engage with customers online, we’ll be in touch shortly!

The secret sauce of successful paid digital marketing

By Steve Plimmer, ESV Digital

Marketing as a whole has some core prerequisites to be successful (measurable goals, a united and clear message to convey, smart budgeting). Paid Digital Marketing is no different but a unique strength of the digital space is a central factor in making all forms of digital advertising work. It’s not keywords, it’s not bids, it’s not directly being able to track and attribute conversions – for the latter, many advertisers don’t care about conversions so much. It is audiences.

Audience tracking, targeting and managing is Paid Digital Marketing’s secret sauce

There are certainly those who may claim the website is the real common denominator but you can have the best website in the world; if the users visiting it are low quality (poor intent, the wrong type of user in any way) it can’t get you results.

It is true that below-par websites will generally perform poorly but they’ll perform far above their fighting weight with good audience strategy.

Many advertisers are starting to get to grips with this fact, as PPC Keywords get diluted and many forms of control on search, shopping and display recede, because the biggest remaining lever of control (and insight) that seems to be surviving all this change is audiences.

What do we mean by audiences?

When speaking about audiences, I’m referring to literally any aspect of a user’s profile or behaviour that can be categorised, measured and targeted. This can include:

  • Location
  • Device
  • New or returning visitor
  • Prospective or returning customer
  • Engagement behaviour with the site or ads (e.g. video ads)
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Life stage/event
  • Content topics of interest
  • Occupation

This is by no means an exhaustive list and these are all beyond the basic audience segment of those who search on a search engine and self-select to be an audience member of “people who searched for product x.”

Many of these have long been used by Facebook advertisers or on LinkedIn but now marketers have a host of powerful options on both Google and Bing Ads plus other Display networks.

Uses

What is the value and what are the potential applications for all these audiences? Before anything else, you need to look at the data you have pertaining to these audience types. Without this we cannot know if it’s salient to even do anything with age groups, for instance. Maybe all ages convert about the same rate. And don’t forget to review how they may impact your CLV (Customer Lifetime Value).

To gather data about audiences that are not sourced internally, you can sometimes just run a report with these segments – normally the most generic user properties, like demographics or location – but for the more advanced and granular audience types, you may be able to add those audiences as “observed” audiences for a time to gather data. Google Ads is a great example of this. Once you have allowed time to pass and the data to accumulate, you may be surprised by some audience correlations and conversions on your site.

Once you have an idea of where performance opportunities lie, you can then decide how to segment targeting, auto-bidding and messaging to address them.

Not all audience uses must be hard-data-led, however. They can also be used simply to segment messaging. Decide what USP of your offering will ring bells with a certain audience (or layered audience) but also position the brand and set an appropriate call-to-action, imagery etc. In addition, you can identify your core target audience per your business plan and shape your strategy, in part, that way. If nothing else, it’s a good way to focus your budget on the user profiles through which you fundamentally want to gain market share.

You can leverage your CRM data to segment existing customers in a limitless number of ways and target them (subject to audience size) in PPC and Facebook/Instagram.

An extra bonus of the latter is that some platforms can take your audience and make look-a-like audiences to expand your penetration of people similar to those who convert on your site. You can take this further by buying email address lists of curated people and upload them as customer match lists.

Conclusion

When you come to choosing digital marketing platforms to use, ask yourself (and the platform in question) what audience targeting features it offers. Then ensure audience segmenting, messaging and management is core to your digital marketing strategy. This may involve many internal stakeholders and partners to do it right (web development, app development, data warehouses, data analysis, CRM teams and so on) but without making efforts to leverage audiences your competitors are going to eventually eat your lunch.

For more information about ESV Digital’s search marketing strategy, get in touch. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.

Five trendsetters in digital marketing to follow this year

By Gary Peeling, CEO at Where The Trade Buys

Whether it’s changes in algorithms, innovations in technology, or cultural trends that are gathering swarms of online attention, there is always something new to keep on top of in the digital marketing sector. Because of the ever-changing face of digital marketing, there are always new trailblazers and trend setters to watch out for. 

AI first began to influence the world of marketing in 2019 and, according to the Smart Insights report, content marketing was thought to be the single marketing activity to make the biggest impact. Throughout the year, consumers were swayed by experiences rather than traditional ads, and we continued in the shift away from television advertising towards a completely digital world based on big data.

With all of this in mind, we consulted Google’s own data dig into their marketing resource ‘Think with Google’. They uncovered the most-read articles of 2019 on this go-to marketing resource platform. Here’s what marketing experts were most interested in over the past year.

  1. Inside Google Marketing: 3 ways we think about SEO by Sean O’Keefe

“How does Google approach SEO?” is the golden question in marketing. Every digital marketer wants an answer to this almighty query. It’s no wonder that this topic was the most read and hotly discussed in 2019. With a constantly changing, mysterious algorithm, it is essential that digital marketers stay up to date with this topic. Sean O’Keefe leads the way and gives us all an insight into the world of Google. 

Beauty products have dominated the marketing world over the past year and Rihanna’s Fenty range lead the way with the slogan “Beauty for All”. The concept of a truly inclusive brand shook up the way digital marketers approach the beauty industry. Merging marketing with celebrity culture and progressive positivity, there’s no wonder that this piece brought hooked in so many readers. 

Everyone enjoys a viral video. Especially one that rakes in thousands of pounds! In this think piece, Travis Chambers explains the marketing beauty of telling a story and monetising it — something that we could all learn from! Clearly, in 2019 video marketing still reigned, and storytelling was key to any brand’s success. 

If we needed any further evidence that video marketing was king in 2019, Sadie Thoma brings it. The fact that this piece was among the highest in terms of engagement proves that many digital marketing agencies focussed on telling their brand’s story through video. 

Again, storytelling is at the centre of this piece, shedding light on what we were most focussed on in 2019. Quick fixes and short marketing campaigns clearly didn’t capture people’s attention in 2019. Instead, we wanted to know the full story. For this article, Haller made reference to the Nemeziz soccer shoe launch by Adidas and how their marketing team utilised YouTube’s video ad sequencing tool to guide the viewers through an advertorial journey. 

These marketing trailblazers have set the bar high, and their insights are sure to inform big brands over the coming year. It’s safe to say that many agencies will want to get hold of these expert’s business cards as they plan their strategies for the upcoming years. With big predictions for 2020 in place, including ‘snackable video content’, inclusive marketing, and experience personalisation, it’s time to step into the new decade with a creative mindset and an ambitious digital marketing plan. 

GUEST BLOG: Best books for digital marketing execs to get ahead

By Where The Trade Buys

Ready to take your business to the next level? Want to excel in digital marketing? Knowledge is power in business, and in the rapidly evolving sector of technology, staying ahead is critical.

The last thing you want to do is fall behind in business — so learning all there is to know is crucial for success. From how to create the optimum working environment for creative minds, to the world’s next consumer-changing digital trends, there’s a lot you don’t know yet about entrepreneurship and the tech industry…

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World

Bold, written by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler,is the ideal book for the tech-savvy entrepreneur. The first section of this illuminating book gives you an incredible insight into how start-up companies are today going from ‘initial concept’ to ‘multi-million-pounds status’ quicker than ever, and how tech — like 3D printing and androids — might be influencing this trend.

After, you can learn about business strategies from leading entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, before you reach the section that might interest you the most. Bold’s finale discusses the various, actionable ways you can build your company, with tips on creating lucrative campaigns designed to rocket your start-up to the top. A must-read for the big dreamer.

The Industries of the Future

This book by Alec Ross is perfect if you’re in the tech industry and want to know how to incorporate online strategies. A New York Timesbestseller, Ross delivers an extensive insight into your industry’s most important advances, from cybersecurity and robotics to genomics and big data, using input from global leaders.

If you’re searching for Ross’ credentials, you’ll soon discover that he was once the senior advisor for innovation to Hilary Clinton. So, his viewpoint is perceptive, learned and unique. His extensive travel has given him access to the some of the most powerful people in business, and his book is packed with astute observations regarding opportunities for growth and the unknown tech forces that are changing — or will change — the world.

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

As a former executive editor of Wired magazine, author, Kevin Kelly discusses and debates how various tech trends will adapt and amend our lives over the next 30 years or so. The best part of The Inevitableis how it paints a picture of ways in which technological forces will overlap, mix and come to co-depend on each other — crucial to know if any of these trends relate to your business.

Featuring sections on VR and AI, the author does an excellent job exploring the long-term impact of tech and it can permeate every aspect of our lives — both personally and as a consumer. Want to prep your company now for the customer of tomorrow? Then, get ahead of the game.

How Google Works

As potentially the most respected tech and digital company on the planet, this book about Google is an absolute must-read for those in the digital industry. How Google Workswas written by Google executives, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, and offers an authentic view in the corporate strategy, workplace culture, decision-making, and management philosophy of the brand.

If you want to learn how Google picked itself up after mistakes (remember Wave?) and has maintained an uncatchable drive towards innovation, this book is for you. Glimpse into the birth and evolution of Google to emulate its success.

The Lean Start-Up

If you’re in the digital sector, The Lean Start-Upby Eric Ries is a book you need to take in from cover to cover. This book looks at how new companies can launch, adapt and grow within an industry that has fierce competition. Offering real examples of setting up a new business, you get a great insight into how to make a success of your business and avoid the typical pitfalls.

Your One Word

Author, Evan Carmichael has written an outstanding account of his business process. Carmichael created and sold his biotech company at just 19 years old, so if you want tips on how to emulate his success, make this title the next on your reading list.

Learn how to analyse your business and validate its aims to make sure you enjoy limitless success with Your One Word. If you need a boost of confidence and an injection of motivation to start making your tech-business dreams come true, immerse yourself in the powerful words of Carmichael.

The Upstarts

The Upstartsby Brad Stone offers an amazing glimpse into the inspiring world of two global companies: Uber and Airbnb. Reading this book, you find out how these giants began and developed to become two of the most respected and innovative brands in the world.

Being an entrepreneur, you’ll know the importance of understanding how new trends and innovations can change standards — such as how people travel and what they expect from accommodation — and this is what you learn more about in this book. What can your business do to change the world?

Conscious Capitalism

Capitalism and its benefits is a contentious subject, and this is discussed brilliantly in Conscious Capitalismby authors, Raj Sisodia, and CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey.

If you’re new to running a digital marketing or tech company, you should have good knowledge of how to deal with staff, shareholders and anyone else who deals with your company. Referencing several other leading companies — such as UPS, Google and Amazon — Conscious Capitalismgives an insightful and expert analysis of how you can infuse your business environment with positivity for the optimum workplace culture.

Having awareness of your company’s impact on the world and how to treat people who interact with your products and services are crucial to success — which is why this book is worth a read!

This article was created by Where The Trade Buys — a leading UK print company and supplier of roll-up banners.

Sources:

https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/knowledge/articles/2017/08/best-books-to-read-for-small-business-success/

http://www.growthbusiness.co.uk/30-must-read-books-on-business-technology-and-productivity-as-picked-by-entrepreneurs-2552123/

http://uk.businessinsider.com/must-read-tech-books-2017-9?r=US&IR=T/#lean-in-women-work-and-the-will-to-lead-by-sheryl-sandberg-6

https://www.forbes.com/sites/mnewlands/2017/02/24/13-must-read-entrepreneurial-books-for-tech-founders/#1b08967a56b9

https://www.rocketspace.com/tech-startups/top-6-books-for-tech-entrepreneurs

Industry Spotlight – Digital vs Traditional: What works best for you?

Print circulation numbers are down. On-demand and streaming services – sans un-skippable ads – are on the up. So what’s a marketer to do? Ditch the dinosaur channels and throw the entire budget at Larry, Sergey, Zuck and their contemporaries? Targeting, re-targeting and the ‘viral’ promise are all reasons to believe digital and social now reign supreme for the modern marketer, but in this we neglect to acknowledge the in real life (IRL) experiences and halting moments that also drive word of mouth and brand consideration – online or otherwise. So before you do throw everything at the digital plan, please ponder the following…

Magic in the mundane

If you haven’t heard the term ‘mindfulness’ this year then you’ve probably been living underneath the proverbial rock (and who would blame you in these turbulent times). It’s a reaction to our age of hedonism and the breakneck speed at which we’ve been living our lives, and like most trends, this desire to slow down and simplify is being reflected in publishing and advertising. In April this year, Ronseal decided to take a risk with a live TV spot which offered Channel 4’s Gogglebox audience three minutes of the unthinkable – watching actual fence paint dry. It was an inspired and effective product demonstration that earned them a trending spot on social media.

Stop the press

The digital evolution of the print industry is representative of the consumer’s move to more accessible, tailored and instant news without the barrage of irrelevant print ads. Despite the declining print figures, some brands still have the foresight to take advantage of reactive placements in bulk circulations, which often hit a captive, educated audience of commuters who will be reading cover to cover. Norwegian struck an extremely timely note in September this year following the news of Brad and Angelina’s break up, with a stark but cuttingly comic ad promoting their LA price promotion. The result: a viral campaign that puts it firmly in the hall of fame with Oreo’s ‘dunk in the dark’.

The great outdoors

Out-of-home and experiential marketing are truly challenging media. Bus wraps are hardly remarkable and being chased by a sampler at Waterloo while you try to catch your train isn’t entirely conducive to positive brand perception. The Economist challenges that notion. The publisher is infamous for its minimalist and innovative OOH creative, but it turned its hand to an unsettling on-the-ground activation in 2015 which was rebooted in the US this year. ‘High-protein’ is the new “on trend” claim for the food industry, and The Economists’ ice cream samplers achieved theirs by adding insects, the new proposed solution for the global food crisis which it covered in a ‘future of food’ feature. The campaign generated significant online press coverage and was branded ‘eye-catching genius’ by Business Insider.

The learning? Search for new value in formats that have become hackneyed and contrived. Opportunities to reach a cynical populace using these traditional methods still remain and can be extremely successful for the creative and confident marketer. Whether you’re aiming for ‘disrupt’ ‘be bold’ or ‘surprise and delight’ don’t miss the simple proposition with cut-through messaging that’s right in front of you.

Words by Nicholas Gill, founder and strategy partner at Team Eleven